Socialism and Social Welfare Collection
Richard J. Daley Library
801 S. Morgan St., Room 3-330
Chicago, IL 60607
Extent: 3 Linear Feet
Socialism in America was less well organized than in Europe, but many prominent individuals and organizations were influenced by socialist ideas. Socialists were often active in the early stages of the civil rights movement and argued for women's rights and universal suffrage well before mainstream parties accepted these ideas. A Socialist Labor Party was formed in 1877 and later reorganized by Daniel de Leon who sought to transform America's growing trade union movement into a socialist political force, but his party and general influence remained small. Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) established a Socialist Party in 1897 and helped to found the radical Industrial Workers of the World. His party garnered few votes in elections held during the early twentieth century, but significant parts of his program such as the forty-hour work week, compensation for injured workers, and a social security system for the elderly and disabled were implemented during the New Deal or shortly after World War II. Socialism in the United States was often unpopular both among powerful elites and ordinary citizens because many believed that the ideas and practices of socialists threatened American traditions such as free and competitive markets, self-reliance, religious faith, and the sanctity of private property. The historical legacy of socialism in the United States, however, is just as complex and elusive as the term itself.
Scope and Content Note:
The Socialism and Social Welfare includes speeches, federal U.S. and State government documents, clippings, correspondence, memoranda, policy statements, publications, programs, flyers, pamphlets, and periodicals. The majority of pamphlets and periodicals have been organized into separate series. Series I. General includes The Socialism and Social Welfare includes speeches, federal U.S. and State government documents, clippings, correspondence, memoranda, policy statements, publications, programs, and some miscellaneous pamphlets. Notable items in this series include correspondence related to the work of a National Anti-trust Conference held in 1900. Series II: Pamphlets consists of late nineteenth and early twentieth century pamphlets that deal with contemporary American political, economic, and social issues such as the debate over "free silver" or bimetallism in currency reform, economic depression, free trade, and the formation of trusts. Series III: Periodicals consists of issues of journals and newspapers that often contain political and economic content regarding contemporary America from 1881 to 1919.