Anne Burlak Timpson papers
Scope and Contents
The Anne Burlak Timpson Papers consist of 22.25 linear feet dating from 1912 to 2003 and are primarily related to her personal and political life. Types of materials include correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, speeches, legal documents, photographs, press releases, reports, minutes, newsletters, notes, subject files, journal and newspaper articles, scrapbooks, interviews, pamphlets, audiovisual materials, and memorabilia.
The bulk of the papers date from 1929 to the mid 1990s and focus on Timpson's social and political activism, her involvement in the Communist Party of the United States, her unfinished autobiography, and her family in the former Soviet Union. The collection documents seventy years of social, political, and family life through local, state, national and international lenses. Much of the arrangement, especially for the subject files, is in its original order, except for materials that were misfiled or not filed at all.
Different series provide insight into different periods of Timpson's life. While the collection is especially strong in subjects and organizations relating to the 1980s and 1990s, there are only a few primary documents related to her activism in the late 1920s. Her early years are best documented through her autobiography and oral histories/interviews. While her family correspondence is notably sparse in the 1950s and 1960s, her scrapbooks provide a sense of home and family life.
The subject files form the largest series and are a boon to anyone interested in the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA). The CPUSA is well represented from the 1960s to the mid 1990s. Especially well documented is the crisis that reverberated through CPUSA in 1991-92. In addition, the correspondence between Timpson and her brothers in the Soviet Union, as well as subject and organization files, offer a wealth of material that illuminates U.S.-Soviet relations. There is less information, however, regarding Timpson's early involvement in the Communist Party from the 1930s through the 1950s, and there is little documentation from her failed political campaigns in Rhode Island except for a few flyers. Although she talks about her work as Communist Party Secretary of Massachusetts in the 1940s in interviews, there are only a few documents that relate to this era. Materials related to her role in the Communist Party during the 1930s through 1950s are located in the writings and speeches series.
Other areas of Timpson's life are under documented. There is very little information on the period in the early 1950s when she left her children with friends while she was trying to avoid arrest. Although there is some material about her paid employment as a textile worker and union organizer in her oral histories and interviews, there are only a few items that reveal her work as a bookkeeper in the 1950s to the 1970s.
On the other hand, Timpson's Smith and McCarran Act indictments are well documented through legal materials, pamphlets, correspondence, and the F.B.I. files on Timpson. In addition to her trials, there is considerable material regarding others indicted under these or similar acts. Even though they have no specific subject files, the collection is filled with material related to race relations, the environment, anti-fascism, poverty, and the needs of the working class. Notable correspondents include Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Gus Hall, Joe Moakley, Eulalia Figueiredo Papaandreu Matusiak, Fred Whitehead, Henry Winston, and Helen and Carl Winter. In addition to the CPUSA, Timpson was involved in the U.S. Council for International Friendship, as well as other peace and justice organizations.
Dates of Materials
- Majority of material found within 1912-2003
Language of Materials
English, Spanish, Russian.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Use
The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to Anne Burlak Timpson's writings. Permission must be obtained to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."
Biographical / Historical
Anne Burlak Timpson was born on 24 May 1911 in Slatington, Pennsylvania. She was the eldest of six children of Ukrainian immigrants, Harry and Anastasia (Nellie) Smigel Burlak. Only four children lived to adulthood. Although she wanted to be a teacher, Anne Burlak dropped out of school at the age of 14 to help support her family by working at the mill. Like many young women seeking employment in the mills, she lied about her age, sixteen being the legal age for workers. From 1925 to 1929 she worked in the silk mills in Bethlehem and Allentown, Pennsylvania. In 1927 Ella Reeve Bloor came to Bethlehem to fundraise for the labor newspaper, The Daily Worker. After the meeting, she and Anne Burlak talked about the working conditions in the mill where Burlak worked. Bloor urged Burlak to join the Young Communist League (YCL), opening up "a whole new vision and purpose in life" for Anne Burlak, who was elected that year to the District Committee of the YCL of Eastern Pennsylvania. In 1928 Anne Burlak was a delegate to the founding convention of the National Textile Workers Union (NTWU). When she tried to organize the mill in her hometown, she was fired. Although it was easy to find work nearby, every time she tried to organize her fellow mill workers, she lost her job.
In May 1929 Anne Burlak and many others, including her father, were arrested and charged for spreading Communist propaganda under the state sedition laws. Burlak decided that if she was going to be charged "for Communist ideas under the Sedition law, I might as well join the Communist Party and learn more about it." Although the sedition case was eventually dropped, Burlak found herself blacklisted and unable to find a new job. So, when the Executive Board of the NTWU asked her to organize full time, she accepted and was paid ten dollars a week to work first in Pennsylvania, then in North and South Carolina. In 1930 she was sent to Georgia. On 21 May 1930, she and five others were arrested for insurrection against the state of Georgia because they addressed an interracial audience of unemployed workers. A conviction could have carried the death penalty. Burlak and the other five members of the "Atlanta Six" were held incommunicado for six weeks before their lawyers won them the right to bail. Burlak was the first one freed, and she traveled around the country raising money for the others' bail and for their defense under auspices of International Labor Defense. Although the Supreme Court declared the Georgia insurrection law unconstitutional in the Angelo Herndon case in 1937, the charges against the Atlanta Six were not dropped until 1939.
Anne Burlak returned to the north and organized workers in the mills of Rhode Island and New Bedford, Fall River and Lawrence, Massachusetts. It was during the 1931-32 Lawrence textile strike that she acquired the nickname, "The Red Flame." When Edith Berkman and the other two organizers were arrested in 1931, Burlak was asked to go to Lawrence to take charge of the strike. A local minister had already labeled Berkman the "Red Flame from hell" and when Burlak came into town to replace Berkman, the headline in a Lawrence newspaper said, "One Red Flame goes to jail and another one rises in her place!" In spite of the fact that the media often claimed that Burlak had red hair and/or wore outrageous red clothing, the origin of her nickname had nothing to do with her physical appearance.
At the age of 21 Anne Burlak was elected the National Secretary of the National Textile Workers' Union, the first American women to hold such a high post in a labor union. Immigration authorities tried to deport her, but they were forced to release her when a baptismal certificate proved her citizenship.
Anne Burlak's father was eventually fired for his union activities. In the midst of the Great Depression, there were few jobs in the U.S., but the Soviet Union was seeking skilled workers. In 1932 her parents and brothers returned to the Ukraine. When she went to Moscow to attend the Lenin Institute in 1936, it was the last time she would see her entire family. Her father died of starvation during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine in 1943 and she did not see her mother or brothers again until 1961.
In 1932, Anne Burlak unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Pawtucket, Rhode Island on the Communist Party ticket. Her platform included unemployment and social insurance at the government's expense, cash relief instead of scrip from the local department of public aid, immediate payment of soldiers' bonuses, and the right of workers to strike. That same year, she led the Rhode Island contingent of 3000 (25% African American and 33% women) to the national Hunger March in Washington, D.C. to petition the federal government for unemployment insurance. While there, she met her future husband, Arthur E. Timpson, who was representing the Wisconsin farm delegation in D.C., but Burlak does not remember meeting him until 1935. Although he wanted to get married before he left to fight in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade as a volunteer soldier in the Spanish Civil War, they waited until he returned home and they were married on 10 November 1939.
In 1938 Anne Burlak ran for Secretary of State of Rhode Island on the Communist Party ticket, advocating jobs, security, democracy, and peace. In January 1939, while working as the Administrative Secretary of the Communist Party of Massachusetts, she was subpoenaed to testify before the House Committee for the Investigation of Un-American Activities (Dies Committee). In 1940 she was elected the Executive Secretary of the Communist Party of Massachusetts. Through World War II she appeared at legislative hearings at the statehouse regarding pro-labor and civil rights legislation. Arthur Timpson volunteered for and entered the United States Army in March 1942. Anne Burlak Timpson gave birth to her first child, Kathryn Anne Timpson, in May 1943 while Arthur was training in Pennsylvania. Arthur Timpson served overseas with General Patton's forces from June 1943 until the end of the war.
With the war over, and soldiers returning home to reclaim the jobs that many working mothers had filled while the men were overseas, the federal government decided to close federally funded day care centers. Anne Burlak Timpson successfully fought against the closing of the Boston area facilities in 1945-46. When son William Michael Timpson was born in July 1946, Anne Burlak Timpson stayed at home with her two children and edited the Roxbury Voice, a newsletter issued by the local Communist Party.
Many Communist Party leaders were arrested under the Smith Act during the summer of 1951. With her movements being followed by the FBI, Anne Burlak Timpson stayed away from her home for eight months hoping to avoid arrest, leaving her daughter with good friends, first in Kansas City, Missouri and then Roxbury, Massachusetts; once school started again, she left her son with friends in Boston. Although she managed to avoid arrest during the early part of the decade, Anne Burlak Timpson was indicted under the Massachusetts Anti-Anarchy Law and in March 1956 she was arrested with six others for violating the Smith Act. After the Supreme Court ruled in the Steve Nelson case that only the United States government could prosecute such cases, the charges stemming from the state anarchy law were dropped. The Smith Act trial was delayed until the Supreme Court made a decision in the California Smith Act case. When the California defendants were acquitted, the case against the seven in Massachusetts was dropped as well.
This was not the end of Anne Timpson's arrests, however; on 1 October 1964 Timpson was indicted again, this time under the Internal Security Act of 1950, commonly known as the McCarran Act, which required Communists to register and prohibited them from holding federal or union jobs. As one of 44 arrested, Timpson and many others refused to cooperate, citing their right not to incriminate themselves. In 1965 the Supreme Court held that the registration provision was unconstitutional, and the charges against Timpson were dropped.
Throughout this period, Anne Burlak Timpson worked as a bookkeeper. In the 1960s she was asked to serve on the board of the Marian Davis (later Davis-Putter) Scholarship Fund, an organization dedicated to providing monetary support to students working for peace and justice. In 1981 Timpson retired and she spent the last few decades of her life involved in local politics, fighting for better schools, housing, jobs, and health care. She championed the rights of low income workers and senior citizens; continued her fights against racism, classism, and sexism; and was heavily involved in the peace movement, advocating nuclear disarmament as the Cold War came to a close. Timpson dedicated herself energetically to fundraising for the Communist Party and the party newspapers, and organized a picnic fundraiser every summer in the 1980s and early to mid 1990s. In 1982 she won a Wonder Woman Award for Women Creating New Realities, which provided her a stipend so she could write her memoirs. In 1997 she was awarded the Sacco-Vanzetti Memorial Award for Contributions to Social Justice. Anne Burlak Timpson remained a member of the Communist Party to the day she died, 9 July 2002, at the age of 91 in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
30.147 linear feet (61 containers)
Communist Party official, Labor organizer. Papers include include correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, speeches, photographs, scrapbooks, interviews, audiovisual materials, and an unfinished autobiography. Subject and organization files are a boon to anyone interested in the history of the Communist Party of the U.S.A. (CPUSA), U.S.-Soviet relations, and peace and justice organizations. Timpson's indictments under the Smith and McCarran Act are well documented, as are other U.S. Communists who were indicted. Correspondents include her brothers, Nicholas, Mike and John Burlak in the Soviet Union; her husband Arthur Timpson in the Spanish Civil War; as well as Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Gus Hall, Joe Moakley, Eulalia Figueiredo Papaandreu Matusiak, Fred Whitehead, Henry Winston, and Helen and Carl Winter.
This collection is organized into eight series:
- I. BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS
- II. CORRESPONDENCE
- III. WRITINGS AND SPEECHES
- IV. ORGANIZATION FILES
- V. SUBJECT FILES
- VI. PHOTOGRAPHS
- VII. SCRAPBOOKS
- VIII. AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS
This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time. Note that in most cases, container numbers start over at 1 with each new accession.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Anne Burlak Timpson donated her papers to the Sophia Smith Collection from 1998 to 1999. Additional materials were donated by her children, William M. Timpson and Kathryn A. Wright, as well as her brother, Nicholas H. Burlak, between 1998 and 2012, and Avi Chomsky in 2004. The F.B.I. responded to a FOIA request in 2005.
Appendix: Titles of Communist Publications in box 15
- The American Way to Jobs, Peace, Equal Rights and Democracy: Program of the Communist Party, 1954
- Anti-Immigrant Racism and the Fight for Unity, by Evelina Alarcon, 1995
- The Big Stakes of Détente, by Gus Hall, 1974
- Bush's 'Rival' Ross Perot-Another Wrong from the New Right, by Tim Wheeler, 1992
- Carter Still off the Track, by Gus Hall, 1978
- Capitalism on the Skids to Oblivion: The People's Struggle for a New Beginning, by Gus Hall, 1972
- Class Struggle Heats Up, by Gus Hall, 1994
- Coal Miners and Steel Workers: United Struggle Can Win! by Gus Hall, 1978
- The Communist Party & How It Works: A Handbook on its Organization & Functioning, 1976
- The Communist Party in a New Stage, by Gus Hall, 1993
- A Communist Speaks at a Teach-in on Vietnam, by Dorothy Healey, 1966
- A Communist Talks to Students, by Dorothy Healey, 1963
- Communists Are Working-Class Activists, by Arnold Becchetti, 1984
- The Communists Take a New Look, by Eugene Dennis, 1956
- Constitution of the Communist Party of the United States of America, 1983
- Constitution of the Communist Political Association, undated
- Crime, Violence & Capitalism, by Gus Hall, 1994
- Dear Friend: Join our Party--The Party of Struggle, by Art Shields, 1977
- Dialog, 1990-91
- Discussion from the National Committee/National Council Meeting, 1990
- The Eleventh Hour-Defeat the New Fascist Threat! by Gus Hall, 1964
- Equality & Empowerment: Part I, 1990
- Equality & Empowerment: Part II, 1990
- Fightback II: Forces of Political Independence Key to Advances in '85-'86, 1984
- Fighting the Boss-Putting Righteous Anger to Work, by Roberta Wood, undated
- For a Party of Action: New Conditions, New Tasks of the Party in the '70s, by Daniel Rubin, 1972
- For Peace, Jobs, Equality, by Gus Hall, 1983
- Gus Hall Speaks on Youth Rights, 1976
- The Hammer, 1995
- If This Be Treason, by Richard O. Boyer, 1948
- Henry Winston Discusses Cuba Today, 1979
- How Socialism Will Come to the United States: The Viewpoint of the Communist Party, 1971
- How to be a Good Communist, by Liu-Shao-Chi, 1952
- An Invitation to Afro-Americans from the Communist Party, undated
- Is Communism Un-American? 9 Questions about the Communist Party Answered, by Eugene Dennis, 1947
- Julius and Ethel Rosenberg: The Anti-Communist Hysteria Then and Now, 1988
- A Lame Duck in Turbulent Waters: The Next 4 Years of Nixon, by Gus Hall, 1972
- A Look Ahead-The Communist View, by Gus Hall, 1996
- Make This Election Count! The Aims of Communists in '72, by Gus Hall, 1972
- The McCarthy Conspiracy against the People, 1954
- The Most Basic Fact of Life: The Class Struggle, by Gus Hall, undated
- Must We Be Ruled by the Almighty Dollar? undated
- The New Danger: Reaganism's Alliance with Ultra-Right and Fascist Forces, by Gus Hall, 1984
- A New Mass Communist Party for a New Stage in the Class Struggle, by Gus Hall, 1994
- New Program of the Communist Party USA: The People versus Corporate Power, 1982
- New Program of the Communist Party USA: The People versus Corporate Power, 1984
- New Thrust in Labor, by George Meyers and Sam Webb, 1992
- New World Balance of Forces, by Gus Hall, 1992
- No One Should Go Hungry, by Roscoe Proctor, 1981
- Not America's War! Not Worth an American Life! by Phil Frankfeld, 1939
- Not in America! Contract with America, by Gus Hall, 1996
- NUCOR and Mini Steel: The New Capitalist Barbarians by Scott Marshall and Paul Kaczocha, 1993
- Our Country in Crisis-The People Must Act! by Gus Hall, 1970
- Our Nation's Crisis and How to Solve It, 1972
- Our Unique Role, by Gus Hall, 1987
- Out of Indo-China! Freedom for Angela Davis! Our Goals for 1971 and How to Win Them, by Gus Hall, 1971
- Over 101 Profund Ideas for Fundraising, undated
- The Party in a New Framework, by Gus Hall, 1986
- The Path to Peace, Progress and Prosperity: Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of the Communist Political Association, 1944
- The People Against the Trusts, by Eugene Dennis, 1948
- People and Nature before Profits, 1994
- People before Profits! A People's Economic Program, 1993
- The People vs. Monopoly: Program of the Communist Party, USA, 1980 draft
- People's Action Now Can End the Arm's Race, by Gus Hall, 1977
- The People's Daily World, by Gus Hall, 1986
- The Pervasive Menace of Institutionalized Racism, by Tony Monteiro and Thomas Dennis, 1992
- The Politics of People's Action: The Communist Party in the '72 Elections, by Henry Winston, 1972
- The Professional Informer, by Hyman Lumer, 1955
- A Program for All of Boston's People from the Communist Party, undated
- The Programme of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1986
- Progress and Democracy: A Program for Rhode Island, 1938
- Racism and the Youth Crisis, by David Mirtz, 1993
- The Revolutionary Process and the New World Balance of Forces, by Gus Hall, 1992
- The Right to a Job, undated
- Socialism and Capitalism in a Changing World, by Gus Hall, 1990
- Socialism: Made in USA, 1990
- Socialism: The Road to Peace, Prosperity, and Freedom, by William Z. Foster, 1941
- Some Things You May Want to Know about the Communist Political Association, by David Goldway, 1944
- Struggle against the Economic Crisis-Turn the Party Outward, by Gus Hall, 1992
- There is Still Time…To Save our Country and The World From "The Day After," by Gus Hall, 1983
- To Be A Communist: Party Standards, 1985
- The Trade Unions and the War, by William Z. Foster, 1942
- Unity! The Only Way, by Gus Hall, 1987 (2 copies)
- The Urban Crisis: Los Angeles Rebels, by Evelina Alarcon, 1992
- What the Reds Say Today, by Gus Hall, 1981
- What's Ahead for Textile Workers, by Emanuel Blum and Joseph C. Figueiredo, 1948
- Which Way U.S.A. 1964? The Communist View, by Gus Hall
- Who are the Communists and What Do They Stand For? by F. Brown, 1936
- Why Communism? by M.J. Olgin, 1934
- Why You Should Join the Communist Party, USA, by Gus Hall, 1983
- Will there Ever Be Socialism in the U.S.A.? by James E. Jackson, undated
- Working Class: United and Fighting, by Gus Hall and Sam Webb, 1994
- Would You Believe…U.S. Workers Running the Economy? by Gus Hall, 1980
- Yes There is a Way out of the Economic Mess We're In! by Gus Hall, 1993
- Yes We Can! by Sid Taylor, 1981
TITLES OF COMMUNIST PUBLICATIONS
The American Way to Jobs, Peace, Equal Rights and Democracy: Program of the Communist Party, 1954 Anti-Immigrant Racism and the Fight for Unity, by Evelina Alarcon, 1995 The Big Stakes of Détente, by Gus Hall, 1974 Bush’s ‘Rival’ Ross Perot—Another Wrong from the New Right, by Tim Wheeler, circa 1992 Carter Still off the Track, by Gus Hall, circa 1978 Capitalism on the Skids to Oblivion: The People’s Struggle for a New Beginning, by Gus Hall, 1972 Class Struggle Heats Up, by Gus Hall, 1994 Coal Miners and Steel Workers: United Struggle Can Win! by Gus Hall, 1978 The Communist Party & How It Works: A Handbook on its Organization & Functioning, 1976 The Communist Party in a New Stage, by Gus Hall, 1993 A Communist Speaks at a Teach-in on Vietnam, by Dorothy Healey, 1966 A Communist Talks to Students, by Dorothy Healey, 1963 Communists Are Working-Class Activists, by Arnold Becchetti, 1984 The Communists Take a New Look, by Eugene Dennis, 1956 Constitution of the Communist Party of the United States of America, 1983 Constitution of the Communist Political Association, n.d. Crime, Violence & Capitalism, by Gus Hall, 1994 Dear Friend: Join our Party--The Party of Struggle, by Art Shields, 1977 Dialog, 1990-91 Discussion from the National Committee/National Council Meeting, 1990 The Eleventh Hour—Defeat the New Fascist Threat! by Gus Hall, 1964 Equality & Empowerment: Part I, 1990 Equality & Empowerment: Part II, 1990 Fightback II: Forces of Political Independence Key to Advances in ’85-’86, 1984 Fighting the Boss—Putting Righteous Anger to Work, by Roberta Wood, n.d. For a Party of Action: New Conditions, New Tasks of the Party in the ‘70s, by Daniel Rubin, 1972 For Peace, Jobs, Equality, by Gus Hall, 1983 Gus Hall Speaks on Youth Rights, 1976 The Hammer, 1995 If This Be Treason, by Richard O. Boyer, 1948 Henry Winston Discusses Cuba Today, 1979 How Socialism Will Come to the United States: The Viewpoint of the Communist Party, 1971
Processed by Kara M. McClurken, 2005.
Starting in September 2022, Smith College Special Collections will be renumbering many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes will be made in this collection: Accession 2012-S-0035, Boxes 1-2 renumbered as Boxes 56-57
- Anti-communist movements -- United States
- Boston (Mass.) -- History -- 20th century
- Civil rights movements -- United States -- 20th century
- Communism -- United States
- Communist Party of the United States of America
- Communist trials -- United States
- Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley
- Hall, Gus
- International cooperation
- Labor leaders -- United States
- Labor movement
- Labor movement -- United States -- 20th century
- Left wing political movements
- Massachusetts -- Politics and government
- Matusiak, Eulalia Figueiredo Papaandreu
- National Council of American-Soviet Friendship (U.S.)
- National Textile Workers Union
- Nuclear disarmament
- Soviet Union
- Spain -- History -- Civil War, 1936-1939 -- Personal narratives, American
- Textile workers -- United States -- 20th century
- Timpson, Anne Burlak
- Timpson, Arthur Edward, 1905-1976
- Timpson, William M.
- Unemployment insurance -- Law and legislation -- United States
- United States. Internal Security Act of 1950
- Women -- Employment -- United States
- Women and communism -- United States -- 20th century
- Women and peace -- 20th century
- Women and socialism -- United States -- 20th century
- Women in the labor movement -- United States -- 20th century
- Working class women -- United States
- Wright, Kathryn A.
- Anne Burlak Timpson papers
- Finding Aid
- Kara M. McClurken
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Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063