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MC 332; M-88

Goldman, Emma, 1869-1940. Papers of Leon Malmed and Emma Goldman, 1899-1982 (inclusive), 1899-1940 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 332; M-88
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Goldman, Emma, 1869-1940
Title: Papers of Leon Malmed and Emma Goldman, 1899-1982 (inclusive), 1899-1940 (bulk)
Date(s): 1899-1982
Date(s): 1899-1940
Quantity: 1.88 linear feet (4 + 1/2 file boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Letters from Emma Goldman to Leon Malmed, photographs of Goldman, Malmed, and Alexander Berkman, printed ephemera, and writings by Goldman and others.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession number: 81-M13
The Leon Malmed-Emma Goldman papers were purchased by the Schlesinger Library from Daniel Malmed, son of Leon Malmed, the recipient of most of the letters, in January 1981. The papers were acquired, processed and microfilmed with the support of the Alice R. Sigelman Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund and the Friends of the Schlesinger Library.

Processing Information:

Processed: June 1983
By: Bert Hartry

Access Restrictions:

Access. Originals are closed; use microfilm M-88.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Existence and Location of Copies:

The collection was microfilmed with the Fannie Dorothy Garfinkle Barrett Papers (A/B274), the Daniel Malmed Papers (A/M256), and the Lillian and William Mendelsohn Papers (A/M537). REQUEST AS M-88.

Preferred Citation:

Leon Malmed and Emma Goldman Papers, 1899-1982; item description, dates. MC 332, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is additional material available at the Schlesinger Library; see Emma Goldman Clippings, A/G620, Fannie Dorothy Garfinkle Barrett Papers, 1935-1937 (A/B274), the Daniel Malmed Papers, 1934-1981 (A/M256), and the Lillian and William Mendelsohn Papers, 1931-1982 (A/M537).


Accession number: 81-M13.
Processed by: Bert Hartry and Deborah Richards.
The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library Vertical File:
The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library Book Collection:
The following items have been transferred to Widener Library, Harvard University:
The following items were discarded:


Emma Goldman, anarchist, writer, lecturer and agitator for free speech and radical causes, was born in Kovno, Russia (1869) and emigrated to the United States in 1885. She lived first in Rochester, New York, where she married, divorced and remarried Jacob Kershner. In 1889 she settled alone in New York City, where she met Johann Most, editor of Freiheit, and Alexander Berkman. She joined the anarchist movement and soon became a public speaker for the cause. While editor of Mother Earth, 1906-17, she published anarchist pamphlets and books, including her own Anarchism and Other Essays (1911). Goldman also lectured on the radical drama of Ibsen, Shaw and Strindberg and wrote The Social Significance of the Modern Drama (1914). In 1917 Goldman and Alexander Berkman were arrested for conspiracy to obstruct draft registration. They were found guilty and sentenced to prison (1918-1919). Three months after their release in 1919 they were deported to Russia. Goldman's sojourn in Russia (1920-1921), which led to the publication of My Disillusionment in Russia, (1923), was followed by short stays in Sweden, Germany, and England, where in 1925 she married James Colton to obtain British citizenship.
In 1926 Goldman traveled to Canada to lecture in English and Yiddish on drama and politics. In October her meeting with Leon Malmed, a long-time anarchist associate from Albany, New York, led to a passionate affair. After speaking at meetings across Canada she returned to France in 1928 to write her autobiography, Living My Life,(1931). Goldman returned to Canada in 1933 and in 1934 was given permission to enter the United States for a 90-day visit and lecture tour. Upon her return Europe Goldman became an active supporter of the Spanish Republican cause, visited Spain in 1936, 1937 and 1938, and attempted to raise money and arouse support in England. On a fund-raising visit to Canada in 1939, she suffered a stroke. She died in May 1940 and was buried in Chicago's Waldheim Cemetery near the graves of the "Haymarket martyrs."
For further biographical information, see the article in Notable American Women (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1971), which includes a list of additional sources. See also To the Barricades: The Anarchist Life of Emma Goldman, by Alix Shulman (New York, 1971), which includes a selected biography. Other Goldman papers are listed in Women's History Sources, (New York, 1979). The material in this collection was not available for inclusion in any of the aforementioned publications.
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the Rockefeller Foundation have funded The Emma Goldman Papers Project of the Institute for the Study of Social Change, Berkeley, California, which proposes "...to microfilm all her correspondence and printed material except books available (Mother Earth, The Social Significance of the Modern Drama, and Anarchism and Other Essays)..." (Candace Falk, editor, letter to Patricia King, Director, Schlesinger Library, September 28, 1982.)
Leon Malmed, the collector of these papers and the friend and lover of Goldman, was born Leon Bass in Russia (1881) and emigrated to the United States in about 1895. His name, due to an error on the part of an immigration officer, was recorded Malmed or Malmet, the name of the half-brother who came to meet him. Leon Malmed went to work in New York City as a cigar maker. In 1904 he married Millie Mott (born ca.1882), a Russian emigrant who worked in a brush factory. Although not a radical herself, she attended meetings with a friend and there met Malmed. After their marriage the Malmeds moved to Albany, where Malmed continued to work as a cigarmaker until the factory was closed permanently by a strike. By 1907 Malmed had opened a delicatessen, which he ran with his wife. In the mid-twenties he was involved in real estate for a period of five or six years; during which time he closed the delicatessen and opened a hosiery store.
Leon Malmed was a radical and supported the anarchist movement, although his active participation seems to have decreased as his business demanded more time. Beginning in about 1903, he attended and arranged meetings and distributed literature. He met Goldman in about 1906; his friendship with her continued until her death. In 1915, after some travel on his own, he joined Goldman, Ben Reitman, and Alexander Berkman on a cross-country lecture tour, during which he was arrested and fined in Portland, Oregon, for distributing birth control material. In 1926 he contributed to a fund which made possible Goldman's trip to Canada, and in 1934 Malmed arranged her lectures in Albany. After Goldman's death he wrote, "I feel I lost the very essence of life in Emma's death" (see #69). Malmed died in 1956.


The collection consists almost entirely of correspondence, with small numbers of photographs of Emma Goldman, Leon Malmed, and Alexander Berkman, printed ephemera, and writings by Goldman and others. The correspondence consists mainly of more than 450 letters, postcards and telegrams from Goldman to Malmed, 1906-1939; in many of the later ones Goldman enclosed carbon copies of her letters to others or carbon copies of transcripts of letters from others to her. Other major writers to Malmed include Alexander Berkman, Stella Comyn, and Warren Starr Van Valkenburgh (who always signed himself W.S. and used the pen name Walter Starrett). The collection also contains letters from Goldman and Berkman to Nunia Seldes, and three letters (one a fragment) from Goldman to Ben Reitman. It is not known how these came to be in Malmed's possession. There are also letters to Malmed from friends in the anarchist movement; of particular interest are the accounts of Osias Leibovitz of life in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1902 (see #1). The whereabouts of Leon Malmed's letters to Goldman are not known and there are only three letters written by him in this collection: one (a fragment) to his family (1915, see #16), another to Stella Comyn (1921, see #27), and a third to Goldman (1929, see #56); the last was perhaps never sent.
An index of correspondents follows the inventory. Enclosures and other papers that are not letters are not indexed, but are described in the inventory.
Goldman was aware of the importance of this collection and referred to it several times in her letters to Malmed and W.S. Van Valkenburgh (see #31, 32, 49, 66). The papers provide information about Goldman, her family, her life and involvement in the anarchist movement, her lecture tours in the United States and other countries, her experience in the Soviet Union, her books, her friends and colleagues, her loneliness and frustration after being deported, her attitude toward love, friendship, and marriage, the atmosphere in Europe before World War II, and the Spanish Civil War. There is some information about Malmed, his family and his business ventures, as well as Goldman's opinions about success in the business world.
All the correspondence (#1-74) is arranged chronologically, with undated letters at the end. Miscellaneous material, including printed ephemera and writings by others, are in #75-77, and photographs are in #78-79.
This collection was handled by members of the Malmed family, and perhaps by others, before being acquired by the Schlesinger Library. When a letter mentions enclosures that were not found with it, the processor has appended a note to that effect. Letters found together with a cover letter in one envelope have been marked as enclosures. Some carbon copies of Goldman's letters to others and transcripts of letters by others to Goldman were separate, having no covering letters. These were placed in their proper chronological sequence; some refer to enclosures, but this was not noted by the processor. The collection contains duplicate and near duplicate copies of some of these transcripts. Only the near duplicates were microfilmed.
A number of letters from Goldman to Nunia Seldes were undated; some had been dated (directly on the letter or on an attached note) by person/s unknown. These dates were accepted by the processor in determining the letters' place in the chronological arrangement. Dates established by the processor are in square brackets.
Goldman often continued a letter to Malmed on the following day. Only the date at the beginning of the letter is noted in the inventory; the pages are numbered consecutively.
The recipient of all letters, unless otherwise noted, is Leon Malmed (LM ).
The writer of all letters, unless otherwise noted, is Emma Goldman (EG).
The letters are autograph letters signed (ALS) unless otherwise noted.
The description of the contents is not necessarily exhaustive; routine, commonplace contents are not noted.
All carbon copies (cc) are of transcript originals.
Enc: is used to indicate an enclosure.


For a list of the contents of MC 332 see the inventory that follows. For descriptions of the Fannie Dorothy Garfinkle Barrett Papers (A/B274), the Daniel Malmed Papers (A/M256), and the Lillian and William Mendelsohn Papers (A/M537), use the links, or see the inventory that precedes each of these collections on reel 6. When requesting microfilm material, please use the microfilm number (M-88) and the reel number.


Container list


This index includes the names, when known, of all writers and recipients of letters, both individuals and organizations, with one exception: little-known persons writing for organizations are not indexed, while the organizations are. Information about individuals and subjects is not indexed, nor are enclosures that are not letters, with the exception of Leon Malmed manuscript notes. All enclosures are described in the inventory.
The senders of telegrams in #63 are indexed but not individually listed in the inventory.
Some letters, particularly from Emma Goldman to others and others to Emma Goldman, are carbon copies or transcripts. This information is included in the inventory. (The number refers to folders.)
Key: No Symbol = Writer; * = Writer and Recipient; + = Recipient

Container List

Additional Index Terms

France--Politics and government--20th century
Freedom of speech
Germany--Politics and government--20th century
Great Britain--Politics and government--20th century
Jewish anarchists
Jewish radicals
Sacco-Vanzetti Trial, Dedham, Mass., 1921
Social reformers
Soviet Union--History--Revolution, 1917-1921
Soviet Union--Politics and government--20th century
Spain--History--Civil War, 1936-1939
United States--Emigration and immigration
United States--Politics and government--20th century
Alsberg, Henry Garfield, 1881-1970
Baginski, Max, 1864-1943
Balabanoff, Angelica, 1878-1965
Baldwin, Roger N. (Roger Nash), 1884-1981
Berkman, Alexander, 1870-1936
Berkman, Alexander. Prison memoirs
Browne, Maurice, 1881-1954
Bryant, Louise, 1885-1936
Comyn, Stella, 1886-1961
Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945
Ellis, Havelock, 1859-1939
Fitzgerald, M. Eleanor (Mary Eleanor), 1877-1955
Freeman, Alden, 1862-1937
Goldman, Emma. Living My Life
Goldman, Emma. My Disillusionment in Russia
Goldman family
Hartmann, Sadakichi, 1867-1944
Holmes, John Haynes, 1879-1964
Huxley, Aldous, 1894-1963
Knopf, Alfred A., 1892-1984
Leibovitz, Osias
Levine, Isaac Don, 1892-1981
Lord, Ann
Malmed family
Malmed, Leon, 1881-1956
Most, Johann Joseph, 1846-1906
Mother Earth
O'Hare, Kate Richards, 1877-1948
Reed, John, 1887-1920
Reitman, Ben L. (Ben Lewis), 1879-1942
Rocker, Rudolf, 1873-1958
Ross, Arthur Leonard, 1885?-1975
Sanger, Margaret, 1879-1966
Schapiro, Alexander
Scott, Evelyn, 1893-1963
Seldes, Nunia Berman
Steimer, Mollie, 1897-1980
Van Valkenburgh, Warren Starr, 1884-1938