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Papers, 1929-1991

Bessie, Alvah Cecil, 1904-1985


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Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Format Mixed Materials; Photos, Drawings, Prints; Videos, Slides, Films; Sound Recordings; Microforms
  • Contributors
  • Physical Details
    • 17.2 c.f. (42 archives boxes and 1 card box)
    • 5 reels of microfilm (35mm)
    • 6 tape recordings
    • 2 disc recordings
    • 6 reels of 35mm film, and
    • 1 reel of 16mm film; plus
    • additions of 6.9 c.f
    • 13 photographs, and
    • 64 tape recordings
  • Finding Aids
    • Register to the processed portion


  • Papers of Alvah Cecil Bessie (1904-1985), a novelist, screenwriter, literary and film critic, and one of the Hollywood Ten who was blacklisted for his refusal to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The collection documents Bessie's writing career; the impact of the blacklist on him; his recollections of his service with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a unit of the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War; and his continuing interest in similar issues and causes. Included are personal and professional correspondence; biographical information; recorded interviews; and a large section of draft and printed copies of writings in many genre. Among the writings represented are novels based on Bessie's own experiences such as Bread and a Stone, Inquisition in Eden, Men in Battle, One for My Baby, and The Un-Americans; The Symbol, which was suggested by the life of Marilyn Monroe; scripts for Espana Otra Vez, Objective Burma, Ruthless, Smart Woman, The Very Thought of You, and numerous unproduced films; and numerous book and film reviews.
  • Bessie's correspondents include representatives of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the Limelighters, the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, the Hungry i nightclub, the National Writers Union, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and the San Francisco Film Festival; foreign and American publishers and editors such as Curtis Brown Ltd., Chandler and Sharp, Holt Rinehart and Winston, and Seven Seas Books; and individuals such as Woody Allen, Herbert Aptheker, Ed Asner, James Aronson, Carlos Baker, Kaye Ballard, Angus Cameron, Jaime Camino, Morris Carnovsky, Lester Cole, Bette Davis, John Henry Faulk, Martha Gellhorn, Ralph Gleason, Lillian Hellman, Stefan Heym, Warren Hinckle, Paul Jarrico, Robert Kenny, Paul Krassner, Ring Lardner, Jr., John Howard Lawson, Maxim Lieber, Cyra MacFadden, Albert Maltz, Herbert Matthews, Arthur Miller, Clifford Odets, Vladimir Pozner, Carlos Rojas, Norman Rosten, George Seldes, Studs Terkel, Dalton Trumbo, and Jerry Wald.
  • The processed portion is summarized above and is described in the register. Additional accessions are described below.


  • The films in this collection are cataloged individually. The call numbers for these films are CB 015 and HB 444-449.
  • The original disc recordings are also available on tape.
  • Presented by Alvah Bessie, Terra Linda, California, and by the Bessie Estate via Dan Bessie, 1965-1992.
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