Americans for Democratic Action records, 1932-1999

Americans for Democratic Action
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  • Format Mixed Materials; Photos, Drawings, Prints; Sound Recordings; Videos, Slides, Films
  • Contributors
  • Physical Details
    • 163.6 c.f. (410 archives boxes, 12 volumes, and 2 packages) and
    • 142 reels of microfilm; plus
    • additions of 50.6 c.f
    • 87 tape recordings
    • 18 disc recordings
    • 1068 photographs
    • 105 negatives
    • 118 transparencies, and
    • 10 videorecordings (8 mm)
  • OCLC ocn173712096, ocn173700195
  • Finding Aids
    • Register to the processed portion; and published guide to the microfilm, which includes an index of important correspondence


  • Records of the ADA, founded in 1947 as a national, independent, liberal organization, and of its predecessor, the Union for Democratic Action, founded in 1941 to combat fascism at home and abroad. Included are correspondence, minutes, reports, membership and financial records, press releases, clippings, and mimeographed and printed materials documenting the organizations' activities. The UDA actively supported the war effort, supported a full post-war employment plan, and urged appointment of Henry A. Wallace as Secretary of Commerce. To avoid any taint of communism, UDA leaders proposed the formation of ADA as an organization explicitly democratic in purpose. Initially the ADA hoped to expand the social and economic legislation started by the New Deal. The support of civil liberties, concern for the domestic economy, backing for the United Nations and for international control of economic energy, and continued political and economic support of democratic governments throughout the world were among its aims.
  • The collection concerns ADA's administration, legislative lobbying and political activities, its chapters throughout the country and on various campuses, conventions, and relations with other organizations. Administrative records include correspondence of leaders and Washington headquarters staff members such as Thomas Amlie, Francis Biddle, Evelyn Dubrow, Violet Gunther, Leon Henderson, Edward Hollander, Hubert Humphrey, Charles LaFollette, Richard Lambert, James Loeb, Jr., Robert Nathan, Reinhold Niebuhr, Natalie Panak, Sheldon Pollock, Joseph Rauh, Marvin Rosenberg, John F. P. Tucker, David C. Williams, Page Wilson, Wilson Wyatt, and Reginald Zalles.
  • Mimeographed minutes, reports, and other records of the 1947 Organizing Committee are followed by similar records of the National Board and the Executive Committee. Records of the National Committee for Organization reflect the emphasis placed on organizing new chapters and assisting chapters' and members' programs. Contribution correspondence, audit reports, budget proposals and reports, and balance sheets document the group's often shaky finances. Organized labor's aid is documented as are various fundraising attempts.
  • Chapter files vary considerably from chapter to chapter in quantity. They generally contain correspondence on local and national political action, internal organizational rivalries or personnel problems, and member activities; election campaign materials; and administrative and financial records of the chapter. Campus chapters were affiliated as Students for Democratic Action chapters, then after a 1959 revitalization effort as chapters of the Campus Division of ADA. Their files tend to concern civil rights issues and organizations, the draft, other youth organizations (both on the left and the right), and the U.S. National Student Association.
  • ADA convention files concern both the practical aspects of a large meeting as well as policy issues and include correspondence with leading liberals. Legislative files document ADA's lobbying activities, principally at the federal level. They concern civil rights, cloture, small business issues, disarmament, electoral reform, aid to education, full employment, public housing, social security, foreign relations, and numerous other issues. Political files concern both presidential and congressional elections. They include correspondence, clippings, speeches, analyses of candidates and events, and other materials. Public relations files include both publicity materials and research files on topics and people of interest to the organization, e.g. right wing political groups, civil liberties, William O. Douglas, Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, Joseph R. McCarthy, Leland Olds, Lillian Smith, Harold Stassen, and Harry Truman.
  • The processed portion of this series is summarized above, dates 1932-1965, and is described in the register. Additional accessions date 1943-1999 and are described below.


  • Most of the processed portion of this collection is also available on microfilm. A positive copy is held by the SHSW Library.
  • Microfilm produced by the Microfilming Corporation of America, 1979.
  • Presented by the Americans for Democratic Action, Washington, D.C., 1965.
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