Prepared by Bob Arrighi, February 2001; Revised July 2009
35 record storage boxes, 35 cubic feet, 11th floor
Staughton Lynd's quest for a more humane world has propelled him through an array of diverse situations and introduced him to some of the most radical and active people in this country. Throughout his life, Staughton Lynd has remained steadfast in both his activism and his beliefs. He is a social democratic pacifist who believes strongly in local organizing. He continues to be a vital force in day-to-day activism.
Staughton Lynd (b.1929) and Andrea Lynd were the children of renowned sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd. The elder Lynds authored the famous Middletown study of Muncie, Indiana in 1929. Staughton Lynd inherited both his father's strong scholarship ability and socialistic beliefs. Staughton Lynd's socialist views have endured over the decades, but he has avoided both the overly theoretical and undemocratic versions. These beliefs were the direct cause of his expulsion from his non-combatant position in the military during the McCarthy purges of the 1950s.
Lynd went on to earn a Ph.D. in History at Columbia University, then accepted a teaching position at Spellman College in Georgia. During the summer of 1964 he became the director of the Freedom Schools of Mississippi. Afterwards, Lynd accepted a position at Yale University, and, along with his wife Alice and three children, relocated to New England. It was there that he became an early vocal opponent to the war in Vietnam. These activities included speaking engagements, protest marches, and an infamous visit to Hanoi, which eventually cost him his position at Yale. As was the case throughout his life, he remained true to his beliefs and refused to follow as the anti-war activists and the New Left became more violent in the late 1960s.
The Lynd family moved again, this time to Chicago. After several years of struggling to make a living from community organization, Staughton Lynd enrolled in the University of Chicago law school in 1973. He and his wife Alice had conducted an oral history project of the working class. The revelations of this work, entitled Rank and File, spurred the Lynds toward law. There was nobody to assist the workers who were mired between the company's ill treatment and their union's failures. There was a definite role for an activist attorney to play.
The Lynds relocated to Youngstown, Ohio, in the heart of the Rust Belt. Staughton Lynd was an essential participant in the struggle of the late 1970s to keep the Youngstown steel mills open. Despite the eventual failure of these efforts, the Lynds have continued organizing in the Youngstown area. He has also been extremely active as an attorney, taking on a wide variety of cases, including those of disabled and retired workers. In recent years, Lynd has also turned his attention to international issues, such as Nicaragua and the West Bank. After nearly a half century of activism, Staughton Lynd still stands as a beacon of light for non-violent radicalism and community organizing.
The Staughton Lynd collection consists of thirty-four boxes of materials. These materials donated by Staughton Lynd in August 1998. The collection reflects the entire life of Staughton Lynd, from the 1930s to the year 2000. The collection also encompasses Robert, Helen, and Andrea Lynd, as well as a other of writers and activists. The collection is divided into five series: Robert & Helen Lynd, Staughton Lynd Papers, Staughton Lynd Writing, Other Writers, and Periodicals. The Robert and Helen Lynd series contains early photographs of the Lynds as well as Helen's father, Staughton Merrell. It contains the writings, correspondence, audio recordings, and other related materials of both the Lynd parents. This series also includes a great deal of early correspondence from Andrea Lynd, Staughton's sister.
The Staughton and Alice Lynd papers series is comprised of photographs, correspondence, speeches, biographies, and related materials. It also consists of a large number of news clips, book reviews, and articles published by Alice and Staughton Lynd. The materials contained in this series are arranged chronologically by decade. They range from Lynd's own baby book, to letters written in the year 2000. The third series, Staughton and Alice Lynd publications, contains manuscripts, drafts, notes, and other materials concerning the Lynds' published works. These include Rank & File, Communal Rights, American Labor Radicalism, Solidarity Unionism, Liberation Theology for Quakers and others. There are also many drafts of The Fight Against Shutdowns. Finally are the actual publications, such as Intellectual Origins or American Radicalism, Class Conflict: Slavery & the United States Constitution, and numerous essays included in collections.
The fourth series, Publications by Other Writers, contains the publications, manuscripts, and other materials from a long list of Lynd contemporaries and friends. Greg Calvert, Jamie Kalven, Jim Atelson, Al Young, and Jeremy Brecher are just a few of the many authors included in this section. Topics include Marxism, history, labor, and the first amendment. There are a significant amount of materials by Brian Willson, Eric Leif Davin, and David Rabban. The final series, Periodicals, contains runs of Liberation (1957-77), Radical America (1967-82), In These Times (1976-79), and WIN (1967-82). Staughton Lynd contributed articles to these publications. Also included as various law reviews, labor publications, and history journals.
The Staughton and Alice Lynd collection is organized into the following series.