Staughton Lynd

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Staughton Craig Lynd (born November 22, 1929) is an American conscientious objector, Quaker,[1] peace activist and civil rights activist, tax resister, historian, professor, author and lawyer. His involvement in social justice causes has brought him into contact with some of the nation's most influential activists, including Howard Zinn, Tom Hayden and Daniel Berrigan.[2] Lynd's contribution to the cause of social justice and the peace movement is chronicled in Carl Mirra's biography, The Admirable Radical: Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent, 1945-1970, published in 2010 by Kent State University Press.

Early life[edit]

Lynd was one of two children born to the renowned sociologists Robert Staughton Lynd and Helen Lynd, who authored the groundbreaking "Middletown" studies of Muncie, Indiana, in the late 1920s and '30s. Staughton Lynd inherited not only his parents' gifts as scholars, but also their strong socialist beliefs. Although Lynd never embraced undemocratic forms of socialism, his ideological outlook led to his expulsion from a non-combatant position in the U.S. military during the McCarthy Era.

He went on to earn a doctorate in history at Columbia University and accepted a teaching position at Spelman College, in Georgia, where he became acquainted with historian and civil rights activist Howard Zinn. During the summer of 1964, Lynd served as director of the SNCC-organized Freedom Schools of Mississippi. After accepting a position at Yale University, Lynd relocated to New England, along with his wife, Alice, and their three children. In 1965 he gave lectures on 'The History of the American Left' at the Free University of New York.[3]

Vietnam-era activism[edit]

It was during his tenure at Yale that Lynd became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War.[2] His protest activities included speaking engagements, protest marches, and a controversial visit to Hanoi along with Herbert Aptheker and Tom Hayden on a fact-finding trip at the height of the war, which cost him his teaching position at Yale. As the protest movement became increasingly violent, Lynd began to have doubts about the values and practices of the New Left.[citation needed] As a self-described "social democratic pacifist", he became more interested in the possibilities of local organizing.

In 1967, Lynd signed a letter declaring his intention to refuse to pay taxes in protest against the U.S. war against Vietnam, and urging other people to also take this stand.[4]

Labor activism[edit]

In the late 1960s, Lynd relocated his family to Chicago. There, he struggled to make a living from community organizing. Meanwhile, he and his wife, Alice, embarked upon an oral history project dealing with the working class. The conclusions of this work, titled Rank and File, inspired Lynd to study law in order to assist workers victimized by companies and left unprotected by declining labor unions. In 1973, he enrolled at the University of Chicago law school, where he earned a degree in 1976.

Rust Belt activism[edit]

From there, the Lynds relocated to Youngstown, Ohio, in the heart of the Rust Belt. He proved to be a vital participant in the late 1970s struggle to keep the Youngstown steel mills open. Despite the ultimate failure of those efforts, the Lynds have continued organizing in the Youngstown-Warren area.[5] Staughton Lynd has remained extremely active as an attorney, taking on a broad range of cases, including those concerning disabled and retired workers.

Lynd's book, Lucasville, is an investigation into the events surrounding the 1993 prison uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, and voices serious concern over the integrity of legal proceedings subsequent to the event. His newest book, a memoir of his and Alice's life, Stepping Stones: Memoir of a Life Together was released in January 2009.

Lynd still maintains an active Ohio law license.

Works by Lynd[edit]

  • Anti-Federalism in Dutchess County, New York: A Study of Democracy and Class Conflict in the Revolutionary Era (1962)
  • Ed. Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History (1966)
  • Ed. Reconstruction (1967)
  • With Tom Hayden, The Other Side (1967)
  • Intellectual origins of American Radicalism (1968)
  • Class Conflict, Slavery, and the United States Constitution: Ten Essays (1968)
  • With Michael Ferber, The Resistance (1971)
  • Ed. Personal Histories of the Early C.I.O. (1971)
  • With Gar Alperovitz,Strategy and Program: Two Essays Toward a New American Socialism (1973)
  • Ed. American Labor Radicalism: Testimonies and Interpretations (1973)
  • Ed. With Alice Lynd, Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers (1973)
  • Ed. Punching Out: & Other Writings (1973)
  • With Helen Merrell Lynd, Possibilities (1977)
  • The Fight Against Shutdowns: Youngstown's Steel Mill Closings (1982)
  • With Mike Konopacki, Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below (1992)
  • Ed. With Alice Lynd, Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1993)
  • Ed. With Alice Lynd, Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History 2nd Ed. (1995)
  • With Alice Lynd, Liberation Theology for Quakers (1996)
  • Ed. “We Are All Leaders”: The Alternative Unionism of the Early 1930s (1996)
  • Living Inside Our Hope: A Steadfast Radical's Thoughts on Rebuilding the Movement (1997)
  • With Alice Lynd, The New Rank and File (2000)
  • Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising (2004)
  • With Daniel Gross, Labor Law for the Rank & Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear of the Law (2008)
  • With Andrej Grubačić, Wobblies & Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism and Radical History (2008)
  • Class Conflict, Slavery, and the United States Constitution: Ten Essays 2nd Ed. (2009)
  • With Alice Lynd, Stepping Stones: Memoir of a Life Together (2009)
  • From Here to There: The Staughton Lynd Reader (2010)
  • With Daniel Gross, Solidarity Unionism at Starbucks (2011)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lynd (1997), p. 44.
  2. ^ a b Zinn (1999), p. 486.
  3. ^ Ferment Magazine by Roy Lisker, accessed 16 July 2012
  4. ^ “An Open Letter” archived at Horowitz Transaction Publishers Archive
  5. ^ Fuechtmann (1989), p. 7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, David S. "Suddenly Staughton," Reviews in American History Volume 39, Number 2, June 2011 pp 354-359 online at Project MUSE


  • Alice and Staughton Lynd, Living Inside Our Hope: A Steadfast Radical's Thoughts on Rebuilding the Movement (Cornell University Press, 1997)
  • Thomas G. Fuechtmann, Steeples and Stacks: Religion and Steel Crisis in Youngstown (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
  • Carl Mirra, The Admirable Radical: Staughton Lynd and Cold War Dissent (Kent, OH Kent State University Press, 2010).
  • Carl Mirra Radical Historians and the Liberal Establishment: Staughton Lynd's Life with History," LEFT HISTORY, v. 11, no. 1 (Spring 2006).
  • Scene Magazine, Cleveland, Ohio, May 23, 2002.
  • Supreme Court of Ohio Record
  • Zinn, Howard (1999). A People's History of the United States, 1492–Present. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Related links[edit]