Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives
The Tamiment Library is a research library at New York University that documents radical and left history, with strengths in the histories of communism, socialism, anarchism, the New Left, the Civil Rights Movement, and utopian experiments. The Robert F. Wagner Archives, which is also housed in Bobst Library at NYU, documents American labor history. Together the two units form an important center for scholarly research on labor and the left.
The Tamiment Library has a non-circulating collection of about 50,000 books, focusing on politics, political theory, labor, and radical literature and art movements. There are approximately 15,000 non-current periodical titles, including proceedings of labor union conventions, underground newspapers, internal bulletins of radical organizations, and scholarly journals. In addition, the library has a collection of about one million pamphlets and ephemera, including broadsides, leaflets, manifestos, reports, and other documents. The Tamiment Library and Wagner Archives together hold archival collections on organizations and individuals in the labor movement and left history, with special strengths in the New York City region.
The Tamiment Library was originally founded in 1906 as a part of the Rand School of Social Science, a worker-education school sponsored by the American Socialist Society and modeled after the workers’ school at Ruskin College, Oxford, England. The Library was named the Meyer London Library after the long-time Socialist who represented the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and only acquired its current name in the late 1970s.
From its first days, Camp Tamiment, a theater summer camp established in 1921 in the Poconos by people associated with the School, began to support the New York institution. Between 1937 and 1956, the Camp paid from 50 to 75 percent of the School's expenses. In 1956, Camp Tamiment purchased the School, then closed it and attempted to integrate its educational and cultural programs into the Tamiment Institute. The Library remained open and was renamed the Ben Josephson Library, after the Camp's managing director. In 1963, New York University acquired the library from Camp Tamiment.
In 1977, the Tamiment Institute, New York University, and the New York City Central Labor Council founded the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives to preserve the records of New York City's trade union movement; this became the repository for the records of the New York City Central Labor Council, its member unions and affiliated and related organizations and individuals.
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) collection, formerly located at Brandeis University, was acquired by the Tamiment Library in 2001. The collection is the largest and most important resource for the study of the participation of American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. It includes the papers of more than 200 volunteers, oral histories, films, photographs, posters, and selections of the microfilmed records of the International Brigades that were taken to the Soviet Union after the Spanish Civil War.
In March 2007, the archives of the Communist Party USA were donated to the library. The massive donation came in over 2,000 cartons, and included 20,000 books and pamphlets — some of which dating from the founding of the party - as well as thousands of photographs from the archives of the Daily Worker. The library also holds a copy of the microfilmed archive of Communist Party documents from Russian State Archives of Social and Political History held by the Library of Congress.
- A detailed history of the library can be found Bobst History. See also Dorothy Swanson, “The Tamiment Institute/Ben Josephson Library and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University,” The Library Quarterly, vol. 59 (April 1989).
- More information on this collection, including collection lists, guides, and inventories, can be found at Alba Guides. A complete list of names can be found at Alba Names.
- Patricia Cohen, "Communist Party USA Gives Its History to NYU," New York Times, March 20, 2007.
- Gary Shapiro, "Michael Nash, Record-Keeper of the Left, Dead at 66." The Villager. Aug. 23, 2012.
Further reading 
- Michael Nash, "Communist History at the Tamiment Library," American Communist History, vol. 3, no. 2 (December 2004), pp. 267–285.
- Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives, official website.
- "Anarchist Collections in the Tamiment Library: Highlights from the Collections," www.flickr.com/
- "CPUSA: Ninety Years of History, a Tamiment Library Exhibit," www.flickr.com/
- "Labor & the Holocaust: The Jewish Labor Committee and the Anti-Nazi Struggle," www.nyu.edu/
- "New York City Labor History Map," www.nyu.edu/
- Labor Arts official website.—Cooperative project collecting images of the cultural artifacts of working people and their organizations.