Paul Avrich

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Paul Avrich
Paul avrich ca1980.png
Avrich circa 1980
Born (1931-08-04)August 4, 1931
New York City
Died February 16, 2006(2006-02-16) (aged 74)
New York City

Paul Avrich (August 4, 1931 – February 16, 2006) was a professor and historian. He taught at Queens College, City University of New York, for most of his life and helped preserve the history of the anarchist movement in Russia and the United States.

Life and work[edit]

Avrich was born on August 4, 1931, into a Jewish family originally from Odessa. He studied at Cornell University, B.A. 1957, and Columbia University, Ph.D. 1961, where he pursued his graduate work on American anarchism that would soon become a part of a larger discovery of liberation movements.[1] Avrich traveled to the USSR as an exchange student in 1961 following Premier Nikita Khrushchev's 1959 visit to the United States.

While in the Soviet Union working on his thesis, The Russian Revolution and the Factory Committees, Avrich researched the Kronstadt rebellion and the role of anarchists in the Russian Revolution. This information allowed him to produce pioneering and important works on these subjects.

Teaching at Queens College, Avrich sought to communicate to his students an "affection and sense of solidarity with anarchists as people, rather than as militants." He was described as a "trusted friend" to many older anarchists whom he had met and interviewed, saving their stories for history.[2]

Avrich wrote extensively on topics related to anarchism, including books on Sacco and Vanzetti, the Haymarket Riot, and the Kronstadt Rebellion. Other important works include a biography of Voltairine de Cleyre, The Modern School Movement (a study of an anarchist-inspired educational program), Anarchist Portraits, and an important oral history collection, Anarchist Voices (edited). He also spoke regularly at the Libertarian Book Club in New York.

He was interviewed for long segments for the Anarchist documentary The Free Voice of Labor.

Avrich donated his collection of nearly 20,000 twentieth-century American and European anarchist publications and manuscripts to the Library of Congress.[3]

On February 16, 2006, at the age of 74, Avrich died in his birthplace of New York City from complications due to Alzheimer's disease.[4]



  1. ^ Falk, Candace. "Paul Avrich." OAH Newsletter May 2006: 22. Academic Search Complete. Web. 9 Feb. 2017.
  2. ^ Marianne Enckell, "Paul Avrich (1931–2006)", Centre International de Recherches sur l'Anarchisme, February 22, 2006
  3. ^ "Pamphlet Collections: Rare Book and Special Collections Division". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 5, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Paul Avrich." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center. Web. 12 Feb. 2017.

External links[edit]