Staughton Lynd

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Staughton Lynd
BornStaughton Craig Lynd
(1929-11-22) November 22, 1929 (age 88)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ResidenceNiles, Ohio
Spouse(s)Alice Nyles Lynd

Staughton Craig Lynd (born November 22, 1929) is an American conscientious objector, Quaker,[6] 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.[7]

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 (2010).

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. When Zinn was fired from Spelman at the end of the 1962–63 academic year, Lynd resigned in protest. 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.[8]

Vietnam-era activism[edit]

It was during his tenure at Yale that Lynd became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War.[7] His protest activities included speaking engagements, protest marches, and a controversial visit to Hanoi along with Herbert Aptheker and 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[which?] about the values and practices of the New Left.[citation needed] As a self-described "social democratic pacifist" and "Marxist Existentialist Pacifist",[9] 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.[10]

Labor activism[edit]

In 1968, Lynd published his book Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism, which came under severe criticism. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Marxist professor Eugene Genovese called the book a "travesty of history" and Lynd an "ideologue". Yale denied Lynd tenure, and he became unemployable in academia.[11] 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. Working first for the union-side labor law firm of Green, Schiavoni, Murphy & Haines, and then for Northeast Ohio Legal Services in Youngstown, 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 continued organizing in the Youngstown-Warren area.[12] Staughton Lynd 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)
  • Labor Law for the Rank & Filer (1978)
  • 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 2nd Ed. (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)
  • Staughton Lynd (December 2014). Doing History from the Bottom Up: On E.P. Thompson, Howard Zinn, and Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below. Chicago: Haymarket Books.
  • Alice Lynd; Staughton Lynd (February 2012). Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers. Chicago: Haymarket Books.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alice Nyles Lynd and Staughton Lynd Papers (DG 099)". Swarthmore College Peace Collection. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  2. ^ "Staughton Lynd Facts, information, pictures". Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  3. ^ "Staughton Lynd". Haymarket Books. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  4. ^ Stanley, Tiffany L. "Political activists Staughton and Alice (Niles) Lynd have written a memoir". Harvard Magazine. Retrieved 2015-01-10. May–June 2010
  5. ^ "Ohio Citizen Action Honors Staughton and Alice Lynd". EcoWatch. February 2, 2012. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  6. ^ Alice and Staughton Lynd, Living Inside Our Hope: A Steadfast Radical's Thoughts on Rebuilding the Movement, Cornell University Press, 1997, p. 44.
  7. ^ a b Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492–Present, 1999. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. P. 486.
  8. ^ Lisker, Roy. "The Antiwar Movement in New York City 1965–67". Ferment Magazine. Retrieved 2015-01-11. An Updated and revised version of the article published in "Les Temps Modernes" the magazine of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre September 1968
  9. ^ "Firing Line with William F. Buckley Jr.: Vietnam: What Next?". Youtube. Youtube. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  10. ^ "An Open Letter" archived at Horowitz Transaction Publishers Archive
  11. ^ Duberman, Martin (2012), Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left, The New Press |access-date= requires |url= (help).
  12. ^ Thomas G. Fuechtmann, Steeples and Stacks: Religion and Steel Crisis in Youngstown, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 7.


  • 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).
  • Mark Weber and Stephen Paschen, Side by Side: Alice and Staughton Lynd, the Ohio Years (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2014).
  • Scene Magazine, Cleveland, Ohio, May 23, 2002.
  • Supreme Court of Ohio Record

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]