Guide to the David Gordon George Papers, 1919-1976 and undated, bulk 1935-1965
Resident of Richmond, Va., socialist and grassroots political activist in his early life; founder of the Southern Electoral Reform League; later sided with conservatives such as Barry Goldwater and George Wallace. The David Gordon George Papers span the years 1919 to 1976, with the bulk of the collection dated between 1935 and 1965, and are organized into the Correspondence, Personal Files, Printed Materials and Writings, Photographic Materials, and Subject Files Series. The collection consists primarily of correspondence and files related to George's involvement in a variety of political and social movements, documenting his early involvement in grassroots socialist and leftist democratic organizing and electoral reform work, decades of involvement with national and regional labor organizations, and his late-life support of anti-communist and socially conservative politics, including segregationist platforms. His complex views on the political and social status of African Americans in the South, particularly in Virginia, are documented in his writings and correspondence. Among the organizations well-represented in the collection are the Southern Electoral Reform League, the Virginia Electoral Reform League, and the United States Information Service. The papers include correspondence with a wide spectrum of national political leaders, from Socialists (Norman Thomas and Victor Berger) to Democrats (Hubert Humphrey and Estes Kefauer) to Conservatives (George Wallace), as well as staff of diverse labor organizations and a number of Virginia politicians across a broad ideological spectrum. Acquired as part of the George Washington Flowers Collection of Southern Americana.
- Collection Number
- David Gordon George papers
- 1919-1976 and undated, bulk 1935-1965
- George, David Gordon
- 6.9 Linear Feet, 3400 items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
- Correspondence Series, 1922-1975 and undated
- Subject Files Series, 1925-1973 and undated
- Personal Papers Series, 1925-1973 and undated
- Photographic Materials, 1926-1953 and undated
- Printed Materials and Writings Series, 1937-1974 and undated
- Scrapbooks, Ledgers, and Political Ephemera Series, 1919-1960 and undated
- Oversize Materials, 1927-1967
The David Gordon George Papers span the years 1919 to 1976, with the bulk of the collection dated between 1935 and 1965, and are organized into the Correspondence, Personal Files, Printed Materials and Writings, Photographic Materials, and Subject Files Series. The collection consists primarily of correspondence and files related to George's involvement in a variety of political and social movements, documenting his early involvement in grassroots socialist and leftist democratic organizing and electoral reform work, decades of involvement with national and regional labor organizations, and his late-life support of anti-communist and socially conservative politics. His complex views on the political and social status of African Americans in the South, particularly in Virginia, are documented in his writings and correspondence. Among the organizations well-represented in the collection are the Southern Electoral Reform League, founded by George primarily to campaign against poll taxes, and the United States Information Service. The papers include files of correspondence with a wide spectrum of prominent national political leaders, from Socialists (Norman Thomas and Victor Berger) to Democrats (Hubert Humphrey and Estes Kefauer) to Conservatives (George Wallace), as well as staff of diverse labor organizations and a number of Virginia politicians across a broad ideological spectrum. There are also several files of correspondence relating to George's business ventures in Mexico, particularly his interests and operations in mining in the Chihuahua region.
George's writings, including many editorials and letters to the editor, and correspondence reveal his complex and shifting allegiances to various reform organizations during particularly eventful decades for the labor movement in the U.S. His work for labor-related causes in different guises put him in at least tacit opposition to positions he had advocated earlier. He also offers often contradictory views on race, supporting local black politicians at one point but joining the segregationist Citizens Council later in his life. In addition, George's experiences during the McCarthy Era demonstrate the lasting professional consequences of the alleged Communist ties in his past.
Acquired as part of the George Washington Flowers Collection of Southern Americana.
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How to Cite
[Identification of item], David Gordon George Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Incoming correspondence primarily consists of cards and personal letters from friends and family. While friends and colleagues in various political organizations discuss business matters in letters in this series, topics discussed are generally of a personal nature. A substantial number of letters are from men in the British armed forces, contacts apparently made while George was involved with the British Service Entertainment Committee in Richmond. Many of these letters are filed in the "unknown/unnamed" correspondence file because only first names or nicknames were included in the letter.
The political correspondence contains letters to and from officials and their staff in the organizations with which George was involved through his life, both as a socialist in the 1930s and as a conservative in the 1960s and 1970s. Prominent national leaders with whom George corresponded include the socialist U.S. Congressmen Victor Berger and George M. Rhodes as well as Barry Goldwater, Estes Kefauer, and others. Substantial correspondence with Hubert Humphrey is also included. Additional notable national political figures include Norman Thomas, Upton Sinclair, Gardner Jackson, Arthur McDowell, Nelson Rockefeller, and George Wallace. In addition, George corresponded with a number of prominent Virginia politicians. Many of the letters in this section are generic testimonials to George's good character or are updates about possible employment opportunities, though some also discuss specific political matters.
Another significant portion of correspondence, received as part of a later accession, documents George's interests and operations in Mexico mining, particularly tungsten mining in the Chihuahua region. This correspondence largely dates from 1954. Substantial additional correspondence can be found in the Subject Files Series and in the Personal Files Series.
Correspondence has been loosely arranged by correspondent's last name, with scattered "general" folders throughout the series. Many of the larger name files relate to George's Mexican mining exploits. General folders tend to include earlier letters from a wider variety of correspondents. There is also a folder of correspondence from the George family, with many letters to George from his mother and siblings.
Contains files, clippings, and correspondence relevant to George's involvement with a number of interrelated causes and concerns, chiefly with Virginia politics. Included are materials concerning his races for seats in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1939 and 1941. George's work for political reform, particularly as founder of the Southern Electoral Reform League, is addressed primarily in the Electoral Reform subseries, though information on this topic can also be found in the subseries African American Virginians, and Elections. His interest in the labor movement in the United States and abroad is covered in the Labor subseries, with additional materials located in the Socialist Activites and War Production Board subseries. Researchers interested in the socialist movement in the South should consult materials in the Electoral Reform subseries as well as the Socialist Activites subseries. Papers in the African American Virginians subseries reveal George's complex views on race relations when coupled with materials in the Citizens Council subseries. Additional materials on this subject can be found in correspondence housed in the Personal Files series. George's work and interest in foreign relations can be found in the Foreign Affairs and British Service Entertainment Committee subseries. Substantial files and correspondence related to George's several-year foray into mineral prospecting can be found in the Mexico Mining Venture subseries. Organized alphabetically.
Comprises papers and correspondence from George's early school years through his final years of life. Debate materials and schoolwork as well as materials related to George's high school reunions are housed in this series. The bulk of the materials relate to George's employment history, particularly his struggles to secure a job with the U.S. government in his later life after being labeled a Communist by the FBI. Copies of George's applications to the U.S. Information Agency and subsequent complaints of bias during required background checks are housed in this series. Additional correspondence on this subject can be found in the political correspondence section. Legal complaints relating to a reference to him as a "socialist" in the newspaper and for wrongful termination are included as well. Finally, correspondence in this series includes a number of letters of complaints about service received at various institutions late in his life. Organized alphabetically by folder title.
Consists of photographs of George and members of his family, as well as some photographs of George with some of his political contacts. Notable examples include photos of Eleanor Roosevelt and Hubert Humphrey, as well as an autographed photo of country and labor singer "Texas" Bill Strength. A number of vacation slides are housed in this collection as well. Organized as received.
Contains articles and drafts of articles written by George for newspapers and magazines as well as some scripts written for radio. Limited correspondence relating to George's attempts to get his work published in magazines is also included in this series. The majority of the articles in this series were written for Virginia newspapers, mainly the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Larger copies of and clippings from newspapers have been moved to Oversize Materials.
Contains membership and financial information in books for the Southern Electoral Reform League and Virginial Commonwealth League as well as a book of clippings and a scrapbook. The scrapbook chronicles the leisure aspects of George's travels to and within Britain. Menus and othe ephemera from the R.M.S. Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary ocean liners as well as numerous photographs of on-board friends are included, as are numerous photographs of George and his hosts in Brighton, Woking, Bournemouth, and London as well as Scotland. In addition, some photographs document the English countryside and a few show damage incurred in cities during World War II. The scrapbook includes numerous clippings, product packaging, and travel and attraction tickets as well. Political ephemera, mostly pins, includes delegate pins to a several national labor meetings and buttons for political candidates, among them George Wallace.
Comprises large items from other series. Numerous newspapers and large clippings related to elections and contemporary events, notably German aggression during the leadup to World War II are included. In addition, the bulk of the original copies of George's newspaper articles from the Printed Material and Writings series are housed in Oversize Materials. German language lesson worksheets completed by George via correspondence with the Pelman Institute are included as well.
|1910 Apr. 5||
David Gordon George born to David Graves George and Maria Murphy George in Danville, Virginia
Worked for Socialist Party in Virginia and New York
Graduated from Chester High School, Chester, Virginia
Attended Rand School of Social Science, New York, New York
Formally broke from Socialist Party
Worker on family farm in Beaverdam, Virginia, and freelance writer for newspapers in Richmond, Virginia
Founded Southern Electoral Reform League
Ran for Virginia House of Delegates seat as an independent
Ran for primary for Virginia House of Delegates seat as a Democrat
Virginia Labor Relations Representative for War Production Board
Chairman, Richmond British Service Entertainment Committee
Managed Moss A. Plunkett's gubernatorial campaign in Virginia
Lectured in Great Britain, initially with U.S. Information Agency
Upper South Political Action Director for Textile Workers Union of America
Worked for Wage Stabilization Board in Richmond, Virginia
Involved in mineral exploration venture in Chihuahua, Mexico
|1956 June 16||
Married Ana Maria Delgado in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Twin daughters Ana Elizabeth and Maria Linda George born
Worked as a labor representative as part of a United Textile Workers Union strike in Henderson, NC
Application for employment with U.S. Foreign Service rejected to due concerns of Communist sympathies
Worked for United Planning Organization in Washington, DC
Worked as a teacher and administrator at Bermuda Academy, Hopewell, Virginia
Died in Richmond, Virginia
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Berger, Victor L., 1860-1929
- George, David Gordon
- George, David Gordon, 1910-1976
- George Washington Flowers Collection of Southern Americana
- Humphrey, Hubert H. (Hubert Horatio), 1911-1978
- Kefauver, Estes, 1903-1963
- Southern Electoral Reform League
- Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968
- United States Information Agency
- Wallace, George C. (George Corley), 1919-1998
- African Americans -- Virginia
- Anti-communist movements -- United States
- Conservatism -- Southern States -- History
- Conservatism -- United States -- History
- Conservatism -- Southern States
- Conservatism -- United States
- Elections -- Virginia
- Elections -- United States
- Election law -- United States
- Labor -- United States
- Labor and laboring classes -- Southern States
- Labor unions -- Southern States
- Labor unions -- United States -- 1930-1970
- Political activists -- Southern States
- Poll tax -- Southern States
- Political activists -- United States
- Poll tax -- Virginia
- Rhetoric -- Poltical aspects -- Southern States -- History -- 20th century
- Suffrage -- Southern States
- Socialist parties -- United States
- Socialists -- United States -- Correspondence
- Socialism -- United States
- Tungsten mines and mining -- Mexico.
- Whites -- Southern States -- Politics and government -- 20th century
The David Gordon George Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in May 2003, with an addition purchased in 2014.
Processed by Christian Ferney and Fuad Naeem, October 2007
Encoded by Elizabeth Arnold, Christian Ferney, and Fuad Naeem, October 2007. Correspondence Series updated by Meghan Lyon in October 2014.
Accessions 2003-0085 and 2014-0070 are described in this finding aid.