Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Elizabeth Faue


This dissertation examines the American Communist movement between 1928 and 1957 by dividing up sources into worlds of activity, such as political work, labor organizing, and community organizing, and examining the multiple forms of engagement and experience by individuals’ part of a social movement. My research demonstrates that a social movement such as advocating radical political change in the United States can take on a wide variety of forms and can mean different things to different people based on where they came from, how they got involved in the movement and what they directly contributed to that movement. For example, examining the political side of communist work during this period, one finds a highly ideological and hierarchical movement with three primary points of entry: the Communist Party of the United States, the Communist League of America, and the Communist Party (Opposition). If one, however, examines the work of communists organizing in their communities against racism, they will find the ideological element is outweighed by the considerations of what grassroots organizers found practical and useful.