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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2809

Gaetano Salvemini papers concerning the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky


Papers and correspondence collected by Gaetano Salvemini concerning the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky.


  • Creation: 1937-1938

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.

This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


.5 linear feet (1 box)

Includes correspondence with Gaetano Salvemini while he was a lecturer at Harvard University, circular letters, newsletters, a poster, and clippings, relating to the defense of Leon Trotsky in connection with the Moscow trials.

Biographical / Historical

Gaetano Salvemini (1873-1957) was an Italian anti-Fascist politician, historian, and writer. Salvemini taught medieval and modern history at the University of Messina and later at the University of Florence. In 1911 he founded the radical journal L'Unità. His anti-Fascist activities caused him to be arrested in 1925 and when released from prison, he escaped Fascist Italy into over 20 years of political exile. He spent his early exile years in England and France and in 1934, Harvard University awarded Salvemini the Lauro de Bosis chair in the history of Italian civilization. This position enabled him to teach at Harvard through the end of 1948. During this period, he led the American anti-Fascist movement and founded the Mazzini Society in New York in 1939. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1940. In 1949 Salvemini returned home to Italy and spent his final years at the University of Florence and later with his friends at a villa in Capo di Sorrento where he died in 1957. Some of his notable writings were: The Fascist dictatorship in Italy (1928), Under the axe of Fascism (1936), and Prelude to World War II (1951).

The American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky was a pseudo-judicial process set up by American Trotskyists as a front organization following the first of the Moscow trials. It was composed of historians, sociologists, journalists, authors, and other notable figures, including Edmund Wilson, Suzanne LaFollette, John Dos Passos, Gaetano Salvemini, and many others. The Dewey Commission (officially the "Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials") was initiated in March 1937 by the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky. It was named after its Chairman, John Dewey. Its other members were Carleton Beals, Otto Ruehle, Benjamin Stolberg, and Secretary Suzanne LaFollette, Alfred Rosmer, Wendelin Thomas, Edward A. Ross, John Chamberlain, Carlo Tresca, and Francisco Zamora. Following months of investigation, the Dewey Commission made its findings public in New York on September 21, 1937, clearing Leon Trotsky of all charges made during the Moscow trials.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Papers from the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky
  3. III. Clippings

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession number. Recataloged from Slav 1729.37.14*F.

General note

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Salvemini, Gaetano, 1873-1957. Gaetano Salvemini papers concerning the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky, 1937-1938: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
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Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

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