Access and Provenance

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content Note

Box and Folder Listing


A Finding Aid to the

Samuel Dickstein Papers

Manuscript Collection No. 8

1923-1944. 12.1 Linear ft.


The Samuel Dickstein Papers were originally presented to the Hebrew Union College Library by Samuel Dickstein in April 1945. The Library donated the collection to the American Jewish Archives and its initial processing was completed in 1954. Final processing was completed in January 1977. Property rights to the Samuel Dickstein Papers are held by the American Jewish Archives. Literary rights have not been dedicated to the public. Any question concerning literary or copyrights should be addressed to the Director of the American Jewish Archives.

The Dickstein Papers are open to all users. The original manuscript collection is available in the reading room of the American Jewish Archives.


Samuel Dickstein was born February 6, 1885 in Vilna, Lithuania, the eldest child of Rabbi Israel (d. 1918) and Slata B. Gordon (d. 1931) Dickstein. He was brought to the United States by his parents in 1887. The  family settled in New York City, where Dickstein attended public schools, graduating in 1903. He studied at the New York Law School and in 1908 he was admitted to the New York bar; shortly thereafter he joined the New York law firm of Hyman and Gross.

Dickstein's interest in politics began while he was still in high school and he eventually became closely associated with Tammany Hall District Leader John Ahearn (d. 1921). Ahearn was instrumental in Dickstein's appointment as a special deputy attorney general of the State of New York (1911-1914) and his membership on New York's Board of Aldermen (1917), where Dickstein ran unsuccessfully for the New York State Assembly. He was victorious in gaining a seat during the 1918 election.

In Albany, Assemblyman Dickstein distinguished himself by authoring New York's kosher food law, which set the standard for similar legislation in other states. He initiated New York's Sabbath law, which permitted Jewish merchants to remain open on Sunday, and throughout his tenure he fought for improved housing and rental regulations to benefit New York's East Side tenants.

In 1922, Dickstein, running on the Democratic ticket, was elected to the House of Representatives from New York's 12th District. He was assigned to the House Committee on Naturalization and Immigration, where his work with New York's East Side immigrants proved invaluable. He soon was recognized for his expertise on the immigrant question, and in 1931 became the Chairman of the Committee on Naturalization and Immigration.

As chairman of this Committee, Dickstein first became aware of the great number of foreigners illegally residing in the United States and the vast amount of anti-Semitic and anti-American literature being distributed in the country. His personal interest in this matter led him to investigate independently the activities of neo-Nazi and other Fascist groups in the U.S. This investigation proved to be of such significance that in November 1933, Dickstein's committee began official hearings on Nazi activities in the United States.

On January 3, 1934, the opening day of the 73d Congress, Dickstein introduced a resolution calling for the formation of a special committee to probe into un-American activities in the United States. The "Dickstein Resolution" (H.R. #198) was passed in March 1934, with John McCormack named Chairman and Samuel Dickstein Vice-Chairman. (Dickstein had refused the chairmanship of the Committee, feeling that his Jewish ancestry might have an adverse effect on the proceedings.)

Throughout the rest of 1934, the Special Committee on Un-American Activities conducted hearings, bringing before it most of the major figures in the U.S. Fascist movement. Dickstein, who proclaimed as his aim the eradication of all traces of Nazism in the U.S., personally questioned each witness. His flair for dramatics and sensationalism, along with his sometimes exaggerated claims, continually captured headlines across the nation and won him much public recognition.

By the time the official Committee report was issued in February 1935, its conclusions were known to most Americans: the Committee found that while Nazi Germany was indeed giving both financial and ideological support to the Friends of the New Germany (the American Bund), the American Bundists were not in violation of any existing federal law. The report did, however, result in Germany's official denial of any affiliation with the American Bund and its order forbidding all German nationals to become members of the Bund.

Upon the conclusion of the official House investigation, Dickstein continued his personal investigation into Nazi activities and propaganda in the United States. In 1937, he called for a renewed House investigation which resulted in the formation of a new Committee on Un-American Activities under the chairmanship of Representative Martin Dies.

Due to the tremendous amount of European immigration to the United States, Dickstein, during the war, was involved in the implementation and classification of U.S. immigration and naturalization laws. In 1946, after twenty-three years in Congress, Dickstein resigned to become a justice of the New York Supreme Court. He retained this position until his death in New York City on April 22, 1954.


The Samuel Dickstein Papers (1923-1944) consist of the personal papers of Representative Dickstein as Vice-Chairman of the House of Representative Special Committee on Un-American Activities. The collection contains correspondence, iconographic material, nearprint, legislative records and miscellaneous items relating to Dickstein's investigation of Fascist activities in the United States during the pre-World II period. Thirty-six metal disks of Committee recordings were also donated with the Papers. These have been transferred onto magnetic tape (Tape Nos. 697-699) and are no longer part of the collection.

In 1954, when the collection was originally arranged, it was done by subject with a "Master Index," but due to the vast amount of missing material, the errors within the Index, the misleading titles and lack of consistency, the arrangement has been changed. The collection is now arranged by type of material and divided into three series:

  • The original index, with notes as to the location of the material in the present arrangement, may be found in the first box of the collection.

    SERIES A. CORRESPONDENCE (1923-1944) consists of correspondence, memoranda and miscellaneous material such as outlines and summaries of Committee hearings, investigative reports and translations of foreign articles and newspaper clippings. The majority of the Series is composed of Dickstein's correspondence with Committee members, investigators and others interested in the Committee proceedings. A great deal of the correspondence consists of letters to Representative Dickstein from organizations and from American citizens expressing their opinions on the success or failure of the Special Committee and suggesting the direction of further investigations. The series is comprised of seven and one-half Hollinger boxes and is alphabetically arranged.

    SERIES B. PHOTOGRAPHS (1928-1937) contains photographs (as well as Xerox and photostat copies of photographs) of some of the people and activities which Dickstein investigated. The Series consists of two folders containing photographs and one folder containing copies of photographs.

    SERIES C. PRINTED MATERIAL AND NEARPRINT is the largest series in the collection (eleven Hollinger boxes and two oversize boxes). It is divided into four subseries:

  • 1. Magazines and Bulletins
  • 2. Pamphlets, Articles and Broadsides
  • 3. Newsclippings
  • 4. Newspapers.
  • This series is of special interest because it contains many examples of pre-World War II literature and propaganda.

    Subseries 1 (1927-1941) contains complete issues of magazines and bulletins which were collected because they either dealt with the Committee investigations or other topics of interest to Dickstein. Many of the printed and typescript copies of the Committee's hearings and reports along with some of the Congressional Records and other legislative material from this period are contained in this subseries. The subseries consists of four Hollinger boxes and is alphabetically arranged. When a magazine or bulletin is represented by a single number in the collection, it is found in the general folders (I.e. "A-I, General," "O-W, General").

    Subseries 2 (1930-1933) consists of one Hollinger box of pamphlets, broadsides and loose and reprinted articles. The material in this subseries depicts many of the activities during this period (rallies, demonstrations, meetings) and contains priceless examples of pre-World War II propaganda. This subseries is chronologically arranged.

    Subseries 3 (1928-1943) comprises six Hollinger boxes mounted and loose newsclippings. Newsclippings of general interest are chronologically arranged and are followed by newsclippings of a topical nature which are alphabetically arranged.

    Subseries 4 (1933-1940) contains complete issues of newspapers such as Voelkischer Beobachter, Deutscher Weckruf, Christian Free Press and Jewish Daily Bulletin. The subseries consists of two oversize boxes and is chronologically arranged.


    Box  Folder    Contents
    1    1         Index.
         2         A, General.
         3         American Jewish Congress.
         4         B, General.
         5         C, General.
    2    1         D, General.
         2         E, General.
         3         F, General.
         4         G, General.
         5         H, General.
    3    1         I, General.
         2         Immigration and Naturalization Service.
         3         J, General.
         4         K, General.
         5         L, General.
         6         M, General.
         7         McCormick, John W.
    4    1         N, General.
         2         Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League.
         3         O, General.
         4         P, General.
         5         R, General.
         6         Randolph, Frank.
         7         Rollins, Richard.
    5    1         Sa-So, General.
         2         Sp-Sw, General.
         3         State Department.
         4         T, General.
         5         U, General.
         6         Untermyer, Samuel.
         7         V, General.
         8         W, General.
         9         Y-Z, General.
    6    1         Press Releases and Speeches.
         2         Miscellaneous Correspondence.
         3         Miscellaneous Correspondence.
         4         Miscellaneous Correspondence.
    7    1-2       Miscellaneous Correspondence.
         3         1928-1938; n.d.
         4         Copies. 1934-2937; n.d.
    SubSeries 1: Magazines and Bulletins
         5         A-I, General. 1933-1938.
         6         American Hebrew. 1934; 1937-1938.   
         7         The Anti-Nazi Bulletin. 1937-1938; 1940.
         8         Boycott. 1937; 1939.
         9         Buch and Volk. 1934.
         10        The Christian Zionist. 1937-1938.
         11        Debrest's Weekly News Service. 1938-1939.
         12        The Hour. 1940-1941.
         13        J-N, General. 1933-1941.
    8    1         Japan in Pictures. 1937.
         2         Jewish Daily Bulletin. 1927-1928; 1933.
         3         Liberation. 1938-1939.
         4         Liberty. 1938-1939.
         5         The Nation. 1933-1934; 1937-1938.
         6         National Republic. 1937-1939.
         7         New Masses. 1933-1935.
         8         News Research Service, Inc. News Letter. 1941.
         9         O-W, General. 1933-1940.
    9    1         On Guard. 1938.
         2         Opinion. 1938-1939.
         3         Propaganda Analysis. 1937-1938.
         4         Social Justice. 1939.
         5         U.S. Congress. Congressional Records. 1932-1935.
         6         U.S. Congress. Congressional Records. 1937.
         7         U.S. Congress. Congressional Records. 1938-1939.
         8         U.S. Congress. Congressional Records. 1940; n.d.
    10   1         U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Bills;
                        Resolutions; Reports. 1932-1941.
         2         U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Special Committee
                        on Un-American Activities. Hearings. 1932; 1934 May-
         3         U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Special Committee
                        on Un-American Activities. Hearings. 1934 July-Aug.
         4         U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Special Committee
                        on Un-American Activities. Hearings. 1934 Sept.-Oct.
         5         U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Special Committee
                        on Un-American Activities. Hearings. 1934 Nov.-Dec.
         6         U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Special Committee
                        on Un-American Activities. Hearings. 1934. Dec.
         7         U.S. Congress. House of Representatives. Special Committee
                        on Un-American Activities. Index to Hearings
                        (1934 Oct.); Preliminary draft of Committee report
                        (1935 Jan.).
         8         U.S. Congress. Senate. Bills; Resolutions. 1932-1937.
    11   1         The Voice of Labor. 1939.
         2         Voelkerbund. 1937-1939.
    Subseries 2: Pamphlets, Articles, and Broadsides
         3         1930-1933.
         4         1934.
         5         1935.
         6         1936.
         7-8       1937.
    12   1-2       1938.
         3         1939.
         4-6       Not dated.
    13   1         Not dated.
    Subseries 3: Newsclippings
         2         1928-1933.
         3         1934.
         4         1935.
         5         1936.
         6-7       1937.
    14   1         1937.
         2-5       1938.
    15   1-3       1938.
         4-6       1939.
         7         1940-1943.
    16   1-3       Not dated.
         4         Brandeis, Louis Dembitz. 1938-1939.
         5         Camps [Nazi]. 1937-1938; n.d.
         6         Cartoons [Political]. 1933-1939; n.d.
         7         Chamberlain, Neville. 1938-1939; n.d.
         8         Coughlin, Charles E. 1938-1939; n.d.
         9         Czechoslovakia. 1938-1939.
    17   1         Editorials, General. 1934; 1938-1939; n.d.
         2         Editorials-Bromley, Dorothy Dunbar. 1938-1939; n.d.
         3         Editorials-Lore, Ludwig. 1938-1939; n.d.
         4         Editorials-Meyer, Ernest L. 1937-1939; n.d.
         5         Editorials-Pegler, Westbrook. 1938-1939; n.d.
         6         Ford, Henry. 1936-1938.
         7         France. 1938; n.d.
         8         Frankfurter, Feliz. n.d.
         9         Goering, Hermann. 1938-1939; n.d.
         10        Great Britain. 1938-1939; n.d.
         11        Grynszpan, Herschel Fripel. 1938.
         12        Hitler, Adolf. 1933-1939; n.d.
         13        Hull, Cordell. 1938; n.d.
         14        Italy. 1938-1939; n.d.
         15        Italy-France. 1938-1939; n.d.
    18   1         Kuhn, Fritz. 1937-1939; n.d.
         2         Ku Klux Klan. 1937-1939; n.d.
         3         McGrady, Pat. 1934.
         4         Mann, Thomas. 1938-1939.
         5         Morrow Castle. 1934; 1936; n.d.
         6         Nazis-1938 riot. 1938.
         7         Nazis-Spy trial. 1938.
         8         Poland. 1938-1939; n.d.
         9         Refugees. 1937-1939; n.d.
         10        Roosevelt, Eleanor and Franklin D. 1933-1939; n.d.
         11        Soviet Russia. 1928-1939.
         12        Spies. 1937-1939; n.d.
         13        Vonsiatsky, Anastase A. 1937-1939.
    Subseries 4: Newspapers.
    *19  1         1933.
         2         1934.
         3         1935.
         4         1936.
         5         1937.
    **20 1-2       1938.
         3         1939-1940.
    *Oversize Box Number 16
    **Oversize Box Number 17