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Tamiment Library Research & Tools: Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives

Research guides and tools for the Tamiment Library's collections.

The Abraham Lincoln Archives Collection is an ongoing project begun by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) in the late 1970s. These Spanish Civil War veterans recognized the importance of preserving the history of the role of North American volunteers. They formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives organization (ALBA) and began to collect letters, writings, oral histories, photographs, posters, artifacts, and ephemera that would preserve this history and contextualize it within the ongoing struggle for radical social change. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives Collection was initially deposited with Brandeis University. In December, 2000 it was relocated to New York University's Tamiment Library.

The core of the archive is the roughly 300 individual collections documenting the life stories of Lincoln Brigade and Medical Bureau volunteers. Soldiers, nurses, and doctors are represented in these collections which contain documentation on approximately 10% of the U.S. volunteers who fought in Spain. There are also more than 10,000 photographs, 200 full color posters, postcards, oral history interviews, biographical materials, radio scripts, and artifacts (buttons, badges, uniforms, and a rifle).

The Tamiment Library continues to build the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and is always interested in hearing from families and friends of volunteers, as well as researchers and collectors who may have relevant material to contribute to the archives.


To search ALBA collections, use our search tool and enter keywords or names, plus "ALBA", the call number prefix for Spanish Civil War collections.

Comintern Records and Veteran List

At the end of the Spanish Civil War the administrative records of the International Brigades were taken to Moscow so that they would not be seized by Franco. They are deposited in the Russian State Archive for Social and Political History where they form part of the Comintern Archive. Sections of the IB records relating to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were microfilmed for ALBA and the microfilm is now part of the collection at NYU. These administrative records of the International Unit and Brigades of the Spanish Republican Army include: selected files of the Military Commission, Communist Party organizations (Spanish and international), official military bulletins, records relating to: command and headquarters, mail service and censorship, transport, supplies, training, and prisoners. These records document the way the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was organized and functioned, its relationships with other international brigades, its political organizations, and relations with Spain's Republican government.

See the International Brigades Archive (Moscow): Collection Guide available below, which describes the International Brigades Records comprising Fond 545 of the Comintern Archives in Moscow, for additional information.

The U.S. personnel files are included on the microfilm. Many of these include detailed questionnaires filled out by individual volunteers, and some contain photographs. Files may also include employment records, reports on illnesses and injuries, IB documents and communications, and copies of correspondence with family, friends, and fellow volunteers.  Use the veterans list below to identify individual volunteers.

Vertical Files

The ALBA Vertical Files are a rich source for background information on the people, events and topics related to the ALBA collections in the Tamiment Library and include coverage of the International Brigades as well. The files contain a variety of documents such as newspaper clippings, flyers, brochures, biographical material, anniversary and exhibit programs, obituaries, and other items. The materials are divided into two separate collections.


The ALBA Vertical File on Individuals collection contains biographical material related to specific people.

The ALBA Vertical File on Subjects contains material related to topics and events.

 

Posters

The Tamiment holds a rich collection of over 200 posters related to the Spanish Civil War.

A selection of ca. 35 Spanish posters from Tamiment's collections which were produced by different (and sometimes opposing) leftist political parties, labor unions, and other organizations that supported the Spanish Republican government during Spain's Civil War from 1936 to 1938, have been digitized and are on display via ARTstor (available to NYU-affiliated researchers only).