Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Kathleen Sheldon and Stephen Tarzynski Papers, 1973-1999
MSS 052  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (125.54 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography and Organizational History
  • Scope and Content
  • Separated Material
  • Related Material at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Kathleen Sheldon and Stephen Tarzynski Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1973-1999
    Collection number: MSS 052
    Creator: Sheldon, Kathleen

    Tarzynski, Stephen
    Extent: 6 boxes, 1 half-box, 1 legal-size box

    2 1/6 linear feet
    Repository: Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research
    Los Angeles, CA 90044
    Abstract: The papers of husband and wife Stephen (Steve) Tarzynski and Kathleen (Kathie) Sheldon document their involvement with and the activities of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and its predecessor the New American Movement (NAM). The collection includes materials on the Los Angeles Socialist Community School and the Socialist Scholars Conference. Steve Tarzynski also worked as a pediatrician and was actively involved in health care rights issues.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    The collection was donated to the Library by Kathleen Sheldon and Steve Tarzynski in March 1996.


    The collection is available for research only at the Library's facility in Los Angeles. The Library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Researchers are encouraged to call or email the Library indicating the nature of their research query prior to making a visit.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research. Researchers may make single copies of any portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed only with the express written permission of the Library's director. It is not necessary to obtain written permission to quote from a collection. When the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research gives permission for publication, it is as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Kathleen Sheldon and Stephen Tarzynski Papers, Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, Los Angeles, California.

    Biography and Organizational History


    Kathleen (Kathie) Sheldon and Stephen (Steve) Tarzynski are husband and wife. They have two children, Mercy and Ben, and live in Santa Monica. In the early 1980s, the Sheldon/Tarzynski family spent two years in Mozambique where Sheldon researched women workers and Tarzynski worked as a pediatrician for the socialist government.
    Together they were active in first the New American Movement (NAM) and then the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Tarzynski served on NAM's National Interim Committee (NIC) from 1980-1981. He was Chair of the Los Angeles DSA in the late 1980s, and served on the DSA's National Political Committee (NPC) from 1990-1993 and in1996, and was chair of the DSA Executive Committee in 1994. Sheldon was on NAM's Socialist Feminist Commission in 1980 and 1981 and was later involved with the DSA's Feminist Commission.
    Sheldon was active for many years with the Socialist Community School, serving on the School Committee, which was responsible for organizing classes for the school, and teaching a number of classes on feminism. Tarzynski taught at least one class on avoiding burnout and as a couple they taught a class about their experiences in Mozambique. Tarzynski served as President of the board for nine years ending in 1996. Both were also active in organizing the First Annual West Coast Socialist Scholars Conference held in Los Angeles in 1993. Sheldon and Tarzynski were both on the Arrangements Committee, with Sheldon serving as Conference Chair.
    Tarzynski is a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, and has been active in many health care related progressive issues. From 1977-1979 he served as vice-president of the residents union (Interns and Residents Association of Los Angeles County). Tarzynski was a founding member of the Los Angeles Health Organizing Committee (LAHOC), which was formed in May 1976 by health workers who were also NAM members. LAHOC also had non-NAM members and functioned as an independent body, working on union organizing among health workers (particularly those working for the Health Services Agency), increased health care for undocumented immigrants, reproductive rights and the Los Angeles Medical Power Structure (LAMPS) project, which launched a study to track who owned and controlled health care at the corporate level in Los Angeles County. He also served as editor of Health Activists Digest, the publication of NAM's Health Commission. After the merger, he continued to play an active role on the DSA Health Taskforce, especially around the attempt to implement a single-payer National Health Insurance system along the Canadian model (See also Prop. 186 folder).

    Democratic Socialists of America and New American Movement

    The New American Movement (NAM) was a socialist organization founded in June 1971. It sought to bring people from different parts of the working class together to support each other in separate struggles and to build a socialist party that could bring about a truly democratic revolution. NAM worked for better housing and health care, supported the fight for immediate reforms to expand women's rights, opposed racial and sexual oppression, and organized around such issues as nuclear energy, job safety, and foreign policy.
    The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) was formed through the merger of NAM with the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) in Detroit on March 20, 1982. The DSOC, founded in 1974, was another nationwide socialist organization, but was seen by some NAM members as a more conservative organization since it was willing to work within the Democratic Party.
    The unification of these two organizations into the DSA gave democratic socialists and other progressive activists an effective new voice. The new organization included both activism on issues of racial equality and justice, feminism, peace, full employment, establishment of a national health service, gay and lesbian liberation, defense and expansion of civil liberties, opposition to all forms of foreign domination, and opposition to nuclear power and weapons, as well as providing a voice for progressives within the Democratic Party. The Los Angeles Local of DSA was a very active chapter.

    Socialist Community School

    The school began in the fall of 1975 after a group of NAM members decided to follow the example of the NAM East Bay School in Oakland and reach out to educate people about socialism. The school intended to: 1) raise socialist consciousness in the community through education; 2) establish a positive socialist presence and to create a public NAM presence in Los Angeles; 3) develop the knowledge and skills of NAM members and independent activists as well as educate people new to politics; and 4) link concrete activist projects in the city with socialist ideas. With the merger, the DSA took over the running of the school. Classes taught included everything from Marxism, Euro-Communism, U.S. poverty, free speech issues, Los Angeles politics, school desegregation, labor organizing and history, the Spanish Civil War, South America, Africa, and the Middle East to classes on music, parenting, languages, and burnout.

    Socialist Scholars Conference

    Building on the successful East Coast based Socialist Scholars Conferences that had been running since 1982, the Los Angeles Chapter of the DSA, the Socialist Community School, and Concerned Faculty (UCLA), along with other sponsors including the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research, sponsored the First Annual West Coast Socialist Scholars Conference in 1993. The call for papers issued for the event cites the 1992 Los Angeles uprising as a motivating factor for the conference. Scheduled plenary speakers included Rudy Acuña, Prossy Delacruz, Harold Meyerson, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Bogdan Denitch, Julianne Malveaux, and Manning Marable. The conference was an apparent success and plans were discussed for a follow-up conference in 1994.

    Scope and Content

    This collection includes correspondence, minutes, bylaws, flyers, speeches, articles, financial documents, planning and policy documents, address lists, personnel records, course listings, publications, photos, and clippings related to Kathleen Sheldon and Steve Tarzynski's involvement with the activities of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and New American Movement (NAM) including the Socialist Community School and the Socialist Scholars Conference from the mid-1970s through the end of the 1990s. It also includes a significant number of documents relating specifically to Steve Tarzynski's involvement with both NAM and DSA on health care issues. There are few if any personal (family) documents in this collection.
    Of special interest are materials relating to NAM's transformation into DSA.


    The collection is divided into 5 series: 1: New American Movement, 2. Democratic Socialists of America, 3. Socialist Community School, 4. Socialist Scholars Conference, and 5. Health Issues.


    Folders are arranged alphabetically within each series. The collection was donated in several increments, divided and then reconstituted by different archivists. The folders that are labeled Tarzynski/Sheldon Papers instead of Sheldon/Tarzynski, were most likely created or collected by Steve Tarzynski.

    Separated Material

    Material Added to SCL's Periodical Collection

    DSA - California State Newsletter,Summer, 1993
    DSA - Democratic Left, Vol. 22, #1, 1994and Vol. 23, #1, 1995
    DSA - Our Struggle Nuestra Lucha, Vol. 2-4, 1984-1986
    Labor Voice, Vol. 1, #1, 1986
    Los Angeles Left - DSA LA Local Vol. 2, #1-6, 1988-1993
    Los Angeles Local - DSA Newsletter, Vol. 6-9, 1982-1986
    NAM Discussion Bulletin, 1972-1981
    Organize! 1985-1987
    Socialist Forum - A Discussion Bulletin, 1986-1997

    Material Added to SCL's Alphabetical Video Collection

    The 186 Story, Californians for Health Security, September 19, 1994
    Canada's National Health Program / A Model For The US, n.d.
    DSA, March 29, 1988
    The Socialist Forum, March 29, 1988

    Material Added to SCL's Contemporary Heritage Files


    Material can be found in Southern Christian Leadership Conference file
    We Still Have A Dream, First National Holiday, January 20, 1986
    King Week '87 Festival News, November 1986
    We Still Have A Dream, Second National Holiday, January 19, 1987
    King Week '88 Festival News, November 1987

    Related Material at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research

    Title: Donna Wilkinson Papers,
    partially processed