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Register to the Nathaniel Weyl Papers, 1920-2004
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Access Points

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Nathaniel Weyl Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1920-2004
    Collection number: 86003
    Creator: Weyl, Nathaniel, 1910-2005
    Extent: 50 manuscript boxes (20.8 linear feet)
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: Correspondence, writings, memoranda, notes, and printed matter, relating to communism, especially in Latin America; espionage and internal security in the United States; and racial, ethnic and class analyses of political and intellectual elites.
    Physical location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Nathaniel Weyl Papers , [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1986.


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Biographical Note

    1910 Born, New York City
    1931 B.S., Columbia University
    1931-1933 Postgraduate student, London School of Economics
    1933-1934 Economist, U.S. Agricultural Adjustment Administration
    1939 Co-author, The Reconquest of Mexico: The Years of Lázaro Cárdenas
    1941-1942 Economist, U.S. Federal Reserve Board
    1942-1943 Economist, U.S. Board of Economic Warfare
    1943-1945 U.S. Army service
    1945-1947 Economist, U.S. Department of Commerce
    1950 Author, Treason: The Story of Disloyalty and Betrayal in American History
    1951 Author, The Battle against Disloyalty
    1960 Author, The Negro in American Civilization
    1961 Author, Red Star over Cuba: The Russian Assault on the Western Hemisphere
    1963 Co-author, The Geography of Intellect
    1966 Author, The Creative Elite in America
    1968 Author, The Jew in American Politics
    1970 Author, Traitors' End: The Rise and Fall of the Communist Movement in Southern Africa
    1971 Co-author, American Statesmen on Slavery and the Negro
    1979 Author, Karl Marx, Racist
    1989 Author, The Geography of American Achievement
    2003 Author, Encounters with Communism
    2005 Died, Ojai, California

    Scope and Content of Collection

    Despite copious writings, autobiographical and otherwise, Nathaniel Weyl remains an enigmatic figure. As the only child of Walter Weyl, co-founder of the New Republic and influential molder of liberal opinion, he enjoyed a privileged upbringing. Nathaniel Weyl was educated at a private preparatory school, Columbia University and the London School of Economics. Beginning in 1933 he worked episodically as an economist for a succession of United States government agencies. After military service during World War II he returned briefly to civilian government service but resigned in 1947 and thereafter made a living as a free-lance journalist and author.
    Weyl created a minor sensation in 1952 when he testified to a Congressional committee that he had been a secret member of the Communist Party during the 1930s, that he had belonged to a group of New Deal functionaries who were also clandestine party members and whose leader was Harold Ware, and that Alger Hiss had also been a member of the group. Although Hiss had already been convicted of perjury, and although Weyl disclaimed any knowledge of espionage, the testimony was nonetheless significant. Weyl was the only person ever to offer eyewitness corroboration of Whittaker Chambers' identification of Hiss as a Communist.
    Following his break with the Communist Party at the time of the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939, Weyl underwent a fundamental political reorientation from left to right, and became a regular contributor to journals of conservative opinion. His books Treason (1950) and The Battle against Disloyalty (1951) sounded anti-communist and anti-subversion themes which he maintained thereafter. He also wrote frequently regarding Latin American affairs. His book Red Star over Cuba (1961) maintained that Fidel Castro had been a Communist agent from the outset. In some of his writings he collaborated with his wife Sylvia, also an ex-Communist.
    Weyl developed a major preoccupation with issues of race and intelligence. This followed from a series of interlocking premises, all problematic, to which he subscribed: that social well-being depends on the leadership of elites of superior intelligence; that intelligence is a single measurable entity and is transmitted genetically; that distinct human races are meaningful biological categories; and that intelligence is distributed differentially among races. In particular he believed that African and American blacks occupied a low position on a racial intelligence spectrum and that Jews occupied a high position. (Weyl was himself Jewish on his father's side). In consequence of these convictions, he became active within Mensa, an organization requiring high intelligence quotient scores for membership, and founded an international charity to help subsidize schooling for gifted children. He wrote on race and intelligence themes in numerous journal articles, especially for the eugenicist Mankind Quarterly, to which he was a regular contributor, and in several books, notably The Geography of Intellect (co-authored with Stefan T. Possony of the Hoover Institution in 1963) and The Creative Elite in America (1966). His book Traitors' End (1970) defended the record of the apartheid governments of Rhodesia and South Africa.
    Weyl developed a further concern for what he termed "aristocide"--the threatened extinction of natural (genetically superior) elites, whether through the violence of envious inferiors or through their own failure to reproduce. (Ironically Nathaniel and Sylvia Weyl had no children of their own. They adopted two.)
    The collection is arranged into six series, the first two of which are small. School Papers covers Weyl's childhood and college years. The Government Service File consists of official documents from his employment as a United States government economist. Of special interest in this file is the record of the security investigation of Weyl carried out by the Civil Service Commission and House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1942-1943.
    The Correspondence and Speeches and Writings series are by far the largest in the collection and probably of greatest interest. Speeches and Writings comprehensively covers Weyl's literary output over his entire adult life, including numerous projects left unfinished or only planned. Correspondence, however, dates primarily from the early 1960s through the mid-1980s. The series includes a lesser amount of correspondence from the 1950s, but only two letters dating from before 1950 and none at all after 1984.
    A Subject File consists mainly of material collected by Weyl rather than generated by him, but also includes his memoranda and notes not intended for publication. Finally, there is a small Audiovisual File.
    Three broad areas are likely to be of greatest interest to researchers. The first of these is Communist Party activity within the United States government, together with related espionage and subversion issues. Although his early writings indicate leftist sympathies, there is unfortunately no correspondence or other contemporary documentation from the 1930s of Weyl's Communist Party membership. He told of this in his 1952 Congressional testimony and in various subsequent published accounts, ending with Encounters with Communism, privately printed in 2003. The collection includes substantial unpublished writings by Weyl on this subject. Notable among these are the book-length "The Espionage Case of Alger Hiss," completed in 1981, and the voluminous "Memoirs of the Communist Labyrinth" upon which he worked throughout much of the 1980s. Some correspondence, such as that with Hede Massing and with Robert Gorham and Hope Davis, is relevant. Memoranda from the 1950s, apparently intended for the use of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will be found in the Subject File.
    A second area of interest is Latin America. Correspondence with Cuban exiles, including General Fulgencio Batista, will be found in the Correspondence series. "The Young Fidel Castro" is a substantial unpublished writing, dating from around 1962. The source of this item, edited by Weyl, is not clear. Weyl undertook a history of the Mexican Communist Party, to be entitled "Aztec Serpent, Russian Bear." Although he never completed it, he did write a substantial amount before abandoning the project in 1971. One curious case requires explanation. Nathaniel and Sylvia Weyl contracted to collaborate with Isaac Don Levine on a book about Ramon Mercader, who assassinated Leon Trotsky in Mexico. Interpretive differences between the putative co-authors resulted in the eventual publication of The Mind of an Assassin under the sole authorship of Levine in 1959. The collection, however, includes a complete draft of the book by the Weyls, largely unused by Levine.
    A third area of interest in the collection is the documentation of the biological determinist approach to social relations manifested in Weyl's interest in race and genetics. Correspondence with Carleton S. Coon, Arthur R. Jensen, William Shockley, South African officials, and, above all, with the Mankind Quarterly and its editor Robert Gayre, is relevant. Weyl left two long unpublished writings in this area--"Integration: The Dream That Failed," written in 1972, and the book-length "Aristocide: The War against Ability," dating from about 1977. Much of the collected Subject File material deals with this area in one way or another.
    The Hoover Institution Archives acquired the main body of the collection from Nathaniel Weyl in 1986, with subsequent increments following.

    Access Points

    Communism--Latin America.
    Espionage, Russian.
    Internal security--United States.
    Elite (Social sciences)
    National characteristics.
    Social classes.
    Intelligence levels.