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Guide to the Joseph R. Starobin and Robert S. Starobin Papers, 1945-1976
Special Collections M0675  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement Note
  • Access Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Joseph R. Starobin and Robert S. Starobin Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1945-1976
    Collection number: Special Collections M0675
    Creator: Starobin, Joseph R. Starobin, Robert S.
    Extent: 24 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.


    Purchased 1994.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item] Joseph R. Starobin and Robert S. Starobin Papers, M0675, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    Joseph R. Starobin (1913-1976) and his son, Robert S. Starobin (1939-1971) each played significant roles in the radical movements of their times, the so-called Old Left and New Left.
    Joseph Starobin, born of a White Russian Jewish family in New York City, grew up among Socialists and became radicalized during the Great Depression. He was the foreign editor of the Daily Worker from 1945-1954, In 1951, on the Communist Party's suggestion, he went into to voluntary exile to escape McCarthyism. During this time, JS travelled widely in Latin America, France, Indochina, and China. Two books emerged out of these experiences: Paris to Peking and Eyewitness in Indo-China. JS was also in charge of the Communist Party USA's peace activities. JS entered the PhD. Program in history at Columbia University, and received his degree in Political Science. JS then taught at York University in Toronto. His dissertation was published as American Communism in Crisis: 1943-1957. JS's identification with the "Old Left" and academia thus provided a link with his son's leftist activity.
    Robert Starobin was a "Red Diaper Baby," who was exposed to socialist politics early in life. He was influenced by his father, Joseph, and his mother, Norma, who was a dancer. He attended private progressive grade schools and graduated from the Bronx High School of Science in 1957. He attended Cornell for undergraduate studies, where he was editor of the student newspaper. Following college, he hitchhiked across the country to California, where he met and married Elsa within 3 weeks. He attended graduate school in history at UC Berkeley and participated in the Free Speech Movement, the SDS and the black power movement. His 1968 dissertation from UC Berkeley eventually became his major book, Industrial Slavery in the Old South, published in 1970. In 1966 RS joined the history faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and became involved with reforming the history department and with student protest groups. He pioneered the first black studies course at UW-Madison in 1968. RS published articles and spoke on his research interests in black history and the black power movement, but by the end of the 1960s, he felt unaccepted by the Black Panthers and by black academics because he was white. His marriage with Elsa broke up and she moved back to California in 1968. In 1969, RS returned to Cornell for a post-doctoral fellowship and again became involved with protest groups on campus. At the end of the year, he resigned from UW-Madison and accepted a teaching position at SUNY-Binghampton. He committed suicide in 1971.

    Scope and Content

    The Joseph and Robert Starobin Collection consists of 47 archival boxes, some of which are oversized. The collection contains personal papers and research materials of the Starobin father and son. There are 17 boxes of periodical publications reflecting their political and research interests. More personal letters and the libraries of each man are housed at Wisconsin State Historical Society.
    The collection is organized into 3 series: Joseph Starobin (JS), Robert Starobin (RS), and Serials. Series I and II are arranged roughly by the following topics: Personal life; Academic life and research; Clippings, periodicals, and pamphlets; and Whole newspapers. JS primarily contains clippings on the US Communist Party and the international communist and socialist movements from the 1940s-60s. RS is the larger series and includes his research notes on American slavery, as well as materials on African-American issues and the Black Power movement, the war in Vietnam, New Left politics, and student protest groups in the 1960s. It also contains a collection of 1960s-era radical newspapers. Serials contains academic, political, critical, and popular journals from the 1940s-1970s. They are arranged alphabetically by title.

    Arrangement Note

    Joseph Starobin and Robert Starobin materials separated. Arranged by subject within series. Periodicals arranged alphabetically.

    Access Terms

    Starobin, Joseph Robert, 1913-1976.
    Starobin, Robert S., 1939-1971.
    Browder, Earl, 1891-1973.
    Beichman, Arnold.
    Civil rights and socialism.
    New Left--United States.
    Social movements.
    Socialism--United States.
    Communists--United States. lcsh
    Communist parties--United States.
    Afro-Americans--Race identity.
    Afro-Americans--Social conditions.
    Civil rights movements--United States.
    Socialists. lcsh
    The Daily Worker.