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Eugene V. Debs collection

Identifier: L230

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of correspondence of Socialist Party Executive Secretary Otto Branstertter, with and regarding Debs during 1920–1923, including letters regarding amnesty for Debs and other people imprisoned for their opposition to World War 1, as well as letters regarding Socialist Party politics and Debs role in the party following his release from prison. Also included are Debs’ writings on the labor movement, his essay on Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1922), statements of Debs and others on their opposition of the war, scrapbook of newspaper articles regarding Debs’ 1923 speaking tour, copies of Debs’ letters to Cleveland, Ohio socialist leader Peter Witt and Terre Haute socialist Shubert Sebree. The collection also contains newspaper clippings, printed articles, other published materials on Debs, booklets “Ballad of Gene Debs” by Sarah Cleghorn (1928), and “At Death of Debs” by J. Howard Flowers (1926).

Correspondents include Roger Baldwin, Theodore Debs, Albert DeSilver, Irwin St. John Tucker, George S. Viereck, and Bertha Hale White, among others.


  • 1895-1935


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Eugene Victor Debs was born November 5, 1855 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Debs was an American union leader as a founding member of the International Labor Union and Industrial Workers of the World. Debs was elected to the Indiana Senate 8th District, serving one term (1880–1884). Debs was also heavily involved in the Socialist Party, running unsuccessfully for president of the United States under the party ticket in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. He gained national notoriety as a leader in the Pullman Strike and boycott of 1894. Outspoken in his socialist views, Debs was arrest in 1918 for violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for criticizing America’s involvement in World War I. Debs served 3 years in a federal prison before President Harding commuted his sentence in 1921. Following his release, Debs returned to Terre Haute, where he resided until being admitted into a sanitarium near the end of his life. Debs died October 20, 1925 in Elmhurst, Illinois.


0.3 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a purchase in 1945.


No further additions are expected.

Related Archival Material

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

Broadside S, 1899-1919: Eugene V. Debs small broadside, 1919

Broadside L, 1920-1939: Eugene V. Debs for President large broadside, circa 1900-1920

Processing Information

Collection processing and finding aid completed by library staff. EAD finding aid completed by Brittany Kropf and Bethany Fiechter on 2018/05/23.
Eugene V. Debs collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.