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Labor and Left Summer Camps and Related Collections at the Tamiment Library

Compiled by Tamiment Archivist Peter Filardo

During the 20th century, the labor movement and the left established numerous summer camps for children and/or adults that were typically both recreational and educational in nature, as well as a smaller number of forums, summer schools, and workshops.

Indeed, the Tamiment Library's predecessor, the Rand School of Social Science (1906-56), was for many years largely supported by revenues from Camp Tamiment, whose governing and educational bodies, respectively the People's Educational Camp Society and the Tamiment Institute, were responsible for the 1963 donation of the former library of the Rand School to New York University, eventually renamed the Tamiment Library.

Contact Tamiment Library staff for additional information on these collections (tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu).


Camp Tamiment and Related Collections

Camp Tamiment and the People's Educational Camp Society

People's Educational Camp Society and Camp Tamiment Records, 1920-1972, 4.75 linear ft. (Tamiment 7.3). Inventory available in repository. For information, contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu.

The People's Educational Camp Society (PECS) owned and operated Camp Tamiment, an educational and recreational summer resort (originally) for socialists and their families near Bushkill, Pa., from 1920 until its sale in 1965 to commercial interests. Camp revenues helped support the Rand School of Social Science and other progressive organizations. Camp Tamiment's success led to the revoking of PECS' tax exempt status in 1963. In 1972 PECS became the Tamiment Institute, thus taking the name of, and becoming identical with its subsidiary, founded in 1935 as the educational arm of Camp Tamiment. This collection contains minutes, correspondence, documents pertaining to PECS' tax status, brochures, programs, announcements and a brief history of the camp and the Tamiment Institute.

Camp Tamiment Photographs (Photographs 155)

Ben Josephson Papers (Camp Tamiment director), 1931-1977, 2.5 linear ft. (Tamiment 84).

Ben Josephson served in various administrative capacities at Camp Tamiment in Pennsylvania from 1941-1968. He was active in the Socialist Party and the labor movement. He was associated with the Rand School and was instrumental in the establishment of the Tamiment Library at NYU. Josephson gave support to the New Leader and Labor History and was elected President of People's Educational Camp Society in 1976. The collection contains personal letters, photos, an oral history transcript, a 50th birthday book of letters from friends, greeting cards, descriptive pamphlets and a small collection of personal papers donated to Tamiment after his death. The letters illustrate the character of Josephson's close contact with his many friends, and also his administrative duties as Director of Camp Tamiment. The date range for this collection: 1931-1977.

Tamiment Institute

Tamiment Institute Records, 1935-1990s, 15.5 linear ft. (Tamiment 7.4). Inventory available in repository. For information, contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu.

The Tamiment Institute was founded in 1935 as the educational arm of the People's Educational Camp Society (PECS), which owned and operated Camp Tamiment, an educational and recreational summer resort (originally) for socialists and their families near Bushkill, in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. The Institute organized lectures, conferences and seminars, essay contests, and book awards at the Camp and in New York City. Contains clippings, correspondence, conference and seminar papers, essays, and programs. 21 boxes.

Tamiment Playhouse

Tamiment Playhouse Records, 1927-1987, 16.25 linear ft. (Tamiment 107). Please note that this collection is stored offsite and advance notice is required for access. For information, contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu.

Tamiment Playhouse Photographs, 1920s-1987, 2.5 linear ft. (Photographs 41)

Alexander Cohen Tamiment Playhouse Photographs, 1947-1958, 25 items (Photographs 80)

Beverly Bozeman Fuller Tamiment Playhouse Photographs, 1954-1957, 18 items (Photographs 59)

Tamiment Playhouse Alumni: Oral Histories and Shows Collection, 62 interviews, 28 shows (Oral Histories 31).

The interviews were conducted between 1980 and 1988 by Andrew Horn of the Tamiment Playhouse Archives and by NYU Performance Studies graduate student Martha S. LoMonaco for her dissertation and subsequent book on the Tamiment Playhouse, entitled Every Week a Broadway Revue. The Tamiment Playhouse, located at the Socialist Party's retreat, Camp Tamiment, in Pennsylvania's Pocono mountains, became the preeminent workshop and a major creative outlet for theater, dance, film, and television of the mid-twentieth century. Actors such as Danny Kaye, Bea Arthur, Imogene Coca, and Carol Burnett, directors Max Liebman, Herb Ross, and Joe Layton, choreographer Jerome Robbins, and writers Woody Allen and Neil Simon are a small sampling of the major entertainment figures nurtured at Camp Tamiment.

Much of the original material performed at Tamiment found its way to the professional stage, Broadway, and television. All interviewees were involved in the Tamiment Playhouse, mainly in the 1950s. Most of the interviews consist of recollections of the Tamiment summer theater, as well as discussions about the importance of the Playhouse for Broadway. Of note in the collection are interviews with Woody Allen, Carol Burnett, Imogene Coca, and Neil Simon. Inventory available in repository. The Shows were recorded (live, on reel to reel audiotape) at the Tamiment Playhouse from 1955-1960.

Aura Levitas Photographs (Photographs 241)

Unprocessed. For permission to use this collection, and for additional information, contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu. Sixteen b/w photographic prints (two 3x5, nine 4x5, two 8x10 and three 11x17) ca. 1946-1952, and one poster of a cartoon reproduction (1949), all regarding the Tamiment Playhouse, donated by Aura Levitas, widow of Willard Levitas, set designer for the Tamiment Playhouse. A few of the prints are signed and dated by Alex Cohen. The poster exhibits caricatures of Tamiment Playhouse actors and administrators, and displays their signatures.


Other Summer Camps and Related Collections


Arden, Delaware (single tax community)

George Caylor Photographs (Photographs 15), contains a few images relating to Arden.

Berkshire Forum (Stephentown, N.Y.)

Berkshire Forum Records, 1973-1990, 14 linear ft. (Tamiment 146).

The Berkshire Forum was founded in 1973 in Stephentown, New York, as a forum for discussion of social and political issues. The Forum was located on land owned by Herman and Betty Liveright, who headed the Forum until 1989. The Forum appears to have ceased to exist by 1991. The founders and most guests were independent Old Leftists. The collection contains files on the numerous workshops and other programs held at the Forum, files on tours sponsored by the Forum, and administrative files, including board minutes.

Camp Higley Hill (Wilmington, Vermont)

Riva Rosenfield Papers [Camp Higley Hill], .5 linear ft. (Tamiment 434).

This small collection contains the papers of Riva Rosenfield, a leftist who attended and was involved with The Workers Children's Camp (Camp Wo-Chi-Ca). Most of the materials pertain to Wo-Chi-Ca, its reunions, and writings on the camp. Some documents also touch on Higley Hill, another camp run and staffed by the Communist Party of America. A set of photographs of Higley Hill and its campers from the early 1950's remains in the collection. The collection also contains a file of FBI and WPA papers on Herbert Gurewitz obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Grace Granich and Max Granich Papers [Camp Higley Hill], 1929-1998.
1 linear ft. (TAM 255)

Marion Nestle Higley Hill Camp Photographs, (Photographs 239). Unprocessed. For permission to use this collection, and for additional information, contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu. An album containing approximately 22 b/w photographs with captions.

Camp Kinderland (Hopewell Junction, N.Y.)

Camp Kinderland Records, 8 linear ft. (Tamiment 439)

Camp Kinderland was founded on Sylvan Lake in Hopewell Junction, NY in 1923 by members of the Workmenís Circle who worked in the organizationís New York City schools. The campís founders sought to create a summer youth camp that would not only provide a recreational escape for the children of working people from the tenements of New York City, but also one whose culture would encourage and foster a commitment to socially progressive activism and the embracing of a rich Jewish secular tradition. The camp's founders, including some activists in the Communist Party, were associated with the left wing of the Workermen's Circle. From 1930 the Camp operated under the auspices of a branch of the International Workers order. In the 1950s, under the pressure of New York State "anti-subversive" investigations, it was incorporated independently. The collection contains administrative records (including legal and financial records, property and maintenance files, registration and membership records), files relating to Camp Kinderland's cultural programs both in and out of season, publicity materials and oral histories.

Camp Kinderland Photographs Collection (PHOTOS 267)
Unprocessed. For permission to use this collection, and for additional information, contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu.

Camp Kinderland Alumni Association
History, reunions, testimonials, a documentary film, and much more on this website of the alumni of Camp Kinderland.

Camp Midvale/Nature Friends of America (Ringwood, N.J.)

Camp Midvale/Nature Friends of America: FBI Files, .5 linear ft. (Tamiment 89).

Camp Midvale was a recreation camp built in the 1920s by The Nature Friends of America and owned by the Labor Lyceum (a progressive workers organization). The collection contains documents of FBI investigations into the actions of the camp, Nature Friends Incorporated, Labor Lyceum and other related organizations, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Camp Midvale/Nature Friends of America Oral History Collection (Oral Histories 15).

Andy Lanset, free lance radio producer and oral historian, conducted these interviews with funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission in 1987 and 1988. The resulting one hour documentary program was broadcast on WBAI, WFMU, WFUV in 1988, entitiled "Camp Midvale: An Oral History". Camp Midvale, located in Ringwood, New Jersey, was one of 400 camps worldwide established by the Nature Friends whose U.S. branch had been founded in 1910 by German-American socialists and trade unionists.

The organization's goals were to preserve wildlife and to provide workers with affordable outdoor recreation. Camp Midvale's 150 acres, with a clubhouse and hiking trails, was purchased in 1930 and served as a hub for Nature Friends' activities on the East Coast. Nature Friends offered a political perspective, combining ecological "nature love" with progressive sympathies. "Fascist convictions" were outlawed in their by-laws. Hikers raised funds for such causes as the "Scottsboro Boys", the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born, the Committee to Release the Rosenbergs, and the civil rights movement. Placed on the Attorney General's list of "subversive organizations" in 1947, Nature Friends saw its members severely harassed. Camp Midvale was given to the Ethical Culture Society in 1968 in hope that it would be preserved as an ecological retreat.

Camp Nitgedaiget (Beacon, N.Y.)

Ernest Rymer Photographs Collection (Photographs 245), Unprocessed. For permission to use this collection, and for additional information, contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu.

A collection of eighty photographs, from 1929 to ca. late 1970s, bulk 1940s. Images mainly relate to the activities of the Jewish Peoples Fraternal Order of the International Workers Order (I.W.O.) and Jewish Young Fraternalists of the Jewish Peoples Fraternal Order, I.W.O., and Ernest Rymer (December 27, 1908 to March 16, 1986), who, according to one of his daughters, was the "junior director" (director of the Jewish Young Fraternalists?) of the JF before World War II, and then director of the Jewish Fraternalists division of the International Workers Order, from after World War II to ca. the 1950s. Notable images include three photographs dating from 1929 of the Pioneers Camp at Camp Nitgedaiget. There are also three photographs that have nothing to do with the IWO; they are scenes showing the unemployed and breadlines in New York City, shot by a "Joe Hall" (quality is extremely poor) during the Depression of the 1930s. Color snapshots are of an anti-nuclear demonstration in New York City, ca. late 1970s.

See also: General Photographs Collection (Photographs 1), folder 69 for images of this camp.

Camp Unity (Wingdale, N.Y.)

The Encyclopedia of the American Left describes Unity camp this way: "In 1927, Unity, which called itself the 'first proletarian summer colony,' which would become the first interracial adult camp in the United States, purchased a permanent site in Wingdale, New York. In the late 1930's, returning Spanish Civil War veterans were given jobs and the opportunity for [physical] rehabilitation at Unity. During World War II, local residents joined with campers and staff to raise funds for the war effort. A vibrant cultural program attracted guests from more traditional resorts. Cold War harassment--including a 1955 investigation to uncover 'Communists' use of summer camps to indoctrinate and disaffect American youth...'-- and internal disputes over camp policy on such issues as 'white chauvinism' Ė- with camp management often taking a position different from that of the Communist Party -- resulted in declining attendance. From 1958 to 1963, the children's camps Calumet and Webatuck operated on the site."

Robert Steck Papers [Camp Unity], 1917-1998, 7 linear ft. (ALBA 104)

Robert Steck Photograph Collection [Camp Unity], 1937-1996, 1.75 linear ft. (ALBA Photo 104)

Camp Wo-Chi-Ca (Hunterdon County, N.J.)

Camp Wo-Chi-Ca Records (Tamiment 206).
Camp Wo-Chi-Ca, also known as Workers Childrens Camp, was a summer camp for children located in New Jersey. Established in 1934, the camp was distinct from other summer camps of the time in that it was co-educational and attracted an extremely diverse population. The collection consists mostly of printed circulars from the 1940's such as the Daily Wo-Chi-Can and the Wo-Ki-Mag, some of which document visits of figures such as Paul Robeson and Woody Guthrie. Songbooks and Benefit Concert programs are also included.

William Golden Camp Wo-Chi-Ca Photographs (PHOTOS 156).

Wo-Chi-Ca Photos
Website containing photographs of the camp, Wo-Chi-Ca campers, and notable visitors.

Chester's Zumbarg (resort) Woodbourne, N.Y.

United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs (Photographs 23) Contains a few images of Chester's Zumbarg (resort). First draft and container list for the negatives portion of the collection is available upon request. Contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu. A database of ca. 30,000 of the negatives that includes caption information and dates exists and may be searched by Nonprint Curator.

Mesaba Park Association (Hibbing, Minnesota)

The Library's General Photograph Collection (Photographs 1), folder 42, contains pictures of John Bernard at Mesaba Park Association, which was frequented by members and the Farmer-Labor Party, the Communist Party, and others.

Mohegan Colony, Crompond, New York (anarchist)

Pacific Street Films (Photographs 46)
Contains a few images relating to Mohegan.

Mountain Spring Camp, Washington, N.J. (Trotskyist)

The Library's General Photograph Collection (Photographs 1), folder 171, contains pictures of Laura Gray at the camp.

Three Arrows Cooperative Society

Three Arrows Cooperative Society Records, 1937-2003, 6.25 linear ft. (Tamiment 250)

Three Arrows Cooperative Society Photographs, 1960s-2000, 366 images (Photographs 121).
Unprocessed. For permission to use this collection, and for additional information, contact tamiment.wagner@library.nyu.edu. One folder has notation "Three Arrows - Publications and Pictures," and contains 6 laser photocopies of b/w photographs. Two posterboards with photos mounted on them: one labeled "Rosh Hashanah 1998" has 19 photographs, the other is untitled and has 6 photographs. Approx. 18 color negatives. Six watercolor paintings, two by "Danny B." in 1999.

Wet Met Camps (Catskill Mountains, New York)

Wel-Met Camps Records, undated, 1959, .25 linear ft. (Tamiment 380) .
This collection consists of two supervisory manuals from the Wel-Met Camps, Narrowsburg, NY Division. The manuals contain information about the camp program, responsibilities of counselors, and overall goals of the camp.




Updated 09/12/2013

   
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