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John Spargo Papers

Identifier: mss-037

Scope and Content Note

The Spargo collection consists of three main parts: Spargo's essays, writings and publications; correspondence, both to and from Spargo; and Spargo's autograph collection, of manuscripts and other historical papers, primarily relating to early American and Vermont history. The Spargo writings have been arranged chronologically, and include a wide variety of published and unpublished efforts on different subjects: Socialist articles and speeches from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; numerous anti-Communist writings and views on Russia, from 1918 to 1935; essays from the 1910's and 1920's concerning the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East; assorted writings on Vermont history; and numerous political and economic essays on a wide range of current issues of the 1920's - 1930's.

The correspondence section of the collection has been arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent, and includes letters from the 1890's to the 1950's. Spargo's circle of notable friends and associates was quite extensive, and famous names abound in this part of the papers: Bernard Naruch; William E. Borah; Bainbridge Colby; Samuel Gompers; Herbert Hoover; Henry Cabot Lodge; Franklin D. Roosevelt; George Bernard Shaw; William Howard Taft; and Woodrow Wilson, to name a few. The correspondence is also very strong in letters from Socialist leaders, exiled Russian revolutionaries and politicians, and in American letters discussing Socialism, Bolshevism and Russian Communism. In addition, the correspondence contains many letters dealing with Vermont history and current affairs: the Vermont correspondents include most of the state's political and intellectual leaders of the first half of the 20th century.

The Spargo autograph collection contains papers from 1750 to 1950, with both original autograph manuscripts and secondary materials about persons or subjects grouped together under an alphabetical arrangement by name of subject. This portion of the papers includes Spargo's correspondence about historical events and people, as well as his notes and findings concerning them. The heaviest concentration of material here pertains to early Vermont and New England. and many famous names and events are represented: Ethen Allen; the Battle of Bennington; Thomas Chittenden; George F. Edmunds; Anthony Haswell; Matthew Lyon; Justin Smith Morril; Moses Robinson; the Vermont Sesquicentennial Commission of 1941; Isaac Tichenor; and Royall Tyler. There are also Berlioz, Enrico Caruso, Havelock Ellis, James A. Garfield, William Morris, William Tecumseh Sherman, and General Lew Wallace.

The John Spargo Papers were a gift from Mr. Spargo in 1965 and earlier.


  • 1750-1966



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical Note

Socialist, reformer, political analyst and Vermont historian, John Spargo was born in Cornwall, England, on January 31, 1876. Put to work in a local tin mine at the age of ten, Spargo received his education through night classes and extension courses. He became an active leader in the trade union movement as a young man, and helped found the Social Democratic Federation, forerunner of the British Socialist Party. In 1901, Spargo left England for the United States, where he soon rose to prominence in the Socialist Party, serving as national executive secretary for several years. However, Spargo became disenchanted with the more left-wing elements of the Party and its opposition to America's entering World War One, and resigned his membership in 1916. An ardent anti-Communist, Spargo became more and more conservative politically as he grew older, and in his role as unofficial advisor to several American presidents opposed "big government: legislation in favor of states' rights and local regulation. Spargo moved to Bennington, Vermont, in 1909 and made home there the rest of his life. This relocation in Vermont opened up another field of interest for Spargo, as he became actively involved in researching the early history of his adopted state. Spargo founded the Bennington Museum in 1927 and served as director until 1954, and also headed both the Bennington Battle Monument and Historical Association and the Vermont Historical Society for a number of years. He published numerous books, pamphlets and articles on Vermont's heritage and was widely regarded as the leading authority on Bennington pottery, as well. John Spargo died in Bennington on August 17, 1966.


18.34 Linear feet (5 cartons, 23 boxes, 18 volumes)

Language of Materials



John Spargo was a historian and reformer. The founder of the Bennington Museum, president of the Bennington Battle Monument and the Vermont Historical Society. Collection includes correspondence, notes, writings, newspaper clippings, and other papers, relating to Spargo’s activities as a Socialists (1901-16), and subsequently as political analyst, historian, and anti-communist; together with letters, deeds, court records, government documents, and other autograph and ms. material relating to Vermont collected by him.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the John Spargo Papers
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)