Proletarian Literature

In the 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, many New York writers used novels and poems as tools to address the working class, or “proletariat.” Using the written word to advance their political agenda, these writers espoused their views on class, communism, and global affairs. This movement “does not believe in literature for its own sake,” explained writer and editor Mike Gold, “but in literature that is useful, has a social function.”... Read More

Meet the Activists

  • John Reed
    John Reed
  • Michael Gold
    Michael Gold
  • Langston Hughes
    Langston Hughes
  • William Gropper
    William Gropper

Objects & Images

Key Events

Global Events
Local Events

1917 The Russian Revolution ushers in the Soviet Union

1919 "The Masses" reporter and poet John Reed publishes "Ten Days that Shook the World," his firsthand account of the Bolshevik Revolution, and later flees to the Soviet Union

1926 "New Masses" founded (published until 1947)

1929 Stock market crash prompts New York radicals to envision alternatives to capitalism

1930 Michael Gold’s "Jews Without Money" published

1930 The "Partisan Review" is founded as a publication of the John Reed Club of New York

1931 New York writers mobilize to protest the Scottsboro Boys, nine African-American youths falsely accused and convicted of rape in Alabama

1933 New Deal begins

1935 First American Writers Congress in New York City

1935 Popular Front policy announced by the Communist International

1939 The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Hitler and Stalin is signed, ending the era known as the “Popular Front”

1941 Germany invades the Soviet Union

1941 Final American Writers Congress held in New York City

Key Events

1917
The Russian Revolution ushers in the Soviet Union
1919 "The Masses" reporter and poet John Reed publishes "Ten Days that Shook the World," his firsthand account of the Bolshevik Revolution, and later flees to the Soviet Union
1926 "New Masses" founded (published until 1947)
1929
Stock market crash prompts New York radicals to envision alternatives to capitalism
1930 Michael Gold’s "Jews Without Money" published
1930 The "Partisan Review" is founded as a publication of the John Reed Club of New York
1931
New York writers mobilize to protest the Scottsboro Boys, nine African-American youths falsely accused and convicted of rape in Alabama
1933
New Deal begins
1935 First American Writers Congress in New York City
1935
Popular Front policy announced by the Communist International
1939
The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Hitler and Stalin is signed, ending the era known as the “Popular Front”
1941
Germany invades the Soviet Union
1941 Final American Writers Congress held in New York City