Workers World

Note for presentation on

This presentation is of the best quality images we have for a given issue. This means, where we have them, presentation of scans from orignial paper scanned directly on a flat bed scanner at 300 dpi 8 bit gray scale.

Where we don't have such, we present images from the Columbia University use-postive microfim made in 1950.


Notes regarding Workers World 1919 Kansas City MO

(1) Re: the digital archive I scanned from the Columbia University microfilm of Workers World 1919.

by Marty Goodman, director of digital projects, Riazanov Library, April 2011

As best I can at this time ascertain, the only near complete microfilm record of Workers World Kansas City MO 1919 is on a "use positive print" microfilm made by Columbia University in the 1950's. I know of two other copies of this microfilm outside of the one at Columbia University. Both are "use positive" prints. One at the Wisconsin Historical Society, and one held by the Prometheus Research Library. Emily Holmes, assistant director of preservation at Columia's Butler Library, has informed me she is unable to find Columbia's master negative of this film.

Tamiment library has a 35mm roll film (R7186 in Tamiment's numbering) that pops up is you search BobCat at NYU. I viewed this record. The roll is almost entirely records of The Communist and Truth. In the middle is a record of a single 4 page issue (number 25) of Workers World 1919. The original for this record was in extremely bad condition, with the pages in fragmentary shape.

No Greenwood or other reprint of this material is known to exist.

Originals are scarce.

Syracuse University Library, which has the Earl Browder papers, is listed as having two original issues of Workers World.

I personally own a set of 16 original issues (out of the total set of 35). At this time, to my knowledge, this is the largest set of existing single issues.

Between my personal set (obtained thanks to the kindness of John Durham of Bolerium Books) and the Columbia Microfilm, I have been able to make scans of 34 of the 35 issues of Workers World printed. At this time, I cannot find a source for issue number 11, June 13, 1919.


Regarding numbering of Workers World 1919 Kansas City MO:

There is the following oddity in the numbering of Workers World 1919: July 4 is No. 14. However, July 11 is ALSO numbered No. 14. July 18 is then numbered No 15. But July 25 is numbered No. 17.

Thus, there is no No. 16, and there are two No. 14's.

In fact, the second "No. 14", dated July 11, should have been numbered "15". And No. 15, July 18, should have been numbered "16". After that, the numbering gets back on track with No. 17, July 25.

The Columbia University microfilm was labelled "Incomplete". This indeed is so: It is missing both issue No. 11 (which unfortunately is not in my collection, or any other I currently know of) and also the SECOND No. 14, July 11 (which I DO have in my personal collection). The Columbia film has a total of 33 issues of Workers World on it.


Regarding the scanning of the Columbia Microfilm: I scanned each of 33 four page (original page broadsheet size) microfilm records at Columbia University, using their new ScanPro 2000 microfilm scanner. Ms. Emily Holmes informed me Columbia University had no reservations with my either scanning the issues or distributing the scans. Note that I informed her that I / The Riazanov Library would be distributing the scans free of charge to those interested among research libraries, researchers, and the workers movement, and anyone else interested.

The originals photographed for the microfilm were generally in very good condition. Numbers 34 and 35 did have some noteable damage: 34 missing a chunk out of the top corner of the sheet on which was printed pages 1 and 2, and 35 missing some small triangular pieces in the vicinity of its vertical centerfold.

But overall the vast majority... at the 98% level at least, I'd speculate... of the text was present and readable.

The positive use copy of the microfilm itself was in superlative physical shape. It appeared it had seldom been in a reader. There were nearly no scratches, and few other physical flaws to the film. [I personally advised both the Wisconsin Historical SOciety and Columbia University to duplicate that use positive film, given the original negative appears to be lost and those two copies may be the only record remaining.]

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the technical quality of the photography of the originals in making the microfilm was execrable. Grossly incompetent. Tho from what I'm told, such shoddy work was common in the 1950's, before standards for making microfilms were well established.

When photographed, the pages were NOT flattened by either frames or glass. The lighting was poorly set up. As a result, the top of each page tended to be very brightly lit, and the bottom dark, with added shadows around creases and other uneven-nesses in the paper. Text in many cases was ALMOST (not quite, but durn near) lost in the shadows toward the bottom of some pages.

Normally I prefer to create our digital records of old text-only or mostly text-only newspapers using 300 dpi, black and white (single bit) scans. However, given limitations in rendering contrast, I could not use single bit scans for this record, and had to resort to gray scale to preserve visible text over the full range of the film. Also, because I was not sure whether I'd have access to this rare film again, I used 600 dpi instead of my accustomed 300 dpi for rendering newspapers. This decision was influenced by the fact that each issue was only 4 pages, and there were only 33 four page records. The resulting .pdf scans occupied roughly 3.5 to 4.0 megabytes of file space for each issue. This is big for a 4 page newspapers, but easily manageable with todays massive storeage capacities. It will of course be even less of a problem in the future, as cost of storeage goes down, and size of storeage on a given media goes up exponentially.


(2) re: the set of scans of my personal collection:

As mentioned above, I obtained this collection of 16 issues thanks to the kindness of John Durham of Bolerium Books, who alerted me to it being available (at a tidy sum, which I was glad to pay). I was informed he had obtained it from another bookseller, who was unaware of its significance or value.

These I scanned on the Riazanov Library's Contex Flex 50i oversize (18 x 24 / broadsheet) flat bed scanner, at 300 dpi, single bit black and white (except for one page, the front page of the July 4 issue, where I used 600 dpi single bit). And I scanned the issues at 300 dpi gray scale.

Among the original issues I obtained there is ONE issue not fond on the Columbia microfilm: The second No. 14 (which I number as "No. 14x), July 11, 1919. Among other things, this issue is significant in that it was the last issue for which Earl Browder was the chief editor. Starting issue No. 15, July 18, 1919, James P. Cannon becomes the chief editor.


Regarding the historical significance of Workers World Kansas City MO 1919:

The Goldwater entry for Workers World reads as follows:

"307. Workers' World. Kansas City, Missouri. I.1-35, Apr 4-N 28 1919.

Although this was a local paper, issues by the "Workers' Educational League" and then official organ of the Socialist Party of Kansas, it is included here becauase it was edited by Earl Browder and James P. Cannon."

Workers World 1919 is in many respects similar to a number of other such papers put out by the left wing of the Socialist Part in that period that are better known and more widely available, such as Revolutionary Age and Ohio Socialist.

Earl Browder was the chief editor thru issue number 14x (second issue that bears the number "No. 14") of July 11.

However, starting with issue number 15, July 18, the chief editor is listed as his then comrade James P. Cannon (!).

As issue No. 14x July 11 reports on its front page, Earl Browder, his brother Will Browder (business manager of the paper), their brother Ralph Browder, and five others were to start the next day serving two year prison sentences at Leavenworth. "Their offense consisted of open opposition to conscription when the draft first went into effect and a conistent adherance from first to last to the principles of international socialism."

Both Browder and Cannon went on to be important founding members of the Communist Party at the end of 1919. Then, nine years later, they became mortal enemies (and remained so ever after), with Browder being the leader of the Stalinized Communist Party, and Cannon becoming the founder of the American Trotskyist movement, first as leader of the Communist League of America (Opposition), then co-leader of the fused Workers Party, and finally in 1938 as leader of the SWP.


Inventory of the Columbia Microfilm:

All issues 1 - 35 EXCEPT

11 June 13
14* July 11

Inventory of Originals in my personal collection:

Workers World
Vol 1, 1919

No. Date
----- -----
3 April 18
7 May 16
12 June 20
14 July 4
14* July 11 (* should be No. 15 )
15* July 18 (* should be No. 16 )
17 July 25
18 August 1
21 August 21
22 August 29
23 September 5
24 September 12
25 September 19
26 September 26
27 October 09


Martin H. Goodman MD
San Pablo, CA and Brooklyn, NY 2014