Tom Johnson

Dick J. Reavis's picture

    I have reached a dead end in my search for information about Tom Johnson, who was the CP's district director in lower Dixie in 1930-31. Published literature and Comintern records confirm that he left the region in the spring of 1931 because of a "nervous breakdown."  However, I found that within six weeks, back in New York, he was raising funds for the so-called Harlan County strikes, and four months later was in Kentucky and Tennessee, in charge of them. He returned to New York in the spring of '32, where I lose track of him until 1935, when a pamphlet of his about Dixie, obviously written in 1934, was published. After that, I can't find any records mentioning him.

   Does anyone know what might have become of him?

Categories: Query
Keywords: announcement, CPUSA

I have no direct information. However, it is interesting to note, as per his papers at Tamiment, that James Allen, who was also working in the deep South, left, after about a year or two, the reason being as I recall, the stress involved in the work

There is a Tom Johnson (Dzhonson, Tom) file in the Comintern’s collection of USA personal files at the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History (RGASPI): fond 495, opis 261, delo 5200. Probably it is your Tom Johnson but I have no idea what the file contains or from what period.

John Earl Haynes

Mr. Haynes:
I am used to working with the CPUSA files in the Comintern Records. But your report--which gives me great hope!--seems to indicate that the files mentioning a Dzhonson are in Russian, which I can't read. I am hoping that in this web-connected world, I could hire someone who could follow him in that language. Do you or does anyone have a suggestion about how I could hire a researcher who is competent in that language?

Dear Mr. Reavis:

Most 495-261 files I've seen have a mixture of material in English and Russian. Often the English consists of biographical forms filled out by the subject of the file when he or she attended a Comintern school or conference. But it has been more than a decade since I was at RGASPI and I'm no longer in touch with Russian researchers who assist RGASPI research. Nor do I know what is the current RGASPI policy on access to 495-261 files. American researchers who have been to Moscow more recently would be a better source.

John Earl Haynes