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Lement Harris Papers

Identifier: MsC0475

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Scope and Contents

The Lement Harris Papers consist of 3 linear feet and document his farm activism in the 1930s and beyond. Arranged chronologically within an alphabetical sequence, this collection includes correspondence files with letters from Harold Ware, Milo Reno, Ella Reeve Bloor, and Gus Hall; pamphlets; subject files relating to farm issues and organizations such as Farmers' Holiday and Farmers Union and radical politics.


  • Creation: 1920-1990
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930-1959


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Lement Harris was born in 1904 to Gertrude Upham and John Francis Harris. John Harris was the co-founder of Texaco and the Wall Street brokerage firm of Harris, Winthrop, and Co. Lement was educated in exclusive eastern prep schools and graduated from Harvard in 1926. Not having decided upon a career, he went to work on a farm in Pennsylvania where he was to remain for three years. While working as a farm laborer he read and was influenced by the works of Gandhi and Tolstoi. He was also exposed to a fellow worker who had been a member of a trade union delegation to the Soviet Union. Harris decided that he too must go there to see how the "new society" was working. He was introduced to Harold Ware, a communist and IWW organizer, who was running a farm in the North Caucasus area. Ware promised him employment when he came to the Soviet Union. His time in Russia was life-altering and he returned to the United States convinced that the Soviet system was in all ways superior to the West. Back home, he and Ware conducted a nine month survey of life in rural America. They published their results in The American Farmer. It was after this tour that Harris officially joined the Communist Party, of which he was a member until his death in September of 2002.


3.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Agricultural writer and activist. Subject files, pamphlets, correspondence, and clippings, primarily related to communism and agriculture.

Method of Acquisition

This collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries by Harris in August 1990 and in 1995.

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Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)