Robert E. Burke collection, 1892-1994

Burke, Robert E. (Robert Eugene), 1921-1998


60.43 cubic feet (68 boxes plus two oversize folders and one oversize vertical file).
The Robert E. Burke collection consists mainly of records of the Washington Commonwealth Federation, including correspondence, convention and legislation files, and other material (1934-1945). Also included is a set of ephemera, newsletters and other serial publications, clippings, and scrapbook, whose subjects include: Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New Deal, labor, the Communist and Socialist parties and the Spanish Civil War. Burke's own records include correspondence, minutes of meetings, reports, notes, conference and convention files, speeches, writings, and research files (1947-1990), as well as research notes and other material, particularly on Hiram Johnson, U.S. Senator from California. The collection contains a small amount of lecture notes and other material for Burke's undergraduate course, History of the Pacific Northwest, along with his background notes on early collectors of Pacific Northwest historical resources.
Robert E. Burke was a history professor at University of Washington from 1958 until 1993. Burke amassed a collection of material on the Washington Commonwealth Federation during his research, which often focused on studies of progressive and radical politics in California and the United States during the New Deal.
The Washington Commonwealth Federation (WCF) was created in 1935 from efforts of the Commonwealth Builders. It was a coalition of organized labor, local Democratic Party clubs, advocates of technocracy, and old-age pension supporters. It operated as a left-wing political organization that sought to control the Democratic Party of Washington state. For most of its history, it focused on drafting, supporting, and endorsing candidates for local, state, and federal public offices, and lobbying public officials in pursuit of its own policy agenda. The WCF was often a center of controversy because of the dominant role played by the Communist Party in setting policy, and because many of its members were also members of the Communist Party. Hugh DeLacy, the Federation's president from 1938 to 1945, was elected to Congress from Seattle in 1944. His election was a high point for the organization, but also left it with a leadership crisis. Having achieved some of its goals in effecting Democratic Party unity and change, the WCF dissolved in 1945.
Open to all users, but access to portions of the papers restricted. Contact repository for details.
Robert Burke's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries; permission is required to quote material created by others.
Finding aid available in the repository and on the World Wide Web.

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