331.84 linear ft. ( 777 document boxes, 4 record storage cartons, 1 flat box).
This collection has been arranged into eleven series: Series I: Correspondence, 1917-1975 Subseries I.1 Cataloged Correspondence, 1931-1970 Subseries I.2: General Correspondence, 1917-1974 Subseries I.3: Geographical Correspondence, 1931-1949 Subseries I.4: Other Correspondence, 1924-1975 Series II: Investigative Files, 1928-1974 Subseries II.1: General, 1928-1974 Subseries II.2: United States Congress House Un-American Activities Committee, 1940-1974 Subseries II.3: Ku Klux Klan, 1939-1956 Subseries II.4: The Columbians, Inc., 1934-1954 Subseries II.5: National Renaissance Party (NRP), 1941-1969 Series III: Boycott Files, 1933-1947 Subseries III.1: Boycotted Goods and Services, 1933-1942 Subseries III.2: General, 1933-1947 Series IV: Subject Files, 1919-1975 Series V: Administrative Files, 1928-1975 Series VI: Legal and Official Documents, 1933-1973 Series VII: Media, 1958-1960 Series VIII: Memorabilia, 1879-1933 Series IX: Photographs, 1931-1959 Series X: Publications, 1836-1978 Subseries X.1: General, 1924-1978 Subseries X.2: Pamphlets, 1836-1974 Subseries X.3: Black Protest Periodicals, 1949-1971 Subseries X.4: German Publications, 1916-1945 Subseries X.5: NSANL Publications, 1933-1965 Series XI: Press Releases, 1941-1974.
This collection documents the activities of the NSANL from its founding until its final year. It contains extensive correspondence, administrative records, NSANL publications, investigative files, and photographs, as well as a large collection of publications and pamphlets produced by extremist groups and some government and civil rights groups.
The Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights (NSANL) was founded in New York City in 1933. Its goal was the coordination of a systematic trade boycott of all German-made goods in an effort to weaken the economy of Nazi Germany. Under its original name, the American League for the Defense of Jewish Rights (ALDJR), the organization selected the well-known and respected corporate lawyer Samuel Untermyer as its first president.
During the 1930s, Untermyer contacted community leaders throughout the United States and worldwide, urging them to participate in the boycott and to create local chapters of the organization. The NSANL held several large meetings, including the Conference of Jewish Leaders, which invited rabbis from across the US, to coordinate boycott efforts and organize a campaign to raise funds. While many supported the boycott, some feared that it would only lead to more blame and further persecution of German Jews. Others believed that the problem should be handled by an older, well-established organization, rather than by a new one. Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver suggested that that the boycott would only succeed with the support of people from all faiths, and the name was changed to the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights to reflect this idea.
The boycott operated by first identifying companies that sold German-made goods using a system of questionnaires, interviews, and correspondence with concerned customers. The NSANL then sent letters to these businesses asking them to participate in the boycott and suggesting alternative sources for the goods they needed. If a business did not comply, the NSANL urged others to boycott it. Lists of companies that sold German goods were published in the NSANL's journal, The Economic Bulletin. The NSANL also answered inquiries about specific companies and broadcasted information about the boycott over the radio.
Untermyer was president of the NSANL until his retirement in 1938. Led by its new president, former Boston University professor James Sheldon, the NSANL turned its attention away from the boycott as public opinion turned against Germany, and focused instead on anti-Semitic and hate groups within the United States. NSANL had several investigative branches that sent agents to collect information on these groups. The agents posed as sympathizers, sometimes even joining the groups or befriending members. Agents infiltrated the KKK, the Columbians, the National Renaissance Party, and many others. They reported their findings in detailed reports to the NSANL office, which exposed members in press releases and called for further investigation from the government. The NSANL also investigated discrimination cases, asking the New York Commissioner of Education and members of the Board of Education to conduct an investigation into the administration of City College after learning that several professors had past involvement with fascist and anti-Semitic groups and that Jewish students were not receiving credit for their work. In 1945, NSANL attempted to have Columbia University's tax exemption status revoked on the grounds of discrimination, citing falling numbers of Jewish students over the university's history.
The NSANL also collected thousands of extremist newsletters, bulletins, newspapers, and pamphlets from organizations and individuals as evidence of their viewpoints and activity.
The NSANL was less active in the 1970s, though it continued to collect and preserve publications until the death of James Sheldon in 1975.
This collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located both off-site and on-site. On-site materials include boxes 1-11 and oversize box 690. All other boxes are off-site. You will need to request off-site material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
James H. Sheldon Papers Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.
NSANL Publications Yale University Library.
Bertha V. Corets Papers American Jewish Archive.
Samuel Untermyer Papers American Jewish Archive.
Finding Aid available in repository and online; folder level control.