Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Curry mss., 1919-1926, and 1945 are the letters chiefly of Eugene Victor Debs, 1855-1926, socialist leader, to Mabel (Dunlap) Curry, 1868-1947, secretary.

The letters are concentrated in the years that Debs served a sentence in the Atlanta Penitentiary for conviction under the Espionage Act of 1917 and 1918. Some seventy of the letters are undated but a perusal of the contents separates them into Pre-prison, Prison, Post-prison, and Indefinite categories. The Pre-prison letters were probably written from Colorado where he had gone for a rest. The letters from Prison are largely personal in nature. The Post-prison letters are written on stationary for the Congressional Campaign of 1922 and from Lindlahr Sanitarium. The Indefinite letters belong to a period of time when he was criscrossing the country on lecture tours. Throughout the letters will be found comments on treatment for colds at Lindlahr Sanitarium, a portrait to be painted by a Russian artist, the recent death of Eva Amelia (Parke) Ingersoll, (Mrs. Robert Green Ingersoll), Helen Gardner, "the first woman to play Cleopatra on the silent screen", Ralph Chaplin the revolutionist, a meeting with William Zebulon Foster, the Pullman Strike of 1894, smoking, Mrs. Lovejoy of Girard, Kansas, and Robert Addison Hague.

Other letters of Debs are written to Rosalie Heaton Goodyear, editorial assistant on radical and liberal papers, and poet. Those written to her while in the Atlanta Penitentiary are on the backs of old envelopes. Goodyear in turn relates how she was introduced to Debs and how she received the letters via his secretary Mabel (Dunlap) Curry.

Other correspondents include Mabel (Dunlap) Curry, Theodore Debs, 1864-1945, bookkeeper and younger brother of Eugene Victor Debs, and William H. Henry, fl. 1922, socialist official. Henry wrote to Debs while Debs was serving in the Moundsville, West Virginia, prison prior to going to Atlanta.

The letters of 1945 relate to the writing of a biography of Debs by Irving Stone.

Several snapshots and photographs of Debs, from 1897-1922, and a folder of printed pieces complete the collection. Some of the letters are accompanied by typescripts.

Collection size: 149 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.