Scope and Content
Title: Joseph R. Starobin and Robert S. Starobin Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1945-1976
Collection number: Special Collections M0675
Starobin, Joseph R.
Starobin, Robert S.
24 linear ft.
Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain
permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
[Identification of item] Joseph R. Starobin and Robert S. Starobin Papers, M0675, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University
Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
Joseph R. Starobin (1913-1976) and his son, Robert S. Starobin (1939-1971) each played significant roles in the radical movements
of their times, the so-called Old Left and New Left.
Joseph Starobin, born of a White Russian Jewish family in New York City, grew up among Socialists and became radicalized during
the Great Depression. He was the foreign editor of the Daily Worker from 1945-1954, In 1951, on the Communist Party's suggestion,
he went into to voluntary exile to escape McCarthyism. During this time, JS travelled widely in Latin America, France, Indochina,
and China. Two books emerged out of these experiences: Paris to Peking and Eyewitness in Indo-China. JS was also in charge
of the Communist Party USA's peace activities. JS entered the PhD. Program in history at Columbia University, and received
his degree in Political Science. JS then taught at York University in Toronto. His dissertation was published as American
Communism in Crisis: 1943-1957. JS's identification with the "Old Left" and academia thus provided a link with his son's leftist
Robert Starobin was a "Red Diaper Baby," who was exposed to socialist politics early in life. He was influenced by his father,
Joseph, and his mother, Norma, who was a dancer. He attended private progressive grade schools and graduated from the Bronx
High School of Science in 1957. He attended Cornell for undergraduate studies, where he was editor of the student newspaper.
Following college, he hitchhiked across the country to California, where he met and married Elsa within 3 weeks. He attended
graduate school in history at UC Berkeley and participated in the Free Speech Movement, the SDS and the black power movement.
His 1968 dissertation from UC Berkeley eventually became his major book, Industrial Slavery in the Old South, published in
1970. In 1966 RS joined the history faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and became involved with reforming the
history department and with student protest groups. He pioneered the first black studies course at UW-Madison in 1968. RS
published articles and spoke on his research interests in black history and the black power movement, but by the end of the
1960s, he felt unaccepted by the Black Panthers and by black academics because he was white. His marriage with Elsa broke
up and she moved back to California in 1968. In 1969, RS returned to Cornell for a post-doctoral fellowship and again became
involved with protest groups on campus. At the end of the year, he resigned from UW-Madison and accepted a teaching position
at SUNY-Binghampton. He committed suicide in 1971.
Scope and Content
The Joseph and Robert Starobin Collection consists of 47 archival boxes, some of which are oversized. The collection contains
personal papers and research materials of the Starobin father and son. There are 17 boxes of periodical publications reflecting
their political and research interests. More personal letters and the libraries of each man are housed at Wisconsin State
The collection is organized into 3 series: Joseph Starobin (JS), Robert Starobin (RS), and Serials. Series I and II are arranged
roughly by the following topics: Personal life; Academic life and research; Clippings, periodicals, and pamphlets; and Whole
newspapers. JS primarily contains clippings on the US Communist Party and the international communist and socialist movements
from the 1940s-60s. RS is the larger series and includes his research notes on American slavery, as well as materials on African-American
issues and the Black Power movement, the war in Vietnam, New Left politics, and student protest groups in the 1960s. It also
contains a collection of 1960s-era radical newspapers. Serials contains academic, political, critical, and popular journals
from the 1940s-1970s. They are arranged alphabetically by title.
Joseph Starobin and Robert Starobin materials separated. Arranged by subject within series. Periodicals arranged alphabetically.
Starobin, Joseph Robert, 1913-1976.
Starobin, Robert S., 1939-1971.
Browder, Earl, 1891-1973.
Civil rights and socialism.
New Left--United States.
Communists--United States. lcsh
Communist parties--United States.
Civil rights movements--United States.
The Daily Worker.