National Progressive League
Papers, 1931-1932

SC20642

Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Purchase: Charles Apfelbaum, Rare Books & Collections, 1993.
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, July 1993, revised January 1996 and June 2017.

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Historical Note:

The National Progressive League was a political action committee in the United States organized by Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska to support the Democratic Party nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt for president; it disbanded following the 1932 election. Norris formed a similar group for the 1936 election called the Progressive National Committee.

According to a statement issued by Frederic C. Howe of New York on September 25, 1932, the league was to be “non-partisan in its policy, and its activities are confined to economic issues. Its membership includes progressives of both the Democratic and Republican parties as well as independents who acknowledge no party allegiance.” Its slogan was “What this country needs is another Roosevelt in the White House.” – New York Times, September 26, 1932.

David K. Niles, served as director of the New York Headquarters of the organization.  He was also a prominent member of the Boston Ford Hall Forum, and served in various administrative positions in the Roosevelt Administration.

Scope and Content Note:

This series of correspondence, memoranda, and other papers is related primarily to the endorsement of Franklin D. Roosevelt during the 1932 presidential election campaign by the National Progressive League. The endorsement is covered from two perspectives: First, that of the Democratic Party leadership as disclosed in the correspondence and memoranda of James A. Farley, Louis Howe, Robert H. Jackson, and F. Ryan Duffy, who welcomed the endorsement, but had concerns about its independence and commitment to other party candidates. The Progressive League’s independent activity in state and local contests in Wisconsin were discussed frequently in this context. Second, that of the National Progressive League, expressed mostly by David K. Niles, the director of the organization. His desire was to work closely with the Democratic Party to ensure the election of Roosevelt, especially in Massachusetts where he made overtures to Boston Mayor James Michael Curley. Correspondents of Niles included Democratic Party leaders and prominent progressives such as Frank Murphy and George W. Norris.

Ancillary papers include a press release of Bronson Catting, Progressive Republican senator of New Mexico, announcing his endorsement of Roosevelt; a pamphlet containing analysis of agricultural issues in the Democratic and Republican party platforms of 1932; and proceedings of the Progressive Conference of 1931.

Box and Folder List:


Box Folder Contents
1 1 Letter to Joseph F. Guffey, Pittsburgh, Pa., from George White, Columbus Ohio, July 16, 1932. T.L.S. With memorandum from Louis Howe to James Farley, n.d.
Re: The support for Franklin Roosevelt at the Democratic Party convention
1 2
  1. Letter to Frank Walsh, New York City, from Carl Beck, New York City, July 21, 1932. T.L.S.
  2. Memorandum to Louis Howe, [New York City?], from Frank P. Walsh, New York City, July 26, 1932. T.L. Re: Beck letter
  3. Letter to Louis Howe, New York City, from Frank P. Walsh, New York City, July 26 [sic], 1932. T.L.S.
  4. Note to “Dear Jim” from Louis Howe, n.d. T.L. with penciled annotation
  5. Note to “Dear Boss” from Louis Howe, n.d. T.L. with penciled answer
Re: Political agenda of the National Progressive League and its involvement in the Roosevelt campaign
1 3 Letter to Louis M. Howe, Albany, New York, from Melvin D. Hildreth, Washington, D.C., August 8, 1932. T.L.S.
Re: National Progressive League’s independence from the Republican Party
1 4
  1. Letter to James A. Farley, New York City, from F. Ryan Duffy, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, August 10, 1932, T.L.S. With Farley’s reply of August 31, 1932. T.L.S. 
  2. Memorandum from James A. Farley to Louis Howe, August 31, 1932. T.L.S.
Re: Support of Roosevelt among progressive politicians in Wisconsin
1 5 Letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Albany, New York, from F. Ryan Duffy, August 10, 1932. T.L. With memorandum from G.T. Cross to Louis M. Howe, n.d.
Re: Progressive support of the Democratic ticket in Wisconsin
1 6
  1. Letter to Mr. Jackson from David K. Niles, Boston, Massachusetts, August 20, [1932]. A.L.S.
  2. Memorandum from Robert Jackson to Louis Howe, August 22, 1932. T.L.
Re: Progressives
1 7
  1. Memorandum from J.C. O’Mahoney to James A. Farley, August 18, 1932. T.L. Re: Alfred E. Smith. T.L.
  2. Letter to James A. Farley, New York City, from H.H. Lins, Spring Green, Wisconsin, September 22, 1932. T.L.S.
  3. Letter to H.H. Lins, Spring Green, Wisconsin, from J.C. O’Mahoney, September 28, 1932. T.L.
Re: Progressive politics in Wisconsin
1 8
  1. Letter to Mayor Frank Murphy, Detroit, Michigan, from DKN [David K. Niles), October 1, 1932. T.L.
  2. Letter to David K. Niles, New York City, from Frank Murphy, Detroit, Michigan, October 6, 1932. T.L.S.
  3. Telegram to David K. Niles, from Frank Murphy, Detroit, Michigan, October 7, 1932
  4. Telegram to Mayor Frank Murphy, Detroit, Michigan, from David K. Niles, Director, National Progressive League, October 8, 1932
Re: Progressive Republican support of Roosevelt in Michigan
1 9 Letter to Basil Manley, New York City, from Roscoe Fertich, Chicago, Illinois, September 21, 1932. T.L.S.
Re: Progressive endorsements of Roosevelt
1 10
  1. Copy of a letter to “Dear Jack” [John P. Robertson], from G.W. Norris, McCook, Nebraska, October 7, 1932. T.L. with pencil annotation
  2. Letter to David K. Niles, New York City, from John P. Robertson, Washington, D.C., October 11, 1932
Re: Senator George W. Norris’s endorsement of Franklin Roosevelt; Norris was a leader of the progressive movement
1 11 Copies of David K. Niles’s outgoing correspondence, October 11-28, 1932
Re: Cooperation between Democrats and Progressives to help Roosevelt win
Massachusetts electoral votes:
  1. Franklin Roosevelt, Albany, New York, October 11
  2. Mrs. Glendower Evans, Brookline, Massachusetts, October 11 – “Dear Auntie B”
  3. Miss Martha Lathe, Boston, Massachusetts, October 11
  4. Butler R. Wilson, Boston, Massachusetts, October 11
  5. William E. Hearn, Boston, Massachusetts, October 19
  6. James M. Curley, Boston, Massachusetts, October 20
  7. Miss May Ward, Boston, Massachusetts, October 28
1 12 David K. Niles’s incoming correspondence, August-November 1932
Re: Progressive support of Franklin Roosevelt:
  1. Martha R. Peters, A.L.S., August 23
  2. William K. Huff, Philadelphia, Pa., T.L.S., October 5
  3. Marie (Mrs. Glen E.) Plumb, Chicago, Illinois, T.L.S., October 28
  4. Edward L. Israel, Baltimore, Maryland, T.L.S., October 30
  5. W.D. Quint, Cambridge, Massachusetts, A.L.S., October 30
Letter to “Drs. Branner, Cabot and others,” Boston, Massachusetts, from Henry A. Christian, Boston, Massachusetts, November 4, 1932. T.L.S. Re: capital punishment and pardons for criminals
1 13 Letter to Professor Foster from David K. Niles, New York City, October 27, 1932. T.L.S.
Re: Invitation to a reception in honor of Franklin D. Roosevelt
1 14 Memoranda to David K. Niles (6 items)
  1. From M. Shaughnessy, September 30. T.L.
  2. Inter-office memo from Robert Jackson, October 5. T.L.
  3. “as dictated over telephone – Mayor Murphy to Mr. Niles, October 20, 1932 (3 copies)
  4. “Station WEVD is anxious to stage a series of symposia on why liberals should support Franklin D. Roosevelt or Norman Thomas.” n.d.
1 15 Telegrams:
  1. Dorothy K. Brown to David Niles, October 18, 1932
  2. David K. Niles to John L. Wheeler, October 20, 1932
1 16 Press Release, National Progressive League, October 20, 1932 (3p. plus cover letter)
Re: Senator Bronson Cutting, Republican of New Mexico, endorsement of Franklin Roosevelt
1 17 Press Releases, National Progressive League, November. (2 items)
  1. Volunteer Domestic Allotment Plan
  2. Fascism in Germany
1 18 “Preliminary Outline of Committee’s Work” Re: “national and international action in the matter of munitions of war” n.d. 6p.
1 19 Mailing or membership lists
1 20 Pamphlet: Agricultural Issues of the 1932 Campaign. Republican and Democratic Platforms Analysis by National Progressive League for Roosevelt and Garner. (Chicago: Western Committee Headquarters, 1932) 15p.
1 21 Proceedings of a Conference of Progressives to Outline a Program of Constructive Legislation Dealing with Economic and Political Conditions for Presentation to the First Session of the Seventy-Second Congress Held at Washington, D.C., March 11 and 12, 1931. [Washington, D.C.: 1931] cover title, 164p.
Last Updated: August 10, 2017