Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Alma Howe Foley
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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Alma Howe was born on a farm near Alden, Minnesota, on March 13, 1909. Her parents, Ebenezer K. Howe and Louise Drake Howe, were both born in Minnesota and of British decent. Alma was raised on the farm and graduated from Alden High School in 1927. She went to Minneapolis and enrolled at the University of Minnesota, but attended there for only a year before she met and married Thomas Foley, then organizational secretary for the Workers' (Communist) Party. From that time on, the bulk of her energies were directed into radical political work. After a brief time in Duluth, the couple settled in Minneapolis, where Ms. Foley worked primarily in defense of civil liberties. From1935 to 1940 she headed the state chapter of the International Labor Defense, while also raising four children. During the 1940s Ms. Foley was less politically active, but late in the decade she joined the Civil Rights Congress, and in 1950 became the state organizer of the Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. For her participation in this organization, she was called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and watched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Ms. Foley resigned from the CP around 1957. She worked part-time in book binderies and print shops. Tom Foley died suddenly in 1965, and Ms. Foley supported herself until her retirement in 1974. To fill her time after retirement, she volunteered with the Lowery East Hill Neighborhood Association, the citizens' advisory committee for the Community Development Block Grant Program, and The Bridge for Runaway Youth. In 1979 she resumed working part-time as a home health aide for the Ebenezer Society. At the time of the interview her main occupation was still caring for those more elderly than herself. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Activities in the Communist Party bookstore in Minneapolis, late 1920s. Jewish radical groups in Minneapolis, late 1920s. Hunger marches, early 1930s. "Free Tom Mooney" campaign. CP activity in Duluth, 1932-35, especially among the unemployed. Impressions of Henry and Irene Paull. Impressions of the farm movement around Duluth. Radical theater in Duluth, 1932-35. Activities of the International Labor Defense in Minneapolis: campaign for the Scottsboro Boys, defense of people arrested in demonstrations, effort to block the deportation of Charles Rowaldt Activities of the ILD in Duluth, especially deportation cases. Relationship of the ILD and the CP; opinions about changes in CP tactics and positions. Gubernatorial campaign of 1938. Red-baiting of the Foleys' children at school. Activities of the Civil Rights Congress in Minnesota, 1940s. Government surveillance of radical activity, 1950s. Activities of the Minnesota Committee for Protection of Foreign Born: defense of Knute Heikkinen, Norman Bernick, Charles Rowaldt, Harry Roast, and Vera Hathaway; public meetings. Appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1956. Relations between Trotskyists and Communists in Minneapolis. Presidential campaign of 1948. Public reactions to the Korean War. Communist Party responses to government persecution; criticism of the vanguard approach. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: This is a detailed and informative interview. There is another interview with Alma Foley, conducted by Mary Pruitt, in the Minnesota Historical Society collection.
Quantity 3 hours sound cassette
39 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 02:43:05 running time
Creation Interviewee: Foley, Mrs. Alma Howe
Interviewer: Ross, Carl E.
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 03/29/1988 - 04/04/1988
(Interviews conducted 3/29/1988 and 4/4/1988.)
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 30
Accession Number AV1990.228.17
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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