Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Charles Karson
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Charles Karson was born in 1913 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1924 with his father and several brothers. They settled in St. Paul. He joined the Young Communist League, and his older brothers Jack and Morris (Red) Karson also became Communists. All of them rose quickly in the Party. Charles was the YCL district organizer, and Jack served briefly as the adult party's district organizer in 1934. All three were active in the Unemployed Councils; Charlie was arrested in a demonstration at city hall in Minneapolis in 1932. Shortly after that he left Minnesota at the request of the Party to organize with steelworkers and miners near Pittsburgh. He never returned to Minnesota. At the time of the interview Mr. Karson was retired and living in California with his wife, the former Ethel Wodlinger of Minneapolis. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Split in the Communist Party that led to the formation of the Trotskyist party, 1929. Leadership of the CP in the Twin Cities, 1920s. Activities of the Unemployed Councils in the Twin Cities: marches and demonstrations, anti-eviction actions. Impressions of the Finnish American Communists in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Attitude of the Communist Party towards the Farmer-Labor Party, and assessment of Floyd B. Olson. Impressions of Harry Roast. Social and cultural life within the Party. Changing demographics of the Party in the 1920s and early 1930s; continuity with the Socialist Party and lack thereof. Impressions of organized labor in the Twin Cities prior to the teamsters' strike of 1934. Reflections on the importance of the Russian Revolution to US Socialists; the influence of the Communist International over the CPUSA. Description of a strike among steelworkers in Pennsylvania in the Little Steel strike of 1937. Assessment of the successes and limitations of the CPUSA. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Frank Green comments occasionally, but adds no substantive information. There is some background noise on the tape.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
25 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:08:56 running time
Creation Interviewee: Karson, Charles
Interviewer: Ross, Carl E.
Made in California, United States
Subjects Made in California, United States
Dates Creation: 02/17/1988
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 30
Accession Number AV1990.228.25
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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