Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley

Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley

(1890–1964) labor leader, social reformer; born in Concord, N.H. Daughter of Irish nationalists, she showed an early talent for public speaking on social issues; dropping out of school by 1907, she became an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World. She was involved in many famous strikes including the 1912 Lawrence strike. She also worked for women's suffrage, peace, and other progressive causes, and was one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (1920). (Expelled from the ACLU in 1940 because of her Communist Party activities, the expulsion was rescinded in 1978.) Between 1912–25, she was romantically and professionally involved with Carlo Tresca, the Italian anarchist; she worked for such causes as the release of civilians imprisoned during World War I on war-related charges, and then worked to free Sacco and Vanzetti. A heart ailment kept her out of action for a decade but in 1936 she joined the Communist Party and became one of its most outspoken leaders in the U.S.A.; she served two years in prison (1955–57) under the Smith Act, charged with advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. From 1961–64 she served as chairperson of the Communist Party of America. She died in Moscow where she had gone to work on her autobiography.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley

 

Born Aug. 7, 1890, in Concord, N.H.; died Sept. 5, 1964, in Moscow. American labor movement figure.

Flynn was the daughter of an Irish laborer. She joined the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World in 1906. During World War I she spread propaganda against the war. In 1937 she joined the Communist Party of the USA and was elected a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party in 1938. In 1951, along with other members of the party and a number of progressive organizations, Flynn was brought to trial on a charge of violating the Smith Act. She was imprisoned from 1955 to 1957. In 1957, Flynn became a member of the National Committee and the Executive Committee of the Communist Party of the USA. She was vice-chairman of the party’s National Committee from 1959 to 1961 and chairman from 1961.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.