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Carolyn Ashbaugh Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Ashbaugh

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, notes, cassette tapes, and draft manuscripts for Carolyn Ashbaugh's biography of Lucy Parsons. Also includes material relating to the NEH application process. Notable names in this collection include Lucy Parsons, Albert R. Parsons, Burt Rosen, and Studs Terkel. Cassette tapes include interviews with union workers and strikers as well as Ashbaugh giving a speech on Lucy Parsons and reading research notes.

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available online. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.


  • Creation: 1970-1976



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Carolyn Ashbaugh Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized and are available online. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Carolyn Ashbaugh Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of creator

Carolyn Ashbaugh studied Russian and History at Grinnell College in the 1970’s. Originally from Sac City, Iowa, Ashbaugh spent her last senior semester enrolled in American Colleges of the Midwest’s seminar program at Newberry Library. Her work focused mainly on Lucy Parsons, anarchist activist, speaker, and wife of Albert Parsons, who was hung in the Haymarket trial of 1887.

Ashbaugh received a National Endowment of the Humanities grant in 1973 for her continued research and the creation of a biography about Lucy Parsons, titled Lucy Parsons, an American Revolutionary. Ashbaugh went on to work for WGBH in Boston as a researcher and writer for a labor series.

Lucy Parsons was born in 1851 to an enslaved mother. Over the years, she went by a variety of different names and claimed many heritages, including Mexican and Native American. She married Albert Parsons in 1873 in Texas. However, interracial marriage laws soon forced them to move north to Chicago. There, Lucy worked as a seamstress while writing for various union and socialist journals and newspapers.

In 1887, Albert was hung with four others under charges of conspiracy due to the Haymarket affair. Lucy toured the country speaking and bringing the Haymarket affair even more into the spotlight. In 1905, she helped found the Industrial Workers of the World. She continued to speak and give appearances until her death in 1942.


3.3 Linear Feet (7 hollinger boxes)

12 items (12 audiocassettes)


Includes correspondence, memoranda, notes, cassette tapes of interviews, etc., for Carolyn Ashbaugh's biography of Lucy Parsons, published by the Charles H. Kerr Co. for the Illinois Labor History Society in 1976.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Manuscript Drafts, 1972-1974
Boxes 1-2
Series 2: Research Papers, 1970-1976
Boxes 2-6
Series 3: Interview Tapes, 1970-1976
Audiovisual boxes (restricted)
Series 4: Correspondence, 1970-1976
Box 8
Series 5: Personal Papers, 1970-1976
Boxes 8-9

Collection Stack Location

1 4 1


Provenance unknown.

Processed by

Emily Richardson, 2019.

Inventory of the Carolyn Ashbaugh Papers, 1970-1976
Emily Richardson
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2023-01-17: Audiovisual materials have been permanently removed from the collection for preservation. Access to the original audiovisual items is restricted.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States