Monthly Archives: December 2019

Faces of the First Red Scare

As part of the ongoing research for my book on the global history of immigrant radicals who were deported during America’s First Red Scare, I have posted brief profiles of 761 (and counting) individual deportees I have identified. This list is a work in progress, and some entries will be updated as I obtain additional sources.

Who is included:

This list includes radicals and suspected radicals who were deported between 1918 (following America’s entrance into the First World War) and 1925, when the last of the foreign-born radicals arrested between 1917 and 1920 were expelled, some after serving prison sentences. It includes both those who were deported by government order and those who were ordered deported but “voluntarily departed” at their own expense with the government’s consent (both categories were included together in US government deportation statistics). It does not include those who fled the country to avoid arrest or deportation. It includes both individuals deported for belonging to legally-defined “anarchistic classes,” and others who were suspected of radicalism but deported on other grounds (most commonly for entering the country without inspection or being retroactively deemed “likely to become a public charge” at the time of their entry).

This is not a complete list. In the fiscal years (June-July) 1918-1926, the United States deported 979 aliens as “anarchists,” and an unknown number of additional radical immigrants under other statutes. The largest single group of deportees, composed of 242 alleged radicals (as well as seven unrelated deportees) departed on the USAT Buford on December 21, 1919. However, it appears that no complete list of Red Scare deportees was produced by either the Bureau of Immigration or the Bureau of Investigation. I have instead had to rely on partial lists and mentions of individual cases included in these organizations’ files, congressional testimony, radical publications, newspaper reports, and other sources.

How to use this site:

Profiles have been posted in small batches. They are organized in alphabetical order by last name, followed by alternate spellings and pseudonyms in parentheses. (The Cyrillic spellings of Russian names are generally my best guess; American sources from the era were wildly inconsistent in their spellings of such names. The same is true of the transliteration of Chinese names in the Roman alphabet.) You can also browse the Index of Names.

Birth years are often approximate, usually having been calculated from an individual’s age at the time of their examination by immigration authorities, and some may therefore be off by a year.

You can search by individuals’ nationalities (country of birth and, in some cases, ethnicity [i.e. Jewish, Lithuanian, etc.]) by using the tags above.

Occupations describe the individuals’ employment in the US, not necessarily the work they engaged in before arrival or after their deportation.

Political affiliations represented include the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the anarcho-syndicalist Union of Russian Workers of the United States and Canada (URW); the anarchist Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM); anarchists unaffiliated with larger organizations; the Communist Party of America (CP); the Communist Labor Party (CLP); the Socialist Party of America (SP); the Socialist Labor Party (SLP); and unaffiliated socialists. You can search by political affiliation by using the tags above.

You may also use the “Search” box at the top of the page to look for individual names, locations, etc.

The main sources used for compiling these profiles are case files from the Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), Record Group 85, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC; the Old German Files (OG) and Bureau Section Files (BS) of the Records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Record Group 65, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD (as digitized at fold3.com); and (for Italians) the Casellario Politico Centrale (CPC), Archivio Centrale dello Stato, Rome, Italy.

A special thanks to Molly Thacker, who photographed dozens of INS files for me; Malcolm Archibald, who has translated a number of Russian-language sources; D.J. Alperovitz, who has provided photographs of several IWW members; and the dozens of other archivists, translators, activists, and colleagues who have helped me locate, acquire, and read material from across the globe while undertaking this research.

Finally, if you have additional information about any of the deportees, or spot an error, please contact me!

Preliminary Observations

From The Liberator, February 1920

Nationality

Red Scare deportees were forcibly removed to at least twenty-seven different countries. The vast majority of these were in Europe, though they also included Argentina, Canada, China, Cuba, and Mexico. Nearly 70% of all deportees (well over 500) were repatriated to Russia, followed by Italy (at least 61 deportees, or 8% of the total), Germany (at least 24, or 3.2%), England, and Sweden (at least 19 each, or 2.5%).

Political Affiliation

Approximately 44% of deportees were members of the anarcho-syndicalist Union of Russian Workers of the United States and Canada. 17% belonged to the syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World, and another 15% were anarchists affiliated with smaller, independent groups. Together, these comprised over three quarters of all deportees. Members of the newly-formed Communist Party of America comprised another 17%, followed by smaller numbers of deportees affiliated with the Socialist Party of America, the United Communist Party, the Communist Labor Party, the Socialist Labor Party, or no organization at all.

Age

The oldest known deportee, Adolph Gross, was a German-born bookseller and grandfather who was born in 1860 and came to the US with his family at age twelve, making him sixty-one years old at the time of his deportation in 1921. The youngest deportee, Timofey (Thomas) Pavlovich Bukhanov, was just seventeen years old when he was deported on the Buford, after having spent ten of those years in the US and attending American schools. The average deportee, however, was born between 1887 and 1890 and lived in the US for a decade prior to his or her expulsion.

Gender

The overwhelming majority of Red Scare deportees were men. The twenty-three female deportees I have identified made up just 3% of the total. This was likely the result of thee compounding factors: unbalanced immigrant gender ratios, the predominance of men across radical and labor organizations, and the federal government’s general obliviousness and dismissal of radical women.

Class

The deportees were overwhelmingly working-class, and none could be described as wealthy. At lest two-thirds occupied the bottom of the the occupational ladder, working as sailors, lumber workers, miners, agricultural laborers, factory workers, or simply “laborers” who moved from job to job across several industries. Less than 5% worked jobs that could be classified as “white-collar,” but even many of these were self-taught journalists and editors for labor and leftist publications that paid little or no salary.

Race

For both demographic and bureaucratic reasons, US authorities rarely targeted non-Europeans for deportation under anti-anarchist immigration laws. (Government officials employed a separate group of anti-Asian statutes against immigrants from Asia, and disproportionately targeted Mexicans with laws excluding poor and illiterate immigrants.) The only First Red Scare deportees who today would be considered “people of color” were two Chinese IWW members, eleven Mexican radicals, one Persian from within the Russian Empire, and one or two racially mixed Cubans.

The racial categories in use at the time, however, did not lump all Europeans together into a single “white” race. In fact, the Bureau of Immigration recorded all deportees by “Race or People” rather than nationality or citizenship. The “races” represented among the Red Scare deportees therefore also included groupings such as “Hebrew” (35 total), “Magyar” (9), and separate categories for “Italian (north)” and “Italian (south),” all of which would have been considered by some at the time as either not “white,” or as inferior “white races.”