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Table of Contents
Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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Series I: Correspondence, 1917-1975
Series II: Investigative Files, 1928-1974
Series III: Boycott Files, 1933-1947
Series X: Publications, 1924-1978
At a Glance
This collection has been arranged into eleven series.
This collection documents the activities of the NSANL from its founding until its final year. It contains extensive correspondence, administrative records, NSANL publications, investigative files, and photographs, as well as a large collection of publications and pamphlets produced by extremist groups and some government and civil rights groups.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection has no restrictions.
This collection is located both off-site and on-site. On-site materials include boxes 1-11 and oversize box 690. All other boxes are off-site. You will need to request off-site material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and their heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
James H. Sheldon Papers, Columbia University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
NSANL Publications, Yale University Library
Bertha V. Corets Papers, American Jewish Archive
Samuel Untermyer Papers, American Jewish Archive
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Ownership and Custodial History
This collection is on permanent loan from the New York Public Library.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Method of acquisition--gift; Accession number--Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 08/--/89.
Papers processed Brian Mackus, Columbia College '12 Haruna Otsuka, Barnard Collage, 12 Stefanie Patterson, Columbia College '12 Reuben Berman, Columbia College '14 Aaron Samson, Columbia College '16, Halley Luellanne Farrell, Columbia University '14 Carolyn Smith, archivist 2010-2013.
2013-06-04 xml document instance created by Carolyn Smith
2013-06-04 xml document instance updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
The Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights (NSANL) was founded in New York City in 1933. Its goal was the coordination of a systematic trade boycott of all German-made goods in an effort to weaken the economy of Nazi Germany. Under its original name, the American League for the Defense of Jewish Rights (ALDJR), the organization selected the well-known and respected corporate lawyer Samuel Untermyer as its first president.
During the 1930s, Untermyer contacted community leaders throughout the United States and worldwide, urging them to participate in the boycott and to create local chapters of the organization. The NSANL held several large meetings, including the Conference of Jewish Leaders, which invited rabbis from across the US, to coordinate boycott efforts and organize a campaign to raise funds. While many supported the boycott, some feared that it would only lead to more blame and further persecution of German Jews. Others believed that the problem should be handled by an older, well-established organization, rather than by a new one. Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver suggested that that the boycott would only succeed with the support of people from all faiths, and the name was changed to the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League to Champion Human Rights to reflect this idea.
The boycott operated by first identifying companies that sold German-made goods using a system of questionnaires, interviews, and correspondence with concerned customers. The NSANL then sent letters to these businesses asking them to participate in the boycott and suggesting alternative sources for the goods they needed. If a business did not comply, the NSANL urged others to boycott it. Lists of companies that sold German goods were published in the NSANL's journal, The Economic Bulletin. The NSANL also answered inquiries about specific companies and broadcasted information about the boycott over the radio.
Untermyer was president of the NSANL until his retirement in 1938. Led by its new president, former Boston University professor James Sheldon, the NSANL turned its attention away from the boycott as public opinion turned against Germany, and focused instead on anti-Semitic and hate groups within the United States. NSANL had several investigative branches that sent agents to collect information on these groups. The agents posed as sympathizers, sometimes even joining the groups or befriending members. Agents infiltrated the KKK, the Columbians, the National Renaissance Party, and many others. They reported their findings in detailed reports to the NSANL office, which exposed members in press releases and called for further investigation from the government. The NSANL also investigated discrimination cases, asking the New York Commissioner of Education and members of the Board of Education to conduct an investigation into the administration of City College after learning that several professors had past involvement with fascist and anti-Semitic groups and that Jewish students were not receiving credit for their work. In 1945, NSANL attempted to have Columbia University's tax exemption status revoked on the grounds of discrimination, citing falling numbers of Jewish students over the university's history.
The NSANL also collected thousands of extremist newsletters, bulletins, newspapers, and pamphlets from organizations and individuals as evidence of their viewpoints and activity.
The NSANL was less active in the 1970s, though it continued to collect and preserve publications until the death of James Sheldon in 1975.