Introducing the Library
The Prometheus Research Library is a working research facility for a wide range of Marxist studies and also the central reference archive of the Spartacist League of the U.S., section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). Library holdings include substantial materials on the organizations inspired and led by Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky, as well as works on related topics, sometimes remote.
The purpose of the PRL is to collect, preserve, and make available the historical record of the international workers movement and to assist Marxist scholarship. It is both a strength and weakness of the PRL that it is necessarily centered upon the work and interests of the American Communist and Trotskyist movement.
The Library’s collection, which does not circulate, grew out of the forty-year accumulated and organized holdings of James Robertson, both correspondence and printed materials. The collection now includes over 6,700 books and periodical volumes, 130 reels of microfilmed documents and periodicals, and 175 linear feet of archival documents and bulletins. Particular emphasis is on minutes of leading committees and internal discussion material. Approximately three-quarters of the holdings are in English. There are significant materials in Russian: over 300 titles covering much of the record of the Bolshevik Party in the form of stenographic records of Congresses and Conferences, public leaflets, internal party documents, early Cheka reports, memoirs, as well as publications and exile correspondence of the Left Opposition. Holdings in German, French, Spanish, Polish, and other languages are also significant. Books and pamphlets are catalogued in a card file with 120 subject headings; periodicals are indexed separately. An extensively cross-referenced, electronic version of the card file and document holdings facilitates research.
The Library also contains the published works of many non-Marxist authors who strike our interest. Since 1979, the PRL has circulated lists of recent acquisitions to interested libraries and individuals. These circulars are available upon request.
The Prometheus Research Library evolved over the last 30 years and works under the auspices of the Central Committee of the Spartacist League/U.S. The PRL has 24 staff and individual associates in the U.S. and 9 other countries. The PRL is a member of the American Library Association. The PRL seeks to assist serious efforts to publish histories of Trotskyist sections around the world, both by providing documentation and where appropriate financial support, without regard for our particular agreement with the views of the authors. The PRL occasionally collaborated with Louis Sinclair, the noted bibliographer of Leon Trotsky’s work. George Breitman, editor of Trotsky’s Writings, advised the PRL in the early stages of the production of our first book, James P. Cannon and the Early Years of American Communism. The Library strongly supports the collaboration and exchange of historical material with individuals and libraries of kindred purpose around the world. It has deposited archival records of the Spartacist League/U.S., Spartacus Youth League, and ICL in the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University and the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.
The Prometheus Research Library seeks to collect, preserve, and make available the documentary record of the international communist movement. The PRL’s publishing program makes available rare materials that are an indispensable part of the documentary history of the Trotskyist movement. We are very interested in obtaining originals or photocopies of relevant minutes, bulletins, or correspondence to ensure that such historically valuable documents are not lost. Persons who have such archival papers are encouraged to contact the PRL.
The Prometheus Research Library is open to qualified scholars needing our specialized collections. Since the Library operates on a limited schedule, researchers are required to send written requests about specific projects and for appointments. The PRL has microfilm and fiche readers. The Library is located in lower Manhattan. Visit us on the Web at www.prl.org.
Prometheus Research Series Bulletins
Full Text on the Web
Prometheus Research Library
Box 185, Canal St. Station
New York, NY 10013
Tel: (212) 966-1866
Prometheus Research Library
Box 32463, Civic Center Station
Oakland, CA 94604
Tel: (510) 839-0853
Photo of Leon Trotsky in Prinkipo by Jean Weinberg
Prometheus graphic from a woodcut by Fritz Brosius