Introducing the Library
The Prometheus Research Library is a working research facility for a wide range of Marxist studies and also the central reference archives 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 library that its documentary collection centers on the early American Communist and later Trotskyist movement. We seek to acquire documents from all sides of the internal debates so as to facilitate the study of the development of party struggles with objectivity, consistent with the tradition of our forebears. Citing Lenin, the masthead of the first issue of the American Trotskyist Militant proclaimed in 1928: “He who takes somebody’s word for it is a hopeless idiot.”
The Library’s collection, which does not circulate, grew out of the accumulated and organized holdings of James Robertson, both correspondence and printed materials. The collection now includes over 7,000 books, pamphlets, and periodical volumes, 270 reels of microfilmed documents and periodicals, and over 200 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, Chinese, Greek, and other languages are also significant. Books and pamphlets are catalogued in a card file and research is facilitated by an extensively cross-referenced digital catalogue available on this website.
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 has evolved over 40 years and works under the auspices of the Central Committee of the Spartacist League/U.S. The PRL is a member of the American Library Association and has staff and individual associates in the United States and internationally. 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 Library strongly supports and participates in efforts to make available and exchange historical material with individuals and libraries of kindred purpose around the world. The PRL has collaborated with Bryan Palmer on his biography of James P. Cannon and history of the work of the American Trotskyists in the Minneapolis Teamsters strikes. The PRL also 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 PRL deposits archives 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, photocopies, or digital copies 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 PRL shares relevant portions of its holdings with other archives and libraries to make the archives of the workers movement more complete and accessible.
James P. Cannon
and the Early Years of American Communism: Selected Writings and Speeches,
James P. Cannon vs. Max Shachtman in the Communist League of America, 1931-1933
The Communist International
by Leon Trotsky (First Russian-
language edition) PDF
Prometheus Research Series Bulletins
PRS No. 1: Guidelines on the Organizational Structure of Communist Parties, on the Methods and Content of Their Work
PRS No. 2: Documents on the
“Proletarian Military Policy”
PRS No. 3: In Memoriam, Richard S. Fraser:
An Appreciation and Selection of His Work
PRS No. 4: Yugoslavia, East Europe and the Fourth International: The Evolution of Pabloist Liquidationism
PRS No. 5: Marxist Politics or Unprincipled Combinationism? Internal Problems of the Workers Party
PRS No. 6: Selected
Speeches and Writings
in Honor of Three Women Leaders of the International Communist League
(Fourth Internationalist): Martha Phillips, Susan Adams, Elizabeth King Robertson
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