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Bernhard J. Stern papers

Identifier: Coll 026

Scope and Contents note

The Bernhard J. Stern Papers consist primarily of correspondence dealing with his publications; manuscripts, notes and research files for topics such as medical care, the Lummi Indians, Lysenko's genetic theories and unique correspondence of Lester F. Ward; and files on the organizations he helped to sponsor and support.

There is very little in the way of personal correspondence, and even his personal letters deal with works under publication or the political sympathies of those writing (usually not Stern's). The photographs of the Lummi Indians were removed from their original locations in the collection and are housed separately for preservation reasons under the call number PH091. Throughout the collection are scattered notes by Charlotte Stern explaining the significance of various items.

The correspondence series has been arranged chronologically, 1926-1956, with a selected name index to notable correspondents. This index appears at the end of the Folder by Folder Inventory and includes references to well known names in Sociology and Anthropology, such as: Margaret Mead, Mary R. Beard, Harold J. Laski, Oscar Lewis, Alain Locke, Ashley Montagu, Max Lerner, H.P. Bayon, Melville Herskovits, Melville Jacobs, Russian scholar M. Kosven (with translations) and Paul Lazarsfeld. Following the chronological arrangement of correspondence are five folders of memoranda and corresponĀ¬ence with Waldemar Kaempffert dealing with ideas and proposed articles on social aspects of science and technology.

The book material is arranged alphabetically by title and although there is little manuscript material, there are notes, correspondence and reviews. Stern wrote one book (Young Ward's Diary, 1935) and edited several articles relating to Lester F. Ward. The extensive notes, correspondence, reviews and reprints for all of the Ward publications have been grouped under "Ward, Lester F."

More often there are manuscripts of articles by Stern. These, along with other related material, are arranged alphabetically by title. Of interest here are the notes on eugenics and race gathered for the article, "Genetics Teaching and Lysenko," as well as Stern's proposal for a hospital in Puerto Rico (10/9).

Continuing the manuscripts series are Stern's reviews of other people's works, most of which were published in scholarly journals. These are organized alphabetically by the author of the work and include comments on the writings of Corliss Lamont, Ashley Montagu, and Joseph Stalin. Manuscripts of lectures by Stern follow the reviews, and are filed by title of the lecture. Also included are class notes on the medical profession and social aspects of medical care. Concluding this series are manuscripts of radio scripts and manuscripts of others. Of note here is a one-page typed manuscript of an address by Sherwood Anderson to the World Congress Against Imperialist War, 1932 (11/13). Although it shows many holograph additions and corrections, it is unclear whether these were made by Anderson.

The subject files begin in Box 12 and are arranged alphabetically. They are very comprehensive and deal primarily with health and medical issues.

An extensive collection of agendas, minutes, reports and documents of organizations aided by Stern follow. These are in an alphabetical arrangement by organization. Of special interest are the notes on the American Committee for the Protection of Foreign Born and the Committee of 25 (Charlotte Stern was one of the 25 singled out by Senator McCarthy's Un-American Activities Committee). Most of the organizations are political in nature and deal, in one form or another, with protection of human rights.

There are also several folders of programs of conferences and lectures which Stern supported either with his presence as a participant or as a speaker. These are organized by the sponsoring group or agency. Many of the courses Stern taught are documented in a folder of lecture and course listings, arranged by sponsoring institution.

Concluding the boxed material are two folders of newsclippings and one folder of memorabilia.

Finally, three of Stern's books are in the collection: The Family Past and Present, When Peoples Meet, and Outline of Anthropology.

The collection includes four images by Eugene H. Field from Stern's 1934 book, The Lummi Indians of northwest Washington, of Lummi tribal people and a house. There is also a portrait of three young men, probably including Stern, circa 1910s.


  • Creation: circa 1894-1956


Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

Bernhard Joseph Stern (1894-1956), was a social anthropologist at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research and an "independent Marxist" who worked hard for and wrote extensively about socialized medicine, freedom of speech, and rights of the foreign born, blacks and women.

Stern was born and initially educated in Chicago, Illinois. After a brief period at the University of Chicago, Stern went on to the Universities of Cincinnati (B.A. 1916, M.A. 1917) and Michigan, the London School of Economics and Columbia University (Ph.D. 1927). From 1927 to 1930, Stern was on the faculty in Sociology at the University of Washington, and from 1931 until his death he taught "by Socratic method" at Columbia and the New School.

From 1930 to 1934, Stern was Assistant Editor of the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, and within it he wrote a celebrated article on the position of women in society (not included in this collection). His article on writing (11/2) expressed the standards he held of the writing of other contributors and of himself.

In the fall of 1936, Stern helped found the quarterly journal Science and Society, which adopted a Marxist approach in general, but did not print only Marxist writers. In 1943, Stern became Chairman of the Board of Editors and he served in that position until his death, which came the day after the twentieth anniversary issue was put to bed. That issue (Winter 1957) contains tributes by long-time friends and colleagues Corliss Lamont and Robert K. Merton, as well as a reprint of Stern's article on "Historical Materialism" that explains his Marxist views.

Stern began doing scholarly research in the late 1930's for the Commission on Human Relations, the Progressive Education Association, the National Resources Committee, the Committee on Research in Medical Economics, the Bureau of Educational Research in Science and the Carnegie Study of the Negro in America. The research, and reports for these institutes, comprised much of his published work of this period. In the early 1940's, he also became Secretary Treasurer of the Eastern Sociological Society, a position he held until his death.

In the early 1950's Bernhard Stern and his wife Charlotte Todes Stern, were among many Americans summoned by Senator McCarthy's Committee on Un-American Activities. Charlotte Stern was one of 25 literary names who defied the Committee and faced jail sentences. In addition, three of Stern's own books (all on medicine) were banned from the State Department's overseas libraries. As a result of this Committee's questioning and the "red scare", both the Sterns worked all the harder for the Bill of Rights guarantees.

At his death, Stern was survived by his wife, Charlotte, a literary name in her own right, and his daughter Mira.


14 linear feet (26 containers)

Language of Materials



Bernhard Joseph Stern (1894-1956) was a professor of social anthropology at Columbia University and the New School for Social Researchand an independent Marxist who, with his wife, Charlotte Todes Stern, suffered under McCarthyism. The collection consists primarily of correspondence dealing with his publications; manuscripts, notes and research files for topics such as medical care, the Lummi Indians, Lysenko's genetic theories and unique correspondence of Lester F. Ward; and files on the organizations he helped to sponsor and support. The collection also includes four images by Eugene H. Field from Stern's 1934 book, The Lummi Indians of Northwest Washington, of Lummi tribal people and a house. There is also a portrait of three young men, probably including Stern, circa 1910s.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I: Correspondence

Series II: Book Material Subseries A: American Medical Practice Subseries B: The Family: Past and Present Subseries C: Jews and Judaism (uncompleted work) Subseries D: Lewis Henry Morgan: Social Evolutionist Subseries E: The Lummi Indians of Northwest Washington Subseries F: Medical Services by Government: Local, State and Federal Subseries G: Medicine in Industry Subseries H: New Worlds of Science Subseries I: Should We Be Vaccinated? Subseries J: Social Factors in Medical Progress (Ph.D. dissertation) Subseries K: Society and Medical Progress Subseries L: Technological. Trends and National Policy Subseries M: Understanding the Russians Subseries N: Ward, Lester F. (Publications: Young Ward' and several articles) Subseries O: When Peoples Meet: A Study in Race and Culture Contacts, edited with Alain Locke

Series III: Manuscripts Subseries A: Articles Subseries B: Reviews of Other's Works Subseries C: Lectures Subseries D: Radio Scripts Subseries E: Manuscripts of Others

Series IV: Subject Files

Series V: Organizational Material

Series VI: Conference and Lecture Programs

Series VII: Photographs (PH091)

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff. Photographs processed by Megan Dazey.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Bernhard J. Stern Papers
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Finding aid prepared by University of Oregon Libraries, Archivists' Toolkit Project Team
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Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA