Howard Costigan papers, 1933-1989  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Costigan, Howard
Title
Howard Costigan papers
Dates
1933-1989 (inclusive)
Quantity
6 cubic feet (6 boxes, one package)
8 audiocassette tapes
Collection Number
4262 (Accession No. 4262-001)
Summary
Papers of a Washington political organizer, researcher, writer, and co-founder of the Washington Commonwealth Federation, as well as papers of his second wife
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

Open to all users.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Howard Costigan (1904-1985) was a long-time political organizer, researcher and writer. He was noted mostly for his work as co-founder and executive secretary of the Communist-dominated Washington Commonwealth Federation, and then later as a fervent anti-communist in both Washington and California.

Born and raised in Seattle, Costigan later attended high school in Centralia, and then went to Whitman College. He worked briefly as a high school teacher in Vancouver, but did not commit to a career until he discovered politics. In 1934, he helped organize the Commonwealth Builders, serving as its executive secretary and editor of the organization newspaper. A year later he organized the convention at which the Washington Commonwealth Federation was created, and also served as its executive secretary. He was known as an exceptional orator, particularly before large crowds, and he combined that ability with keen organizational skills to help the WCF become an influential force in Democratic Party politics.

At the same time, Costigan began working as a radio commentator for KIRO radio, writing and broadcasting political analyses, and interviewing local, national and international politicians. He continued in the radio business until 1946, with his broadcasts carried by both the CBS and Mutual radio networks.

Costigan joined the Communist Party in 1936, but later split with both the Party and the Washington Commonwealth Federation after the Soviets signed the Non-Aggression Pact with the Nazis in 1939. He long referred to the incident as the one which turned him into an outspoken opponent of Communism.

In 1944, Costigan ran in the Democratic primary for the Congressional seat given up by Warren Magnuson, but was defeated by the eventual winner, Washington Commonwealth Federation President Hugh DeLacy. Later that year, Governor Monrad Wallgren appointed him director of publicity for the Division of Progress and Industry Development and executive secretary of the Governor's Advisory Commission. He resigned from those positions in 1946 to again challenge DeLacy in the Democratic primary, this time focusing on DeLacy's Communist Party connections. Although he lost to DeLacy by a narrow margin, Costigan's attacks on DeLacy's Communist leanings eventually caused DeLacy to lose the general election.

Early in 1947, Costigan began working as a paid researcher and consultant to the Committee on Un-American Activities in Washington State (Canwell Committee). After several witnesses testified about Costigan's own Communist Party membership, he was compelled to clear his name before the committee as well. Costigan's first wife, Isabel (Harley), whom he had married in 1936, also appeared before the committee. The backlash from their former associates, as well as the general public, stressed their marriage to the breaking point. Costigan left his family in April 1948, moved to Los Angeles, and eventually divorced Isabel. He had been working as the regional director for the United Nations Appeal for Children in Seattle, and he continued working for the campaign in California. After leaving that job, he served from 1948 to 1949 as executive secretary for the Labor League of Hollywood Voters, a film industry political group whose chairman was Ronald Reagan. He also was director of publicity for the Hollywood Film Council in 1948, and worked for the Democratic State Central Committee in 1948 and 1949.

Between 1948 and 1954, Costigan continued his involvement in various political and labor issues as a researcher and publicist. From 1950 to 1954, he was administrative assistant to Roy Brewer, who served in the multiple roles of Hollywood Film Council president, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators, and vice-chairman of the Council Against Communist Aggression.

After 1955, he worked primarily as an independent publicist, researcher, consultant, and writer in the labor and political fields. He was often sought for his inside knowledge of labor organizations, including their connections with the Communist Party. Among his clients was the House Committee on Un-American Activities, for whom he acted as a consultant and researcher on Communist activities in Hollywood. Because of the adverse publicity generated by his testimony before the Canwell Committee, he generally did his work behind the scenes. In 1955, however, he was compelled to testify at a hearing in Seattle looking into the Communist-dominated Washington Pension Union.

Costigan moved to Fresno, California in 1970. He served as a volunteer in Henry Jackson's 1972 presidential campaign, and was the coordinator of Jackson's 1976 campaign for the 17th Congressional District in California, as well. He also involved himself in local Fresno politics, serving as a consultant and researcher for local political groups, such as the Fresno Community Development Commission.

In the late 1970s, he began researching a book about his life, particularly during his years in the Washington Commonwealth Federation. His second wife, Barbara, assisted him in this work, and continued it after his death on October 7, 1985. The book was never finished.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Although this collection contains material from 1933 to 1989, the bulk of it documents Costigan's activities after he left Seattle in 1948. The interviews which Barbara Costigan conducted with several of Costigan's former associates relate, for the most part, to the Washington Commonwealth Federation years. Monroe Sweetland's interview documents Costigan's assistance in organizing the Oregon Commonwealth Federation in the early 1940s. The general correspondence series primarily documents Costigan's activities in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly his 1944 Congressional campaign. Many of the letters were photocopied at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Howard Costigan Papers, 1933-1989Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Biographical features
undated
Incoming letters
Incoming letters to Howard Costigan, or Howard and Barbara Costigan are arranged alphabetical by correspondent.
Box/Folder
1/2
Amundsen, Al
1956-1971
1/3-4
Arthur, Art
1952-1981
1/5-6
Brewer, Roy M.
1952-1984
1/7
Carlson, Oliver and Bea
1949-1985, undated
1/8
Council Against Communist Aggression
1966-1968
1/9
Dennett, Eugene V.
1974-1981, undated
1/10
Dunne, Philip
1955-1959
1/11-12
Helman, Anatol
1976-1977, undated
1/13
Jackson, Henry M.
1972-1980
1/14
MacFarlane, Douglas S.
1948
1/15
Marrogum (?), Graciela
1963
1/16
McWilliams, Carey
1972-1978
1/17
Merrick, Ham A.
1971-1978
1/18
Panek, Nathalie E.
1948-1984, undated
1/19
Peters, Evan R.
1956-1974, undated
1/20
Ray, Martin
1976-1978
1/21
Sweetland, Monroe M.
1975-1978, undated
1/22
Thompson, Isabel
1950-1976, undated
1/23
Yorty, Samuel William
1956-1970
1/24-46
Miscellaneous, A-Z
1947-1982, undated
1/47
Unidentified
1956-1977, undated
Box/Folder
1/48-70
Outgoing letters
Outgoing letters from Howard Costigan, or Howard and Barbara Costigan are arranged chronologically.
1946-1984, undated
General correspondence
Box/Folder
2/1
Of Howard and Barbara Costigan
Including Dennett, Eugene V. and Brewer, Roy M.
This series includes incoming and outgoing letters to and from Howard Costigan, or Howard and Barbara Costigan, which were attached together and left attached.
1958-1963
2/2-10
Of others - Miscellaneous A-Z
Correspondence that was neither written by nor written to Howard and/or Barbara Costigan is arranged alphabetically by sender. However, if the sender was one of the people or organizations listed in the Subject Files, then the letter is in that subject file.
1949-1988
2/11-20
Of Costigans and others (photocopies)
Photocopied letters, which were presumably collected by Barbara Costigan in the course of her research, are arranged chronologically.
1934-1975
Speeches and writings of Howard Costigan
Box/Folder
2/21
Speech -- "Congressional Campaign Against Hugh DeLacy"
1946
2/22
Radio addresses
undated
Writings
Box/Folder
2/23
"Can the Open Society Stop the March of World Communism?"
circa 1969
2/23
"A Free Israel Requires a Strong United States"
circa 1967
2/23
"Has the Kremlin Abandoned the Goal of World Control?"
circa 1967
2/24
"This is America versus the Maverick Far East (from The Nation)
1939
2/24
"The Plight of the Nisei" (from The Nation)
undated
2/25
Miscellaneous
1949-1981, undated
Box/Folder
2/26
Writing notes
undated
Speeches and writings of others
Box/Folder
2/27
"A Program of American Survival, 1973-1978" by the American Conservative Union
1972
2/28
"A Political Press: Policies of the Washington Commonwealth Federation" by Alice Jane King
Master's thesis, incomplete
1967
2/29-30
"The Washington Commonwealth Federation; Reform Politics and the Popular Front," chapter 1 by Albert Acena
Includes notes by Barbara Costigan
1975
2/31-32
Miscellaneous
1962-1984, undated
2/33
Unidentified
undated
Sound cassette recordings
cassette
723A/A
Interview of Eugene Dennett by Barbara Costigan
1986 September 26
723A/B
Interview of Eugene Dennett by Barbara Costigan
1986 September 26
723B/A
Interview of Eugene Dennett by Barbara Costigan
1986 September 26
723B/A
Interview of Eugene Dennett by Barbara Costigan
1987 August 16
723B/B
Interview of Eugene Dennett by Barbara Costigan
1987 August 16
723C/A
Interview of Eugene Dennett by Barbara Costigan (with Jim Moore)
1987 August 16
723C/B
Interview of Eugene Dennett by Barbara Costigan (with Jim Moore)
1987 August 16
723D/A
Interview of Harold Eby by Barbara Costigan
1986 September 27
723D/B
Interview of Harold Eby by Barbara Costigan
1986 September 27
723D/B
Interview of Ed Henry by Barbara Costigan
1986 September 28
723E/A
Interview of Ed Henry by Barbara Costigan
1986 September 28
723E/A
Interview of Monroe Sweetland by Barbara Costigan
1987 May 11
723E/B
Interview of Monroe Sweetland by Barbara Costigan
1987 May 11
723F/A
Interview of Monroe Sweetland by Barbara Costigan
1987 May 11
723F/A
Interview of Anne Fisher by Barbara Costigan
1987 September 4
723F/B
Interview of Anne Fisher by Barbara Costigan (with Jim Moore)
1987 September 4
723G/A
Interview of Anne Fisher by Barbara Costigan
1987 September 4
723G/A
Interview of George Hurley by Barbara Costigan
1987 September 7
723G/B
Interview of Glynnette Golden by Barbara Costigan
1987 September 9
723H/A
Interview of Glynnette Golden by Barbara Costigan (with Jim Moore)
1987 September 9
723H/B
Interview of Roy Brewer by Barbara Costigan
1985 December 28
723H/B
Interview of Ham Merrick by Howard Costigan (with Barbara Costigan)
1978 August 29
723H/B
Speech by Howard Costigan
1946
Transcripts of Interviews
Box/Folder
2/34
Brewer, Roy by Barbara Costigan
1985
2/35
Dennett, Eugene by Barbara Costigan
1986
2/36
Eby, Harold by Barbara Costigan (Charles Costigan present)
1986
2/37
Fisher, Anne by Barbara Costigan (Jim Moore present)
1987
2/38
Golden, Glynnette by Barbara Costigan (Jim Moore present)
1987
2/39
Henry, Ed by Barbara Costigan
1986
2/40
Hurley, George by Barbara Costigan (Jim Moore present)
1987
2/41
Merrick, Ham by Howard Costigan (Barbara Costigan present)
1978
2/42
Pettus, Terry by Al Acena
1966
2/43
Sweetland, Monroe by Barbara Costigan
1987
2/44
Warren, Ward by Barbara Costigan
1987
Box
3-5
Research files
1933-1985
Notes
Box/Folder
6/1-7
Research notes
circa 1930-1985, undated
6/8
Miscellaneous
undated
Box/Folder
6/9
Publications
1953-1986
6/10
Ephemera -- "Old and New Left"
1963-1974, undated
6/11
Photographs
undated
6/12
Lists
circa 1951-1955
6/13-20
Clippings
1946-1985, undated
Subject files
Box/Folder
6/21-22
Arthur, Art
1973, undated
6/23-24
Brewer, Roy M.
1949-1976, undated
6/25
Broadcast Employees and Technicians, National Association
1951, undated
6/26
Burge, Eugene
1960-1976, undated
6/27
Carlson, Oliver
1949-1975, undated
6/28
Council Against Communist Aggression
1953-1970, undated
6/29
Dennis, Peggy
undated
6/30
Halsted, Anna Boettiger
1973
6/31
Hayakawa, Sam
undated
6/32
Helman, Anatol
1960-1980, undated
6/33
Hook, Sidney
1950-1970, undated
6/34
Huntley, Chet
1955
Jackson, Henry M.
Box/Folder
6/35
General
1971-1978
6/36
1972 Presidential campaign
circa 1971-1972
6/37-37
1976 Presidential campaign
circa 1975-1976
Box/Folder
6/39
Kenny, Robert
undated
6/40
Kinny, Jack and the "Lil' Pedro" project
circa 1958, undated
6/41
Liberal League for Adequate Pensions of Southern California
undated
6/42
McGowen, Oliver
1967, undated
6/43
McHenry, Dean E.
undated
6/44
Milgram, Morris
1965-1966
6/45
Nixon, Richard M.
1962, undated
6/46
Panek, Nathalie E.
1955, undated
6/47
Progressive League Against Communists
undated
6/48
Sweetland, Monroe M.
1955-1989, undated
6/49
Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators in the United States and Canada, International Alliance
1954, undated
6/50
Warren, Ward (Progressive League Against Communists and Fascists)
1978
package
7
Newspapers
1938-1969

Barbara Costigan papers concerning her husband's activitiesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Incoming letters
Box/Folder
6/51
Dennett, Eugene
1988
6/52
Marrogum (?), Graciela
1963-1964
6/53
Panek, Nathelie E.
1986, undated
6/54
Phadke, Sindhu
1964-1989, undated
6/55
Sweetland, Monroe M.
1985-1986
6/56
Miscellaneous B, C
1957-1988, undated
6/57
Miscellaneous F, H
1979-1988
6/58
Miscellaneous K, M
1963-1988
6/59
Miscellaneous S, T
1963-1988, undated
6/60
Miscellaneous U, W
1986-1989
6/61
Unidentified
1976-1988
Box/Folder
6/62-66
Outgoing Letters
1956-1989, undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)
  • Personal Names :
  • Costigan, Howard--Archives