Ammon Hennacy papers, 1823-2001  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Hennacy, Ammon, 1893-1970
Title
Ammon Hennacy papers
Dates
1823-2001 (inclusive)
bulk 1945-1970 (bulk)
Quantity
6.5 linear feet
Collection Number
Ms0555
Summary
The Ammon Hennacy papers (1823-2001, bulk 1945-1970) comprise the personal papers and publications of Hennacy (1893-1970) best known for his work in operating the Joe Hill Hospitality House for transients in Salt Lake City, Utah. Included are correspondence from his daughters, letters to Hennacy's wife, Joan Thomas, from her family, and letters from friends in sympathy of Hennacy's death. Also included are marriage, birth, baptism, and divorce certificates, as well as Hennacy's posters, flyers, and articles against war. Anti-war materials by people other than Hennacy are also included. Also present in the collection are the original manuscript for Hennacy's book, The One-Man Revolution in America (1970), which was published posthumously; scrapbooks of news clippings from 1951 to 1966; and drawings and paintings by Joan Thomas.
Repository
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
84112-0860
Telephone: 801-581-8863
SPCreference@lists.utah.edu
Access Restrictions

Twenty-four hour advanced notice encouraged. Materials must be used on-site. Access to parts of this Collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Languages
English


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Ammon Ashford Hennacy was born in 1893 in Negley, Ohio. Hennacy was the quintessential man of change. He attended three higher educational institutions in three years (1914-1917), viz., Hiram College, the University of Wisconsin, and Ohio State University. As a teenager Ammon became interested in politics and considered himself a Democrat until 1910 when he became a member of the Socialist party. Hennacy was affiliated with the Baptist church which he disavowed upon declaring himself an atheist. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Ammon commenced his initial anti-war activities in Columbus Ohio as a draft-resister and a leader of the Young Men's Anti-Militarist League. Not then a pacifist, he was an advocate of the cause of revolutionary socialism. Due to his refusal to serve in the armed forces and fight in a "capitalist war", Ammon was imprisoned in a federal penitentiary for two years (1917-1919). This incarceration experience transformed his thoughts about religion and the use of violence. Contact with and exposure to the person, writings, and ideas of three individuals influenced Hennacy's world view. These individuals were the anarchist Alexander Berkman, the Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy, and Jesus Christ. During these years, Ammon identified himself as a Christian anarchist, changed his drinking and eating habits, became a teetotaler, adopted a vegetarian diet, and engaged in the practice of fasting. On Christmas Eve 1919, Hennacy and Selma Melms committed themselves to a common law partnership.

While living in New York City in the early 1920s, Ammon resumed his ideological travels becoming a member of the Industrial Workers of the World and joining the Communist party. He affiliated with the Reds not because he had embraced Marxism, but because he had considerable respect for one of the party's leaders. Subsequently, he and his wife spent four years touring the entire United States as propagandists for the Communist party. Hennacy taught American history classes in Alabama and in California where he left the party in 1925. On his birthday in 1925 Ammon and Selma established residence in Milwaukee where he lived until 1942. On the eve of World War II, Selma and her two daughters, Carmen and Sharon, moved to New York City and a marital estrangement ensued. The marriage was dissolved in 1944 and a year later Hennacy exchanged marriage vows with Joan Thomas. With the entry of the United States in World War II in 1941, Ammon became involved in anti-war activities refusing to register for the draft and to pay federal income taxes which would support the conduct of the war. Unlike 1917, he was not arrested. It should be noted that Hennacy never paid federal income taxes from 1943 to 1970.

His long association and friendship with Dorothy Day, a well-known Christian anarchist and pacifist and editor of the "Catholic Worker", was instrumental in Ammon's renewed religious peregrinations. In 1952 with Day as a sponsor, Hennacy was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church. An anarchist priest, one of several priests who befriended Ammon, officiated at the ceremonies. Hennacy's gradual disenchantment with Catholicism led to his departure from the church in 1965 when he proclaimed himself to be a non-affiliated Christian. Ostensibly, Hennacy's social conscience and ideological conviction induced him to establish the Joseph Hill House of Hospitality and St. Joseph's Refuge in 1961 in Salt Lake City. Ammon collected food from Salt Lake City grocers and provided three free meals daily as well as shelter to transients and to the homeless. Donations from the community and Hennacy's friends throughout the United States were welcomed. Only two rules governed the Hill House, viz., no alcohol consumption and no police presence. Instead of being asked to sing religious songs and participate in prayer meetings, the residents were asked to attend Friday night gatherings where Ammon discussed the core beliefs of Christian anarchism and pacifism. The Joe Hill House of Hospitality operated for seven years until the local authorities compelled Hennacy to close it in 1968.

At this point mention should be made of Hennacy's diverse occupational history. Ammon peddled newspapers, cornflakes, soap, aluminum ware and apples, washed pots and pans, was a newspaper reporter, served as a pension league secretary, was employed as a carpenter, sold Fuller brushes, taught high school, worked as a county social worker, drove a milk wagon, labored as an agricultural and dairy farm worker, and directed the Joseph Hill House of Hospitality. While he changed jobs frequently, he also lived in several urban and rural communities residing in Columbus, New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Mobile, Berkeley, Milwaukee, Denver, Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City.

A man of thought and of action, Hennacy manifested his interests and creativity in a variety of ways. Ammon wrote poetry, composed five pacifist plays, penned a novel, and published numerous journal articles as well as three books. In addition to presenting hundreds of pacifist and anarchist speeches before university and church audiences, he was a union organizer, a strike leader, a Sunday school teacher, a conscientious objector, an anti-war demonstrator, a protestor against civil defense, an anti-tax proponent, an opponent of capital punishment, an advocate of the banning of nuclear tests and of bacteriological warfare, a perennial faster seeking penance for the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan, and an ubiquitous picketer. Hennacy commenced his publication career in 1929 when an article appeared in an anarchist periodical. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Ammon's work was published in "The Road to Freedom", "Green International Bulletin", "Catholic Worker", "Man!", "The Catholic C.O.", "Individual Action", and the "Industrial Worker. In 1954 Catholic Worker Books printed Hennacy's "Autobiography of a Catholic Anarchist" which served as the basis for an up-dated 1965 version entitled "The Book of Ammon". Shortly before his death on 14 January 1970, "The One-Man Revolution in America" reached the reading public. Joan Thomas's memories of life with Ammon were recounted in her 1974 "biography" of Hennacy which was called "The Years of Grief and Laughter".

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Ammon Hennacy papers (1823-2001, bulk 1945-1970) comprise the personal papers and publications of Hennacy (1893-1970) best known for his work in operating the Joe Hill Hospitality House for transients in Salt Lake City, Utah. Included are correspondence from his daughters, letters to Hennacy's wife, Joan Thomas, from her family, and letters from friends in sympathy of Hennacy's death. Also included are marriage, birth, baptism, and divorce certificates, as well as Hennacy's posters, flyers, and articles against war. Anti-war materials by people other than Hennacy are also included. Also present in the collection are the original manuscript for Hennacy's book, The One-Man Revolution in America (1970), which was published posthumously; scrapbooks of news clippings from 1951 to 1966; and drawings and paintings by Joan Thomas.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Ammon Hennacy papers must be obtained from the Special Collections Manuscript Curator.

Preferred Citation

Initial Citation: Ammon Hennacy papers, Ms 555, Box [ ]. Special Collections and Archives. University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Following Citations: Ms 555.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

I:  Personal Materials and PublicationsReturn to Top

PHOTOCOPYING OF FOLDERS 1-15 IS PROHIBITED.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1-3
Correspondence, To Ammon Hennacy from Daughter Carmen
1945-1963
1 4-7
Correspondence, To Ammon Hennacy from Daughter Sharon
1946-1961
1 8
Correspondence, To Ammon Hennacy from Daughters and Selma Melms
1 9
Correspondence, To Ammon Hennacy from Various Supporters
1969-1970
1 10
Correspondence, To Joan Thomas from Family
1969-1970
1 11-14
Correspondence, To Joan Thomas from Friends
1970
1 15
Correspondence, To Joan Thomas from Ammon Hennacy
1962-1969
1 16
Miscellaneous Letters and Postcards
1 17
Personal Documents
Marriage certificate of George Ashford and Deborah Vale, birth and baptism certificates for Ammon Hennacy, and divorce certificate forAmmon and Selma Melms Hennacy.
1823-1964
1 18
Ammon Hennacy Obituaries and Memoriam
1970
1 19
Shakespeare Festival Poster
Selma Hennacy was a cast member of the 1924 festival.
1924
1 20-21
The Catholic Worker Newspapers
1970
1 22
Anti-War Flyers and Mailers
1 23
Peter Maurin and Ammon Hennacy, "Two Agitators"
1 24
Ammon Hennacy, "I Leave the Catholic Church"
1968
1 25
J. Michael McCloskey, "The Catholic Worker Movement"
1 26
Lists of Publications by Hennacy and Others
1 27
Joe Hill House of Hospitality, Poster and Business Card
1 28
Pamphlets on War and Hiroshima
1 29
Newsletters
1969
1 30
Advertisement for Equals One Magazine
1 31
Munro Leaf, Ferdinand the Bull
1938

II:  One-Man Revolution in America ManuscriptReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 1
Preface by Joan Thomas
2 2
Introduction by Ammon Hennacy
2 3
John Woolman Chapter
2 4
Thomas Jefferson Chapter
2 5
Thomas Paine Chapter
2 6
William Lloyd Garrison Chapter
2 7
Henry David Thoreau Chapter
2 8
Alexander Berkman Chapter
2 9
Mother Mary Jones Chapter
2 10
Albert R. Parsons Chapter
2 11
John Peter Altgeld Chapter
2 12
Eugene V. Debs Chapter
2 13
Clarence Darrow Chapter
2 14
Yukeoma Chapter
2 15
John Taylor Chapter
2 16
Bartolemeo Vanzetti
2 17
Macolm X (Malcolm Little) Chapter
2 18
Dorothy Day Chapter
2 19
Helen Demoskoff Chapter
2 20
Thomas Mott Osborne Chapter
2 21
"Last Chapter"
2 22
Book Notes and Correspondence
1969

III:  Scrapbooks and ArtworkReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
3 1-3
Scrapbooks
1957-1962
3 4-6
Drawings and Painting by Joan Thomas
1949

IV:  Correspondence and Assorted MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
4 1
Biographical Materials
1823-1970
4 2
Correspondence
1924-1945
4 3
Correspondence: U.S. District Attorney, U.S. Attorney General and the F.B.I.
1940-1960
4 4
Correspondence: Internal Revenue Service
1946-1962
4 5
Correspondence
1947-1949
4 6
Correspondence
1950-1967
4 7
Correspondence: Yone Stafford
1954-1969
4 8
Correspondence
1968-1970
4 9
Correspondence: Joan Thomas
1970-1971
4 10
Assorted Materials
1916-1924
4 11
Names and Addresses
1923-1963
4 12
"Contents of Our Book of Life"
1923
4 13
"What Life Means to Me"
1923-1963
4 14
Lecture: "Revolutionary Pacifism"
1921
4 15
"Suggestions for Making the Oakland Office (of the Fuller Brush Company) More Efficient"
1924

V:  Manuscripts and Assorted MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
5 1
"Unto the Least of These", Book One
Pages 19-38 are missing.
5 2
"Unto the Least of These", Book Two
5 3
"Unto the Least of These", Book Three
5 4
"Unto the Least of These", Book Four
5 5
"Unto the Least of These", Book Five
5 6
"Christian Anarchism", Preface
1943
5 7
"Christian Anarchism", Chapter One
Entitled "Brief Life and Teachings of Jesus".
1943
5 8
"Christian Anarchism", Chapter Two
Entitled "The Betrayal of Christ by the Churches".
1943
5 9
"Christian Anarchism", Chapter Three
Entitled "The Origin and Malignant Growth of the State".
1943
5 10
"Christian Anarchism", Chapter Four
Entitled "Anarchism: Brief Notes and Quotations from Its Leading Exponents".
1943
5 11
"Christian Anarchism", Chapter Five
Entitled "The Life and Teachings of Leo Tolstoy".
1943
5 12
"Christian Anarchism", Chapter Six
Entitled "Christian Anarchism: The Only Practical Method of Solving Social Problems".
1943
5 13
"Christian Anarchism", Appendices I-V
1943
6 1
"Christian Anarchism"
1940
6 2
"Christian Anarchism"
6 3
Public Lectures and Notes Regarding Anarchism
1963-1965
6 4
"Tao"
1943
6 5
"Conscientious Objectors in World War One"
6 6
"Revolutionary Pacifism"
1921-1924
6 7
"Volume II of the Gospel in Brief"
6 8
Leo Tolstoy Materials
6 9
Upton Sinclair's Study of American Education
1923
6 10
Criminology
6 11
Non-Violent Coercion
6 12
Hennacy's Publications: "Catholic Worker Reader"
1941-1957
6 13
"Index Catholic Worker"
1933-1956

VI:  "Catholic Worker Reader" Periodical and MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
7 1
Book Reviews
1947-1957
7 2
Poems
1941-1957
7 3
Short Stories
1937-1950
7 4
"Catholic Worker Reader"
1933-1946
7 5
"Catholic Worker Reader"
1938-1954
7 6
"Catholic Worker Reader"
1954-1957
7 7
"Catholic Worker Reader"
1933-1957
7 8
"Catholic Worker Reader"
1933-1957
7 9
"Catholic Worker Reader"
1933-1957
7 10
"Catholic Worker Reader"
1933-1957
7 11
Alan Gotthelf: "The Catholic Worker"
1963

VII:  Articles and Assorted MaterialsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
8 1
Discussion: "How To Bring Socialism in the U.S."
1956
8 2
"Forgotten Aspects of My Life"
1968-1969
8 3
Articles: "The Road to Freedom"
1930-1931
8 4
Articles: "Green International Bulletin"
1935-1936
8 5
Article: "The Corner of Park and Prospect Christian Church"
1939
8 6
Articles: "Man!"
1939
8 7
Articles and Poem: "The Catholic C. O."
1948
8 8
Article: "Individual Action"
1954
8 9
Letters to the Editor: "Industrial Worker"
1961
8 10
Articles: "Catholic Worker"
1945-1970
8 11
Pacifism, Conscientious Objectors, and Capital Punishment
1948-1969
8 12
Why Hennacy Terminated His Membership in the Catholic Church
1965
8 13
Christian Anarchism
1951
8 14
Leaflets
1917-1970
8 15
Assorted Materials
1924-1970
8 16
Poems: Ammon, Sharon and Carmen
1939-1946
8 17
Ammon's Favorite Poems
8 18
The Joseph Hill House of Hospitality and St. Joseph's Refuge
8 19
Photocopies of Photographs
1942-1970
8 20
Newspaper Clippings
1948-1969
8 21-23
Scrapbook
1954-1969
8 24
Book Reviews
1965-1995
8 25
Joan Thomas: "Response to Criticism of the Biography of A. H."
2000
9 1
"Two Agitators: Peter Maurin---Ammon Hennacy"
1959
9 2
Peter Maurin: Poems
9 3
Patrick G. Coy: "Ammon Hennacy: Pacifist and Prophet"
1981
9 4
Ted Henken: "The Hopi Indians and Ammon Hennacy: Pacifism and Anarchism"
1991
9 5
James Missey: "Ammon Hennacy, Christian Anarchism and the One Man Revolution"
1993
9 6
James Missey: "An Anarchist Joins the Catholic Church: Why Ammon Hennacy Became a Christian"
1999
9 7
Assorted Materials
1916-1969
9 8
Native American Materials
1949-1968
9 9
Obituaries and Memorials
1970-2001
9 10-13
Research Notes
10 1-2
Research Notes
10 3
Addendum, Correspondence, General
1949-1962
10 4
Addendum, Correspondence, Tax Commissioner
1949-1952
10 5
Addendum, Flyer
1961
10 6
Addendum, Review, "Autobiography of a Catholic Anarchist"

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Pacifism
  • Pacifists--United States
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Correspondence
  • Drafts (documents)
  • Pamphlets
  • Scrapbooks