Alex Gottfried papers, 1951-2004

Overview of the Collection

Gottfried, Alex
Alex Gottfried papers
1951-2004 (inclusive)
ca. 17.24 cubic ft (16 boxes)
Collection Number
Correspondence, minutes, clippings, posters, buttons, and notes of meetings regarding peace campaigns and civil rights campaigns of a Professor of political science and peace and civil rights activist
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access.

Some records stored offsite; advance notice required for use.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Alex Gottfried was a University of Washington professor of political science, a civil liberties leader, an antiwar activist, and an expert on Chicago’s machine politics. Alex Gottfried was born in Also Zsolca, a village in Hungary, on October 23, 1919, the youngest son of David Gottfried and Charlotte Braun. He had three siblings: Joseph, Louis, and Lillie. He immigrated to the United States at the age of nine, with his mother and sister, joining his father and brothers in Chicago where the family settled. With the adults in his family often unemployed and on relief during the Great Depression, Dr. Gottfried worked continuously from an early age, often at several jobs, including work in a hat factory, as a stevedore and mover, clothing model, and movie theater usher. Dr. Gottfried attended Chicago Teachers College, from which he graduated in 1941 with an undergraduate degree in education. He met Betty Sue Davidson, of Galveston, Texas, in the spring in 1942 and they were married on May 9, 1943. Gottfried joined the United States Army Air Corps, 54th Fighter Group, in 1942 and rose to the rank of major. He served in the Civil Affairs Division for the U.S. military government established in occupied Germany, where, at age 26, he was in charge of “de-Nazification” for all schools, hospitals, churches, and voluntary organizations in Bavaria. After his discharge from the military, Gottfried took advantage of the G.I. Bill and entered the University of Chicago, from which he received a Master’s degree in 1948 and a PhD in Political Science in 1952. Gottfried joined the political science faculty of the University of Washington in 1950, where he taught until his retirement in 1982. Dr. Gottfried was the author of Boss Cermak of Chicago: A Study of Political Leadership, published by the University of Washington Press in 1962, which became a primary text for the study of American “machine politics.” He was also a contributor to The Nation, The Progressive, and Liberation magazines, as well as scholarly publications such as Western Political Quarterly and the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, writing on topics ranging from electoral politics to civil rights and the peace movement, right wing movements, psychosomatic illnesses in political leaders, and studies of political novels, co-authoring several of these articles with his wife, Sue Davidson, a writer, editor, and progressive political activist. He also combined his passion for literature and devotion to cinema with his expertise in politics to create the first course on politics and the novel taught in the United States and to sponsor the first series offered on political films at the University of Washington.

A self-described “nuclear pacifist,” Dr. Gottfried dated his opposition to all wars from the United States destruction of Hiroshima by an atom bomb, and this conviction remained an important element of his philosophic and political outlook. He was also a local leader in Seattle in the movement to end the war in Vietnam, and an active participant in and supporter of the local civil rights movement. He was a democratic socialist, but belonged to no party. His central political concern and arena of political activity, however, was civil liberties. In the early 1950s he joined what was then the Seattle, later, the Washington State, affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was repeatedly elected to the Board of Directors of the Washington affiliate, serving terms totaling 21 years, between 1961 and 1988. On the Board of Directors, he was a gadfly who pushed the organization to broaden its definition of civil liberties, including opposing the military draft and marijuana prohibition. In 1988, the ACLU of Washington presented Dr. Gottfried with its highest honor, the William O. Douglas award, “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the cause of civil liberties and freedom.” Dr. Gottfried was also the first member of the ACLU’s “Charter Life Member” program. Other organizations in which he served included the national ACLU and the National Committee to End Repressive Legislation (whose boards he served on), Congress of Racial Equality, Group Health Cooperative of Washington State, the American Political Science Association and Western Political Science Association, and Caucus for New Political Science. He spoke frequently on domestic and international politics and civil liberties to community groups, as well as on local television and radio. A talented athlete and amateur actor, Dr. Gottfried excelled in basketball and tennis, which he played in high school, college, and, later, on U.S. military teams. While attending Chicago Teachers’ College, he founded and performed in the “Green Lyres,” an all-male singing and dancing comedy troupe; in the 1950s he had substantial roles in plays performed at Seattle’s Cirque Theater, a semi-professional playhouse. Alex Gottfried died on March 18, 2014, in Renton, Washington at the age of 94.

Sources: New York Times Obituary and University of Washington Department of Political Science website, "Passing of Alex Gottfried"

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Correspondence, minutes, reports, publications, clippings, buttons, and posters from Gottfried's involvement in the Washington affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, Peace and Freedom party campaign, Seattle Peace Information Center, other peace campaigns, and other civil rights causes, as well as papers from his time as a professor at the University of Washington in Political Science.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's copyrights retained. Contact Special Collections for details.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Organized into 4 accessions.

  • Accession No. 2264-001, Alex Gottfried papers, 1962-1970
  • Accession No. 2264-002, Alex Gottfried papers, 1970-1975
  • Accession No. 2264-003, Alex Gottfried papers, 1952-1969
  • Accession No. 2264-004, Alex Gottfried papers, 1951-2004

Related Materials

Sue Davidson papers (Collection No. 6051)

Preservation Note

Some records stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Accession No. 2264-001: Alex Gottfried papers, 1962-1970Return to Top

5" linear.

Scope and Content: Ephemera, correspondence, notes of meetings re peace campaigns and civil rights campaigns.

Restrictions on Access: No restrictions on access.

Records stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Alex and Sue Gottfried, 1974-05-01

Accession No. 2264-002: Alex Gottfried papers, 1970-1975Return to Top

4.71' linear.

Scope and Content: Correpondence, clippings, ephemera, 1 tape.

Seattle peace Information Center, 1970-1975.

Restrictions on Access: No restrictions on access.

Records stored offsite; advance notice required for use.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Alex Gottfried, 1976-01-21

Accession No. 2264-003: Alex Gottfried papers, 1952-1969Return to Top

6' linear.

Scope and Content: Correspondence, committee files, pamphlets, clippings, ehemera, subject series, 1952-1969.

Bulk of the accession is ACLU. Washington.

Restrictions on Access: No restrictions on access.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Alex Gottfried, 1990-01-01

Accession No. 2264-004: Alex Gottfried papers, 1951-2004Return to Top

6.11 cubic feet (7 boxes plus two oversized folders)

Scope and Content: Oral history, correspondence, course files, UW Political Science Dept. files, writings and publications, project files, records of his work with ACLU-Washington chapter.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights retained. Contact Special Collections for details.

Acquisition Info: Erika Gottfried

Container(s) Description Dates
Professional and Political
Box/Folder Accession
1/1 2264-004
"-------- for Effective City Government --- - Portland, 3/12/66" [Notes for a speech?]
1/2 2264-004
Alex Gottfried - Oral History Interview Re His World War II Service in Military [CDs 1-2]
1/3 2264-004
Alex Gottfried - Oral History Interview Re His World War II Service in Military [CDs 3-4]
1/4 2264-004
"A Modest Proposal" by Alex Gottfried and Arthur Kobler
1/5 2264-004
Athletes and Politics
approximately 1960s-1970s
1/6 2264-004
Bibliography- Published articles and Book Reviews
approximately 1950s-1960s
1/7 2264-004
Bibliography and Personal Stuff - Employment - Teaching Skill
1/8 2264-004
Biographical: Curriculum Vitae
1/9 2264-004
Boss Cermak Contract; Correspondence with University of Washington Press re; Royalty Statement
1/10 2264-004
Boss Cermak Reviews
approximately 1962
1/11 2264-004
Civil Defense/Nuclear Proliferation
approximately 1962-1963
1/12 2264-004
Civil Disobedience [Paper by Alex Gottfried and Wally Caldwell]
approximately 1968
1/13 2264-004
Center for Education in Politics
approximately 1960s
1/14 2264-004
Citizenship Clearing House
1/15 2264-004
Conferences, Seminars, Symposia (presenter at)
approximately 1958-1960s
1/16- 1/24 2264-004
1/25 2264-004
Free Prisoners Bail Fund of Seattle
1/26 2264-004
Freedom of Expression on University of Washington Campus /Outside Speakers Controversy: Statements, Letter to Faculty, Newspaper Clipping
1/27 2264-004
Grant and Fellowship Applications
approximately 1950s-1960s
1/28 2264-004
1/29-1/30 2264-004
Miscellaneous Speeches
approximately 1960s-1980s
1/31 2264-004
Notes for Class Lectures
1/32 2264-004
Class Paper from a Student
1/33 2264-004
Newspaper Clippings
1/34 2264-004
Peace (mainly Committee of Correspondence)
approximately 1960s
1/35 2264-004
Papers Delivered
1/36 2264-004
Politics and the Film (film series co-sponsored by UW Political Science Dept. and hosted by Alex Gottfried)
1/37-2/2 2264-004
Politics and the Novel
2/3 2264-004
Professional Application for Professional Leave
2/4 2264-004
Professional/UW Salary
approximately 1951-1981
2/5 2264-004
Professors and Politics
2/6 2264-004
Research Proposals
2/7 2264-004
Resolution Opposing University of Washington's Requiring Professors Holding Public Office to Resign
2/8 2264-004
Sociology and Criticism
2/9 2264-004
Speaking Engagement Correspondence [?]
2/10 2264-004
Speech [to] ASUW-American Heritage Programs- [Teaching] Anti-Communism in Schools
2/11 2264-004
Speech (?) or Article Text (?) "On Experts"
2/12-2/13 2264-004
Syllabi and Course Descriptions
2/14 2264-004
United Nations Exhibit - Seattle World's Fair
2/15 2264-004
University of Washington Committee on War and Peace
2/16-2/20 2264-004
University of Washington Political Science Department - Minutes and Memos
approximately 1950-1975
2/21 2264-004
University of Washington Political Science Department - Proposed Doctor of Arts Degree
2/22 2264-004
University Politics - Research [paper by James L. Bess]
2/23 2264-004
Washington State Loyalty Oath- Academic Freedom- Documents and notes for speeches
approximately 1955-1961
2/24 2264-004
William O. Douglas Award (from American Civil Liberties Union - Washington State affiliate to) - Alex Gottfried and Arthur Kobler
2/25 2264-004
Writings - Paper: "Freedom of Opinion and the Current Crisis."
2/26 2264-004
Writings - Published (some co-authored with Sue Davidson Gottfried) - Includes articles in The Nation, Liberation, Western Political Quarterly, Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences.
approximately 1955-1962
2/27 2264-004
Writings Cermak "Psychological Traits of a Political Boss"
2/28 2264-004
Writings -(Probably) Manuscript of Preface to Boss Cermak
2/29-2/31 2264-004
Cold War Era Publications on Civil Defense
2/32 2264-004
Cold War U.S. Government Graphic Charts on the Effects of a Nuclear Attack
2/33-3/1 2264-004
Publications of The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions
approximately 1960s
3/2 2264-004
Publications of The Fund for the Republic
approximately 1960s
3/3 2264-004
Miscellaneous Publications
approximately 1960s
American Civil Liberties Union- Washington State Affiliate
Box/Folder Accession
3/4 2264-004
Directories of ACLU-W Boards of Directors
3/5-3/24, 3/26-3/50 2264-004
ACLU-W Board of Directors- minutes and correspondence
3/25 2264-004
ACLUW 1980 Board Quarrel
4/1 2264-004
Academic Freedom Committee
4/2 2264-004
Ad Hoc Committee to Study Policies and Regulations Regarding Student Discipline and Suspension
4/3 2264-004
Administrative Committee
approximately 1960s
4/4 2264-004
Annual Meeting
approximately 1960s
4/5 2264-004
ACLUW- Attacks On
4/6 2264-004
Auction (for fundraising)
4/7 2264-004
Awards and Life Membership
4/8 2264-004
4/9 2264-004
Budget and Finance
approximately 1960s-1975
4/10 2264-004
Bylaws and Constitution
4/11 2264-004
Chapters of ACLU
4/12 2264-004
Chapter News
4/13 2264-004
Chapter Organization (student papers about)
4/14 2264-004
Church and State (Ad Hoc Committee on)
approximately 1960s
4/15 2264-004
Civil Disobedience Debate
4/16 2264-004
Civil Liberties Education Materials- Films; Bibliography
4/17 2264-004
"Communications, Materials Sent" minutes, proposals, correspondence
4/18 2264-004
Development and Organizational Committee
4/19 2264-004
"Dissent"- clippings, statements, ACLU news releases
approximately 1960s
4/20 2264-004
Dissertation Proposal re ACLU (Smith, Shirley S)
4/21 2264-004
ACLU Due Process- Mental, Juvenile
approximately 1966-1972
4/22 2264-004
Conscription- Board Debate
4/23 2264-004
Draft - 1980
4/24 2264-004
Draft in U.S. History
approximately 1980
4/25 2264-004
Equality Committee
4/26 2264-004
Executive Committee
4/27 2264-004
Executive Director Search
4/28 2264-004
Federal Communications Commission - Fairness Doctrine
approximately 1960s-1980s
4/29-4/30 2264-004
ACLU - Finance
approximately 1960s-1980s
4/31 2264-004
Financial Strictures Committee
4/32 2264-004
Freedom of Expression and Association (FE/A) Committee - Minutes
4/33 2264-004
Freedom of Expression and Association - Censorship
4/34 2264-004
Freedom of Expression and Association Committee- Civil Disobedience
4/35 2264-004
Freedom of Expression and Association Committee- Directories, Reports, Clippings, Correspondence
4/36 2264-004
Freedom of Expression and Association Committee- Dissent
4/37 2264-004
Freedom of Expression and Association Committee- Free Speech Vs. Right to Privacy
4/38 2264-004
Freedom of Expression and Association Committee- Clippings, Correspondence
4/39 2264-004
Fundraising and Finance
approximately 1960s-1970s
4/40 2264-004
Fundraising Speeches (Alex Gottfried's notes for)
4/41 2264-004
1965 Fund Drive
4/42 2264-004
ACLU-W Early History - Ed Henry et al - 1920s & 1930 [Notes by a person unknown, not Alex Gottfried; possibly by a Cathy Ricketts]
4/43 2264-004
ACLU History (two articles, Baskin "The American Civil Liberties Union Papers: A Guide to the Records ACLU Cases 1912-1946, Murphy "The 1920s")
4/44 2264-004
ALCU- Washington Affiliate History
approximately 1975
4/45 2264-004
approximately 1973
4/46 2264-004
Indian Rights
4/47 2264-004
Student Internship Reports
4/48 2264-004
ACLU-W Investigators' Manual
5/1 2264-004
Legal Committee
5/2 2264-004
Legal Committee
5/3 2264-004
"Legal Docket"- ACLU annual reports and staff counsel's report
5/4 2264-004
Legislative Committee
5/5 2264-004
Legislative Committee
5/6 2264-004
Lobbying Materials
5/7 2264-004
"Major Gifts"- fundraising campaign
5/8-5/9 2264-004
5/10 2264-004
Membership Recruitment
approximately 1960s-1970s
5/11 2264-004
Membership Materials
approximately 1960s
5/12 2264-004
Membership Solicitations and Flyers from Chapters Around the Country
5/13 2264-004
ACLU Miscellaneous
approximately 1960s-1980s
5/14 2264-004
National Defense Education Act
5/15 2264-004
Nominations and Rules Committee
approximately 1960s
5/16-5/17 2264-004
ACLU Nuclear Arms Committee
5/18 2264-004
ACLU - Other Affiliates
5/19 2264-004
Personnel Committee and Joint Executive Personnel (Blackburn and Schroerluke)
5/20 2264-004
Planning and Development Committee
5/21 2264-004
Planning and Development Committee- 1966 Prospectus
5/22 2264-004
"PMR"- Correspondence around raising membership dues
5/23 2264-004
Program and Education Committee/Secondary School Program Sub-Committee
5/24-5/25 2264-004
ACLU Washington Publications
approximately 1960s-1990s
5/26 2264-004
S-1 (Includes handwritten draft of (speech?) by Alex Gottfried
5/27 2264-004
ACLU - Washington State Chapter - minutes
5/28 2264-004
Washington State Bill of Rights
5/29 2264-004
"What Is ACLU"? And Miscellaneous ACLU Documents
approximately 1960s
5/30 2264-004
Women's Rights Committee
approximately 1970s
5/31 2264-004
ACLU Publications- Miscellaneous
5/32-6/2 2264-004
ACLU- National- Reports and Publications
6/3 2264-004
ACLU Manual of Organization
6/4 2264-004
Policy Guide of the ACLU
Posters and Buttons
folder:oversize Accession
OS Folder 1 2264-004
8 Political posters for UW Campus Events
approximately 1960s-1980s
OS Folder 2 2264-004
10 Political posters, newspapers, and clippings
approximately 1960s-2004
7 2264-004
Political Buttons and Ephemera

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Civil rights movements--Louisiana
  • Civil rights movements--Mississippi
  • Civil rights movements--Washington (State)
  • Peace movements--United States
  • Peace movements--Washington (State)
  • Peace--Societies, etc
  • Political parties--United States
  • University Archives/Faculty Papers (University of Washington)

Personal Names

  • Bryant, Alice Franklin, 1900-1977
  • Fusco, Elizabeth
  • Gottfried, Alex--Archives

Corporate Names

  • Seattle Peace Information Center


  • Civil rights workers--Washington (State)

Other Creators

  • Corporate Names
    • American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (creator)
    • American Friends Service Committee (creator)
    • Democratic Party. Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (creator)
    • National Committee for Sane Nuclear Policy (creator)
    • Peace and Freedom Party (U.S.) (creator)
    • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (University of Washington). Friends (creator)
    • University of Washington. University Archives
    • War Resisters League (creator)