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Michael Wreszin Papers

Identifier: SCA-0049

Scope and Content Note

The Michael Wreszin Collection is comprised of papers, notes, research, observations, and correspondence of the long-time Queens College history professor Michael Wreszin. The collection covers a breadth of topics including activism at Queens College from the 1960’s to 1980’s, curriculum at Queens College, and Wreszin’s extensive research on Dwight Macdonald and the New York Intellectuals. Early drafts of his published biography on MacDonald are present, as well as copies of magazines containing articles by Wreszin. Of particular note are 112 audio recordings or interviews Wreszin conducted for his research.


  • 1912 - 2014



Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.


The Michael Wreszin Collection is physically owned by the Queens College Libraries. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assignees. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Queens College assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.

Biographical Note

Michael Wreszin was born October 9, 1926 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. After serving in the Navy at the end of World War II, Wreszin enrolled in Syracuse University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He earned a PhD in History from Brown University in 1961. Wreszin began teaching at Wayne State University and Brown University; he started his career at Queens College in 1965. He became a fixture on campus, where for more than 40 years he taught US History, specializing in post WWII history, black history, civil rights, McCarthyism, and radicalism in the United States. In addition to Queens College, Michael Wreszin also taught graduate courses at the CUNY Grad Center.

A lifelong activist and radical who studied the intellectuals of the movement, Wreszin wrote extensively for publications such as New Politics, The Nation, American Communist History, Dissent, and more. An incessant letter writer, Wreszin’s comments would often be seen in the New Yorker and New York Times. He would also publish biographies of radical, anti-authority individuals such as Oswald Garrison Villard: Pacifist At War (1965), The Superfluous Anarchist (1972 - biography of Albert Jay Nock), and his crowning achievement, A Rebel In Defense Of Tradition (1994 - biography of Dwight Macdonald).

An extensive researcher, Wreszin committed over a decade to his biography of Dwight Macdonald, leaving no rock unturned. He interviewed and became close with members of the New York Intellectuals including Norman Mailer, Mary McCarthy, Saul Bellow, and Macdonald’s first wife, Nancy Macdonald. He also researched and meticulously followed the career of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

Along with teaching the history of radical activities, he lived what he preached, challenging authority out of both necessity and for enjoyment. Wreszin was arrested numerous times protesting the Vietnam War, the military industrial complex, Civil Rights and the shooting of Amadou Dialo.

Michael Wreszin died on August 12, 2012 in Manhattan at the age of 85.


15.5 Linear Feet (24 boxes)

Language of Materials



Professor, activist, radical, and biographer, the Michael Wreszin collection contains a large number of documents related to American radical culture of the 20th century. A large portion of the collection is devoted to the 20th century radical, Dwight Macdonald, of whom Wreszin wrote a biography, and other New York Intellectuals. The collection also holds documents related to the history of radical activities in New York from the 1960's to 1980's, including protests and activism on Queens College campus, and notes and manuscripts from Wreszin's long academic career.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into six series based on subject. Each series is organized chronologically.

Series I - Personal Documents and Correspondence Series II - Dwight Macdonald, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and New York Intellectuals Subseries A - Dwight Macdonald Subseries B - New York Intellectuals Subseries C - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Series III - Research, Manuscripts, Notes Series IV - Queens College Activism Subseries A - Lectures and Class Materials Subseries B - Activism Subseries C - Newspapers and Clippings Series V - Print Materials Subseries A - Magazines and Journals Subseries B – Books Series VI - Audio Cassettes

Special Formats

Magnetic tape audio cassette, 3.5” floppy disc


Donated by Michael Wreszin in 2012. Papers related to Queens College Activism transferred from Queens Library - Jamaica Branch by Michael Wreszin in 2012



The Michael Wreszin Papers
Christopher Arena
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Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us