Communist Party

Posted by Ellen

In the summer of 1938, these children escaped the sweltering streets of New York City by attending Camp Kinderland, an oasis in the green hills of western Massachusetts founded by The Workmen's Circle, a Jewish organization affiliated with the Wobblies and eventually with the U.S. Communist Party. The inscription on the photo is in Yiddish (I'm told), which was almost certainly the first language of the Kinderland campers, children whose immigrant parents could not afford other summer camps. At Kinderland, which was free, children swam and played ball and put on plays and sang songs about the class struggle.

In 1954, Kinderland was confiscated by the government as property of a Communist organization. It was reorganized as a strictly capitalist venture, a for-profit summer camp serving the children of former campers, many of whom could now afford to pay hefty camp fees. The camp still exists, promoting itself as a place where children participate in all the usual camp activities but also "don't hesitate to sing a Yiddish labor song, paint a mural of Harriet Tubman, or write a skit about putting an end to war."

Actress Marisa Tomei is an alumna of Camp Kinderland.

The inscription apparently just identifies Camp Kinderland and the particular session in 1938.