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Richard P. Mulcahy Dr.Follow

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Pittsburgh Radical: Thomas Bell

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

ABSTRACT

TITLE OF PROPOSED PAPER:

Pittsburgh Radical: Thomas Bell

Author – Richard P. Mulcahy, Ph.D.

Thomas Bell (aka Adalbert Thomas Belajčák) is remembered primarily today for his novel Out of this Furnace, which deals with the struggles of a Slovak family in Braddock, PA over the course of three generations. The book culminates with the success of the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee over U.S. Steel. With this, while Bell’s sympathies are with the SWOC, there does not appear to be anything too radical in terms of what he says in the book.

However, when Bell’s record is given a closer examination, some interesting associations come up. First, Bell was a member of the League of American Writers, whose membership included such people as Lillian Hellman, Alvah Bessie, and James Baldwin. This organization was Communist affiliated. Second, Bell gave his support and sponsorship to the Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace, which was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on March 25-27, 1949. This meeting had been sponsored by the National Council of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions, and was denounced as an anti-American/Pro-Soviet jamboree. In addition, not only did Bell give the meeting his support, but he helped to edit its proceedings volume entitled Speaking of Peace. Yet, Bell was never called before any of the Congressional investigating committees of the time as either a suspected Communist or Communist sympathizer. In addition, Bell had a reputation for being a free thinker and a man of integrity. So, we are left with a mystery. Was Bell a Communist sympathizer or fellow-traveler; if not, what was his motive behind his giving his support to such groups. Sadly, there is not much in terms of anything in the record to provide some insights – no correspondence nor memoirs. However, there are a few things that do show up. What this paper seeks to do is try and unravel this mystery based on what is available.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Richard P. Mulcahy is Professor of History and Political Science with the University of Pittsburgh's Titusville Regional Campus. He is also a Fellow of the Center for Northern Appalachian Studies of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. He is the author of A Social Contract for the Coal Fields, and co-editor of the "Health" section of The Encyclopedia of Appalachia.

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Pittsburgh Radical: Thomas Bell

ABSTRACT

TITLE OF PROPOSED PAPER:

Pittsburgh Radical: Thomas Bell

Author – Richard P. Mulcahy, Ph.D.

Thomas Bell (aka Adalbert Thomas Belajčák) is remembered primarily today for his novel Out of this Furnace, which deals with the struggles of a Slovak family in Braddock, PA over the course of three generations. The book culminates with the success of the Steel Workers’ Organizing Committee over U.S. Steel. With this, while Bell’s sympathies are with the SWOC, there does not appear to be anything too radical in terms of what he says in the book.

However, when Bell’s record is given a closer examination, some interesting associations come up. First, Bell was a member of the League of American Writers, whose membership included such people as Lillian Hellman, Alvah Bessie, and James Baldwin. This organization was Communist affiliated. Second, Bell gave his support and sponsorship to the Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace, which was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on March 25-27, 1949. This meeting had been sponsored by the National Council of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions, and was denounced as an anti-American/Pro-Soviet jamboree. In addition, not only did Bell give the meeting his support, but he helped to edit its proceedings volume entitled Speaking of Peace. Yet, Bell was never called before any of the Congressional investigating committees of the time as either a suspected Communist or Communist sympathizer. In addition, Bell had a reputation for being a free thinker and a man of integrity. So, we are left with a mystery. Was Bell a Communist sympathizer or fellow-traveler; if not, what was his motive behind his giving his support to such groups. Sadly, there is not much in terms of anything in the record to provide some insights – no correspondence nor memoirs. However, there are a few things that do show up. What this paper seeks to do is try and unravel this mystery based on what is available.