Strong, Anna Louise, 1885-1970

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1885-11-24
Death 1970-03-29
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Epithet: US author and socialist in Moscow

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000351.0x0003de

Anna Louise Strong was born in Nebraska and educated at Oberlin and the University of Chicago. Later moving to Seattle, she was the editor of the Seattle Union Record. She travelled extensively to Russia and China, and she wrote accounts of those journeys. In 1921 she travelled to famine-struck areas in Russia as part of an American Quaker relief committee. Her interests included labor issues, child welfare, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China. During World War II she defended the policies of Stalin, and afterward remained faithful to her belief that her most important role was to popularize the thought of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao Tse-Tung. She died in Beijing in 1970.

From the description of Collection, 1910-1950. (Swarthmore College, Peace Collection). WorldCat record id: 29401375

Anna Louise Strong was born in Friend, Nebraska in 1885. She was the daughter of middle-class liberals who were active in missionary work and the Congregational Church. She was a gifted child that raced through grammar and high school, and then studied languages in Europe. She graduated from Bryn Mawr, did graduate work at Oberlin and at age 23 earned her Ph. D. from the University of Chicago. As an advocate for child welfare for the United States Education Office, she organized an exhibit and toured it throughout the United States exposing child poverty. By the time she was 30, she had returned to Seattle, WA to live with her father, who was the Reverend at the Queen Ann Congregational Church. Because she was unable to find solutions for the needs of children and the working class, she had become an avowed socialist and the Seattle political climate favored her views. By 1916, she had become a reporter for the New York Evening Post which began her career as a journalist and writer. After the October Revolution in Russia, she became a prominent advocate of the young Soviet government in the press. In 1921 she traveled to Poland and Russia and while in Russia she was appointed as the Moscow correspondent of the International News Service, during which time she became a strong supporter of the Soviet Union. During the 20's and 30's Strong traveled to China, parts of Asia and throughout the Soviet Union. In 1937 she visited Spain. She accompanied the Red Army into Poland and Berlin in 1945. By 1949 she had been living in the Soviet Union when Stalin expelled her before one of his last great purges. By about 1955 she had settled in China. She was on close terms to Mao Tse Tung and in 1966 she was made an honorary member of the Red Guards. Since she had moved to Russian in 1921, she had never wavered in her support of totalitarianism. She lived in China until 1970 when she passed away.

From the description of Anna Louise Strong's collection of papers and a manuscript, circa 1930-1957. (Washington State Library, Office of Secretary of State). WorldCat record id: 299578151

From the description of Anna Louise Strong's portrait at age circa 16, circa 1901. (Washington State Library, Office of Secretary of State). WorldCat record id: 228158618

American journalist, author and political activist, Anna Louise Strong (1885-1970), who was based in Seattle during a formative period of her life, later lived for many years in the Soviet Union and China.

Born in Nebraska, she was the daughter of Congregationalist minister and pacifist, Sydney Dix Strong. Anna Louise was educated at Oberlin College, Bryn Mawr and the University of Chicago, where she received a Ph. D in 1916. Her father moved to Seattle in 1906, where he lived until his death in 1938. Anna Louise joined him there from 1916 to 1921, which was a time of radicalizing events, including the Everett massacre and trial and the Seattle General Strike. In Seattle, she began her journalism career and wrote for the Seattle Union Record. During this time, she was elected to the Seattle School Board, but subsequently recalled because of association with the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). In the wake of these events, Strong went elsewhere in search of socialism in practice. Her quest took her first to the Soviet Union, where she was based from 1921 until 1940. Strong also became one of the earliest journalists to cover the Communist revolution in China. She visited China first in 1925 and returned frequently until 1947. Strong's enthusiasm for the Chinese revolution may have led to her arrest, imprisonment and expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1949. After these events, she was cut off from the Soviet Union, shunned by American Communists and denied a passport by the United States government. She settled for a time in California, where she wrote, lectured and invested in real estate. In 1955, she was cleared of the Soviets' charges. When her passport was restored in 1958, she immediately made her way back to China, where she remained until her death in 1970. During the latter part of her life, Strong was honored and revered by the Chinese.

From the description of Anna Louise Strong papers, 1885-1971. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 45235019

Anna Louise Strong was a journalist, world traveler, observer of revolutions and author of over 30 books and countless articles. She was the daughter of a Congregationalist minister, Sydney Strong, who was a pacifist and practitioner of the social gospel. She was educated at Oberlin College, Bryn Mawr and University of Chicago, where she earned a Ph.D. After finishing her education, Strong joined the National Child Labor Committee and organized child welfare exhibits throughout the country from 1910-1912.

Sydney Strong moved to Seattle in 1906 where he lived until his death in 1938. Anna Louise Strong, who seldom lived anywhere for long, joined him there from 1916 to 1921, which was for her a time of radicalizing events, including the Everett massacre and trial, and the Seattle General Strike. In Seattle, she began her journalism career and wrote for the Seattle Union Record . During this time, she was elected to the Seattle School Board and subsequently recalled because of association with the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). In the wake of these events, Strong went elsewhere in search of socialism in practice. Her quest took her first to the Soviet Union, where she was based from 1921 until 1940. During this period she spent part of the year in the Soviet Union, but would return to the United States for a lecture tour, usually between January and April.

Strong also became one of the earliest journalists to cover the Communist revolution in China. She visited China first in 1925 and returned frequently until 1947. During the course of her visits to China, she met and interviewed the Chinese Communist leaders, including Chou En-lai and Mao Tse-tung, gaining their respect and trust. In his 1946 interview with her, Mao first used the expression "paper tiger" to describe the United States.

Strong's enthusiasm for the Chinese revolution may have led to her arrest, imprisonment and expulsion from the Soviet Union in 1949. After these events, she was cut off from the Soviet Union, shunned by American Communists and denied a passport by the United States government. She settled for a time in California, where she wrote, lectured and invested in real estate. She was cleared finally of the Soviets' charges against her in 1955. When her passport was restored in 1958, she immediately made her way back to China, where she remained until her death in 1970. During the latter part of her life Anna Louise was honored and revered by the Chinese, one of the few Westerners with entree to China after the revolution and one of the last "Old China Hands" to remain in the good graces of the Chinese through the cultural revolution. The Chinese leaders considered her their unofficial spokesperson to the English speaking world.

  • November 24, 1885: Born in Friend, Nebraska
  • 1887: Family moves to Mount Vernon, Ohio
  • 1896: Family moves to Oak Park, Illinois; she enters high school
  • 1901: Strong in Hamelin, Germany for a year
  • 1902: Enters Oberlin
  • 1903: Enters Bryn Mawr; Ruth Marie Strong (mother) dies
  • 1904: Returns to Oberlin
  • 1905 - 1906 : Works for the Advance in Chicago, enters University of Chicago; Sydney Strong moves to Seattle
  • 1907: Finishes her graduate degree (M.A.), spends summer in Seattle, works for Sprague-Warner's (cannery) in Chicago, begins going to Hull House
  • 1908: Receives Ph.D., moves to Seattle, organizes "Know Your City" campaigns in Seattle and elsewhere
  • 1909: Visits Japan with Sydney, moves to New York, works for Russell Sage Foundation
  • 1910 - 1911 : Joins National Child Labor Committee, organizes Child Welfare exhibits
  • 1911: Discovers socialism in Kansas City, meets Roger Baldwin, becomes engaged (1912)
  • 1912: Joins United States Children's Bureau
  • 1913: Breaks with Roger Baldwin
  • 1914: Visits Ireland
  • 1916: Resigns National Child Labor Committee, moves to Seattle
  • 1917: Elected to Seattle School Board, covers Everett Massacre trial of Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) for New York Evening Post, writes for Seattle Daily Call
  • 1918: Recalled from School Board, joins I.W.W., writes for Seattle Union Record
  • 1921: Goes to Poland and the Soviet Union (for American Friends Service Committee)
  • 1922: Returns to Moscow, reports for Hearst's International Magazine, meets Trotsky, attends Comintern
  • 1923: Meets Mikhail and Fanya Borodin
  • 1924: Works for John Reed Colony, Children of Revolution published
  • 1925: Visits China, meets Soong Ch'ing-ling (widow of Sun Yat sen)
  • 1927: Visits Mexico, returns to Shanghai, Hankow, Hunan, leaves China via Gobi desert with Borodin and the last of the Russians
  • 1928: Spends 2 months in Soviet Central Asia, Uzbekistan, China's Millions published
  • 1929: Visits Tashkent, Pamirs
  • 1929 - 1930 : Visits collective farms, Siberia, starts Moscow Daily News
  • 1931: Marries Joel Shubin, The Soviets Conquer Wheat published
  • 1932: Meets Stalin
  • 1934: I Change Worlds published
  • 1935: Meets Eleanor Roosevelt, tries to join American Communist Party, starts sending yearly contribution
  • 1936: Resigns Moscow News
  • 1937: Visits Spain twice, meets Malraux, Carlos Contreras, Spain In Arms published
  • 1937 - 1938 : To China, to 8th Route Army headquarters, meets generals of the 8th Route Army, Chou En-lai, meets Soong Mei-ling, wife of Chiang Kai-shek, to United States, lunches with Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to Soviet Union, Sydney Strong dies December 30
  • 1939: To United States, drives cross country, Joel in New York, spends weekend at Hyde Park, My Native Land published
  • 1940: To Moscow, to Chung King, meets Rewi Alley, interviews Chou En-lai about conflicts with Kuomintang (KMT), interviews Chiang Kai-shek
  • 1941 - 1942 : The Soviets Expected It published, empties Seattle house, sells it, letters from Joel stop
  • 1942: Begins to suffer from Paget's disease, works in Hollywood for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for 11 weeks, buys house in California, learns in August that Joel died in March
  • 1943: Lectures at Stanford, meets Sidney Rittenberg, Wild River (novel) published
  • 1944: Flies to Soviet Union via Fairbanks, Peoples of the USSR (textbook) published
  • 1944 - 1945 : Visits Polish front, visits Yugoslavia, meets Tito
  • 1945: Leaves USSR with Jessica Smith by Soviet freighter, I Saw the New Poland published
  • 1946: To Shanghai, Peking, and communist headquarters in Yenan, interviews Mao ("paper tiger" interview), to Kalgan
  • 1947: Long interview with Mao, evacuated from Yenan, to Shanghai, to Russia via North Korea, to Paris to meet representatives of the Chinese, Dawn Over China published
  • 1948: Involved with Wallace campaign, sister, Ruth, will no longer receive her, back to Russia
  • 1949: February 13 arrested and jailed for 6 days in Lubyanka, expelled to Poland, called before a grand jury in United States , publishes account of spy charges in New York Herald Tribune, is shunned by American communist party, settles in Los Angeles and joins the First Unitarian Church, The Chinese Conquer China published
  • 1951: Begins monthly newsletter, Today : a personal news-letter / Anna Louise Strong.
  • 1953 - 1954 : Visits Mexico, Guatemala
  • 1955: Cleared of Russian spy charges
  • 1956: Today ceases, The Stalin Era published
  • 1958: Supreme court decision in Rockwell Kent versus John F. Dulles enables her to get passport again, attends peace conference in Stockholm, 2 months in Soviet Union, to Peking with Emily Pierson, appears on high dais with Mao and Chinese leaders on National Day, meets Frank and Ruth Coe, writes for National Guardian
  • 1959: New secretary, Chao Feng-feng, meets with W.E.B. Dubois and Mao, moves to Peace Compound, visits Tibet, Tibetan Interviews published, meets Che Guevara, has trouble placing articles, Chou attends her 74th birthday party
  • 1960: Emily Pierson visits
  • 1961: Visits Laos and Vietnam, meets Ho Chi-Minh, Cash and Violence In Laos and Vietnam published
  • 1962: Begins Letter From China at Chou's suggestion
  • 1964: Meets with Mao, Frank Coe, Sol Adler, Israel Epstein and Sid Rittenberg, attends International Conference of Solidarity Against United States Imperialist Aggression and in Defense of Peace in Hanoi, Ho Chi-Minh attends her birthday party
  • 1965: Mao and Chou give her 80th birthday parties
  • 1966: Mao purges party, Strong is first foreigner admitted to the Red Guard
  • 1968: Tracy (brother) dies, begins autobiography
  • 1969: Attends October Day premier's banquet, fails to get permission for John Strong, Robbins' son, to visit her
  • March 29, 1970: Dies, large public funeral

From the guide to the Anna Louise Strong papers, 1885-1971, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)

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http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6g73c6z
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Subjects:

  • Labor unions--Organizing--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • General Strike, Seattle, Wash., 1919
  • Everett Massacre, Everett, Wash., 1916
  • Journalists--Manuscript
  • Women and peace
  • Labor unions--Organizing
  • Communism--Russia--History
  • Journalists--Biography
  • Communists--Photographs
  • Women journalists--United States--Archives
  • Women social reformers--United States--Archives
  • Radicals
  • Communism--China--History
  • Radicals--History--Sources
  • Communism
  • Women journalists--Archives
  • Women and peace--History--Sources
  • Labor journalism--United States
  • Radicals--Photographs
  • Women journalist--Photographs
  • Women communists--History--Sources
  • Labor journalism
  • Communism--History
  • Women social reformers--Archives
  • Communists
  • Labor unions--Organizing--Middle West

Occupations:

  • Journalists
  • Political activists

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Washington (State)--Seattle (as recorded)
  • Spain (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • Seattle (Wash.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Russia (as recorded)
  • Seattle (Wash.) (as recorded)
  • Middle West (as recorded)
  • Soviet Union (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)
  • Spain (as recorded)
  • Korea (North) (as recorded)
  • China (as recorded)