Wieck, David Thoreau, 1921-

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1921

Biographical notes:

David Wieck was born in Illinois, attended Columbia University, and was a member of the American Student Union, and the Young Communist League (1935), which he resigned from due to his objection to undemocratic functions of the group. He was imprisoned after failing to obtain conscientious objector status from his draft board. Wieck participated in hunger strikes and the "Jim Crow" Strike of 1943, protesting unequal treatment of African-American conscientious objectors. He later protested the Korean and Vietnam wars.

From the description of Collection, 1942-1969, 1943-1950. (Swarthmore College, Peace Collection). WorldCat record id: 29546019

David Thoreau Wieck was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1921. His mother, Agnes Burns Wieck, wrote for the Illinois Miner and worked as an organizer for the Progressive Miners of America. In 1934 the Wiecks moved to New York City when his father Edward (a self-educated miner) was hired as a research associate for the Russell Sage Foundation's Industrial Studies Department. Wieck was briefly a member of the Young Communist League (c1935-36), but became more sympathetic to anarchism. He graduated from Columbia University in 1941, then did post- graduate work, writing an unpublished study of the process of centralization in the United Mine Workers of America. Wieck registered as a conscientious objector, and in July 1943 began serving a three year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut for refusing induction into the army. Released from prison in 1946, he began a life-long partnership with Diva Agostinelli, the daughter of anarchist coal miners from Pennsylvania. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Wieck wrote for the anarchist publications Why?, Liberation, and Resistance. He collaborated with fellow conscientious objector Lowell Naeve on his prison memoir, A Field of Broken Stones (1950). Returning to Columbia University in 1956, he received a Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1961 and taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, retiring in 1987. In 1992 Wieck published his biography of his mother, Woman from Spillertown: A Memoir of Agnes Burns Wieck. He died in 1997.

From the description of Papers, 1921-1996 (bulk 1943-1994). (New York University). WorldCat record id: 475883813

David Thoreau Wieck was born in St. Louis, Missouri on December 13, 1921. Named after David Henry Thoreau, he was the son of Edward A. and Agnes Burns Wieck. His mother, known as the Mother Jones of Illinois, was the daughter of a miner. She was a writer in the middle and late 1920s for the weekly journal Illinois Miner, and after training with the Women's Trade Union League, she worked as an organizer for the Progressive Miners of America. His father was a self-educated coal miner and writer. In 1934 the Wiecks moved to New York City when Edward Wieck was hired as a research associate for the Russell Sage Foundation's Industrial Studies Department. David Wieck joined the Young Communist League in 1935, but by 1936 had become, in his own words, a "dissident bolshevik," much more enamored of the anarcho-syndicalists then fighting in Spain.

He enrolled at Columbia University in 1937 and graduated in 1941. He subsequently did post-graduate work toward a masters degree with Leo Wolman, writing an unpublished study of the process of centralization in the United Mine Workers of America. Registering as a conscientious objector following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he left New York City in early 1943 pending his appeal and was arrested in New Orleans for not notifying his draft board of his "change of address." In July 1943 Wieck began serving a three-year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut for refusing induction into the United States Armed Services. As prisoner #2674 Wieck was involved in numerous actions protesting racial segregation in the federal prison system.

He was released from prison in 1946 and began a life-long marriage/life-partnership with Diva Agostinelli, herself the daughter of an anarchist coal miner from Pennsylvania. In the late 1940s and early 1950s Wieck wrote for the anarchist publications Why?, Liberation, and Resistance . He enrolled again at Columbia University in 1956 and received a Ph.D. in Philosophy in 1961, apparently concentrating on aesthetics. He began teaching philosophy at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1960, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1987. During his tenure he published numerous articles and reviews in professional journals and the radical press both in the United States and abroad. He was the author of a biography of his mother, Woman from Spillertown: A Memoir of Agnes Burns Wieck (Southern Illinois Press, 1992). Afflicted with Alzheimers Disease, Wieck died on July 1, 1997.

From the guide to the David Thoreau Wieck Papers, Bulk, 1943-1994, 1921-1996, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

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Ark ID:
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SNAC ID:
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Subjects:

  • Pacifists--History--Sources
  • Conscientious objectors--History--Sources
  • Anarchists
  • Conscientious objectors--United States
  • Conscientious objectors
  • World War, 1939-1945--Protest movements--Sources
  • Anarchists--United States

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not available for this record

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)