Chamberlin, William Henry, 1897-1969

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Author and journalist.

From the description of Papers, 1912-1969. (Providence College, Phillips Memorial Library). WorldCat record id: 71012879

Correspondence to Lewis Mumford from William Henry Chamberlin and his wife, Sonya T. Chamberlin.

From the description of Letters, 1920-1923, to Lewis Mumford. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155867113

William Henry Chamberlin was a prolific American historian and journalist. Influenced by his experiences abroad during the 1930s, Chamberlin became a staunch conservative and strong proponent of individual liberty. Despite these political leanings, Chamberlin’s works are described as impartial and keenly insightful. Chamberlin’s scholarly approach and passionate style has led him to be considered a legitimate authority on critical issues from the mid twentieth century.

William H. Chamberlin was born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 17, 1897. He attended the William Penn Charter School before entering Haverford College for undergraduate studies. A recipient of several awards in recognition of his academic achievements, classmates attest to his intelligence and passion for Latin, Greek, Russian, history, and literature. In addition, Chamberlin was an active contributor to the college newspaper, the Haverfordian .

Upon graduation, Chamberlin secured a position on the staff of The Philadelphia Press . At age twenty-five, Chamberlin moved to Greenwich Village, New York, where he worked for Heywood Broun, a book editor of the New York Tribune . In Greenwich Village, Chamberlin was surrounded by pro-Bolsheviks and likewise adopted these sentiments. Writing under the pseudonym A.C Freeman, his pieces support socialism and the Communist regime in the USSR. It was at this time that he married his wife, Sonya Trotsen, a Russian-born immigrant. They would have one daughter, Elizabeth Chamberlin.

In 1922, Chamberlin took a position with the Christian Science Monitor as their Moscow correspondent, a position he would hold for twelve years in addition to working for the Manchester Guardian . Chamberlin’s first book, Soviet Russia (1930), maintains his initial support of Bolshevism but also provides the first glimpse of disillusionment with this ideology. He increasingly became disenchanted with Soviet censorship, suppression, and terrorism. When Chamberlin and Sonya witnessed the devastation of the 1932-1933 famine in the Ukraine and Northern Caucuses, he completely denounced communism.

As a foreign correspondent in Germany, Japan and France, Chamberlin’s opposition towards any form of absolutism and collectivism solidified. Upon returning to the United States in 1939, Chamberlin worked as a free-lance journalist, contributing to The New Leader, The Wall Street Journal, and the Russian Review . His pieces espouse a deep commitment to personal liberty, faith in human reason and freedom, and political conservatism. Chamberlin also continued his career as an author, eventually writing eighteen books, which focus mainly on Soviet history.

Chamberlin additionally served as The Wall Street Journal political and economic commentator. He disagreed with American involvement in World War II and continued to contest U. S. policies of intervention and appeasement after the war, especially in regards to communist countries.

Aside from writing, Chamberlin was a great enthusiast of classical music, baseball and football. He was also a member of the John Birch Society, an organization which shared many of his more conservative stands. Furthermore, Chamberlin was especially devoted to his wife Sonya, who often assisted him in research and supported his literary career. Devastated by Sonya’s death in 1969, he only survived her by nine months. Suffering from a stroke during a trip to St. Moritz, Switzerland, William Henry Chamberlin died on September 12, 1969.

  • 1897 Feb 17: William Henry Chamberlin is born in Brooklyn, New York Mother - May McClintock Chamberlin; Father - Ernest Champberlin
  • 1913 - 1917 : Attends Haverford College
  • 1918: Employed by The Philadelphia Press
  • 1922: Moves to Greenwich Village, New York and works for New York Tribune book editor, Heywood Broun
  • 1922: Marries Sonya Trotsen (Russian Born); One daughter - Elizabeth
  • 1922 - 1934 : Employed as the Moscow news correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and Manchester Guardian
  • 1930: Writes first book, Soviet Russia
  • 1932 - 1933 : Travels to Ukraine and Northern Caucuses and witnesses famine, causes final break in support for communism
  • 1935: Writes The History of the Russian Revolution: 1917-1921
  • 1934 - 1939 : Works as a foreign correspondent in Germany, Japan and France
  • 1939: Flees France after Nazis takeover, returns to the United States and begins a careers as a freelance journalist for The Wall Street Journal, The New Leader, and the Russian Review
  • 1946: Begins extensive study of post-WWII Europe as a foreign correspondent
  • 1953: Assumes position as the political and economic commentator for The Wall Street Journal
  • 1963: Publishes last work, The German Phoenix
  • 1969: Sonya (Trotsen) Chamberlin passes away
  • 1969 Sep 12: William Henry Chamberlin dies from a stroke near St. Moritz, Switzerland

From the guide to the William Henry Chamberlin papers, Chamberlin (William Henry) papers, 1861-1978, (Phillips Memorial Library, Special and Archival Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Paul Blanshard Papers, 1912-1979 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
referencedIn Lindbergh, Charles A. (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974. Charles Augustus Lindbergh papers, 1830-1987 (inclusive), 1911-1974 (bulk). Yale University Library
creatorOf Chamberlin, William Henry, 1897-1969. [Guide to the William Henry Chamberlin papers 1861-1978.] Providence College, Phillips Memorial Library, Phillips Memorial Library
creatorOf William Henry Chamberlin papers, Chamberlin (William Henry) papers, 1861-1978 Phillips Memorial Library, Special and Archival Collections
referencedIn Boris Souvarine papers, 1915-1984 (inclusive), 1940-1984 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Eastman, Max Forrester, 1883-1969. Eastman mss. 1892-1968 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Skinner, Morris F. Correspondence, 1947-1975. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Chamberlin, William. Manuscript ballot of William Chamberlin, listing electors for President Jefferson Davis and Vice-president Alexander H. Stevens [manuscript] [1861]. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Chamberlin, William Henry, 1897-1969. Letters, 1920-1923, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949. Papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library
creatorOf Aikman, Duncan, 1889-1955. Contributions to The American Mercury, 1933-1938. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Chamberlin, William Henry, 1897-1969. Papers, 1912-1969. Providence College, Phillips Memorial Library, Phillips Memorial Library
creatorOf Chamberlin, William Henry, 1897-1969. 880-01 Nihon genji no sekai seisaku / W.H. Chenbaren. Library of Congress, RCCD CJK
referencedIn Lalley, J. M. (Joseph Michael), 1896-1980. J.M. Lalley papers 1895-1981. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library
referencedIn Boris Souvarine papers, 1915-1984 (inclusive), 1940-1984 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Chamberlin family. Chamberlin family papers 1736-1957. New York State Historical Documents (Albany, N.Y.)
creatorOf Chamberlin, William Henry, 1897-1969. Diary of William H. Chamberlin : written while crossing the plains in '49 / by William H. Chamberlin. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Blanshard, Paul, 1892- person
associatedWith Chamberlin family. family
associatedWith Chamberlin, Sonya T. person
associatedWith Christian Science Monitor corporateBody
associatedWith Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889. person
associatedWith Eastman, Max, 1883-1969 person
associatedWith Epstein, Klaus person
associatedWith Epstein, Klaus. person
associatedWith Fox, Cyrus. person
associatedWith Greene, R. B. person
associatedWith Howard, D., fl. 1849. person
associatedWith Japanese Manuscript Collection (early Shōwa era) (Library of Congress) corporateBody
associatedWith Lalley, J. M. (Joseph Michael), 1896-1980. person
associatedWith Lindbergh, Charles A. (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974. person
associatedWith Manchester Guardian corporateBody
correspondedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Musser, John. person
associatedWith Russian Review corporateBody
associatedWith Schaffle, S. F. person
associatedWith Skinner, Morris F. person
associatedWith Souvarine, Boris. person
associatedWith Stephens, Alexander Hamilton, 1812-1883. person
associatedWith The New Leader corporateBody
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Wall Street Journal (Firm) corporateBody
associatedWith William Armstrong (Ship) corporateBody
associatedWith Winifield Scott (Steamboat) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Confederate States of America
United States
New Mexico
Soviet Union
Arkansas River Valley
Santa Fe National Historic Trail
Mississippi River Valley
Santa Fe (N.M.)
Ohio River Valley
Gold mines and mining
American literature--20th century
Eastern question (Far East)
World War, 1939-1945
Choctaw Indians
World politics
Apache Indians
Indians of North America
Overland journeys to the Pacific
Gold miners--California
Authors, American


Birth 1897-02-17

Death 1969-09-12




Ark ID: w6sx6ffr

SNAC ID: 50978960