Hargrave, Roger, 1911-1980

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Roger J. Hargrave was born in Sioux Township, Clay County, Iowa to parents Wallace and Sadie Hargrave on April 22, 1911. His fraternal grandparents James Joseph and Jane Hargrave were pioneer homesteaders in Clay County and Roger himself maintained close ties to the state throughout his young adult life. He attended the local Sioux Township grade school and graduated from Gillett Grove High School, Gillett, Iowa in 1928. Beginning in October 1933, Hargrave served for two years in company no. 1750 of the Civilian Conservation Corp to help his family through the Depression. Prior to this, Hargrave had dropped out of the State University of Iowa due to lack of funds, but returned and graduated with a B.S. in 1936. As an undergraduate, Hargrave engaged in amateur boxing, winning several championships that helped finance some of his college expenses. He also became involved in student activism, especially in the Iowa Branch of the American Student Union, during his last year.

In 1937, Hargrave decided to volunteer for the Spanish Civil War on the side of the Republic. Along with his roommate, Milton Felsen, Hargrave sailed to Paris in March, making a journey to Paris, southern France, the Riviera, and then back to Paris, where the two men enlisted at the office of the American Medical Bureau. Hargrave and his roommate were assigned to an ambulance train under Dr. Randall Sollenberger in Albacete, Spain, the latter as the driver and the former dispensing first aid. In June, Hargrave moved to the Jarama front. After an exploding shell killed Sollenberger, Hargrave was then transferred to Dr. Mark Strass’s medical staff. In July, he was transferred to the Brunete front with the George Washington Battalion. There, he suffered shrapnel wounds and was sent to a hospital in Madrid, where he convalesced for four months. Hargrave spent an additional several months in rest homes in Southern Spain and Barcelona, where he met author Ernest Hemingway and pivotal figure in the Indian independence movement Jawaharlal Nehru, about whom Hargrave would later write his PhD dissertation.

After his repatriation to the States, Hargrave returned to his studies at Iowa State, earning a PhD in Political Science and International Law in 1944. For three years, Hargrave taught political science and international law at the University of Iowa, Bucknell University, and Duluth Teacher’s College.

In 1946, while in Duluth, Minnesota, Hargrave became active in the local Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party and served on John A. Blatnik’s campaign committee for Congress. He went on to serve for eight years as Congressman Blatnik’s legislative aide. While working in Washington, Hargrave completed a law degree from National University School of Law, graduating as valedictorian of his class in 1953.

In 1954, upon admittance to the Minnesota Bar, Hargrave returned to Duluth to practice law. He remained politically active locally. He served as DFL Chairman of the 59th Legislative District, campaign chairman of Senator Francis “Frenchy” La Bosse, and a member of the Minnesota “McGovern for President” committee in 1972. Additionally, Hargrave served on the Rudy Perpich Committee for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. He also espoused the local pollution control movement, speaking vocally in local papers against practices of Duluth steel and cement plants and submitting statements before the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

He died on June 27, 1980, survived by his wife Anne Gerlovich Hargrave, who compiled the three Hargrave scrapbooks. Anne, daughter of a Socialist father, became active in her union, Textile Workers Local 4, while working at the Klearflax Linen Rug factory in West Duluth. She was also active in the Duluth and Minnesota CIO Councils, serving on the Executive Board of the Minnesota CIO in 1942. She and Roger married in 1960.

Sources: North, Joseph. “Iowa Farmer,” in Men in the Ranks: The Story of 12 Americans in Spain . New York: Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, 1939.

From the guide to the Roger Hargrave Scrapbooks, Bulk, 1930-1979, 1873-1984, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Roger Hargrave Scrapbooks, Bulk, 1930-1979, 1873-1984 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abraham Lincoln Brigade. corporateBody
associatedWith Blatnik, John A., 1911-1991 person
associatedWith Civilian Conservation Corps (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Dykstra, Matthew person
associatedWith Felsen, Milt, 1912-2005 person
associatedWith Goff, Irving. person
associatedWith Groden, Daniel Samuel person
associatedWith Hargrave, Anne Gerlovich person
associatedWith Holburn, Harry person
associatedWith Lamb, Leonard person
associatedWith Medical Bureau and North American Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy. corporateBody
associatedWith Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy. corporateBody
associatedWith Nehru, Jawaharlal, 1889-1964 person
associatedWith Perpich, Rudy, 1928-1995 person
associatedWith Robbins, Al person
associatedWith Spain. Ejercito Popular de la Republica. Abraham Lincoln Battalion. corporateBody
associatedWith Spain. Ejercito Popular de la Republica. Brigada Internacional, XV. corporateBody
associatedWith Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |x Hospitals.
Madrid (Spain)
Albacete (Spain)
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |x Causes.
Clay County (Iowa) |x History.
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |v Biography.
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |v Personal narratives.
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |v Sources.
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |x Campaigns.
Jarama River Valley (Spain)
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |v Periodicals.
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |v Portraits.
Barcelona (Spain)
Duluth (Minn.)
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939.
Spain |x History |y Civil War, 1936-1939 |x Participation, American.
Brunete, Battle of, Brunete, Spain, 1937


Birth 1911

Death 1980

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