Over two years ago I wrote here about Ellie Hakim, one of the unsung yet formidable founders of Studies on the Left, perhaps the leading journal of the American New Left. I had spent some time at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison looking at the Studies papers and came away super impressed by Hakim’s behind-the-scenes contributions to the journal. She was a particularly eloquent letter-writer. Indeed, her intelligence, wit, and, for lack of a better word, humanity jumped off the page of her letters. The best part of that post is found in the comments section, where two of Hakim’s former students confirmed that she was just as memorable and formidable in the flesh—she was, by their accounts, an extraordinary teacher.
A few weeks ago, I returned to the Wisconsin Historical Society to conduct further research on my current book topic, “Karl Marx in America.” The Society’s collections might be the best this side of Tamiment for those interested in the history of the American left. The most revealing papers were those of James Cannon, the leading American Trotskyist throughout the 1930s and beyond. But I will save those details for another post—or perhaps you will have to wait for the book! For this post, I return to Ellie Hakim’s letters—since I found a few that I missed the first time around. Continue reading