University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Eugene V. Debs, Walls and Bars Manuscript 1899-1922 (inclusive), 1922 (bulk).

© 2006 University of Chicago Library


Descriptive Summary


Debs, Eugene V., Walls and Bars. Manuscript


1899-1922 (inclusive), 1922 (bulk).


0.25 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Eugene V. Debs, Leader of the Socialist Party of America. Manuscript and galley proofs of Walls and Bars which describes Debs's experience at the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. Also includes an address from 1899 and two magazine articles published in 1922.

Information on Use


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When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Debs, Eugene V., Walls and Bars. Manuscript, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926), leader of the Socialist Party of America and its presidential candidate on four occasions, was bitterly opposed to American entry into World War I. He denounced the war and assailed the federal administration for its prosecution of persons charged with sedition. He himself was indicted by a federal grand jury for a violation of the Espionage Act, and on September 24, 1918, after a four-day trial, Debs was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. The Supreme Court upheld the verdict in March, 1919, and Debs was taken to the federal penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia. On Christmas Day, 1921, by order of President Warren G. Harding, Debs was released, though without restoration of his citizenship.

While still an inmate of the penitentiary, the suggestion was made to Debs that he write a series of articles describing his prison experience. After his release, twelve articles were written and published through the Bell Syndicate of New York and in newspapers which subscribed for them throughout the country.

Debs later decided, since many of his articles were censored on the grounds that they were "propaganda," or "too radical," to publish them in book form, under the title Walls and Bars.

Scope Note

The original manuscript consists of carbon copies of the twelve articles, with the author's corrections, an additional three chapters considering the cause and responsibility for crime and imprisonment, and an address entitled "Prison Labor, Its Effects on Industry and Trade," March 21, 1899; and two articles on the prison question published in Century Magazine, July, 1922, and The World Tomorrow, August, 1922.

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Box 1    Folder 1

Original Manuscript (Carbon copies of newspaper articles), with author's corrections, and additional chapters. Chapters 1-12

Box 1    Folder 2

Original Manuscript, Chapters 13-19

Box 1    Folder 3

Revised typewritten copy, Chapters 1-4

Box 1    Folder 4

Revised typewritten copy, Chapters 5-8

Box 1    Folder 5

Revised typewritten copy, Chapters 9-13

Box 1    Folder 6

Revised typewritten copy, Chapters 14-19

Box 1    Folder 7

Galley Proofs, Chapters 1-5

Box 1    Folder 8

Galley Proofs, Chapters 6-13

Box 1    Folder 9

Galley Proofs, Chapters 14-19