Skip to main content

Saul David Alinsky Collection

Identifier: Saul David Alinsky Collection

Scope and Contents

This collection contains approximately a dozen essays and writings by Alinsky, as well as correspondence written to Alinsky, and condolence letters to his wife Jean upon his death in 1972. The essays and writings deal with a variety of sociological issues from mass movements to integration and community in Chicago (Ill.). The collection also contains correspondence related to community organizing in Italy, and the United States, as well as Alinsky's manuscripts and provactive writing style. Alinsky also writes to his wife outlining community problems in Rome and Vatican City. The letters are primarily undated, but span the 1960s-1970s.


  • 1930 - 1972

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the John M.K. Davis Reading Room of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws when using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with the duplication policy of the Watkinson Library.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information (e.g. social security numbers) in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Biographical / Historical

Saul David Alinsky, sociologist, was the son of orthodox Jewish emigrants from Russia, Benjamin and Sarah (Tannenbaum) Alinsky. Born in Chicago, 30 January 1909, he was raised and educated there. He earned a Ph.B. from the University of Chicago in 1930, did postgraduate work in the Graduate School, 1930-32, and earned an LL.D. from Saint Procopius College in 1958. He married Helene Simon on 9 June 1932, with whom he had two children (Katherine and David.) His first wife deceased, he later married Jean Graham, 15 May 1959, from whom he was divorced in 1970. He married for the third time, Irene Alinsky, May 1971. He died 12 June 1972.

Alinsky was a sociologist with the Institute for Juvenile Research, Chicago, 1931-36; a member of the state prison classification board, division of criminology, the Illinois State Penitentiary System, Joliet, 1933-36; co-founder of the Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council (Chicago); executive director of the Industrial Areas Foundation (Chicago), 1939-72. Author of Reveille for Radicals, 1946, and John L. Lewis, A Biography, 1949. Contributor of numerous articles to sociological, criminological, and psychological periodicals. Best known for his development of the "Alinsky method" of community organizing.


.25 Cubic Feet : 1 flat box

Language of Materials



Saul David Alinsky; a well-known sociologist, community organizer, and writer, who penned the highly influential text Rules for Radicals (1971), was born in Chicago in 1909 to Russian Orthodox parents. He obtained a PhD from the University of Chicago in 1930 where he focused his studies on juveniles in the inner cities and improving conditions for the inner city poor. Alinsky became highly influential among the counterculture protesters in the 1960s. He died in 1972. This collection contains one flat box with 6 folders of his notes, essays, correspondence, and other writings. The collection primarily spans the 1960s and 1970s, covering such topics as mass movements for community organizing in the United States and Europe, especially in Italy.


Materials are arranged in box by type, and letters are grouped by correspondent.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Rachel G. Schneider in 1994. Finding aid was written and uploaded into ArchivesSpace by Michelle C. Sigiel July 2018.

Guide to the Saul David Alinsky collection
In Progress
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • July 2018.: Revised by Michelle C. Sigiel to include scope and content notes.

Repository Details

Part of the Watkinson Library - Archival Collections Repository

Trinity College Library
300 Summit St.
Hartford Connecticut 06106