Max Nettlau Papers

INTRODUCTION

Biographical sketch

Max Nettlau was born on April 30, 1865 in Neuwaldegg, then a suburb but now a district of Vienna. His parents were both Prussians. His father Hermann Nettlau (1830-1892) came to Austria as court gardener to the Prince Schwarzenberg in January 1858. He met his wife Agnes Kast (1843-1898) during a visit to Prussia in 1862 and they were married in July 1864. Max was their first child, followed by one other son Ernst, born in December 1866, who after a few years was discovered to be mentally retarded and in 1872 given into professional care. As much as may be gathered from Nettlau’s discretion on this subject, it seems to have been the only dark cloud in an otherwise happy and harmonious childhood.
His parents (and especially his father) gave him a liberal and secularist education, and he spent most of his childhood playing on his own and exploring the great garden, an experience that influenced him deeply and had some bearing on his understanding of anarchism as the most natural form of life. He was drawn to socialism when still at grammar school between 1878 and 1880 and while a number of his schoolmates were social democrats Nettlau soon regarded himself an anarchist-communist.

From autumn 1882 on Nettlau studied philology in Berlin. Soon interested in comparative Indo-European philology he concentrated on ‘the darkest branches of this group of languages, the Celtic languages, with a special preference for the Cymric (the Welsh)’ and he received his doctorate for a thesis ‘Beiträge zur cymrischen Grammatik’ in 1887.
While working on his thesis he came to London for the first time in 1885 and immediately joined the Socialist League, the only organisation he was ever to join, and to him always the ‘ideal’ political organisation with its concentration on education and the progressive development of political consciousness. Living just off Tottenham Court Road at the time, he joined the Bloomsbury branch, the Marxist stronghold in the League and centre of the fight against the anti-parliamentary policy of the League’s majority. Here in London he also began to actively collect socialist and anarchist material, although at first not for himself but for others (e.g. Dr. Victor Adler). The first ‘conscious’ acquisition for his own collection was buying the archives of the Socialist League in 1889, which its then secretary Frank Kitz had already torn up to be sold as waste paper. Having published a first part of his thesis in 1887 Nettlau continued to work in the field expecting to embark eventually on an academic career and therefore spend regularly longer periods in London and other places in the United Kingdom to study Celtic manuscripts and other pertinent material. In 1887 he decided to simultaneously start another project, a Bibliography of the socialist literature and press of all times (inv. nos. 2036-2083). After a year and half however he realized that this would surpass his forces and he narrowed his scope to concentrate on the anarchist and libertarian literature and press. He continued to participate in the Socialist League and published his first political and historical articles in its paper The Commonweal .
At the same time he also started to interview old militants in the English and revolutionary movements elsewhere and to discuss political matters with them. Usually he made notes either during or immediately after these meetings.
In July 1889 he attended the International Socialist Congress in Paris (the founding congress of the Second International) as a delegate of the Norwich branch of the Socialist League and from May to September 1890 he served on the Council of the League. Between May and August 1890 he edited and financed The Anarchist Labour Leaf (inv. nos. 1901-1907), four numbers of which were distributed free of charge, and which consisted entirely of articles by Nettlau and by Henry Davis, previously one of the most active anarchist-communists in the League. In these years he also wrote his first longer and more substantial historical articles published in John Most’s Freiheit (New York) in 1890 and he also published the first results of his studies on Bakunin (inv. no. 1720). These early articles point ahead to the subjects Nettlau would focus on as a historian: the forgotten predecessors, biographies (Bakunin) and the overall view (history of an entire movement).

In March 1892 his father died and left him sufficient means to live as an independent scholar and to devote nearly all his time ‘to study, to travel and to collect’ material for the biography of Bakunin and on the history of anarchism and socialism in general.
In 1893/94 he was active in the Commonweal Group (the successor of the London Socialist League) for which he wrote the article ‘Why we are anarchists’ (inv. no. 1914), published anonymously in 1893 as a series in The Commonweal and reprinted as a pamphlet in 1894. At the request of a number of comrades he also wrote An Anarchist Manifesto (London 1895) (inv. nos. 1921-1923). After the merging of the Commonweal and Freedom Groups in 1895 he eventually joined the Freedom Group and after the closing down of The Torch he provided (with Bernhard Kampffmeyer) the means to acquire its press and printing equipment for Freedom and ‘the movement’.
Together with Joseph Presburg (‘Perry’) he prepared the presentation of the anarchists’ point of view at the International Socialist Congress in London in July 1896 (inv. nos. 3078-3135). They also organized (with Malatesta) the anarchist meetings held after the expected exclusion of the anarchist delegates. In 1897 he and Presburg were involved in the ‘Spanish Atrocities Committee’ for which Nettlau did all the necessary translations and wrote nearly all articles on the subject for Freedom , the Labour Leader and other papers. He was also the author of the Committee’s pamphlet The Revival of the Inquisition (inv. nos. 1929-1931).

Between 1896 and 1900 he wrote and ‘autocopied’ in 50 copies his biography of Michael Bakunin in 3 vols. (inv. nos. 1675-1687), while in 1897 he also published his Bibliographie de l’anarchie (inv. nos. 1666[-1672]). He continued to work on Bakunin intensively for the next few years and was allowed to consult the Bakunin papers which his family in Naples possessed (they were destroyed at the end of World War II). He summarized his findings in four unpublished volumes of supplements to the Biography (inv. nos. 1697-1700, 1702). He also received, at the instigation of Élisée Reclus, the bulk of Bakunin’s political papers and manuscripts for his collection and for safekeeping.

After the mid-1890s Nettlau’s political outlook changed from being a rather dogmatic anarchist-communist to his ‘anarchism without labels’, emphasizing more and more the need for mutual tolerance among anarchists. One of the earliest published results of this development was a lecture he gave to the Freedom Discussion Group in December 1899 called ‘Responsibility and solidarity in the labour struggle’ (inv. no. 1935), which was published in Freedom (1900, Jan.-Feb.) and later reprinted as a Freedom pamphlet.
From 1900 on he spent several months a year in Paris to collect publications in the bookstalls on the Quais, but also to collect material for his next major project, a history of Buonarroti and the secret societies of the early 19th century, a subject he had chosen because of Bakunin’s fascination with and involvement in secret societies. He worked on it for several years and wrote an unfinished manuscript, which unfortunately is no longer included in his papers.
Most of his time and energy in the years up to World War I were dedicated to collecting and travelling, but from 1900 until 1907 he also was involved in the only long-term relationship with a woman he had in his life, Therese Bognar. His extreme need for discretion was such that he mentioned her existence only to a couple of his female comrades and only three of his male friends knew about her before she died of kidney failure in 1907.
In all those years Freedom was the only paper to which he contributed regularly (from 1896 to 1914, and then again from 1919/1920 onwards) and in whose production he also participated in more practical ways when he was in London. Later on after its foundation in 1911 he also regularly contributed to Carl Grünberg’s Archiv für die Geschichte des Sozialismus und der Arbeiterbewegung .

The outbreak of World War I found Nettlau in Vienna where he remained during the following years. In letters and discussions with friends he took the side of Austria and Germany, mostly it seems out of a violent opposition to Kropotkin’s Russian nationalism and that of certain other comrades, but also out of ‘a sense of fairness’. Because he did not do anything to protect the investments he had inherited and he lost all his money during the war and in the post-war inflation and for some years thereafter he lived on the edge of starvation. In the end he survived only thanks to food parcels which occasionally reached him from friends abroad and from Quakers and Quaker organizations in America. Now he had to write for a living and at first the Christian Science Monitor (Boston) was his only opportunity until some anarchist papers were in a position to pay for articles and books, in particular Der Syndikalist (Berlin), La Protesta (Buenos Aires), the Yiddish Freie Arbeiter Stimme (New York), La Revista Blanca (Barcelona) and Probuzhdenie (Detroit).

From 1919 on he also resumed writing for Freedom in which his articles ‘The present situation in Austria’ appeared. In September 1920, at the suggestion of Tom Keell, this was followed by the first of a series of biographies of Errico Malatesta (each one enlarged and corrected). This biography was the first of the major historical works which were to occupy him for the next 15 years.
The most important of these are several articles on Kropotkin and a new biography (‘ Neue Biographie ’) of Bakunin in 4 volumes (inv. nos. 1706-1713, unpublished except for the first few chapters). Also two biographies of Elisée Reclus were published (in 1928 in German and in 1929-1930 a revised and enlarged edition in Spanish in 2 volumes), as well as 3 volumes on ‘The International, Bakunin and the Alliance in Spain’ (published in 1929, 1930 and 1969) and a study of Bakunin and the International in Italy (1928). And most important of all he wrote his Geschichte der Anarchie in 9 volumes (of which 3 volumes were published in his lifetime, 2 more have been published in 1981 and 1984, the others are to follow).

All these and innumerable articles as well had to be written under difficult circumstances for although Nettlau had the most comprehensive collection on anarchism in existence, which contained all sorts of information from and about people in the early movement, most of this was stored away in depositories in London and Paris and inaccessible to him. Apart from lacking the means to travel, he could not risk to draw attention to his property that was threatened by sequestration (in France and England he was regarded as an enemy alien). These difficult working conditions changed somewhat from the mid-1920s onwards when, on the invitation of friends who also paid the expenses he could travel to Berlin and then to Zurich and Geneva again. Here he could use the libraries and collections of friends like Rudolf Rocker, Jacques Gross and Fritz Brupbacher and those of public institutions including the SPD-Parteiarchiv in Berlin with the papers of Marx and Engels. From 1928 to 1936 when he was invited to Spain by the Montseny-Urales family where he spent longer and longer periods, he was able to consult the rich collections of the Biblioteca Arús in Barcelona, of Soledad Gustavo, and of other anarchist collectors.

In 1935 he sold his collection to the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam and concentrated in the final years before 1940 on helping to classify and catalogue his (and other) collections. He wrote less for the movement and its papers but started to transcribe his daily notes from the 1880s and 1890s (inv. nos. 1-19) and to write his memoirs (he had previously written several other, shorter versions). From 1938 he lived in Amsterdam permanently, apart from a visit in Switzerland, and not only witnessed the annexation of Austria by Germany but also the invasion of the Netherlands and the takeover of the IISH including the seizure of the bulk of his collection. In 1940 he began to write the last version of his memoirs, some 6,000 pages carrying the story into the 1930s, but still not complete. The final pages, written in the last weeks of his life, chronicle mostly the progressive defeat of the German army. He died rather suddenly in Amsterdam on July 23, 1944 of cancer of the stomach.

Nettlau’s collection

Profile of his collecting activities

Nettlau did not collect the standard publications present in many libraries, but concentrated on materials threatened to be lost: rare books, periodicals, pamphlets, leaflets, manuscripts, letters and ephemeral materials. He strove to cover the widest possible field, including as many different shades of socialist and libertarian views as he could discover, including of course everything relating to Bakunin.
From 1900 he extended the scope of his collection to include also the radical political literature predating socialism, going back as far as the French Revolution and 18th century England. This material concerned social reform, descriptions of social conditions, freethinkers, women, peace, cooperations, nationalities, sociology, libertarian ideas, history of revolutions, etc. Nettlau also acquired papers and (parts of) archives of other persons and organizations, primarily anarchist.
Nettlau’s collecting was cut short by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, although in Paris and London periodicals were still being collected for him. The ensuing devaluation left him with no funds to continue. His collection after 1914 consists primarily of his own manuscripts, notes he made and some documents sent to him. In a letter of June 13, 1920 to Siegfried Nacht he estimated the size of his collection at over 40.000 titles. Of these were anarchist 3200 books and pamphlets, 1200 periodicals; libertarian (including the revolutionary part of syndicalism) 1300 publications and 600 periodicals; socialist 10.500 publications and 2750 periodicals; social reform 2000 publications and 2300 periodicals; political-radical 13.000 publications (including periodicals). Next to these there were thousands of smaller publications. In all, the result of his efforts was a collection unique in its scope and depth until 1914 and his papers, valuable in its own right, also cover the latter period of his life.

Management and deposition of the collection

Nettlau had his growing collections stored in facilities in London, Paris, Munich and Vienna from the 1890s. Payment for it became complicated in World War I and after 1918 covering the costs required the help of friends. A problem was the confiscation by the French government of German goods. Packages stored with his friend Victor Dave in Paris were lost when Dave died in 1922 (inv. no. 2494). The confiscation of his documents in Paris in 1927 was fortunately annulled through the intervention of friends (inv. nos. 2497-2508). He was also bothered by the police in Vienna in 1929 and 1934 but won the skirmish (inv. nos. 2544, 2550). In 1932 Bernhard Mayer made part of his house in Ascona, Switzerland available to Nettlau for storage and the documents from London and parts of the documents from Paris were transported there.
The question where his collections should go after his death occupied Nettlau from very early on. In 1924 he discussed the matter with Arthur Lehning who was staying in Vienna at the time. Lehning suggested the Nederlands Economisch-Historisch Archief (NEHA, Netherlands Economic-Historical Archives) in The Hague. Both parties were interested but no funds could be raised. In 1928 conditions were more favourable and also a building in Amsterdam was made available by the city council. Negotiations were started by NEHA director Professor N.W. Posthumus and a contract signed, but Nettlau refused to hand over the key of the Chancery Lane Safe, he just could not let his collections go. Negotiations were renewed in 1935 against the backdrop of the deteriorating political climate in Austria. By this time Posthumus had founded the IISH in Amsterdam and at the end of October he sent its librarian Annie Adama van Scheltema-Kleefstra to Vienna to handle the transactions. Nettlau wrote the conditions down himself (eleven pages) and these were accepted and signed. Exempt from the sale were correspondence, manuscripts and excerpts of a personal nature and a small amount of publications and printed documents relating to literature, science of language, topography and horticulture. He received fl. 20.000 for it, relieving him of extreme poverty, but feeling very depressed.

Fortunes of the collection in Amsterdam after 1935

In the middle of December 1935 221 cases arrived from Ascona, followed by cases from Paris, Vienna and Munich. Unpacked it filled three former classrooms in which Nettlau worked in the winter of 1937 when he came to visit his collection. He returned to Amsterdam half February 1938 just before the German annexation of Austria and in July he decided to make Amsterdam his permanent residence. In March 1938 after the ‘Anschluss’ Annie Adama van Scheltema travelled to Vienna to retrieve the last documents from Nettlau’s room. These included manuscripts of Bakunin which she took with her on the Orient Express, while some fourteen cases were sent to Amsterdam through diplomatic post.
The whole collection was now finally united, but not for long. From September 1938 the IISH started to implement safety measures in the event of war. A part of Nettlau’s personal papers was sent to England where a house had been hired in Harrogate, Yorkshire and later in 1939 it was moved on to Oxford. The IISH in Amsterdam was closed by the Germans on July 15, 1940 and taken over by the Einsatzstab Rosenberg in January 1941. On August 16, 1943 776 cases containing periodicals, probably including titles collected by Nettlau, were sent to Annenheim, Austria. Another shipment of books, periodicals and papers was sent to Ratibor on the Polish-Czech border in 271 cases on June 22, 1944. This was the state of affairs at the time of Nettlau’s death on July 23, 1944. Further shipments by boat in September 1944 took care of the rest of the Institute’s holdings.
After the capitulation of May 8, 1945 the building of the Institute was completely empty. The documents from Oxford were moved back to Amsterdam in October 1946. The periodicals from Austria returned in December 1946 and May 1947. The material sent to Poland was only returned in 1956, with a smaller shipment following in 1959. In 1976 the Institute received papers from the last period of Nettlau’s life from former librarian Annie Adama van Scheltema-Kleefstra, retired since 1953 (IISG Annual Report 1953, p. 5).

The collection at present

The books, periodicals and pamphlets have been included in the IISH library. The photo’s, posters and some objects are at the Audiovisual Department of the IISH and can be found in the online catalogue through a search with the collection code ‘Nettlau’. His papers, collected documents and documentation are listed in this inventory. They include his own catalogues of his books, periodicals, pamphlets and ephemeral materials (inv. nos. 2513-2536). In 1919 Nettlau also made a detailed survey of his papers and collected documents in which he included a list of his own publications and manuscripts (inv. no. 2541).

Arrangement of Nettlau’s papers

Earlier arrangement

When Nettlau’s collection first arrived in Amsterdam the cases contained packets in which he had sorted the material according to period or subject. Also in his room in Vienna, which contained no shelves, packets of documents were stacked up against the walls. Superscriptions identified the contents of the packets as well as smaller groups of documents within them, to which he no doubt added information when he went through his collection again in 1937-1939.
Although the collection was unpacked at arrival and the papers, collected documents and documentation were repacked in portfolios in the course of time, several of the originals wrapping were still present, indicating that Nettlau’s arrangement had not been much altered. Within some of the packets however the arrangement was lost. This was the case, for instance with the documents relating to his English period in the 1880s and 1890s, documents relating to his studies and the notes relating to his manuscripts. On the other hand many documents had already been identified in the course of time. This was done in the 1970s and 1980s by IISH staff members Rudolf de Jong and in particular Heiner Becker, while a global, preliminary list was made in 1989. This inventory, which also has benefited from some advice by Heiner Becker, is based on it.
Among the documents Nettlau collected were papers of several persons and records of organizations. Some of these (parts of) archives, had already been taken out of the Nettlau papers and treated as separate entities prior to 1989. This state of affairs has not been altered. It concerns the papers of: Aleksandr Atabekian, Victor Dave, Raphael Friedeberg, Gertrud Guillaume-Schack, Alfred Marsh, Bernhard Mayer, Joseph Presburg, Pierre Vésinier and the records of the Fédération Jurassienne, the Homerton Social Democratic Club (in part) and the Socialist League. A file relating to the International Revolutionary Socialist Conference in London 1881 was added to the papers of Gustave Brocher.
A special case is the Bakunin collection. It consists of part of Bakunin’s papers and of other original or copied documents mainly collected by Nettlau for his biographies of Bakunin. Later it was supplemented by additional papers and partly published in Michel Bakounine. Textes établis et annotés par Arthur Lehning , 8 Vol. (Leiden 1961-1982). This series was completed by a publication on cd-rom of Bakounine. Oeuvres complètes (Amsterdam 2000) which includes the final part as well as the earlier 8 volumes. The Bakunin papers are listed in a separate inventory.
The Nettlau papers as described in the current inventory still contain documents of other persons and organizations in the section Collected documents and subject files .

Inventory

The inventory lists Nettlau’s papers, collected documents and documentation, as well as some papers of family and personal friends. Most of these are in German, although there are many documents in English and French, also by Nettlau himself. Fewer documents are in Celtic, Spanish, Italian and a smattering of other languages. Nettlau often wrote in shorthand using the Gabelsberger method (still in use) which means he writes in German, although it may concern notes of an English spoken meeting. In 1919 Nettlau made a very detailed survey of his papers and collected documents (inv. no. 2541). In it he also describes the contents of the series notes written in shorthand.

These include his small diary notebooks which contain notes in shorthand on day to day activities as well as details of the events in the socialist movement in London and Paris and stories about earlier periods and the First International until 1890 (inv. nos. 1-5). From 1891 until 1907 the emphasis shifts to his Bakunin studies and topics like the ‘infamous Coulon provocation’ and the persecution of anarchists in France from 1892-1894 (inv. nos. 6-19).
Apart from the diaries, shorthand notes from this period also include his Bakunin notes partly made during his journeys to Switzerland and Italy (see inv. nos. 1728-1767), the notes in the section Membership and Participation (inv. nos. 1626-1665) and the notes primarily from newspapers on socialism and anarchism (inv. nos. 3142-3145). Based on these shorthand notes he wrote much later, in 1940, an account in regular handwriting covering the period c. 1879-1898 (inv. nos. 21-29).
He continued his diary in the form of letters to his late fiancée Therese Bognar from May 29, 1907 until March 25, 1919. This sizable series, not all written in shorthand, covers a wide range of topics. The daily entries contain accounts of daily events, personal impressions of his contacts with socialists and anarchists, memories of his journeys between 1892 and 1900. He also wrote down ideas, freely discussing anarchism and socialism. When matured, these concepts found their way into letters to Jacques Gross and James Guillaume, sometimes to Jacques Mesnil or Petr Kropotkin and later also to Gustav Landauer. Copies of these and other letters from 1907 are included in the diary, as well as anecdotes, polemics, descriptions, impressions of nature during journeys and trips and care for the flowers on Therese’s grave (inv. no. 30-74).
The diary also contained observations on siskins and excerpts of ornithological literature of the British Museum. Nettlau later took the pages from 1911-1913 out of the series and they have been described separately (inv. nos. 1511-1513). Shorter references to ornithology can still be found in the letters to Therese.
Nettlau had to give up keeping a diary in 1921 because of lack of time. Making a living by writing articles took up too much of it. Next to the diaries he also wrote his memoirs at the end of the 1930s ( ‘Lebenschronik’ inv. nos. 84-89) and another extensive version in the 1940s (‘Erinnerungen und Eindrücke’ inv. nos. 92-123).

As the General correspondence shows, Nettlau also devoted much time to writing letters. It contains letters by over a 1000 correspondents from all over the world, mostly anarchists, initially also many socialists. It is certain that Nettlau kept all his letters from the period 1882 until 1919 (and probably also of the later period) making it a very valuable historical source in its own right. Letters dealing exclusively with collecting often addressed to (antiquarian) booksellers have been organized in a separate series placed in the section Collecting activities (inv. nos. 2181-2459).

The notes of lectures and excerpts made during his Comparative Studies of Indo-European Languages are often incomplete and only partly sorted (inv. nos. 1346-1372). Proper sorting and identification of the languages would have required expert help and a considerable extra time investment. This was not considered opportune as Nettlau never took the trouble of (re)arranging or identifying them himself. He thought the lectures of little interest with a few exceptions, in particular those of Professor Johannes Schmidt in Berlin, who taught Greek, Gothic, Lithuanian, Sanskrit and Comparative grammar from 1882 until 1885. The excerpts from this period are all from well-known sources (inv. nos. 1346-1372). Papers from his university period have also been reused by Nettlau for later writings as he often did (see inv. nos. 1720, 2026, 2142-2165).
Where his Celtic studies are concerned the volumes of notes still may contain some interesting information according to Nettlau in 1919. These notes are based on books in Berlin and Vienna made in 1883-1886 and on Celtic manuscripts from the British museum made in 1885-1886 (see inv. nos. 1400-1412). Also still of interest to the expert he thought the excerpts and copies in folio made in London and Oxford in 1885-1886, which could not be identified, but if still present can only be mixed in with his notes relating to articles on Welsh and Irish text (inv. nos. 1433-1438). The notes for his dissertation and the published Welsh and Irish articles he no longer considered relevant (inv. no. 2541, p. 31-32).

The section Membership and participation contains many notes (in shorthand) of meetings and conferences until c. 1897 at which Nettlau was present. These notes were often meant for articles published in the Commonweal (London), Freedom (London), Temps Nouveau (Paris), Freiheit (New York) and other publications. In his collection description of 1919 Nettlau has summed up these and later articles he wrote (inv. no. 2541, p. 2-10).

The section Authorship contains the manuscripts of his books and articles published or unpublished, as well as (draft)notes, proofs and some other documents relating to the publication of his works. The manuscripts have been arranged chronologically together with the concepts, different versions and notes belonging to them. Apart from notes made for a specific manuscript there is also a large general series of academic notes which in part covers the same subjects, including Bakunin, Buonarotti, the secret societies and other topics. Nettlau made indices to these notes (c. 11,500 pages in total) and lists to enable him to find the information he needed. He developed a code using the letters A-N, initially for the notes from the period 1887-c.1892 (inv. nos. 2036-2124), assigning each letter to a specific country or subject. Later, in the 1920s and 1930s he added the letters P-RYZ (inv. nos. 2089-2113). He also distinguished between the different series of notes according to paper size, referring to octavo, folio and quarto notes. With some small additions, he continued to use this system all his life. As Nettlau often reused his own papers a (new) manuscript sometimes has been written on the back of an older one or on some other papers.

Nettlau’s catalogues (inv. nos. 2513-2539) listed in the section Collecting activities are written in tiny script in notebooks no larger than quarto because he took them with him on his journeys to facilitate the collecting. They include many bibliographical details, but do not cover his whole collection. Most of the materials received after 1928 are not listed, including the printed material collected for him in London from 1914. There is only one catalogue covering c. 1928 until 1936 (inv. no. 2536).

In the section Collected documents and subject files the documents on persons are a mixture of original papers of these persons combined with notes and excerpts by Nettlau and documentation he collected. The persons concerned were in part his contemporaries, friends and acquaintances, in part they have been the subject of his historical research, and in several cases both. Nettlau received some of the original papers directly from the owner. The file of Petr Kropotkin, which contains a more sizable part of his personal papers, was partly given to Nettlau. Edoardo Milano trusted Nettlau to safeguard some of his papers. Paul Robin probably also gave him his file relating to the First International himself together with the cipher code used by Bakunin (inv. no. 2541, p. 44, 63-64).
Nettlau clearly used most of these files for his writings and some of them, i.e. Ernest Coeurderoy, Errico Malatesta and Elisée Reclus also contained manuscripts. These have been placed in the section Authorship, while some documents relating to Bakunin, found with the manuscripts have been transferred to the section Collected documents and subject files.
Nettlau’s rather holistic approach also showed in his files relating to Elisée Reclus to which his own correspondence with Reclus was added. As the correspondence was not limited to a specific subject it has been transferred to the General correspondence. Apart from ironing out inconsistencies like these the documents in this section have been kept together as much as possible the way Nettlau organized them.
This is also the case with the documents relating to organizations and congresses with part of which he had ties, while others are purely collected. They include a file of records of the Commonweal Group as well as the records of the Anarchist-Socialist and Anti-Parliamentary Committee of the International Socialist Workers and Trade Union Congress held in London in 1896. Nettlau was present at the Congress and involved in the work of the Committee, but Joseph Perry was the secretary. On the other hand, the records of the Freie Lehrerstimme were a chance discovery and he was not in any way involved in it.

The section Documentation contains all kind of smaller printed documents collected by Nettlau, i.e. leaflets, bulletins, circular letters, programs, statutes, announcements etc. Finally Nettlau’s collection of clippings has been kept the way it was. Nettlau had sorted his clippings into files by country and subject. The descriptions in the inventory are based on the superscriptions he wrote on them. Within this substantial amount of files the clippings were not in a specific order. This has not been rectified.

Loss

Although most of the Nettlau collection was recovered after World War II it did not come through unscathed. Some important unpublished manuscripts were lost from the part sent to England according to the IISH Annual Report of 1948. It is not clear if any or how many papers were not returned from Poland in 1956.
Some documents listed in his collection description of 1919 are missing. He mentions a manuscript ‘Geschichte meiner Sammlung’ (2 Vol., quarto, 490 pages) written in 1915-1916 which is no longer present. It included a survey of his life from 1890 until 1907 because as he stated, his life revolved more and more around his collection (inv. no. 2541, p. 29). Of Nettlau’s collection of postcards originally 7 boxes and a packet, only a small part is still present, although it had been moved to Amsterdam in the 1930s (inv. no. 1518). His stamps are missing too (inv. no. 2541, p. 50).
Relatively much is missing from his parents’ papers probably because Nettlau did not keep the documents for reasons privacy. No appraisal has taken place during the process of arrangement.

State of preservation

After World War I Nettlau, although aware of the problem, sometimes used poor quality paper due to paper shortage and lack of money. He tried to avoid this problem by buying old paper and using the back. When first received at the IISH in 1935 the cases which had been stored in London containing the oldest material turned out to have water damage. During its storage in Oxford in World War II the archive again sustained some water damage. The correspondence contains a considerable amount of damaged letters. Most of the papers are in a reasonable condition.

Financial contribution

The arrangement of the Nettlau papers was made possible by a donation received by the Friends of the IISH from the estate of Lilly Schorr, granddaughter of Pierre Ramus. Allocating the money, which could be spent freely, to this project made it possible to secure an additional grant from the national program for preservation (the Metamorfoze Fund) in The Netherlands for the security microfilming of Nettlau’s archive.

Literature

‘Biographische und bibliographische Daten von Max Nettlau, März 1940', a manuscript edited by Rudolf de Jong in International Review of Social History (Assen), Vol. 14 (1969), p. 444-482.

Annie Adama van Scheltema-Kleefstra, ‘Herinneringen van de bibliothecaresse van het Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis’ in Tijdschrift voor Sociale Geschiedenis (Amsterdam), Vol. 4 (1978), p. 141-176; a German translation published in Mitteilungsblatt des Instituts zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung (Bochum), no. 4 (1979), p. 7-44.

Heiner Becker, ‘Max Nettlau 1865-1944' in Freedom (London), 47 (1986), no. 9 (centenary edition), p. 16-17.

Heiner Becker, ‘Einleitung’ in Max Nettlau, Geschichte der Anarchie Vol. 1-3 (Reprint of Der Vorfrühling der Anarchie , 1925; Der Anarchismus von Proudhon bis Kropotkin , 1927; Anarchisten und Sozialrevolutionäre , 1931), hrsg. von Heiner Becker (Münster 1993, 1996), p. VII-XXIII; p. VII-XVI; p. VII-XVIII.

Heiner Becker, ‘Introduction’, bibliographies (periodicals; books and articles) and ‘A short bibliographical guide to Nettlau’s historical work’ in Max Nettlau, A Short History of Anarchism , ed. by Heiner Becker (London 1996), p. IX-XXIII, 299-350 and 351-365.

Maria Hunink, ‘Das Schicksal einer Bibliothek. Max Nettlau und Amsterdam’ in International Review of Social History , Vol. 27 (1982), p. 4-42.

Maria Hunink, De papieren van de revolutie. Het Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis 1935-1947 (Amsterdam 1986), especially p. 28-48, 194-197.

Rudolf Rocker, Max Nettlau. Leben und Werk des Historikers vergessener sozialer Bewegungen (Berlin 1978).

List of the microfilms

The Max Nettlau papers were microfilmed in 2007 within the framework of the 'Metamorfoze' project.

Consultation of the microfilms is not restricted. For consultation of the microfilms the complete film number should be mentioned: e.g. the inv. nos. 117-121 can be found in role number 937.

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