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David Goldstein and Martha Moore Avery papers

Collection MS-1986-167: David Goldstein and Martha Moore Avery papers


  • Creation: 1870 - 1958
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1917 - 1940

Scope and Contents

The David Goldstein and Martha Moore Avery papers relate mainly to their association with and disavowal of Socialism, their conversion to Catholicism, and their subsequent lecture tours. The bulk of the materials consist of Goldstein's professional papers, with a smaller amount of his personal papers and of Avery's papers. The collection includes correspondence, financial records, photographs, pamphlets and clippings, writings, and artifacts such as buttons, pins and medals, rosaries, printing plates, a Boston College pennant, and even hatpins and a pair of beaded shoes owned by Avery.

Goldstein’s financial records and personal papers detail his business dealings, membership activities, and contain some family information. There are also many scrapbooks documenting Goldstein’s lecture tours, his publications, and subjects in which he was interested; there is one scrapbook pertaining to Avery and her activities. Avery’s printed materials and personal papers contain items collected from events or organizations with which she was involved, including the Common Cause Society and the Philomatheia Club of Boston College. Subject files consist mostly of newspaper clippings and printed materials compiled by Goldstein and Avery on topics of interest, such as family values, birth control, eugenics, divorce and free love, women’s suffrage, unions and labor workers, equal pay, the relationship between Christianity and Judaism, and Christianity and Socialism. Writings include drafts, copies of and notes for speeches, newspaper columns, journal articles, and books.

The papers of both Goldstein and Avery relate almost entirely to their professional careers, and contain relatively little personal information. Early records document their activities in the Socialist Labor Party and their union ties, particularly Goldstein’s membership in the Cigar Makers International Union and Avery’s work on behalf of the American Federation of Labor. Among Goldstein’s artifacts are a number of union and political pins. There are also significant records of the Karl Marx Class (later the Boston School of Political Economy), founded by Avery, for which Goldstein served as secretary. Their lecturing activities are well documented by correspondence, photographs, printed materials such as posters and fliers, and scrapbooks.


Language of Materials

Materials in this collection are primarily in English, with small amounts of French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research. Some scrapbooks are too fragile to be used without supervision; please consult the Archivist.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note: David Goldstein

David Goldstein was a Jewish Socialist-turned-Catholic evangelical author and public speaker. He was born on July 27, 1870 in London, England, to Anna and Isaac Goldstein, a cigar maker. In 1871 his family immigrated to New York, where he attended Henry Street Public School, Fifth Street Public School, the Hebrew Free School, and the Spanish Jewish Synagogue. When he was 11 years old, he left school to help support the family, working first as a cashier and later a cigar maker. He became a member of the Cigar Makers' International Union, and these meetings introduced him to public speaking and propagandizing. He retained a lifelong membership in the union and steadfastly supported organized labor. In the early 1880s, he met and was influenced by Samuel Gompers and Henry George, whom Goldstein supported for mayor of New York City in 1886.

Goldstein and his family moved to Boston in 1888, and he became affiliated with the Socialist Labor Party. He was impressed by the party’s well-read and passionate members, but ultimately found it to be morally devoid. According to Goldstein, it was through his participation in party activities in 1896 that he met Martha Moore Avery, who would later influence his decision to leave the party and convert to Catholicism. While still members of the Socialist Labor Party, he and Avery regularly held “free-speech meetings,” a tactic they would also employ as Catholic campaigners.

After a disagreement with the leadership, Goldstein left the Socialist Labor Party in 1900 and joined the Socialist Party. However, following a public scandal that erupted when prominent Socialist leader George Herron left his wife and family in favor of a younger woman and justified it by citing Socialism’s belief in free love, Goldstein began to seriously question the morality of Socialism, specifically concerning the family and religion. Once the party rejected his and Avery’s call to include a focus on religious and moral teachings, Goldstein began to lessen his involvement with Socialism. He and Avery left the Socialist Party in early 1903.

Goldstein and Avery spent the next few months writing and publishing their book, Socialism: The Nation of Fatherless Children (1903). Goldstein converted to Catholicism in 1905, citing Avery and her daughter, Katherine, as major influences in his decision. He found Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce particularly appealing, coming to believe that the Catholic Church was the safeguard of the future of civilization. In 1910, he was asked by Boston Cardinal William Henry O’Connell to give public lectures on Catholic teachings to working-class Catholics around the city. Goldstein’s position as an educated, pro-union, Anti-Socialist who was able to talk to working-class people was considered a major asset to American Catholic leaders. He began going on annual national tours, sponsored by the Catholic Central Verein and the Knights of Columbus.

He founded the Catholic Truth Guild (later known as Campaigners for Christ) with Avery in 1917 and devoted himself to defending the Catholic Church against attack, using the oratory and persuasion skills he learned as an active Socialist. In 1917, Goldstein and Avery were given permission by Cardinal O’Connell to give lectures on Catholic social teaching nationwide through the Catholic Truth Guild. The first was given on Boston Common on July 4, 1917. He and Avery had a model-T Ford customized for their lecture tours, the first of many cars commissioned for their lectures. It was painted yellow and white (papal colors), and a portable podium and sounding platform were installed. The second car, a Buick purchased in the early 1930s, had louder speakers to reach a larger audience. Goldstein depended on these unusual vehicles to attract a crowd as he toured.

He went on lecture tours from 1917 until 1941, seeking to show that Catholic teachings were compatible with American values and could be held by an intelligent, educated person. He often lectured on the relationship between Catholicism and controversial current events, including women’s suffrage, birth control, and divorce. After Avery’s death in 1929, Goldstein struggled to find and train a successor, and when combined with the financial struggles face by Campaigners for Christ resulting from the Great Depression, Goldstein’s vision of a Catholic crusade became marginalized from other Catholic evangelicals. He retired completely from lecture tours in 1941. He wrote several books, including Autobiography of a Campaigner for Christ (1936), Letters, Hebrew-Catholic, to Mr. Isaacs (1943), and Suicide Bent: Sangerizing Mankind (1945). From 1945 until his death, Goldstein wrote a regular newspaper column for The Pilot, a Boston Catholic newspaper, and contributed articles to other publications.


Campbell, Debra. “A Catholic Salvation Army: David Goldstein, Pioneer Lay Evangelist.” Church History 52, no. 3 (September 2003): 322-332.

Campbell. “David Goldstein and the Rise of the Catholic Campaigners for Christ.” The Catholic Historical Review 72, no. 1 (January 1986): 33-50.

Campbell. “Goldstein, David.” In American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press: February 2000. Accessed June 5, 2014.

Campbell. “I Can’t Imagine Our Lady on an Outdoor Platform: Women in the Catholic Street Propaganda Movement.” U.S. Catholic Historian 3, no. 2 (Spring-Summer 1983): 103-114.

Goldstein, David. Autobiography of a Campaigner for Christ. Boston: Catholic Campaigners for Christ, 1936.

Lloyd, J. “David Goldstein.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Biography in Context. Accessed June 5, 2014.

Biographical note: Martha Moore Avery

Martha Gallison Moore Avery was an author and public lecturer, originally a Socialist, who became a Catholic activist. She was born on April 6, 1851 in Steuben, Maine, to Catherine Leighton and Albion King Paris Moore, a house builder. She received her education from the local public school and later a private girls’ school. She was sent to live with her grandfather, Samuel Moore, in Ellsworth, Maine following the death of her mother when she was 13. Moore was politically active, and this may have inspired Avery. She became a milliner when she was 19 years old, and later joined the Unitarian congregation in town where she met her future husband, traveling salesman Millard Fillmore Avery. They married on March 18, 1880, and had one child born in 1881, a daughter named Katherine. In 1888, Martha and Katherine moved to Boston, perhaps to be closer to Millard's center of business before his death in 1890. During her first years in Boston, Avery studied metaphysics with Charles D. Sherman and joined the Nationalist Club. Nationalist Clubs were inspired by the novel Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, and sought to combat the economic inequality brought on by industrial capitalism.

After becoming disenchanted with Nationalism, Avery joined the Socialist Labor Party in 1891 and made her living as a public speaker. She stated that her interest in joining the party stemmed from her belief that humanitarianism, rather than violence, could bring social harmony between the wealthy and the working poor. In her early years as a Socialist, Avery rejected the idea of direct redistribution of wealth, but advocated ridding big business of private monopolies, arguing instead for public ownership that would allow a broader distribution of the benefits of industrialization. She founded the Karl Marx Class (later called the Boston School of Political Economy) in 1896 to educate Socialists about Marx’s economic theories. It was around this time that she met fellow Socialist Labor Party member David Goldstein, who became a lifelong friend. After a disagreement with the leadership in 1900, Avery left the Socialist Labor Party and joined the Socialist Party.

In 1899, Avery’s daughter Katherine entered a Catholic boarding school. Katherine converted to Catholicism in 1900 and became a nun in 1902, taking the name Sister St. Mary Martha. Katherine’s conversion was influential for Avery and came at a time when Avery was beginning to have serious reservations about Socialism’s lack of teaching on religion and morality. In 1903, Avery joined the Catholic Church and was baptized a year later.

Avery resigned from the Socialist Party on May 23, 1903, after being suspended by Socialist Party leaders for attempting to include religious and moral teachings in the party’s agenda. She spent the next few months writing and publishing the book Socialism: The Nation of Fatherless Children with Goldstein. Like many Catholics at the time, Avery and Goldstein realized that in order to appeal to the working class, Catholicism needed to offer an alternative form of social justice rather than simply criticizing Socialism. The Common Cause Society was founded by Avery and Goldstein in 1912 as an Anti-Socialist Catholic workingman's organization. Avery spent the next few years giving speeches and lectures rejecting Socialism and evangelizing for Catholicism. She also used these public lectures to declare her opposition to women’s suffrage, divorce, and birth control.

In 1915, Avery was instrumental in founding the Philomatheia Club, a ladies auxiliary to Boston College, to support Catholic education. In 1916, she began lecturing on Catholic social teachings for the Knights of Columbus, and a year later, she and Goldstein founded their own Catholic public lecture organization, the Catholic Truth Guild. Boston Cardinal William O’Connell gave the organization his blessing in 1917, and she and Goldstein toured in their customized model-T Ford, lecturing on Catholicism. Older than Goldstein by nearly twenty years, Avery limited her lecturing to the Boston area while Goldstein traveled nationwide. She continued lecturing and advocating for Catholicism and Catholic education until her death on August 8, 1929.


Carrick, Bruce R. “Edward Bellamy.” In American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press: February 2000. Accessed June 5, 2014.

Carrigan, David Owen. “Martha Moore Avery: The Career of a Crusader.” Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1975.

Carrigan. “Martha Moore Avery: Crusader for Social Justice.” The Catholic Historical Review 54, no. 1 (April 1968): 17-38. Accessed June 5, 2014.

Goldstein, David. Autobiography of a Campaigner for Christ. Boston: Catholic Campaigners for Christ, 1936.

Kane, Paula M. Separatism and Subculture: Boston Catholicism, 1900-1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Phelps, Connie. “Avery, Martha Moore.” In American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press: February 2000. Accessed June 5, 2014.


129 Linear Feet (143 containers)


The David Goldstein and Martha Moore Avery papers relate mainly to their association with and disavowal of the Socialist Party, their conversion to Catholicism, and their subsequent lecture tours. The bulk of the material consists of Goldstein's professional papers, with a smaller amount of his personal papers and of Avery's papers. The collection includes artifacts, correspondence, financial records, pamphlets and clippings, photographs, scrapbooks, subject files, and writings.


This collection is divided into two series: I. David Goldstein papers, and II. Martha Moore Avery papers.

Series I. David Goldstein papers are arranged in eight subseries: A. Artifacts and artworks; B. Correspondence; C. Financial records and personal papers; D. Photographs; E. Printed materials; F. Scrapbooks; G. Subject files; and H. Writings and notes.

Subseries B. Correspondence is divided into two sub-subseries: 1. Goldstein's correspondence, and 2. Third-party correspondence. Subseries D. Photographs is divided into five sub-subseries: 1. Avery, Katherine; 2. Avery, Martha Moore; 3. Avery, Martha Moore and David Goldstein; 4. Goldstein, David; and 5. Other. And Subseries H. Writings and notes is divided into sub-subseries 1. Goldstein, David, and 2. Other authors.

Series II. Martha Moore Avery papers is arranged in six subseries: A. Artifacts; B. Correspondence; C. Printed materials and personal papers; D. Scrapbooks; E. Subject files; and F. Writings and notes.

Subseries F. Writings and notes is divided into two sub-subseries: 1. Avery, Martha Moore, and 2. Other authors.

Within each series, subseries, and sub-subseries, materials are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.

Custodial History

These papers were left to Boston College by David Goldstein as a bequest in his will. The collection was stored in a commercial warehouse before being transferred to Boston College Libraries in November 1976, which may account for the poor condition of some materials, such as scrapbooks and newspaper clippings.


Gift of the David Goldstein estate, 1958.

Related Materials

MG.10.4, Martha Moore Avery and Family, 1873-1955, Beaton Institute, Cape Breton University.

Separated Materials

Books and published materials in this collection that were not part of the subject files have been transferred to the John J. Burns Library book collections.

Processing Information

This collection has been arranged in order received where possible, and where order existed. The titles of Goldstein’s subject files reflect his original folder titles and organization. A small number of textiles and personal items such as a comb, mittens, and a single spat were deaccessioned due to poor condition. Three limited runs of newspapers -- Christian Socialist (1911-1912); Common Sense (1950, 1954-1955); and National Civic Federation Review (1906-1909) -- were also deaccessioned due to poor condition and availability on microfilm.

  • Three interrupted runs of Christian Socialist (1911-1912); Common Sense (1950, 1954-1955); National Civic Federation Review (1906-1909).
  • 1 pr grey woolen mittens; 1 net apron; green woolen strips; 1 spat; 2 collars; 1 black clip-on tie; 1 handkerchief; 1 pincushion; 1 comb.
David Goldstein and Martha Moore Avery Papers
1870-1958 (bulk 1917-1940)
Xaviera Flores, Holly Salter, and Annalisa Moretti
December 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States