The Communist Masthead

(July 1919 until April 1921)

There were more than half a dozen publications known as “ The Communist” during the first 10 years of the American Communist movement, beginning with John Reed's short-lived “ New York Communist” which launched in April 1919. The second, third, and fourth of these publications follow — all closely interrelated.

Volume 1 consists of the weekly tabloid “ The Communist” that was published in Chicago starting in July 1919 by the National Organization Committee of the Communist Party of America. This group, which was comprised of those dissatisfied with the outcome of the June 1919 National Conference of the Left Wing Section in New York, set about preparing the ground for the formation of a Communist Party of America at a convention slated for the first week of September of that same year. The publication was edited by Socialist Party of Michigan activist Dennis E. Batt, assisted by Harry Wicks.

A new Volume 1 begins dated September 27, 1919, as the official organ of the original Communist Party of America established in September. Although similar in terms of typography and content, this publication was produced by a new editorial board with Louis C. Fraina as Editor and I. E. Ferguson, Associate Editor. This Board was specifically chosen by the governing Central Executive Committee of the new organization. The publication was soon forced underground by government repression, during which time its editorial offices were silently moved to New York City. The publication ended in the spring of 1921 at the time of the formation of a new unified CPA, formally called “ Communist Party of America, Section of the Communist International."

Although making use of the same general numbering system, three specific issues from April and May 1920 actually constitute a third publication — “ The Communist” as issued by the breakaway faction headed by C.E. Ruthenberg and his associates. This Chicago-based group split with the main organization over the perception that a Comintern-mandated merger with the rival Communist Labor Party was being intentionally impeded for narrow personal and careerist reasons. After barely more than a month of independent existence this group merged with the Communist Labor Party to establish the United Communist Party of America and yet another publication was born.

We have a link below to the post re-unified Communist Party USA journal The Communist, 1927 – 1944 below as well.

Special Note of thanks to the following individuals and institutions that made copies of The Communist available and help scan and process them for this archive: Dr. Marty Goodman and Robin Palmer of the The Riazanov Project and David Walters from the Marxists Internet Archive.


What follows is a list of the different versions of The Communist, 7 in all. The ones that are linked will take you to a distinct index page for each versions table of contents:

   1. New York Communist (John Reed) – 1919

   2. The Communist (Dennis Batt/CPOC) – 1919

   3. The Communist (Communist Party of America) - 1919 to 1921

   4. The Communist (Ruthenberg group) – 1920

   5. The Communist (United Communist Party) – 1920 to 1921

   6. The Communist (Communist Party of America, Section of the Communist International) – 1921 to 1922

   7. The Communist (Central Caucus faction) – 1922

   8. The Communist World Official Organ of the Communist Party of America, Local Greater New York – 1919

   9. The Communist Official Organ of the Communist Party – 1927 to 1944 This is the version of The Communist that is not part of the initial set of magazines and journals with the same name listed above. It is the official publication of the now united Communist Party.

Last updated on 24 March 2017