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Name Authority Files

– Survey –

Name Authority File  I
(used names to authority names)

A - B | C - E | F - G | H - K | L - M | N - R | S - T | U - Z

Name Authority File  II
(authority names to used names)

A - Z

Introduction & How to use the name files

About pseudonyms (1)

All the time people have used pseudonyms for various personal, political, work-related and other reasons. Renowned men of politics, letters and arts who used pseudonyms were, for example, Plato, Dante, Voltaire, Picasso, Kemal Atatürk, Brandt, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin.

In many countries, people shaping the Trotskyist movement as activists and/or writers and editors extensively have used pseudonyms, particularly during the first three decades of the movement's existence. The noticeable use of pseudonyms encountered in publications and written documents of all kind (pamphlets, articles, manuscripts, letters, minutes, proceedings, etc.) present formidable obstacles to a fuller understanding and evaluation of events and persons involved in those events, or — as a historian of the American workers' movement said — reading of such documents often has been an exercise in a kind of political cryptography.

However, it is a truism that the extensive usage of pseudonyms by Trotskyists didn't occur just for fun. Some of the main reasons why Trotskyists excessively used pseudonyms should be mentioned here: in many countries — even those with long democratic traditions (e.g. Switzerland, France, the United States) — communists, leftists, Trotskyists and other 'enemies of the system' became targets of political repression and roundups, and often they were subjected to intensive surveillance(2), blacklisting, etc. — pressures under which people used pseudonyms as defensive, self- and group-protective measures. Furthermore they sometimes had to work illegally or semi-illegally, e.g. during the years of the Second World War when a considerable number of Trotskyists were jailed or interned in France, Britain, Switzerland, the United States and other non-fascist and non-Stalinist countries, or they had to hide their international affiliations.

Trotskyists not only fell victim to Stalinist assaults and persecution as well as to fascist torture and liquidation, but also to factionalism, i.e. that they often had to face physical and otherwise attacks from within the left; they were monitored,  blacklisted or slandered by communist or socialist parties (and even by some sects calling themselves Trotskyist) as well as by crime-organized unions or they got in conflict with government loyalty oaths, etc. In face of all those troubles, repressive measures, surveillance and attacks many Trotskyists prefered to hide their identity by using pen names — some using up to 20 or 30 different alias names during the years of their activity in the Trotskyist (or, broader left) movement or when being active as Trotskyists while at the same time working on an 'entryist' basis within reformist or Stalinist parties.

During the past thirty years, however, a considerable amount of material by and about more or less prominent Trotskyists (or, ex-Trotskyists) found its way into publicly accessible archives and a good deal of those materials have been researched by scholars, biographers, etc. Thus many of the identities behind the pseudonyms have already been established as biographical facts.

Our sources

We have been gathering those facts over the years using a great variety of sources, including written biographical and autobiographical informations (published biographies, autobiographies and answers to questionnnaires), public archives and libraries (or their finding aids and catalogues, respectively), serious biographical reference works, such as the famous multi-volume Dictionnaire biographique du mouvement ouvrier franšais, probably better known as Le Maitron, the works and working tools of renowned Trotsky scholars as for example Louis Sinclair or Pierre Broué, the critical apparatuses of the various Trotsky works editions as well as a number of scholarly secondary works including published and unpublished dissertations and other university works, such as for example J.-P. Salles' excellent La Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (1968-1981) (2004). Some of the Trotskyist serials have also been used as rich sources of biographical information, and it should be mentioned that obituaries published in such serials sometimes are the only valuable sources of information when you are searching for biographical details about lesser-known  deceased Trotskyists.

Contents and scope of our name authority file

Nevertheless the Names Authority Files provided here are hardly more than indices to our biographical databases; in many cases we have voluntarily put names from this listing in order not to violate individual rights of still living persons; for similar reasons, we have listed some living persons under their pseudonym(s) although their identity is known to us. We like to emphasize that we are fully aware that this name authority list is still an incomplete one and not at all 'exhaustive' or 'final', with regard to the persons listed as well as with regard to the names and pseudonyms referenced. With these reservations in mind, we can state that at the time being these Name Authority Files containing several thousand entries or references are the most comprehensive in this field, and that we seriously have tried to avoid some of the mistakes and shortcomings which usually can be found when consulting similar tools.

Please note, that the term 'Trotskyist' has been used here in a very broad sense; thus our listing not only comprises the names of 'lifelong' Trotskyists like Mandel, Pablo, Cannon, but also the names of persons which only for a short span of time were active in the Trotskyist movement and then either dropped from politics totally or became adherents of other political currents; after having left the Trotskyist movement, some of the persons listed here became veritable rightwingers, spokesmen of conservatism, or nationalism, some others made careers as social-democratic or liberal politicians, or they became theoreticians condemning Trotskyism and all other variants of leftism. The listing also comprises a certain number of persons which can be considered as peripheral figures of the Trotskyist movement only, or as temporarily close sympathizers at best; and last not least there are listed a few persons who later became notorious as Stalinist spies, infiltrators and agents provocateurs within the Trotskyist movement, such as for example the brothers Sobolevicius, Mark Zborowski, Otto Freitag.

What is meant by "authority file"?(3)

Authority file and authority control are terms used in library and information science to describe the practice of ensuring that any term used as a catalogue entry is correlated with all other forms of that term, e.g. pseudonyms, maiden names, variant spellings, various transliterations related to a certain author. Most commonly applied to authorship details, hence the name, authority files also serve to ensure that people with the same (or, quite the same) name can be better distinguished, usually by adding their life span or year of birth or nationality. Thus, authority files chiefly function as a useful tool when books or other written documents have to be catalogued or when bibliographies, finding aids and similar repertories have to be compilated. In this connection, librarians and archivists are also commonly using related terms such as authority heading and reference. The best known publicly available name headings authority file is that run by the Library of Congress (LoC), Washington, DC, containing some 4 million personal name authority records.

There are two name file listings: Name Authority File I is arranged by 'Used names' while Name Authority File II is arranged by 'Authority names' — please find more details in the next paragraph How to use the Name Files.

How to use the Name Files  |  German text  German text

Hinweise zur Benutzung des Name Directory


(1) This paragraph of the introduction is based on Perry, Jeffrey B.: Pseudonyms : a reference aid for studying American communist history, in: American Communist History, 3.2004 (1), pp. 55-126.

(2) Thus for instance the American FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) closely watched all American Trotskyist parties and groups; e.g. they placed some 300 informers inside the SWP (Socialist Workers Party) during the 1960s and 1970s when this Trotskyist party comprised some 400 to 1.600 members. [See Wohlforth, Tim: The prophets's children, Atlantic Highlands, NJ., 1994, p. 81.]

(3) This paragraph is based upon the excellent Wikipedia article on 'Authority control'.

Wolfgang and Petra Lubitz

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