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Spanish Civil War

This guide highlights some of the resources available in Special Collections on the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

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Chloe Gerson
Chloe Gerson, Reference and Instruction Archivist
Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections, Goldfarb Library
Brandeis University
415 South St.
Waltham, MA 02453

Spanish Civil War materials in Special Collections

Brandeis University Special Collections holds a wide range of materials on the Spanish Civil War, a conflict that many historians consider to be the prelude to World War II. The Spanish Civil War began in 1936 with the far-right Nationalists’ attempted coup of Spain’s leftist, duly elected Republican government; it ended in 1939, after much bloodshed, with a Nationalist victory, Spain under the leadership of Franco, and an alliance of right-wing Spanish political parties.

Special Collections holds more than 5,000 books and pamphlets pertaining to various aspects of the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish exiles, and the Franco regime, as well as literary works pertaining to the conflict. The collection also contains manuscript collections, photographs, videos, microfilm reels, and oral histories, as well as more than 250 richly illustrated propaganda posters.

Periodicals, Books, and Pamphlets


The Spanish Civil War Periodicals collection contains nearly 400 titles, including newspapers, magazines, bulletins, newsletters, and journals, in several languages, from the 1930s to the present. The publications originate from Spain, various European nations, and the United States, and they detail the politics, economics, and military and social effects and policies of the Spanish Civil War on Spain and the international community. Many of the publications are the official journals or newsletters of particular political or military groups, and thus offer focused insights into numerous sides of the conflict. In addition, later publications offer perspective on the continued memory of the war in Spain, in veterans’ collective consciousness, and abroad. Authors include numerous unknowns as well as notables such as Jef Last, Leon Trotsky, Upton Sinclair, Ed DeNeve (Willem Johan Marie “Jean” Lenglet), Nico Rost, Jacques Bardoux, and Antonio Machado. For more information, check out the Spotlight Blog Post.

Books and Pamphlets

Try an Advanced Search in OneSearch. Enter "Spanish Civil War collection" in the "Anywhere in record" field and then sort the results by Title or Author.

For additional sources on this topic, search the following catalog entries in the Brandeis University libraries' online catalog, OneSearch:
Subject Search: Spain--History--Civil War, 1936-1939

Manuscript and Photograph collections

Manuscript Collections

Brandeis's manuscript collections include the Hugo Oehler collection (read more in the Spotlight blog post) and the Gonzales Malo papers (this collection is unprocessed; please contact the department for more information).

Photograph Collections

The Charles Korvin Photograph Collection contains more than two hundred original photographs of the Spanish Civil War, printed in Paris circa 1937-38. Charles Korvin was an actor, photographer, and documentary filmmaker best known for his recurring role in the 1950s television series "Zorro."  The bulk of the Korvin photograph collection may possibly be the still images taken during the preparation and filming of the documentary Heart of Spain. The photos document the military, medical, and social impact of the Spanish Civil War. Specific focus is placed on doctors (especially Dr. Norman Bethune), hospitals, and medical procedures. However, the photographs provide a broad overview of the war including bombings, political demonstrations, entertainment, and military training. A finding aid is available here, and a Special Collections Spotlight on the collection is available here.


Oral History collection

The Harriman Oral History collection contains 16 boxes of videotaped oral history interviews with more than 150 Abraham Lincoln Brigade veterans and their families and friends. Another set of these interviews is held by the Tamiment Library at New York University. Please contact the department for more information about the collection.

Poster collection

The collection includes more than 250 anti-Fascist posters, sent or brought home by American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. To see images of the poster collection, please visit the DeisGallery.  For more information about the collection, there is also a checklist of the posters and a Special Collections Spotlight blog post about the poster collection.