Remembering Harry Kelly

A fundraising campaign has been started to buy a new gravestone for Harry Kelly: American anarchist, printer, lecturer, Modern School worker …

It would hardly be possible to enumerate all the occasions on which Kelly participated during the years he spent in the revolutionary movement, at protest meetings, in strikes and demonstrations; and, in the all too often underestimated work of organizing, he always stands in the forefront. A staunch friend of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman be worked with these comrades through many years, ere our wise rulers made the decision to deport them from the shores of America to Soviet Russia on the day of the tercentenary of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers from the Mayflower. We humans realize only a small part of our dreams; Kelly is fortunate to have realized one of his supreme dreams: a social community and a school for children of proletarian parents in the country, far from the nerveracking influence of the modern city.” (From Harry Kelly, an appreciation by Hippolyte Havel)

Kelly was a great starter of colonies. The constitution of the Mohegan Modern School Association gives a flavour of their aims:

We are organizing this settlement in the hope that we may free ourselves and our children from at least some of the diseases of city life; to give free rein to our thoughts and ideals; to offer our children a libertarian education which will fit them to be fighters for a better world.” [Harry Kelly “On the constitution”, Colony News, August 23, 1935. quoted in Avrich, The Modern School Movement p290.]

The best source for the life of Harry Kelly is Paul Avrich’s The Modern School Movement : anarchism and education in the United States. His unpublished autobiography, Roll back the years : odyssey of a libertarian, is in the Tamiment Library (New York). His essay ‘An Anarchist in the Making’ is available online at

You can contribute to the campaign at (open until October 29, 2013) [update: fundraising complete!]