After the war: Veterans and Friends of the Lincoln Brigade

During the time that the men and women of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were fighting fascism in Spain, the Friends of the ALB was formed in New York City, with roughly a dozen chapters around the country, to support the veterans and their families on the home front.  The FALB held fund-raisers and other public events to raise money for injured veterans, to support the Spanish government and other worthy causes.  Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB), on the other hand, was an organization formed by US volunteers soon after their return from Spain.

When the war ended, the FALB, having served its purpose, disbanded, and the  VALB, continued the FALB’s various activities. Immediately after its founding, VALB had begun to reach out to the larger educational, cultural, and political community. It also instituted a representative board and executive committee that included members from all constituencies with interest in the legacy of the Spanish Civil War, the International Brigades, and the antifascist struggle of the 1930s as well as politically progressive, activist struggles thereafter. Fueled by a group of dedicated veterans for more than four decades, the VALB pursued its goals – prime among them aiding refugees of the Spanish struggle and protesting against US ties to Franco – and held annual events to celebrate the actions of the veterans and keep the memory of the war alive.  Besides the main office in New York, VALB “Posts” appeared in numerous cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.

In 1979, recognizing the vital importance of their radical history, and the need to collect and preserve writings, letters, photographs, oral histories and artifacts that would preserve that history, the VALB formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA).  By the early 1990s, with the archival project well on its way and the veterans aging, ALBA began to take over the commemorative performances, helping to produce these key events telling, re-telling and contextualizing the veterans’ stories.

As an independent organization, VALB ceased to exist as of April 2008.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives

Founded in 1979 by the VALB, ALBA is a non profit national organization devoted to the preservation and dissemination of the history of the North American role in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and its aftermath. ALBA oversees a major archive at New York University’s Tamiment Library–the most comprehensive historical archive documenting the involvement of North American volunteers in the Spanish Civil War–and supports cultural and educational activities related to the war and its historical, political, artistic, and biographical legacies.

For more information about ALBA and the collection, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.