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Clara Colón Papers

Identifier: MSS 2

Scope and Contents

The Clara Colón Papers are a valuable resource for examining the relationship between the communist movement in the United States and the independence of Puerto Rico, as well as Puerto Rican and Black participation in the CPUSA. They also contain information about political persecution, feminism and trade-unionism.

Most of the materials date from the 1950s-1970s. The types of documents include manuscripts, notes, letters, press releases, programs, flyers and newspaper clippings. The folders are arranged alphabetically and the materials are in chronological order.


  • 1932-1970
  • Majority of material found within 1960s


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

Clara Colón (nee Bertha Teplow) was a feminist writer and activist of Ukrainian-Jewish background. For more than thirty years, she was a member of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) and served on the Party's National Committee. She was committed to social justice and fought against political persecution in the United States. Colón also participated in numerous feminist and labor organizations and was active in the struggles for civil rights and for women's rights in New York City, as well as at national and international levels. She was married to the Puerto Rican, Jesús Colón, a community organizer, political activist and writer.

Born in the city of Kiev to Isaac David Teplow and Polly Bookchin, Colón gave May 1, 1908 as her date of birth. The family had one other child a son, William. The Teplow family left Ukraine and immigrated to the United States, settling in Massachusetts. The exact date of Clara Colón's arrival in the U.S. is unknown, but her father was naturalized as a U.S. citizen on September 17, 1918.

After obtaining a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Boston University, she pursued further studies in linguistics and literary translation. The onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s forced her to interrupt her studies and to seek employment as a clerk in various business firms and organizations. As a militant member of the CPUSA she was active in the South during the politically repressive McCarthy era. In the late 1950s she was called to testify before the Johns Committee in Florida which was looking for ties between the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the CPUSA. She was also the secretary of the Gus Hall-Benjamin J. Davis Defense Committee established to defend the victims of the McCarran Act, which authorized the investigation of individuals suspected of membership in the CPUSA. In New York, Colón taught at the Center for Marxist Studies.

Teplow married her second husband Jésus Colón, the Puerto Rican activist and writer, on May 21, 1960 and took his name. Because she was proficient in written and spoken Spanish, she was able to work effectively with the Partido Comunista Puertorriqueño, the Puerto Rican independence movement and the Puerto Rican community in New York.

Clara Colón was a member of the Women's International Democratic Federation and other women's organizations. In May 1966 she visited the Soviet Union and was a special guest at Moscow's celebration of International Workers Day. A prolific writer, she contributed numerous articles and reports to publications such as the New World Review, Political Affairs and The Daily World. Among her published works are the books: An Outline on the Fight for Women's Freedom (1969) and Equality for Working Women (1970). Toward the end of her life, she wrote a book titled Enter Fighting: Today's Woman (1970), a political manifesto about women's rights and feminism from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.

Clara Colón died on May 6, 1970 in Adelphi Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. Her collection offers insight into her life as an activist for the rights of women as well as for political rights.


1.44 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Spanish; Castilian


Political activist, feminist, and writer. Resource for examining the Communist Party of the United States of America and the independence movement of Puerto Rico as well as political persecution, feminism and trade-unionism. Collection consists of manuscripts, notes, letters, press releases, programs, flyers and newspapers clippings.


The folders are arranged alphabetically and the materials are in chronological order.

The collection is devided into 6 series:

I. Biographical and Personal Information

II. Correspondence

III. Writings

IV. Organizations

V. Subject Files

VI. Clippings

Other Finding Aids

English / Spanish bilingual finding aid available (see External Documents).

Related Materials

The Clara Colón Papers complement the Jesús Colón Papers, which is part of the Centro Archives.

Clara Colón Papers
Ismael García with the assistance of Izzy De Moya, Damary González, Myrna Tinoco y Noelia Urbano
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Processed with a grant from The National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Funding was also provided by a congressional directed initiative sponsored by Congressman José Serrano and administered by the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Revision Statements

  • 2005: Guide was revised in 2005 by Pedro Juan Hernández and Nélida Pérez.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora Repository

Silberman Building, Hunter College
2180 Third Ave. Rm. 122
New York New York 10065

About the Collections

Our collections consist of personal papers from prominent Puerto Rican artists, elected officials, social activists, writers, as well as the records of community-based organizations. Our largest collection, the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States (OGPRUS) Records, measures approximately 2,900 cubic feet and contains an extraordinary amount of information regarding Puerto Rican migrants and the government institutions established to assist them. The collections date from the 1890s to the present, and document Puerto Rican communities in the Northeast, Midwest, Florida, California and Hawaii.