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Strong, Anna Louise

Nebraska-born journalist Anna Louise Strong (1885-1970) was a prolific author with a wide readership. She wrote some thirty books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles on behalf of causes and ideologies to which she was sympathetic. Her travels to the Soviet Union, China, and other countries in support of communism gave her a wide circle of acquaintances on the world stage including Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, and Chou En-lai.

Miss Strong was born in Friend, Nebraska, on November 24, 1885, where her father was a Congregational minister. The family left Friend for Seattle, Washington, when she was less than two years of age. Miss Strong in 1905 was graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio at the age of nineteen. In 1908 at the age of twenty-two, she became the youngest woman ever to receive a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

After several years of involvement in leftist causes in the United States, Miss Strong went to the Soviet Union in 1921 for the American Friends relief mission. She remained there, serving as correspondent for Hearst magazines and later for the North American Newspaper Alliance. In 1930 she founded the Moscow Daily News, the first English language newspaper in the Soviet Union.

Miss Strong emerged as one of the most sympathetic and prolific writers about the Soviet Union. She also traveled extensively in China and became acquainted with Chinese leaders. Arrested and deported as an alleged spy in 1949 during the Joseph Stalin era, she was exonerated six years later.

After her expulsion from the Soviet Union, Miss Strong returned to the United States. The U.S. State Department denied her a passport in the 1950s, but she took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in her favor in 1958 and ordered the passport issued. She went to China by way of the Soviet Union.

From Beijing she issued a regular newsletter, Letter from China, which dealt with international politics. She died in 1970 at the age of eighty-four in Beijing and is buried there. A biography, Right in Her Soul: The Life of Anna Louise Strong, was published in 1984.

(July 2001)

 

 

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