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Sunrise Cooperative Farm Community records: 1933-1937
Summary Information
Title: Sunrise Cooperative Farm Community records
Creator: Sunrise Cooperative Farm Community.
Dates: 1933-1937
Extent: 2 linear feet, 2 microfilms, 1 oversize volume
Jewish settlement established during the depression in Alicia near Saginaw; include minutes and reports, newsletters, financial records, membership materials, and court papers.
Call number: 85446 Bj 2 BJ Outsize
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid created by Michigan Historical Collections staff

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The bulk of this record group came from Philip Trupin (donor no. 6638) in 1981. A letter containing remembrances came from Samuel Gonick (donor no. 3976) in 1962.

Access Restrictions:

The record group is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see:


Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Sunrise Cooperative Farm Community Records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


The Sunrise Cooperative Farm Community was founded in 1933 by New York anarchist Joseph Cohen. Located on an established, economically depressed farm near Alicia in Saginaw County, the commune was intended as a Jewish self-help agrarian colony in which everyone would work for the good of all and disparities of wealth would not exist. The membership requirements were strict and meant to insure the success of this experiment in cooperative farming. No one over age 45 were permitted to join. There would be no large families with many children, nor would conservatives, religious people, or professed communists be allowed to join. Although most members were Jewish, this was not a requirement.

The Community drew members from fourteen states. Each was required to pay a membership fee, some of which went to pay hired men needed to restore the neglected farm to commercial viability. Financial stability would always be a problem for the commune as would organizational struggles within the commune.

By 1936, many of the original members hoped to return to the cities for steadier employment opportunities. Others looked to the government's Resettlement Administration to purchase the farm and then resell it in smaller parcels with assistance given to the building of homes, barns, and fences. The sale was finalized on December 7, 1936. With the sale, a large portion of the settlers moved away. Others, who hoped to continue the communal existence, took their share of the sale and purchased a farm in Samos, Middlesex County, Virginia.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Sunrise Cooperative Farm Community records document the organization and operation of the farming community. The record group is divided into the following series: Historical/Informational; Minutes and other organizational records; Newsletters; Financial Records; Membership Materials; Topical Files; and Litigation.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Agriculture -- Michigan -- Saginaw County.
  • Alicia (Mich.)
  • Cooperative societies -- Michigan -- Saginaw County.
  • Depressions -- 1929 -- Michigan -- Saginaw County.
  • Jews -- Michigan.
  • Saginaw (Mich.)
  • Sunrise Cooperative Farm Community.
  • Abbott, Leonard Dalton, 1878-1953.
  • Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955.
  • Goldman, Emma, 1869-1940.
  • Hall, Bolton, 1854-1938.
  • Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Historical/Informational [series]
Box   1  
Retrospective articles about the cooperative 1982-1997 (scattered)
Box   1  
Historical and informational material
Minutes and other organizational records [series]
Box   1  
Constitution and by laws
Box   1  
Minutes and reports 1933
Box   1  
August-September 1933
Box   1  
October-December 1933
Box   1  
Executive Board minutes 1934-1937
Box   1  
1934-1935 (1 volume)
Oversize Volume   1  
1935-1937 (1 oversize volume)
Box   1  
Organization and regulations 1933
Box   1  
Correspondence and other miscellaneous papers (indexed correspondence)

(include telegram from Emma Goldman)

Newsletters [series]
Newsletter: Sunrise News
Box   1  
April-May 1934
Box   1  
June-July 1934
Box   1  
August-September 1934
Box   1  
October-December 1934
Box   1  
January-April 1935
Box   1  
May-July 1935
Box   1  
August-December 1935
Box   1  
Newsletter: Out at Sunrise 1936
Box   1  
Newsletters (Sunrise schools)
Box   1  
Miscellanea (Sunrise schools)
Financial records [series]
Box   1  
Weekly cash statements January-June 1936
Box   1  
Weekly cash statements July 1936-January 1937
Box   1  
Audit and financial reports 1933
Box   1  
Audit and financial reports 1934
Box   1  
Audit and financial reports 1935
Box   1  
Financial difficulties (3 folders)
Box   1  
Miscellaneous (2 folders)
Membership material [series]
Box   2  
Applications (6 folders)
Box   2  
Membership lists
Box   2  
Admission Committee (Charles Maley, Chairman)
Box   2  
Admission correspondence
Topical files [series]
Box   2  
Anniversary correspondence 1934-1935

(includes Albert Einstein letter)

Cohen Joseph

(founder and secretary of the Cooperative)

Box   2  
Copies of writings of anarchists for social credo series
Box   2  
Letters from individuals discussing their social credos (indexed correspondence)

(include brief letters from Upton Sinclair and Bolton Hall)

Box   2  
Dissolution of Cooperative
Box   2  
Factionalism and administrative reorganization (3 folders)
Land and property
Box   2  
Warranty deeds, mortgages
Box   2  
Property (non real estate) acquisition
Box   2  
Sunrise Schools miscellaneous
Virginia Sunrise Cooperative
Box   2  
Box   2  
Minutes and financial statement
Box   2  
Box   2  
Wolverine Cooperative Exchange
Litigation [series]
Box   2  
Court case: Sanders vs. Sunrise Cooperative
Sanders vs. Sunrise Coop. August 1936

(microfilm no. BJ)

Roll   1  
Roll   2  
Roll   2  
Roll   2  
Decision in Sanders case