The J. Louis Engdahl Papers (6.5 linear feet) are divided into seven series: Correspondence, Writings, Chicago Socialist Trial, Scottsboro Trial, Photographs and Artwork, Personal and Memorabilia, and Printed Material.
Highlights of the collection include the letters Engdahl wrote to his wife and daughter, in which loving epithets and stories of day-to-day life mingle with accounts of his work and that of other prominent labor, socialist, and communist figures. The collection contains several pieces of Engdahl's original writings, along with numerous published works in various formats. Causes for which Engdahl fought, both on his own behalf and that of others, are documented through letters, clippings, trial transcripts, and images. Over sixty photographs, as well as various pieces of personal memorabilia, depict both family life and professional associations. Also of note is a portrait of Engdahl by the artist Mitchell Siporin.
A note on names: Throughout the collection, certain individuals are referred to by various alternate names and nicknames. Engdahl himself went by "J. Louis" or more informally, "Louis," rather than his given name of "John." Sophia Levitin Rodriguez is addressed variously as "Sophia," "Sophie," "Sonia," and even by her middle name, "Vera." As mentioned in the biographical portion of this finding aid, Pauline and Louis Engdahl's daughter is also named Pauline. To avoid confusion, within this finding aid, Engdahl's wife is referred to as "Pauline Levitin Engdahl" and their daughter as "Pauline Engdahl." Pauline Engdahl had the family nickname of "Chootch," with variants "Chootchie," "Chuche," etc.