Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Spector, Norma
Norma Spector Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of papers relating to post-World War II Greek history and politics, 1940s-1970s, collected by Norma Spector in her role as the public relations liaison of the Federation of Greek Maritime Unions (FGMU) in New York City.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of papers relating to post-World War II Greek history and politics, 1940s-1970s: the Greek Civil war, detention camps for left-wing activists, international human rights efforts on behalf of Greek political prisoners and union leaders, all the way to the Greek military dictatorship. Included are letters and manuscripts in very small handwriting in the type of diaries that were smuggled out of the Gyaros detention camp dated in 1947-1955. Also present are three typescript transcriptions of handwritten letters that were smuggled out of the prison-island of Gyaros, the Athens security police station, and the island of Leros, dated 1967; personal and professional correspondence with Spector and other individuals, such as Betty Bartlett, organizations, and committees supporting the abolition of the detention camps, the re-establishment of democracy in Greece, and the defence of political prisoners. There are signed typed letters from influential people to the Prime-Ministers of Greece, Nikolaos Plastēras and Konstantinos Karamanlis as well as to other Greek politicians and a letter from Eleanor Roosevelt to a Greek woman. In addition, the collection contains flyers, pamphlets and newspapers, a typescript of a statement of Margarita Papandreou, and a typescript draft of a treatment of a documentary on the Greek struggle accompanied by a copy of a typed letter signed by Andreas Papandreou, leader of Panellēnio Apeleutherōtiko Kinēma (P.A.K.) [National Liberation Movement].


Organized into the following files: documents, correspondence, and printed matter.

Collection Creator Biography:

Spector, Norma

Norma Spector was born Norma Hanan on December 31, 1922, in New York City. Her father left the family when she was very young. Her brother was several years older than Norma, and he lost contact with the family when he left. Her mother was a garment worker and a member of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Norma's earliest memories reflect the dire poverty of her early life - moving every few months when her mother couldn't pay the rent, never having enough food in the house. Norma excelled in literature and science in public school. She attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn, where her first political activity was building support for Republican Spain's defense against Franco fascism. She worked for the International Longshore Workers Union for a time after the war. When the military junta seized power in Greece, she worked for the Greek Seamen's Union in the United States, where she lobbied state and national elected officials and other national figures to defend Greek seamen who were being persecuted here and to change government policy, which backed the Greek junta. She also helped initiate a campaign in support of the prisoners at the Makronēsos detention camp in Greece. During this period she became close friends with some of the leaders of the Greek Seamen's Union and of the Communist Party of Greece, including Tony Ambatielos and Betty Bartlett-Ambatielos. It was then when a Greek ship put in to the New York port and the ship's crew brought to the union office a cardboard box of papers wrapped in cloth. The seamen said it was from Makronēsos, one of the detention camps in Greece.

Norma met and married Harry Spector in 1952. They settled in Brooklyn and had a son and two daughters. Harry, who died in 1996, was her closest friend and biggest supporter for 44 years. In the 1960s she was active in the Brooklyn Congress on Racial Equality. Norma was one of the founders of Women Strike for Peace, which campaigned against the war in Vietnam and for nuclear disarmament, and Women for Racial and Economic Equality, which added a working-class perspective to the feminist movement. She represented both organizations at international events and met and became friends with women activists from many countries. Norma now lives in Miami, Florida. She has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Collection History


Gift of Daniel Spector to the Program in Hellenic Studies for the Princeton University Library, in 2010 (AM2011-36).


Nothing was removed from the collection.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kalliopi Balatsouka in the fall of 2010. Finding aid written by Kalliopi Balatsouka in 2010.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Norma Spector Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1