The Family Letters of Victor and Meta Berger, 1894-1929

By Michael E. Stevens (Editor)

Hardcover: $24.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-277-3

448 pages, 4 b/w photos and illus., 6 x 9"


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This collection of letters exchanged between Socialist Congressman and newspaper editor Victor Berger and his wife, Meta, a Milwaukee school board member and UW Regent, provides an insider's view of state and national politics. Additionally, the collection serves as a glimpse into the marriage and family life of a prominent Wisconsin couple. Whether discussing women's suffrage, the Russian Revolution, or colleagues such as Eugene Debs, Carl Sandburg, and Lincoln Steffens, the Bergers wrote both as interested observers and as actors who sought to shape events. The book was first published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press in 1995 and was brought back to print in 2016 with this edition.
Michael Stevens earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the former State Historic Preservation Officer at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

"You may rest assured that I shall do nothing but what is right and honorable — and for the best of all people, as I see it. Therefore, even, if I should have to go to prison for my principles — you must not consider that a disgrace." —Victor Berger, 1917

"I told them that I was opposed to this war. They said 'yes but now we are in it, now we can't help ourselves.' Whereupon I replied, 'Oh yes you can. If you gave voice to the things that are in your heart & in every body's heart, popular opinion would soon turn the tide. The trouble is, all are afraid that they will be considered unpatriotic.'" —Meta Berger, 1917

"Well, sometimes, I begin to think as you do, i.e. that I am a fool who to a certain extent has thrown his life away on a "mirage." ...I am not as cock-sure as I used to be about my own belief in Socialism. Capitalism is bad and is daily becoming more impossible — but ... Communism would mean a new form of slavery." —Victor Berger, 1919

"Our main fight out to be to fight poverty — the utter poverty of 4/5 of the nation. Poverty, the mother of ignorance, crime, disease, — of dirt and of misery. We ought to have an old age pension bill — do something to help the housing situation — about child labor which is increasing on an enormous scale — amend the Volstead act — and prepare for the next industrial crisis etc." —Victor Berger, 1924

"Like wine, age improves my love for you. Doris & I talked of my love for you today — I agreed heartily that if I had a chance I'd marry you all over again." —Meta Berger, 1928