Charles Pergler Papers

Charles Pergler (1882 - 1954) was a major figure in the Czechoslovakian independence movement in the United States at the time of the First World War; he served in the Czechoslovakian foreign service and as a member of that government's parliament. He eventually settled down to teach law in Washington, D. C.

Charles Pergler was born Karel Pergler in 1882 in Liblin, Bohemia, at that time a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Pergler's family immigrated to Chicago in 1890 where he graduated from high school. After the death of his father in 1896, he and his mother moved back to Bohemia, where Charles eventually ended up in Prague. In Prague Pergler worked as a clerk in a small press firm, and he soon became involved with the Democratic Socialist and the anti-Austrian movements taking place there. This may have been the most important period in Pergler's intellectual development, and he writes about it in an essay of his life (Folder 33). In 1903 Pergler decided to return to the United States for a while in order to study law and to get involved in the Socialist and Czech nationalist movements there.

In Chicago Pergler began working at Spravedlnost, a local Czech language newspaper, and in 1905 began courses at Kent College of Law. After receiving his LL.B. from Kent in 1908, Pergler moved to Howard County, Iowa where he practiced law until 1917. During this period Pergler was active in the movement "to free peoples oppressed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire," which accellerated at the outbreak of the First World War. In this collection Pergler's correspondence from 1915 to 1918 shows him especially active in lobbying efforts to plead the Bohemian cause, especially in the form of keeping an active eye on the American English and Czech language presses, and later as the head of the newly formed Slav Press Bureau (founded in May, 1918). We also see Pergler's close involvement in the Bohemian National Alliance and the Bohemian Chapter of the Socialist Party of America.

In October, 1918 the Czechoslovak Republic proclaimed its independence, and Charles Pergler was appointed the first Ambassador to the United States from the new state. At this point Pergler did much to keep the state alive during the final year of the First World War by keeping in close contact with the U. S. Senate and working out loans to Czechoslovakia from the United States.

In 1920 Pergler became Czechoslovakia's first Ambassador to Japan. Among other projects, Pergler was to work with the Soviet government on the release of Czech prisoners of war still being held in Chita and Vladivostock in Siberia. During Pergler's year in Tokyo, however, a scandal emerged which would trouble Pergler for the rest of his career in Czechoslovakian government. Antonin Novak, an assistant to the delegation to Japan, began embezzling large sums of money from the embassy's budget. When Prague telegrammed Pergler to fire Novak and have him sent back to Prague, Novak intercepted the communications, preventing Pergler from knowing Prague's position on the issue. In March, 1921 Novak left Tokyo for the United States with a large sum of money from the Czech embassy, and Pergler did not know about the fraud until after Novak had departed. Pergler was immediatley relieved of his position, and his pension as a retired member of the foreign service was taken away.

Pergler returned to Washington, D. C. and studied law at American University, where he obtained his LL.M. in 1924. He then became the Washington Representative for the Czechoslovak National Council of America until 1927. After further work at the National University College of Law in Washington, Pergler received an honorary LL.D. from the University in 1928.

In 1929 Pergler returned to Prague and was elected to Czechoslovakia's parliament, in which he served from 1929 to 1931. Pergler soon ran into disagreement with Tomas Masaryk, the President of the Republic, and Eduard Benes, the Minister of Foreign Affairs who had fired Pergler nearly ten years before from the ambassadorship to Japan. Pergler was shocked by the censorship imposed by Masaryk and Benes in Prague and began to lead an inquiry into the source of Masaryk and Benes' sudden wealth after the First World War. Pergler was removed from the parliament in 1931, but was immediatley elected to the Prague city council. At this point Masaryk and Benes had Pergler expelled from Czechslovakia, claiming that he was not rightfully a citizen of the country because of his time spent in the United States and claiming that Pergler had lied about his place of birth. A set of legal documents in Czech in this collection show Pergler's battle in the Czechoslovak courts attempting unsuccessfully to reclaim his rights while he was living in Washington, D. C. (Folder 34).

From 1933 to 1936, Pergler was dean of the School of Economics and Government at National University, and later the dean of the National University College of Law (now the National Law Center at George Washington University), from 1936 to 1946. He was also a lecturer at Catholic University of America and American University in constitutional law. Pergler then worked as Special Advisor to the Military Government, Korea from 1946 to 1948. Charles Pergler wrote a number of books during his lifetime, most of which were on Czechoslovakian history or international law: The Czechslovak State (1919), Towards the National State (1920?), America in the Struggle for Czechoslovak Independence (1926) and The American Constitutional System (1929) all in Prague; and Judicial Interpretation of International Law in the United States (1928) in the U. S. He also contributed to a number of law journals and reviews. Charles Pergler died in Washington, D. C. in August, 1954.

The Charles Pergler Papers comprise 1.5 linear feet of material consisting of correspondence, legal documents, clippings, ephemera, diaries and other materials arranged in 39 folders in 1 box.

* * * * * * *

Number of Boxes: 1
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
Provenance: Gift of Antonin S. Kalina
Date Span: 5 Nov 1896 - 5 Jul 1950
Processed by: Michael J. North
Date: 23 May, 1989

* * * * * * *

Abbreviations

ACS .......................... Autograph Card, signed by the author
ALS .......................... Autograph Letter, signed by the author
BNA .......................... Bohemian National Alliance
CP .......................... Charles Pergler
SPA .......................... Socialist Party of America
TLS .......................... Typed Letter, signed by the author
TMs .......................... Typed Manuscript, signed by the author

Box 1 Folder 1
Correspondence, March - June, 1915
Date span: 30 Mar 1915 - 25 Jun 1915
Description: 6 letters to CP with carbons from CP mostly in Czech, mostly discussing a trip to Chicago by CP, the BNA and the the SPA. 2 TLSs from Joseph Novak at SPA, 2 TLSs from Joseph Tvrzicky at BNA.


Box 1 Folder 2
Correspondence, July - September, 1915
Date span: 18 Jul 1915 - 30 Sep 1915
Description: 11 letters to CP with carbons from CP, many in Czech, regarding Bohemia in the American media. 4 TLSs from Anna Tvrzicka and 2 TLSs from Joseph Tvrzicky at BNA, 1 TLS from Josef Novak at SPA and 1 carbon of a letter to Sir Gilbert Parker.


Box 1 Folder 3
Correspondence, October 1915
Date span: 1 Oct 1915 - 26 Oct 1915
Description: 4 letters to CP with carbons from CP, mostly in English, mainly discussing Bohemia in the British and American press. 1 TLS from Sir Gilbert Parker, 1 TLS from Mabel L. Hyers of the Woman's Peace Party, 1 TLS from Vojta Benes, 1 TLS from Jane Addams. Includes the following item:
TLS from Jane Addams at Hull House to CP, 1 p.
15 Oct 1915


Box 1 Folder 4
Correspondence, November - December, 1915
Date span: 6 Nov 1915 - 24 Dec 1915
Description: 14 letters to CP with carbons from CP, many in Czech, mostly discussing Bohemia in the American press. 1 TLS from the New Review, 1 ALS from Vojta Benes, 3 ALSs from Joseph Tvrzicky at BNA and 1 TLS from Sir Gilbert Parker.

Box 1 Folder 5
Correspondence, January - March, 1915
Date span: 1 Jan 1916 - 31 Mar 1916
Description: 22 letters to CP with carbons from CP, many in Czech, mostly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 4 TLSs from Joseph Tvrzicky at BNA and 4 TLSs from Vojta Benes.


Box 1 Folder 6
Correspondence, April - June, 1916
Date span: 1 Apr 1916 - 30 Jun 1916
Description: 21 letters to CP with carbons from CP, many in Czech, mostly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 1 TLS from Joseph Tvrzicky at BNA, 2 copies of telegrams to Emanuel Voska, 4 TLSs from Josef Novak at SPA, 1 ALS from Vojta Benes and 1 TLS from Sir Gilbert Parker.


Box 1 Folder 7
Correspondence, July - September, 1916
Date span: 2 Jul 1916 - 28 Sep 1916
Description: 15 letters to CP with carbons from CP, many in Czech, mostly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 1 TLS Joseph Tvrzicky and 2 TLSs Ludvic Fisher at BNA, 1 TLS Josef Novak at SPA, 1 ACS Tomas Masaryk, 1 TLS David Starr Jordan and 1 TLS Vojta Benes. Includes the following item:
ACS from Tomas Masaryk to CP, 1 p.
8 Aug 1916


Box 1 Folder 8
Correspondence, October - December, 1916
Date span: 3 Oct 1916 - 29 Dec 1916
Description: 29 letters to CP with carbons from CP, many in Czech, mostly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 3 ALSs from Joseph Tvrzicky at BNA, 1 TLS from Sir Gilbert Parker, 1 TLS from Nova Doba, 3 ALSs from Vojta Benes, 3 TLSs Ludvic Fisher and 1 TLS The New Republic.


Box 1 Folder 9
Correspondence, January, 1917
Date span: 2 Jan 1917 - 26 Jan 1917
Description: 15 letters to CP with carbons from CP, many in Czech, mostly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 2 TLSs from Revolucni Vyzva, 1 TLS from L. S. Rowe, 1 ALS from Karel Horky and 1 TLS from The New Republic.


Box 1 Folder 10
Correspondence, February, 1917
Date span: 3 Feb 1917 - 28 Feb 1917
Description: 15 letters to CP with carbons from CP, many in Czech, mostly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 1 ALS from Ludvic Fisher at BNA, 3 ALSs from Vojta Benes, 1 TLS from The New Republic, 1 TLS Tony Novotny at SPA, 1 ALS from Nova Doba and 1 TLS from L. S. Rowe.


Box 1 Folder 11
Correspondence, March, 1917
Date span: 1 Mar 1917 - 31 Mar 1917
Description: 13 letters to CP with carbons from CP, mostly in English, mainly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 4 TLSs from Revolucni Vyzva, 2 TLSs from J. F. Smetanka at the Bohemian Review, 1 ALS from Joseph Tvrzicky, 1 TLS Tony Novotny of SPA and 1 TLS L. S.Rowe.


Box 1 Folder 12
Correspondence, April, 1917
Date span: 1 Apr 1917 - 30 Apr 1917
Description: 5 letters to CP with carbons from CP, mostly in English, mainly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 1 ALS from J. Vanacek at BNA, 1 TLS from L. S. Rowe and 1 TLS from Joseph Tvrzicky.


Box 1 Folder 13
Correspondence, May, 1917 & Misc. 1917
Date span: 1 May 1917 - 6 May 1917
Description: 24 letters to CP with carbons from CP, mostly in English, mainly regarding Bohemia in the American press. 12 ACSs Vojta Benes, 1 TLS Charles Sloan, 1 TLS J. F. Smetanka at BNA, 3 ALSs Ludvic Fisher, 1 ALS Josef Martinek at the Bohemian Socialistic Printing & Publishing Co.


Box 1 Folder 14
Correspondence, 1919 - 1929
Date span: 14 Mar 1919 - 21 Oct 1929
Description: 13 letters to CP with carbons from CP, mostly in English, mostly discussing CP's feud with Eduard Benes and a libel suit filed by CP against Spravedlnost and Norod. 2 ALSs from Rev. Oldrich Zlamal and 2 carbons of a letter from CP to Eduard Benes.


Box 1 Folder 15
Correspondence, 1930's & 1950
Date span: 12 Dec 1931 - 5 [Jul ]1950
Description: 8 letters to CP with carbons from CP, mostly in Czech, many discussing CP's problems with the Czechoslovakian government and his career in the U. S.


Box 1 Folder 16
Correspondence, Undated
Date span: undated
Description: 12 letters to CP, mostly in Czech. 1 TLS from Joseph Tvrzicky at BNA and 4 ALSs from Vojta Benes.


Box 1 Folder 17
Slav Press Bureau, Diary, June 1917 - Jan. 1918
Date span: 1 Jun 1917 - 4 Jan 1918
Description: Bound diary of the Slav Press Bureau handwritten by Mary Kazamek. Consists of detailed discussion of the Bureau's founding, goals, philosphies and reactions to events in Europe and America. References to CP, Emanuel V. Voska and Robert Lansing.


Box 1 Folder 18
Slav Press Bureau, Diary, April 1918 - August 1919
Date span: 16 Apr 1918 - 9 Aug 1919
Description: Diary of the Slav Press Bureau in ringed binder, typewritten by Mary Kazamek. Contains detailed discussion of the Bureau's activities, goals, philosophies and reaction to events in America and Europe. References to CP, Tomas Masaryk and Emanuel V. Voska.


Box 1 Folder 19
Slav Press Bureau, Accounts, October 1918 - June 1919
Date span: 1 Oct 1918 - 30 Jun 1919
Description: Account leger for the Slav Press Bureau. Includes numerous references to CP's expenses.


Box 1 Folder 20
Slav Press Bureau, Accounts, November 1918 - April 1919
Date span: 1 Nov 1918 - 30 Apr 1919
Description: Account leger for the Slav Press Bureau. Includes numerous references to CP's expenses.


Box 1 Folder 21
Slav Press Bureau, Bank Records, 1918 - 1919
Date span: Jan 1918 - 16 Dec 1919
Description: Bank book and cancelled checks for the Slav Press Bureau, Charles Pergler, treasurer.


Box 1 Folder 22
U.S. Senate, Correspondence, etc.
Date span: 6 Oct 1914 - 25 Nov 1920
Description: 10 reports and letters regarding CP's lobbying efforts in the U.S. Senate to have Czechoslovakia's independence recognized and supported. CP's main contact in the Senate was Senator Medill McCormick of Illinois.


Box 1 Folder 23
Czechoslovakian Embassy to the U.S., 1918 - 1920
Date span: 15 Nov 1918 - 7 Oct 1920
Description: 9 memoranda and documents regarding CP's Ambassadorship to the U.S. for the new Czechoslovakian government. Includes CP's commission signed by Tomas Masaryk and Eduard Benes and some accounting figures. Includes the following items:
TDS in Czech signed by Tomas Masaryk and Eduard Benes, 1 p.
9 Oct 1919
TLS in English signed by Tomas Masaryk for CP, 1 p.
15 Nov 1918


Box 1 Folder 24
Czechoslovakian National Debt to the U.S.
Date span: 8 Oct 1918 - 13 Oct 1925
Description: 34 carbons of letters between Czech. and U.S. officials regarding the Czech. National Debt to the U.S., which began at $7 million in 1918 and became $185 million by 1925. 1 copy of a letter from Tomas Masaryk; carbons of letters from the U.S. Treasury Dept. and the American Relief Administration.


Box 1 Folder 25
Czechoslovakian Embassy to Japan, 1919 - 1921
Date span: 5 Oct 1919 - 5 Jan 1922
Description: A large group of documents, mostly in Czech, regarding CP's Ambassadorship to Japan for Czech. from February, 1920 to March, 1921. Includes 2 documents from Eduard Benes and some financial records. (For materials on China, Siberian talks and Novak see Box 1, Folders 26 - 28). Includes the following items:
TDS in Czech signed by Eduard Benes, 1 p.
undated
TDS in English signed by Eduard Benes, 1 p.
undated


Box 1 Folder 26
Czechoslovakian Delegation to China, 1920 - 1921
Date span: 8 Aug 1920 - 25 Mar 1921
Description: 9 documents, mostly in Czech, mainly consisting of reports on Sino-Czechoslovakian relations while CP was Ambassador to Japan for Czechoslvakia.


Box 1 Folder 27
Siberia Talks re Czech Prisoners, 1919 - 1921
Date span: 6 Feb 1919 - 6 Apr 1921
Description: 16 items, mostly in Czech, mainly consisting of typed copies of telegrams between Czech. government representatives (such as CP in Tokyo) and Soviet Siberian officials regarding the release of Czech. prisoners being held in Chita and Vladivostok.


Box 1 Folder 28
Antonin Novak Affair, 1919 - 1923
Date span: 7 Oct 1919 - 3 Apr 1923
Description: A large group of documents regarding a scandal surrounding Antonin Novak, Secretary of the Czech. Legation in Japan while CP was Ambassador there. Includes articles in Narod and Zajmy Lidu, Novak's diplomatic passport and an extensive report in Czech.


Box 1 Folder 29
Silesia: Polish-Czechoslovakian Relations, 1918 - 1920
Date span: 21 Jan 1919 - 27 Dec 1920
Description: 6 reports on the situation in Silesia and Polish-Czechoslovakian relations between 1918 and 1920.


Box 1 Folder 30
Czechoslovak Foreign Relations in Europe, 1919 - 1920
Date span: 13 Feb 1919 - 27 Dec 1920
Description: 15 documents and reports, mostly in Czech, regarding Czech. relations with other European nations including France, Italy, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary, Russia and Yugoslavia. Reference to the Treaty of St. Germain.


Box 1 Folder 31
Manuscripts - English
Date span: 29 May 1917 - 31 Jul 1924
Description: 34 TMss of essays on various topics, most of them probably by CP. Includes many press releases by the Slav Press Bureau and titles such as "The Creation of Greater Rumania", "Hungary's Racial Policy" and "The Russian Revolution".


Box 1 Folder 32
Manuscripts - Czech
Date span: 19 Sep 1919 - 7 Mar 1933
Description: 18 TMss of essays on various topics, most of them probably by CP. Includes titles such as "Japonsko a Zapad", "Konis kapitoly neusavrene knihy" and "Ameriky muz bez vlasti".


Box 1 Folder 33
Charles Pergler - Biographical Information
Date span: 19 Apr 1919
Description: Biographical materials on CP including a large photograph, several curricula vitae, a 9 page essay on CP by a colleague and a 75 page essay by CP on his life from his birth to his appointment as Ambassador to the U. S. in 1918.


Box 1 Folder 34
Czechoslovakian Court Documents - Pergler Case
Date span: 28 Jul 1931 - 1 May 1936
Description: 23 documents, all in Czech, regarding CP's legal battle with the Czechoslovakian government to serve in its parliament. There is much discussion of CP's diplomatic career and especially of the Antonin Novak affair.


Box 1 Folder 35
Charles Pergler - Personal Documents
Date span: 5 Nov 1896 - 1932
Description: 8 personal documents of CP, many in Czech, including an income tax return from 1931, a lease agreement for an Iowa farm (1926) and a List domovsky (document of residence) from the Austrian government (1896).


Box 1 Folder 36
Charles Pergler - Diaries
Date span: 12 Feb 1920 - 31 Dec 1920
Description: A typewritten diary kept by CP during 1920 and a book of notes and quotations kept by CP during an unknown period.


Box 1 Folder 37
Clippings - English
Date span: 5 Jun 1916 - 26 May 1936
Description: Newsclippings in English mostly regarding CP and Czechoslovakian affairs.


Box 1 Folder 38
Clippings - Czech
Date span: 5 Oct 1915 - 3 May 1936
Description: Newsclippings in Czech mostly regarding Czechoslovakian affairs.


Box 1 Folder 39
Charles Pergler - Ephemera
Date span: 14 Jan 1917 - 20 Mar 1926
Description: 9 pieces of ephemera regarding CP including flyers for speeches given by CP and a fraternity membership certificate.


INDEX


Addams, Jane corresp. 1: 3

American Relief Administration corresp. 1: 24

Benes, Eduard
- corresp. 1: 14
- documents 1: 23
- 1: 25

Benes, Vojta
- corresp. 1: 3 - 1:6
- 1: 8
- 1: 10
- 1: 13
- 1: 16

Bohemian Socialistic Printing & Pub. Co.
- corresp. 1: 13

Bohemian National Alliance
- corresp. 1: 1 - 1: 2
- 1: 4 - 1: 7
- 1: 12
- 1: 16


Bohemian Review
- corresp. 1: 11

Bulgaria-Czechoslovakia relations 1: 30

China, Embassy to documents 1: 26

Chita prisoners reference 1: 27

Elias, B. M. corresp. 1: 25

Fisher, Ludvic
- corresp. 1: 7 - 1: 8
- 1: 10
- 1: 13

France-Czechoslovakia relations 1: 30

Horky, Karel corresp. 1: 9

Hungary-Czechoslovakia relations 1: 30

Hyers, Mabel L. corresp. 1: 3

Italy-Czechoslovakia realtions 1: 30

Japan, Embassy to documents 1: 25 - 1: 28

Kazamek, Mary
- corresp. 1: 23
- diary 1: 17 - 1: 18

Lansing, Robert reference 1: 17

Martinek, Josef corresp. 1: 13

Masaryk, Tomas
- corresp. 1: 7
- 1: 24
- documents 1: 23

McCormick, Medill corresp. 1: 22


Narod
- clippings 1: 28
- reference 1: 14

National Debt, Czech. reference 1: 24


New Republic, The
- corresp. 1: 8 - 1: 10


New Review
- corresp. 1: 4


Nova Doba
- corresp. 1: 8
- 1: 10

Novak, Antonin
- documents 1: 28
- reference 1: 34

Novak, Josef
- corresp. 1: 1
- 1: 6
- 1: 7

Novotny, Tony
- corresp. 1: 10
- 1: 11

Parker, Sir Gilbert
- corresp. 1: 2 - 1: 4
- 1: 6
- 1: 8

Pergler, Charles
- biog. materials 1: 33
- clippings 1: 37
- 1: 38
- corresp. 1: 1 - 1: 16
- 1: 22
- diaries 1: 36
- documents 1: 23 - 1: 28
- 1: 34
- 1: 35
- ephemera 1: 39
- mss. 1: 31 - 1: 33
- photo 1: 33
- reference 1: 17 - 1: 21

Poland-Czechoslovakia relations 1: 29


Revolucni Vyzva
- corresp. 1: 9
- 1: 11

Rowe, L. S.
- corresp. 1: 9
- 1: 12

Siberia talks reference 1: 27

Silesia reference 1: 29

Slav Press Bureau
- accounts 1: 19 - 1: 21
- diary 1: 17
- 1: 18
- press releases 1: 31

Sloan, Charles corresp. 1: 13

Smetanka, J. F.
- corresp. 1: 11
- 1: 13

Socialist Party of America
- corresp. 1: 1 - 1: 2
- 1: 6 - 1: 7
- 1: 10 - 1: 11


Spravedlnost
- reference 1: 14

Treasury Department corresp. 1: 24

Tvrzicka, Anna corresp. 1: 2

Tvrzicky, Joseph
- corresp. 1: 1 - 1: 2
- 1: 4 - 1: 8
- 1: 11 - 1: 12
- 1: 16

U.S.S.R.-Czechoslovakia relations
- 1: 27
- 1: 30

United States, Embassy to documents 1: 23

United States Senate corresp. 1: 22

Vanacek, J. corresp. 1: 12

Vladivostok reference 1: 27

Voska, Emanuel
- corresp. 1: 6
- reference 1: 17
- 1: 18

Woman's Peace Party corresp. 1: 3

Yugoslavia-Czechoslovakia relations 1: 30

Zamjy Lidu
- clippings 1: 28

Zlamal, Rev. Oldrich corresp. 1: 14


Return to Collection List
Return to Finding Aids
Return to Special Collections Home Page