Collection consists of correspondence, business and personal records, manuscripts of Tucker's translations from Proudhon, scrapbooks, photographs, material concerning his relationship with Victoria Claflin Woodhull, and anarchist books, periodicals and pamphlets. Correspondence, some of which is in French, dates from ca. 1866 to 1950. Tucker's correspondents were friends, political colleagues, readers of Liberty, and representatives of journals, publishing houses, and various organizations. Miscellaneous papers, 1870s-1930s, include records of the Unique Bookshop, of Liberty and The Radical Review, and of Tucker's activities as a book publisher; photographs (chiefly cabinet card and carte de visite portraits) of radicals and others, notably major European cultural figures; biographical miscellany of a variety of political and cultural figures; manuscript of Tucker's autobiography; and autobiographical file with correspondence, notes, essays, and other personal papers. Scrapbooks, 1870s-1930s, contain clippings of articles on political, literary and other topics. Also, large group of anarchist books, periodicals and pamphlets, 1860s-1970s, in various languages; some engineering books; books and pamphlets published by Oriole Press; and books and other printed materials on medical matters.
The collection of photographic portraits includes many of Tucker’s correspondents, yet it cannot be determined whether Tucker assembled most of the portraits primarily before the fire that destroyed his bookshop (and offices), or after. Most of the photographs date from the end of the 19th-century, and the sitters are largely European, by European photographers; Tucker could have acquired them in Paris at any time.The portrait collection came to NYPL with Tucker’s papers, the gift of his daughter, Oriole Johnson Tucker Riché, in 1971.
Biographical/historical: Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (1854-1939), was the publisher of the influential Anarchist publication Liberty, 1881-1908, and of the short-lived quarterly Radical Review, 1877-1878; owner of the Unique Bookshop in New York; specialist in and translator of the French Anarchist philosopher Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865); and publisher of books considered radical in his day. These included Octave Mirbeau's Diary of a Chambermaid; Leo Tolstoy's The Kreutzer Sonata; Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass; Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol; Max Stirner's The Ego and His Own, Max Stirner; and works by Proudhon, George Bernard Shaw, and Emile Zola.
Born in South Dartmouth, Mass., Tucker attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1870-1873. After a period in France, Tucker settled in Boston where he began his work as an editor and publisher while earning a living as a staff member of the Boston Globe. Tucker moved to New York in 1892 and remained there until 1908 when a fire at the Unique Bookshop destroyed his entire operation. Soon after, Tucker, with his companion Pearl Johnson and their infant daughter Oriole Johnson Tucker (later Riché) moved to France. The family moved to Monaco in 1926, and Tucker died there in 1939.