Harry Canter

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David and Harry Canter

Harry Jacob Canter was a member of the International Typographical Union, and Secretary of Local 16, Chicago.[1] He was also an activist with the Industrial Workers of the World.

He was the father of David Canter, and grandfather of Marc Canter, and Evan Canter.

He died in 1971.


Harry Jacob Canter was one of the eleven children of Simon Cantorovich. The family came to England from Russia some time in the 1880s. Harry was the first one to go to school.

The family story is that his teacher told Harry that his name was too long, so it would be shortened and spelled Canter—as in The Canterbury Tales.

He became a printer. On ships. That is, he printed the shipboard newspapers and menus.

Eventually, Harry Canter landed in Boston—illegally, after jumping ship. There he married Anna Star (Starselski), a Russian-born dentist, and he became involved in progressive activities. At the time of the Sacco- Vanzetti trial in 1921, he represented the Communist Party on committees organized to protest the arrest and conviction of the two anarchists. He served a one-year prison term in the Deer Island House of Correction.[2]

Communist Party

Harry Canter, was secretary of the Boston Communist Party USA in the early 1930s.

While the Communist Party candidate for Massachusetts secretary of state, Canter was arrested for carrying a placard "FULLER—MURDERER OF SACCO AND VANZETTI" " attacking Governor Fuller for the execution of anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. Harry Canter was tried, convicted and jailed for a year for criminal libel in May 1929.

Soviet Sojourn

After his release Harry Canter moved his family, including son David Canter to the Soviet Union.[3];

There Harry Canter was employed by the Soviet government translating Lenin's works from Russian to English.

Around 1930, the family was invited to go over to the Soviet Union, so that Harry Canter could teach printing techniques to the Russians. They were translating ideological papers into English at that time. Evan Canter has several volumes of translated works that he printed, including a series of Lenin’s translated papers that actually have Harry Canter’s name in them.[4]

Harry Canter's devotion to the Communist cause, even earned him an audience with Stalin in 1932.


By 1946 the family had turned up in Chicago, where Harry Canter worked for many years as Secretary of Chicago Local 16 of the International Typographical Union.

Harry Canter eventually worked as a proofreader for newspapers, the Chicago Daily News, and, possibly, the Sun, until he retired. He was also a union organizer [Chicago Typographical Union #16].[5]

Circa 1948, Harry Canter was part of a group which purchased a communist newspaper, the Chicago Star from its owner Frank Marshall Davis, who was about to leave the mainland for Hawaii.

Harry Canter later moved to San Fransisco, where he remained active in leftist causes. David Canter however remained in Illinois.

Update 2013:

A newly found document in the National Archives has revealed that Harry Canter, "member of Typographical Local #16, AFL Chicago, was a member of the State Bureau of the Communist Party of Illinois as early as mid-1940.[6].

From this document, prepared by (but not necessarily originated by) the U.S. Army's G-2, Counterintelligence Branch, dated June 28, 1940, said:

"The only recent meeting of any consequence was held on Monday evening last, June 24th, on the second floor of the state Communist headquarters, 208 North Wells Street. This meeting concerned Communist activities in the trade unions and was attended by the following, among others:

  • Harry Canter, member of Typographical Local #16 (AFL)

This was a very important group of Communist Party officials at that meeting including two who would show up in House Committee in Un-American Activities and House Internal Security Committee hearings and report about the CPUSA in Chicago and in the so-called "anti-war movement" of the latter half of the 1960's and early 1970's, Abe Feinglass, V.P. Furriers' Union CIO (CIO) and Jack Spiegel of Shoe Workers' Union. Both were regional officials of the various Mobilization Committees to End the War in Vietnam National Mobe New Mobe and their successor, the People's Coalition for Peace and Justice (PCPJ). Feinglass was also a Vice President of the KGB and Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) "peace front" known as the World Peace Council (WPC). Both were also listed as members of the U.S. delegation to the WPC for 1977-1980[7].

Feinglass would also be the man seen in the TV picture (MSNBC file) leading part of the April 21-22, 1971, PCPJ Vietnam protest at the Capitol, with one John Kerry and several other unidentified speakers on the speakers platform. Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony on behalf of the radical Vietnam Veterans Against the War in Vietnam (VVAW) and this protest speech (plus throwing away some of his service medals), set the stage for his future political career as an US Senator and in 2013, as Secretary of State. See: www.wintersoldier.org website for the article describing this event and Feinglass' background, "Was John Kerry Used by the KGB?" CITATION.

In a later meeting of the State Bureau of the CP of Illinois "and a few additional members", regarding internal Party disciplining of three members, both Feinglass and Spiegel's names also appear, as does that of Harry Canter, "Typographical Union No. 16, Chicago. After Canter's name, and before that of Feinglass, was the name Morris Childs, one of the top members of the CPUSA who had been assigned to Chicago because that city was considered the "heart of the beast", the "greatest concentration area" in America and the place to work on its destruction.[8].

Morris Childs, his second wife (CP member) Eva Childs and his CP member brother Jack Childs, would later on, in the early 1950's, become the top FBI agents inside the CPUSA (reaching all the way to its head, Gus Hall and right into the halls of the Kremlin including Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brehznev. They had been "turned" after years of disillusionment had set in and a desire to help America protect itself from the Soviet threat became their goal in a new, undercover life.

[A complete list of the CPUSA members/leaders named in the document will be found in the Keywiki section on the "Communist Party of Illinois".

External links


  1. Harry Canter papers
  2. Chicago Jewish History Spring 2010, David and Miriam Canter: Doing Right from the Left BY WALTER ROTH
  3. Chicago Sun-Times of August 30, 2004
  4. Chicago Jewish History Spring 2010, David and Miriam Canter: Doing Right from the Left BY WALTER ROTH
  5. Chicago Jewish History Spring 2010, David and Miriam Canter: Doing Right from the Left BY WALTER ROTH
  6. National Archives, College Park, MD., Record Group 107, Secretary of War, Finding Aid A1, Entry 88, Secretary of War Classified File 1932-42, Box 2, Folder - Esionage - Secret", by researcher/author Max P. Friedman
  7. World Peace Council, List of Members 1977-1980, Information Centre of the WPC, Helsinki, Finland
  8. "Operation Solo: The FBI's Man in the Kremlin", John Barron, 1996, Regnery Publishing Co., P. 29