The Workman’s Circle, a Socialist Jewish order, was founded in 1892 by a small group of eastern European immigrants in New York City, and, by 1908, Indianapolis had organized a branch.

The goals of local groups paralleled those of the national organization: support socialism; stress the study of Yiddish culture and language, and assist members in the event of illness or death. By 1913, Indianapolis had two branches, both of which met at the Communal Building at 17 West Morris Street. Later, Branch 175, was able to purchase a building at 1218 South Meridian Street.

The Indianapolis Circle supported socialism by holding May Day banquets, conducting debates on the American socialist movement, and raising funds for the Socialist Party and the defense of incarcerated socialists. The maintenance of Jewish identity and transmission of Yiddish culture was a major part of the Circle as reflected in its support of a Yiddish library, Yiddish afternoon school, and Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

In late 1918, a decrease in eastern European immigration and the changing status of many workingmen to shopkeepers and small merchants forced the Circle to admit non-Jews with socialist sympathies. During the years 1921-1930, a conflict between the Left and Right wings of the Socialist party weakened the Circle. By the 1950s, membership had decreased drastically, and the Workman’s Circle closed.

Revised March 2021

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