Email | Share | Print

Albert Edward Chisholm


Albert Edward Chisholm

Chisholm, Albert Edward. b. March 30, 1913, Spokane, Washington; African American; Attended High school; Single; Seaman and Ship’s cook; CP 1934; received passport# 36673 San Francisco series on July 22, 1937 which listed his address as 314 23rd Avenue, Seattle, Washington; Sailed August 4, 1937 aboard the Aquitania; Arrived in Spain on August 19 (15), 1937; Served with the XV BDE, Lincoln-Washington BN, infantry later to BDE HQ as an artist, later returned to BN, Co. 1; Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia; WWII Merchant Marine; d. March 25, 1995, Seattle, Washington, buried Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, Washington.

Source: Sail, SACB, Cadre, Americans, RA,  “The Political Cartoons of Albert Chisholm,” The Volunteer, Volume 22, No. 2, Spring 2000, p. 14, Ancestry.

Photograph: Albert Chisholm, artist for Brigade Bulletin, November 1937. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-0653. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.



     Albert Chisholm was born in Spokane, Washington, in 1913 while his father was serving in the U.S. Army. Later the family moved to Seattle.

     As a teenager Chisholm worked as a bellhop on Pacific passenger ships. He became one of the first black members of the Marine Cook's and Steward's Union. He joined the YCL in 1933 and the Communist party a year later.

     Chisholm saw a connection between Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia and his own subsequent participation in the antifascist fight in Spain. "I wanted to go [to Ethiopia] to fight against the Fascists," he once said, "but then shortly after that the Spanish issue surfaced, and I saw there would be my best chance."

     Chisholm left New York, on the Aquitania, on August 4, 1937. After a brief period of training, he was sent to Belchite to join the Lincoln-Washington Battalion. Chisholm served on the staff of the Brigade Headquarters where his skills as a cartoonist were put to work on the Brigade's paper. While in Spain, Chisholm met Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and Ernest Hemingway on their visits to the front. During the first day of the Ebro Offensive, Chisholm and fellow volunteer, Sam Zakman, took shelter in the hills during an air attack on the bridgehead. Both men were picked up as stragglers by a Spanish unit and spent the rest of the campaign attached to it. Chisholm traveled back to the United States aboard the Ausonia on December 20, 1938.

     Upon his return to Seattle, local people who thought that he had been fighting as a mercenary and was now wealthy besieged Chisholm. This, of course, was not the case, and after a brief rest, Chisholm returned to sea. During World War II he served in the Merchant Marine and made numerous dangerous runs. On one trip to Murmansk, his ship was torpedoed and sunk in the North Sea. He continued this work until 1971, when his union membership was revoked apparently for political reasons.


     Chisholm died on March 25, 1998. - Chris Brooks


ALB Archival Materials

Search the Tamiment Archives


Chisolm, artist for Brigade Bulletin. December 1937 (ALBA Collection).

Full Database Record

Last Name Chisholm
First/Middle Name Albert
Ethnicity Note
Immigration Status
AKA Last Name 1
AKA First / Middle 1
AKA Last Name 2
AKA First / Middle 2
Foreign Nation
Foreign Nation City
Alt Pob State, City
Family: Name
Family: Relationship
Family: Begin Date
Family: End Date
Family: Comments
Education HS
Education College / Univ 1
Education College/Univ Notes
Education College/Univ 2
Graduate or Doctoral Work
Graduate or Doctoral Work Notes
Prior Military Service
Passport #
Passport Series
Passport Reported Lost in Spain
Passport Age
Passport Date
PP or Known Address Street
PP or Known Address City
PP or Known Address State
ALT City
Alt State
Sail Date
Marital Status
Marital Notes
Vocation 1
Vocation 2
Vocation 3
Party Affiliation
Date Affiliation
ALT Affiliation
ALT date
ALT affiliation 2
Arrival (in Spain) Date
Units served with
Battle action
Returned Date
Returned other
WWII Service
Place Died City
KIA/MIA/Died other
KIA/MIA/Died other Date
KIA/MIA/Died other Location
KIA/MIA/Died other Battle
Additional Notes