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Theodore Gibbs


Theodore Gibbs

Gibbs, Theodore. b. February 12, 1906, Fort Worth, Texas, African American, Grammar school education, Single, Driver, CP agitprop, received passport# 4899 on March 19, 1937 which listed his address as 4224 Greenshaw Street, Chicago, Illinois (RA 1605 S. Holman Avenue, Chicago, Illinois), Sailed March 24, 1937 aboard the Manhattan, Arrived in Spain on April 4 (23), 1937, Served with the Service Sanidad, Benicasim Transport Service, Ambulance Group; Evacuation Group #1, Returned to the US on December 20, 1938 aboard the Ausonia, WWII Civilian, d. March 12, 1962, Chicago, Illinois.

Sources: Sail, SACB, Cadre, RA, Pacific NW.

Photograph: Gibbs, (front right), with unidentified volunteers. Photograph courtesy Michele Gibbs.



Theodore Gibbs was born February 12, 1906 in Fort Worth, Texas, the oldest of four surviving children born to Estella and Samuel Gibbs. Gibbs' father, a laborer, left the family when the children were small and his mother supported the family by working as a housekeeper. At thirteen, Gibbs left home after witnessing the rape of his mother by a white man for whom she did laundry. As a young man he hoboed across the country taking any type of job along the way and eventually landed in Seattle where he found work on the docks as a stevedore. Gibbs joined the Communist Party during the 1920's and became a Party organizer. After completing a period of training he was assigned to Cleveland and, in 1930, to Chicago where he worked as an organizer of the Unemployed Councils. While working in Chicago, Gibbs met his future wife, Paula Rabinowitz, an active member of the Young Communist League who at the time was working in the Party's anti-eviction campaigns. Gibbs sailed for Europe on March 24, 1937 aboard the Manhattan. In Spain he was an ambulance driver. In February 1938 Gibbs was injured when his ambulance was shelled near Brunete. He returned to the United States aboard the Ausonia on December 20, 1938. Back in Chicago Gibbs was hired as a driver by fellow veteran Herman Pico in his firm. Gibbs worked for Pico Tire and Auto until his death. In 1941, Gibbs and Paula were married, both remaining active members of the Party. In his spare time Gibbs began to draw and paint graphic depictions of the Spanish Civil War. Meanwhile, the family struggled under the dual burden of McCarthyism and virulent racism throughout the post-war years. As a politically active interracial couple they were the targets of constant harassment by the police. In 1955, Gibbs and his wife opened a small store and consequently the family, for the first time, had a measure of financial independence. During the mid-1950s Gibbs was absorbed in the deteriorating conditions of life for black people in the United States and in the struggles of the emerging nations on the African continent. In 1959 Gibbs left the Communist Party over its failure to openly support the Algerian struggle for independence. He died in Chicago on March 12, 1962. ~ Chris Brooks






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Theodore Gibbs, front right.

Full Database Record

Last Name Gibbs
First/Middle Name Theodore
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