Biographies/Milton White

Tags: 86th Brigade Actor Musician Russian WWII Veteran The Milton White Files United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America Union Organizer Member Of Communist Party

Researcher: Janine Honkanen, Stuyvesant '24

Morris “Milton” White was born in cleveland Ohio in 1917 to Ephim “Hyman” White (born 1984 in Russia 1896-1959) and Tanya White (“Tania Martini” 1898-1961). His parents moved to brooklyn and were active in the communist party when he was young. He has one sister, Lenora Marcia White (1929-1991). He dreamed of becoming an actor and went to California when he was 16 to fulfill this dream. He was an extra in a few films (trying to find the names of these but they are not anywhere online) and a member of the New Theatre League. He also worked as a truck driver and a butcher for short periods of time, and he was a member of the Communist Party of the United States.

He sailed to spain on 27 May 1937 on the Paris ship and crossed the Pyrenees Mountains to serve in the International Brigade. White was in the 86th Brigade and was a rifleman and machine gunner, and fought in several battles including the battles of Belchite and Teruel.

Milton White kept a diary of his experiences throughout his life which is now stored in the NYU Tamiment Library as “The Milton White Files”. Among these he has poems, songs and recountings from life especially of the Spanish Civil War. He also wrote about people he met in Spain whose lives were touched by the war, including a particularly emotionally moving monologue about a mother he met whose children were hit in a civilian bombing. His poems were written in three languages (English, Spanish and Russian), and he wrote songs and plays in English and Spanish.

On 20 December 1938 Milton White returned to the United States aboard the Ausonia. He resumed his career as a musician and performed with his Spanish guitar at many venues in New York including the Keynote club and the Grand Ballroom Hotel Center. White married Miriam Lifschitz a year later on 15 December 1939 and had two daughters, Judith and Jo Anne. Milton White and Miriam Lifschitz divorced in 1965, and subsequently White married Gloria Mandels Osterberg and had one son named Howard. (Still trying to find the dates of these events) At the start of WWII, Milton White enlisted in the US Army on 27 March 1945 and was released on 29 July 1946.

Throughout his life Milton White continued his activism in the CPUSA. He also worked as an organizer for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, which was a worker’s union.
Milton white died on 18 June 1983 at the age of 66 in Woodmere, Nassau County, NY. He was buried in New Montefiore Cemetery, West Babylon, Suffolk County, NY.


Ink, Social. “White, Milton.” The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, December 30, 2022.

"The Milton White Files." NYU Tamiment Library, NY, NY.

“Treasures from the Archives (2): Pre-Mature Americans.” The Volunteer, April 1, 2011.