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Workers, Labor Unions, and the American Left in the 20th Century: Federal Records
Workers, Labor Unions, and the American Left in the 20th Century: Federal Records (Module 31)
This module consists of a wide range of collections documenting the American workers and labor unions in the 20th century, with a special emphasis on the interaction between workers and the U.S. federal government.
The collection opens with Strike Files of the U.S. Department of Justice, records of the Woodrow Wilson Administration and American Workers and records on U.S. government surveillance of radical workers. Strike Files of the U.S. Department of Justice provides a remarkably complete record of the Department of Justice’s evolving policies of intervention in labor disputes and documentation on the major strikes during the period from 1894-1920. The Wilson Administration files consist of Papers of the National War Labor Board (NWLB), Papers of the President’s Mediation Commission, and records of the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations. The NWLB records provide a remarkable window into the daily operations of private industry during a time of radical social change. The Papers of the President’s Mediation Commission cover labor struggles by Arizona and Montana copper miners, the infamous deportation of Industrial Workers of the World-affiliated miners in Arizona in July 1917, and the tumultuous situation among workers in the Chicago meat-packing industry. The government surveillance files consist of U.S. Military Intelligence Reports on radicals from 1917-1941 and Department of Justice investigations of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Communist Party, and the use of military force by the federal government in domestic disturbances between 1900 and 1938. The U.S. Military Intelligence Reports contain significant files on IWW strikes and organizing efforts during and immediately after World War I. There are also files on anarchist, socialist, social democratic, and libertarian groups. The other collections in this module covering unemployment relief in the 1930s, farm tenancy, labor strife during World War II, and records on migratory labor in the 1950s and 1960s.
Letters and petitions to President Theodore Roosevelt urging federal arbitration or federal seizure of coal mines; public sympathy and antipathy for strikers; cover letters to report to the president on the anthracite coal strike by the Commissioner of Labor; protests against trusts and combines among American businesses; local union protests against the use of injunctions in labor disputes involving William B. Wilson and Mother Jones of the UMWA; interference with interstate commerce as possible justification for federal intervention in strike.
Casefile 16-130, Subfile 1, Section 2. Alabama. December 1, 1919-January 6, 1921. Violence and intimidation directed against black coal miners in Alabama; UMWA and AFL officials correspondence regarding state militia actions in Alabama coal mining district; open shop versus closed shop issues; mediation of labor dispute; Southern Afro-American Federation of Industrial Brotherhood; U.S. Marshal deployment of special deputies guarding coal mines.
Proposed use of federal troops; mob violence and intimidation; U.S. Marshal explanation of expenses and deployment of deputies guarding mines; cooperation of Mine Owners and Operators Association in appointment of deputies; employment of Russian workers as strikebreakers.
Letters and petitions from union, Socialist Party of America, immigrant, and international organizations to President William Howard Taft against jailing of IWW organizers Joseph J. Ettor and Arturo Giovannitti by city officials on charges of being accessories before the fact to the killing of a woman striker by city police and urging federal intervention in strike.
Migrant housing and water supply; transportation of migrant workers; illegal deductions for wages of carrot workers; Salinas Valley; United Packing House Workers of America complaint on unsanitary working conditions in lettuce fields; National Migrant Labor Program; California Departments of Public Health and of Education; education of migrant children; Linnell and Woodville Farm Labor Centers community programs; health programs for migrant workers; Mexican strike breakers; American Federation of Labor; Imperial Valley farmers association and labor force; grower-laborer relations; Imperial Valley strike
Grand jury investigations; mob violence and intimidation; use of federal troops to restore order; reports from special assistant on status of case; conflict between special assistant and U.S. Attorney; proposed antitrust investigation of Bache Denman Coal Company; U.S. Department of Labor investigation of labor dispute; UMWA contract negotiations with Southwestern Coal Operators Association; contempt proceedings against UMWA District 21 president and members; correspondence between President Woodrow Wilson and Attorney General Thomas W. Gregory regarding case; U.S. Marshal deployment of deputies
guarding mine property.
Mass meeting and local union protests against prosecution of Mooney and Billings; DOJ investigation of California state prosecutions; IWW publications; protests against extradition of Alexander Berkman from New York to California; International Workers' Defense League publications.