Guide to the Research Collections



The rich holdings on industrial relations embrace all those relationships evolving from the state of employment. In this area the collecting policy has long been comprehensive. Total holdings probably exceed 75,000 volumes, although the dispersion of resources makes it impossible to obtain a precise count. For bibliographic aids the library has acquired virtually every significant publication, including abstracts, bibliographies, guides to the literature, surveys and catalogs of library collections, and the like; for example, International Labor Documentation of the International Labor Office and its other bibliographies, the published catalog of the New York State School of Labor and Industrial Relations Library, the Selected List of Recent Additions to the U.S. Department of Labor Library, and the publications of the Committee of University Industrial Relations Librarians are all available. In addition, the library has acquired the bibliographic series issued by such university units as the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell, the Institute of Industrial Relations at the University of California at Los Angeles, the A.B. Bush Library of the Industrial Relations Center at the University of Chicago, and the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Illinois.

The collection of general monographs contains nearly all standard and classic treatises--by such authors as Frank Tracy Carlton, John R. Commons, Samuel P. Orth and Selig Perlman--usually in the first edition and in every important subsequent edition. Journal files are also extensive and usually complete from the first volume; they include Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Plebs, Revue française du travail and Sosialt arbeid. The library also receives such services as the Labor Relations Reporter of the Bureau of National Affairs, Government Employee Relations Report, and White Collar Report.

The annual reports of U.S., state, and foreign departments and bureaus of labor form the most important element in the holdings of government publications in industrial relations, but also present are the findings of special labor commissions and other ad hoc investigations, the hearings and reports of legislative committees, decisions on arbitration and workmen's compensation, and texts of labor laws. On the whole, publications of the labor departments of the United States government, European national governments, and New York and other northeastern states are very well represented; those of other jurisdictions are covered selectively.

Holdings of material on labor issued by international organizations are substantial. The International Labor Organization is represented by more than 1,000 entries in the Public Catalog, comprised of numerous monographic studies and conference reports, full sets of periodicals such as Industry and Labour and Industrial Safety Surveys, the Studies and Reports (original and new series) and the Reports made to many individual countries under the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance. These make up one of the largest collections of ILO documents in existence. Other organizations of this type which are strongly represented are the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the Confederación de trabajadores de América latina (CTAL).

Resources for the study of labor unions form the strongest segment of this area of economics material, as indicated quantitatively by the fact that the Public Catalog contains over 8,500 entries under the heading "Trade Unions," of which about 3,700 refer to unions in specific industries and 2,500 to unions in various countries and states. Chronologically the collection begins with seventeenth-century publications from the European craftsman guilds. American holdings begin in the middle of the nineteenth century, with some of the earliest items from the National Labor Union, Knights of Labor, Cigar Makers International Union, and International Typographical Union. Particularly important as primary source materials are the official journals and convention proceedings of unions. Of the former the library possesses an extensive collection (approximately 600 different titles); many files cover a long span of years, but relatively few are complete. Examples of sets complete or lacking only a few early years include The International Teamster, Graphic Arts Unionist, American Federationist, Railway Carmen's Journal, and UAW Solidarity. Coverage of current journals is excellent; at present the library receives nearly all those issued (about 100 titles) by AFL/CIO unions, exclusive of those from state and local central bodies and joint councils. Holdings of convention proceedings cover many organizations (about 200 different unions), but gaps are present in the files, even when taking into account the fact that such proceedings are often printed in journals, rather than issued separately. Among the complete or nearly complete collections are those for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, Congress of Industrial Organizations, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Maritime Union, Transport Workers Union, United Furniture Workers, and United Hatters, Cap, and Millinery Workers International

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Union. Still another important type of publication is the labor contract, which the library has selectively collected since 1955 for many industries and groups, among them actors, aircraft workers, atomic energy workers, brick-layers, civil service employees, department store employees, journalists, telephone employees, and television artists. Entries in the Public Catalog under the heading "Labor Contracts" subdivided by groups or industries provide a convenient listing of these resources. Although about 700 series appear there, the sets do not generally include all successive contracts between a company and a given union; in some cases the file consists of a single agreement, now superseded.

The Manuscripts and Archives Division has a large collection of memorabilia of Samuel Gompers, presented by the American Federation of Labor in 1925. Consisting primarily of scrapbook volumes, these resources include addresses, magazine articles, press statements, and biographical sketches. The period from 1917 to Gompers's death in December 1924 is especially full. Sixty-two volumes contain letters and telegrams addressed to Gompers on special occasions during his life; 3 volumes contain invitations and souvenirs; 27 scrapbook volumes contain newspaper clippings relating to the last few months of his life. More than 500 photographs document his life.

While the Research Libraries do not undertake to collect material about foreign trade unions on the comprehensive basis assumed for domestic organizations, they have assembled publications covering more than 50 foreign countries. The most extensive holdings deal with France, Germany, Great Britain, and the USSR. Recent acquisitions greatly augment resources on the twentieth-century labor movement in Japan; about 60 items, some of them issued to commemorate the tenth or fifteenth anniversary of the founding of a union, provide historical material on unions in such industries as electrical manufacturing, mining, paper, railroads, and steel, in addition to covering the union activities of civil servants.

The literature by and about employers and their activities in the area of industrial relations is not as extensive as that by and about labor groups; nonetheless the Research Libraries are strong in this field. Among early publications are several issued by the Manufacturers' and Business Men's Association of New York and the Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers. Perhaps most important are the publications relating to the National Association of Manufacturers, well represented in the collections. They include not only such general items as the Directory and Report, but also the studies from such general units as the Government Economy Department. Industrial Relations Department, Money and Credit Committee, and Research Department. Also included are a few publications from state and local employers' associations.

In addition to the material described, the holdings in certain other phases of the field of industrial relations are also strong. Material on laborers--their wages, working conditions, industrial safety, housing, and the cost of living--is well represented. For instance, there are extensive resources relating to social security (about 1,600 entries in the Public Catalog under the heading "Insurance, Workmen's") and similar benefits; they encompass specialized periodicals, papers and proceedings of international congresses on social security, and the reports and other publications of government agencies responsible in various countries for the administration of social security systems. Another substantial block of material treats the processes through which employees determine the conditions of employment. Although this embraces all phases of the collective bargaining process, holdings on industrial arbitration and conciliation are especially notable. There are files of such serials as Arbitration News and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Arbitrators, and publications of the National Labor Relations Board and of state boards of arbitration and mediation. Among the resources on arbitration abroad are particularly long runs of arbitration reports for Australia and New Zealand.

Significant manuscripts include the papers of the National Civic Federation, 1876-1948, which contain correspondence, financial records, material relating to the federation's annual meetings and to the activities of various "departments" of the NCF, and miscellaneous subject files. The Manuscripts and Archives Division also houses the records of the Society of Shipwrights and Caulkers of New York City, 1815-27, including the roll of members, constitution and bylaws, minutes, and financial data. A third interesting group consists of eleven volumes of handwritten minutes of meetings held from 1870 to 1917 by the New York Typographical Union No. 6, the oldest continuous union in the City. Two collections pertain to the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union: the papers (1919-62) of Fannia Cohn and those of Rose Pesotta, which cover the years 1922 to 1965. The former group (nineteen boxes) consists of correspondence, notes, writings, speeches, and other material relating to Miss Cohn's activities as a vice-president of the ILGWU and secretary of its Educational Department. Miss Pesotta's papers include letters, manuscripts of her published books, diaries for the years 1934 to 1949, reports, correspondence, and other material relating to the labor movement in general and specifically to the ILGWU, of which she was a vice-president. In addition, the personal papers of leading political figures and lawyers often provide information on industrial relations; the papers of Frank P. Walsh, for instance, bear on his work as chairman of the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations from 1913 to 1915 (including correspondence by board members, reports by special investigators, testimony of witnesses, etc.), as well as on his work as lawyer for many labor unions, and his legal activities in regard to child labor. The papers of Norman Thomas (fully described in chapter 14 of this Guide ) and of Gino Speranza, the lawyer and author, also provide useful insights to industrial relations. In the Schomburg Center are the archival records of the International Labor Defense and the National Negro Congress and its affiliates, including the Negro Industrial League and the Negro Labor Victory Committee.