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Subject Files, 1943-1965

 Series 1

This series contains correspondence, memos, clippings, surveys, reports, and minutes on five distinct topics covering both the AFL and the AFL-CIO. Race relations is the first section and contains various civil rights issues prior to the merger and the creation of the Civil Rights Department. Approximately half of the material is directly related to the Fair Employment Practice Committee. Additional organizations include the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; American Council on Race Relations; and the National Association of Intergroup Relations Officials.

Boris Shishkin's service as a member of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights is the subject of the second section in this Series. The committee recommended that the government enact a law prohibiting all forms of discrimination in private employment based on race, color, creed, or national origin. The committee also recommended that this law should apply to labor unions and trade and professional associations.

The third part of this Series relates to AFL and AFL-CIO participation on the President’s Committee on Government Contract. George Meany served on the committee until June 1952. His alternate, Boris Shishkin, served until mid-1954 and again from 1956 through 1960. During Shishkin's absence the position was filled by his assistant, Bert Seidman. The committee attempted to provide an enforcement mechanism for the non-discrimination clause in federal contracts requiring that contractors and subcontractors adhere to fair practices in employment of labor.

The fourth topic in this Series consists of records from pro-labor organizations such as the Jewish Labor Committee, League for Industrial Democracy, Workers Defense League, and Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Of particular interest are questionnaires from a survey of southern states documenting facts about labor union integration, conducted by the Jewish Labor Committee. There are also five folders of material on the anti-labor and pro-segregation White Citizen's Councils, which was a highly influential economic and political organization in the Southern states. They were led by business executives, attorneys, university trustees, civic leaders, clergymen, state governors, state politicians, and representatives in U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate, and were active from the early 1950s until their decline in the late 1960s. Information documenting school integration issues (especially concerning Little Rock, Arkansas) also appears.

The final section of this Series contains materials for the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities, which resulted from combining the President's Committee on Government Contracts and the President's Committee on Government Employment Policy. Most of this material centers around the call of Vice President Lyndon Johnson, the committee chair, for a joint statement on a union program for fair practice.

The harmful language within the original documents was not censored because it provides historical context for understanding the era, attitudes, and opinions of their creators.


  • 1943-1965

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.


7.50 Linear Feet

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
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College Park Maryland 20742