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Andrew Pettis papers

 Collection 0099-LBR

Andrew Pettis (1906-1987) joined the carpentry crew at a Portland, Maine, shipyard in 1939 and rose through the ranks to become shop steward and, when the yard unionized in 1942, president of Local 50 of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA). Pettis became increasingly active in the union and in politics. He was named New England Regional Director of the IUMSWA in 1945 after an unsuccessful bid for election to Congress in 1944. In 1950 he was named vice president of the IUMSWA, a position he held until his election as president of the union in 1968. Pettis served as president for five years, until his retirement from the IUMSWA in 1973. Pettis' papers consist of labor agreements, business files, minutes from the local meetings, and correspondence. The bulk of the collection focuses on a nine year period (1942-1951) when Pettis headed Local 50 and served as New England Regional Director. A smaller portion of the collection covers his years as vice president of the IUMSWA and provides information on shipbuilding nationwide and worldwide.


  • 1924-1972
  • Majority of material found within 1942-1951

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.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the special collections reading room staff.


22.50 Linear Feet

13 Folders (13 oversize folders) : Oversize Box 1, Map case drawer

157 Items (Memorabilia items in Box 1 (oversize), and Box 2 (letter document box))

Scope and Contents

The papers of Andrew Pettis cover the years 1924 to 1972, though the bulk of the material dates from 1942 to 1951 while Pettis was president of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA), Local 50 and the IUMSWA New England Regional Director.

The earliest materials in the collection relate to his education and his beginnings in shipbuilding. The materials from Pettis' career at Local 50 include agreements, business files, bylaws, correspondence, minutes of the local's various boards, and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case files. Pettis' files from his term as Regional Director include correspondence, local files similar to those of Local 50, materials on the Progressive Metalworkers Council and the United Railroad Workers of America, and organizer's reports. Though not as extensive, the materials from Pettis' service as vice president and president of IUMSWA include a significant amount of material on shipbuilding nationwide and worldwide and, in particular, union relations with Bethlehem Steel; these files include agreements, clippings, correspondence, minutes, and NLRB case files. There is also a small amount of material on the various boards and committees on which Pettis served including agendas, minutes, and relevant documents from these units. The collection also contains 35 mm slides, photographs, and memorabilia.

Significant topics covered include Andrew Pettis' progression upwards through the union ranks, national and international shipbuilding, and shipyard strikes, in particular, two at Bethlehem Steel.

Biographical / Historical

Andrew Pettis was born on April 30, 1906 in Portland, Maine, to Edward Joseph and Annie Heaphy Pettis. His father, a stationary engineer, and his mother also had four other children:James, Leo, Florence, and Ruth. Andrew Pettis attended Portland High School and the Hebron Academy. He began studies at Colby College but did not graduate. On September 24, 1935, Pettis married Alice Chapman with whom he had two children, Andy, Jr., and Nancy.

Pettis joined Todd-Bath Incorporated, a Portland Shipyard, as a carpenter in 1939. By the end of the year, the carpenters chose Pettis as shop steward. In 1942, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election was held at Todd-Bath. The yard chose Local 50 of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA) as its sole bargaining agent. Pettis joined the union after the election and in October of the same year, Local 50 elected him to its presidency. As President of Local 50, he sat on the Portland Area War Manpower Panel, the General Executive Board of the IUMSWA, and the Shipbuilding Stabilization Committee.

Andrew Pettis was also active in politics as a strong supporter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal and a candidate for national office. He was one of many labor leaders who turned to politics as an avenue for securing worker's demands and he sought a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1944 as one way to make his views known. Despite his strong Democratic Party leanings, he registered as both a Democrat and a Republican in the primary, but still was unsuccessful in his bid for election to the U.S. Congress.

Pettis remained President of Local 50 until 1945 when the IUMSWA opened a new regional office in California and Bill Smith, the New England Regional Director, transferred to that office. Pettis then moved to Boston and took over as New England Regional Director. As Regional Director, he not only dealt with the Maine and Massachusetts IUMSWA locals but also the IUMSWA and Progressive Metalworkers Council locals in Connecticut and the United Railroad Workers of America. In addition Pettis remained a member of the Shipbuilding Stabilization Committee and the IUMSWA'S General Executive Board. While in Boston, Pettis also began to lecture on trade union programs and industrial relations; he lectured regularly at Holy Cross College and Harvard University.

In 1950, the delegates to the IUMSWA's National Convention chose Pettis to serve as vice president of the union, a position he assumed in 1951 and held until 1968. The IUMSWA also put Pettis in charge of the Washington, D.C. Office in April 1951. While in Washington, D.C. he participated in the U.S. State Department's Productivity Projects in Japan and Italy in the 1950s and the U.S. Department of Labor's International Labor Exchanges in the 1960s. Pettis also joined the Propeller Club of Washington, D.C., whose purpose was to promote the merchant marine; an active participant in the club, its members eventually elected him president. In 1968, after seventeen years as vice president, IUMSWA'S membership rewarded his faithful service by electing him to the union's highest post. Pettis remained president until his retirement from the union in 1973.

Upon retirement, Pettis and his family remained in Falls Church, Virginia, where they had moved in the 1950s. Fourteen years later, in July of 1987, Andrew Pettis died.


This collection is organized into eight series:

Series 1
Personal Papers
Series 2
IUMSWA Local 50-Portland , Maine
Series 3
IUMSWA New England Regional Office-Boston, Massachusetts
Series 4
IUMSWA National Office
Series 5
IUMSWA General Executive Board
Series 6
Boards, Committees, and Conferences
Series 7
Series 8

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Andrew Pettis were donated to the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries by Mrs. Alice Pettis in June of 1988.

Related Materials

The University of Maryland also holds the archives of the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA) records . Within the IUMSWA's archives, there is material on the New England locals (4, 5, 6, 25, 37, 50, 58), the New England Regional Office, and the Washington Office.

University of Maryland

Series I

  1. Subseries 4: General Executive Board
  2. Subseries 6: Regional Office

Series II

  1. Subseries 4: Organizing Department
  2. Subseries 7: Washington, D.C., Office

Series III

  1. Subseries 1: Negotiating Committee-BACC

Series IV

  1. Subseries 1: National Conventions
  2. Subseries 2: National Policy Conferences

Series V

  1. Locals (4, 5, 6, 25, 37, 50, 58)

Series VI

  1. Subseries 3: NLRB Case files
  2. Subseries 4: National War Labor Board
  3. Subseries 5: Shipbuilding Stabilization Committee
  4. Subseries 6: Wage Stabilization Board

Series VII

  1. Subseries 4: Provisional Metal Workers Council
  2. Subseries 5: United Railroad Workers of America
  3. Subseries 7: Save the Union Committee

Series VIII

  1. Subseries 1: IUMSWA Official Organs
  2. Subseries 2: Company Organs
  3. Subseries 3: Other Labor-related Publications

Separated Materials

Selected manuscript materials were separated and incorporated into the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA) records , such as typed minutes of the General Executive Board and IUMSWA's official newspaper, The Shipyard Worker. (See the Related Materials Note for more details)

In 2021, Phillip B. Nicholas and Jennifer G. Eidson reassociated the memorabilia with the Andrew Pettis papers, retaining the item numbers. It was discovered that some of the memorabilia item numbers account for a group of items; this extent is now captured at the item or file level record. The original finding aid also stated that there were 159 memorabilia items, however upon review in 2021, 157 were counted; all are believed to be accounted for. Nicholas and Eidson reviewed the memorabilia, created an item list, verified the number of items, and removed items from four different Memorabilia Collection boxes into item trays into a new Box 1 of Series 8.

Processing Information

The papers of Andrew Pettis were sorted and filed into eight separate series during processing that was completed in 1991. All paper clips, rubber bands, and staples were removed and plastic clips over strips of acid-free bond paper were substituted. During the sorting, all items were removed from their envelopes and folders and placed into acid-free folders. The sorting process involved discarding duplicates, copying some fragile items onto acid-free bond paper, cutting out clippings. Once the items were placed in folders, the folders were labelled and placed into acid-free boxes. All photographs including oversize photographs were described as part of the "Audio-Visual Materials" series, later renamed the "Photograph" series. Oversize manuscripts and photographs are housed in oversize folders (as indicated in the folder list) and placed in oversize boxes or map case drawers in this collection.

In 2021, Phillip B. Nicholas and Jennifer G. Eidson fully created a finding aid in ArchivesSpace to improve collection accessibility; previously only the collection abstract was available in ArchivesSpace along with a link to a PDF of the original finding aid. All description was entered including: Biographical Note, Scope and Content Note, Arrangement Note, Custodial History Note, Processing Information Note, Related Materials Note, and the Separated Materials Note. Series level records and series descriptions were added, as well as the full box list and a memorabilia item list. To improve clarity on locations of oversize materials, separation sheets were included in boxes where an oversize folder is listed intellectually; the original folder number is retained on the oversize folder in the oversize box or map case drawer. The series originally named "Audio-Visual Materials" was renamed "Photographs" to more accurately reflect its contents. Extents were verified at the series and collection level, with the oversize material being counted by number of folders and the memorabilia as number of items.

Guide to the Andrew Pettis papers
Susan McElrath and Phillip B. Nicholas
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Jennie A. Levine.
  • 2017-07-21: Finding aid checked and verified following ArchivesSpace migration by Nancy Harrison Gage.
  • 2018-04-09: Finding aid reviewed and minor updates made by Caitlin Rizzo.
  • 2021-09-07: Revisions and updates made by Phillip B. Nicholas and Jennifer G. Eidson. Please see the processing note for more detailed information.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742