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Baltimore Federation of Labor records

 Collection 0108-LBR
The Baltimore Federation of Labor (BFL), an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor, was formed in 1883 by delegates from industry-specific unions such as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and the Bakery and Confectionery Workers' Union. The BFL's purpose was to improve the lives and working conditions of all laborers through unionization and legislative action. In the early twentieth century the BFL agitated for issues such as the eight-hour work day, legalizing unions, eliminating child labor, and free, compulsory education. The organization still exists today as the Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions. The records of the Baltimore Federation of Labor consist primarily of microfilmed minutes of meetings from 1918-1965, and other documents including a constitution, union publications, and two oral histories of Baltimore union members.

Dates

  • 1918-1969
  • Majority of material found within 1918-1965

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

6 folders Linear Feet

4 Tape Reels

11 microfilms

Scope and Content of Collection

The Baltimore Federation of Labor records consist primarily of microfilm copies of meeting minutes from 1918 to 1965. Other documents include the Federation's constitution, publications on union activities and legislation affecting businesses and unions, and two oral histories of Baltimore men involved with unions and the Baltimore Federation of Labor.

Administrative History

The Baltimore Federation of Labor (BFL) was formed in 1883 with the goal of improving the lives and working conditions of all laborers through unionization and legislative action. The Federation consisted of delegates from industry-specific unions, initially in crafts such as carpentry and baking. Founding member unions included the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, the Bakery and Confectionery Workers Union, and the Cigar Makers International Union. In 1889, the Federation received a charter from the American Federation of Labor. The BFL agitated for issues such as the eight-hour work day, legalizing unions, eliminating child labor, and free, compulsory education. Between 1883 and 1900, the BFL was instrumental in enacting state laws regarding union trademarks, certain types of child labor, seats for female employees, and the legality of unions. During the Depression, the BFL expanded into industrial as well as craft professions and, for the first time, elected a woman delegate, Lillian Sipple, to the executive board. Competition with the Baltimore Industrial Council (BIC), an affiliate of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), and other groups of a more socialist bent than the BFL, led to attrition of membership in the BFL and to increased fragmentation of labor in the city. Issues of race were also of continuing concern in the BFL, which was slow to support African-American workers or the integration of unions. The BFL still exists today as the Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions.

Arrangement

This collection is organized as three series.
Series 1
Organizational Records
Series 2
Union News
Series 3
Oral Histories

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Isabella Hayes, head of the Maryland Room at the University of Maryland Libraries, solicited the records of the Baltimore Federation of Labor in 1966 as part of a projected Maryland Labor Archives.

Related Material

Related Articles

  1. Argersinger, Jo Anne E. "The Right to Strike: Labor Organizations and the New Deal in Baltimore". Maryland Historical Magazine 78 (Winter 1983): 299-318. Call number: Maryland Stacks F176 .M18
  2. Argersinger, Jo Anne E. Making the Amalgamated : gender, ethnicity, and class in the Baltimore clothing industry, 1899-1939 Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. Call number: Maryland Stacks HD6515.C6 A453 1999
  3. Baltimore Federation of Labor, Illustrated History of the Baltimore Federation of Labor and Its Affiliated Organizations. Published by the Baltimore Federation of Labor, 1900. Call number: Maryland Stacks HD8085.B3 B3.
  4. Durr, Kenneth. Behind the Backlash: White Working-Class Politics in Baltimore, 1940-1980. University of North Carolina Press, 2003. Call Number: McKeldin Stacks HD8079.B2 D87 2003
  5. Maryland Immigration Digital Library, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, College Park. https://web.archive.org/web/20070427232225/http://oriole.umd.edu/~mddlmddl/791/frameset.html (Accessed June 21, 2018.)

Processing Information

When processing began, the collection included a great deal of unrelated material that had apparently been stored in the same box. Publications not related to the BFL or to unions generally were transferred to the Marylandia collection. Notes on speeches by Governor Albert C. Ritchie were transferred to the Papers of Albert C. Ritchie. The microfilm reels were re-housed in acid-free boxes and shelved with the microfilm collection. The audiotape reels were transferred to the audio tape collection. The paper materials were place in acid-free folders in an acid-free box.
Title
Guide to the Baltimore Federation of Labor records
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Sarah Heim.
Date
2003-07-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212