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AFL Office of the President, Rosa Lee Guard papers

 Collection 0015-LBR-RG1-010
Rosa Lee Guard was secretary to Samuel Gompers. Her papers consist of four folders that include her poetry, clippings of magazine and newspapers articles, her Br'er Rabbit stories and messages and magazine clippings of Br'er Rabbit stories by Joel Chandler Harris. Br'er Rabbit was Samuel Gompers' mascot and the creative stories written by Guard set Gompers as the inspiration for the rabbit character.

Dates

  • 1904-1927

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 reading room staff.

Extent

4 Folders

Scope and Content of the Collection

Rosa Lee Guard was secretary to Samuel Gompers. Her papers consist of four folders that include her poetry, clippings of magazine and newspapers articles, her Br'er Rabbit stories and messages and magazine clippings of Br'er Rabbit stories by Joel Chandler Harris.

Guard's poetry, both in printed and typed forms, contemplates various subjects such as the sea, music, death and her tributes to Samuel Gompers. The clippings include a newspaper piece she wrote about Memorial Day, an English and Spanish version of her tribute to Gompers, her poem "In Memoriam," printed in The Jackson Labor Journal (Jackson, Tennessee, December 12, 1925) and a magazine article on how a woman should handle worry (Today's for July, 1913). Guard also composed whimsical memos that played on the Br'er Rabbit stories; Br'er Rabbit was Samuel Gompers' mascot. One was entitled "SHE OF THE POETICAL TEMPERAMENT vs. BR'ER RABBIT IN A TANTRUM ET AL," which may have alluded to a time when the wellknown Gompers' temper was evident.

Biographical / Historical

Rosa Lee Guard was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1882, and was educated in the public schools there. She served as Samuel Gompers' secretary from April 1898 until his death on December 13, 1924. Guard often took responsibility for answering correspondence and for routine matters when Gompers was absent on official American Federation of Labor business. When Gompers' eyesight became seriously impaired during the later years of his life, Guard read to him at the American Federation of Labor office in Washington and while he was traveling. Gompers would dictate comments about the readings for Guard to record in a notebook. When Bright's disease affected his heart, she ensured that Gompers remembered to take his medicine on time. Gompers left his personal and unofficial files in the custody of R. Lee Guard, his confidential secretary, and Florence Thorne, his assistant in the writing of his autobiography. Guard mentions a letter written in November or December 1923 from Samuel Gompers to her personally, which she held in her possession, authorizing Guard and Thorne "to go through his desk and his papers." After the death of Samuel Gompers, Guard and Thorne arranged to send the pamphlets written by Gompers to the New York Public Library. After 1924, Guard became chief clerk for the AFL under Gompers' successor, William Green, until her death on May 9, 1937. Guard's creed: "A secretary should be self-effacing, merely a machine for turning out work," was included in her obituary notice.

During her personal time, Guard wrote poetry, entertaining memos and a pamphlet. Some of her writings were published in union publications, but most of her poetry remained outside the public domain.

Arrangement

Arrangement is by document type, alphabetically within the folders.

Custodial History

The records comprising this collection were transferred to the George Meany Memorial Archives from the AFL-CIO Library vertical file in July 1983. The George Meany Memorial Archives transferred these records as part of a major transfer of their archive and library holdings to the University of Maryland Libraries in 2013.

Related Materials

See Microfilm 034, Reel 208, The George Meany Memorial Archives, for examples of Guard's official correspondence.

See R. Lee Guard to Mr. Duncan, December 24, 1924, Microfilm 015, Reel 108 and see R.Lee Guard to Dr. Julius Auerbach, January 18, 1925, Microfilm 015, Reel 109, Meany Archives, stating "his personal papers and correspondence passed into my hands for disposition."

See R. Lee Guard to E.H. Anderson, January 18, 1925, Microfilm 015, Reel 109.

The AFL-CIO Information Department, Photographic Prints collection includes photographs of Gompers' stuffed Br'er Rabbit mascot in Series 4, Box 3, Folder 13

AFL Office of the President, Building Cornerstone collection

Separated Materials

Clippings of her obituary notices and her death certificate have been removed to the biographical files in The George Meany Memorial Archives.

Bibliography

American Federation of Labor. Samuel Gompers Centennial Committee. "Plain Sam Gompers." The Literary Digest 84 (January 3, 1925): 27.

The George Meany Memorial Archives. Microfilm 015. The American Federation of Labor Records: The Samuel Gompers Era (Records held by AFL-CIO, Part II - State Historical Society of Wisconsin.)

The George Meany Memorial Archives. Microfilm 034. The American Federation of Labor. Office of the President. Copy Books, 1883-1925. (Filmed from the originals at the Library of Congress.)

The George Meany Memorial Archives. The Rose Lee Guard Papers. RGl-010 (formerly Collection 34).

Frey, John P. "Samuel Gompers As I Remember Him." The American Federationist 56 (August 1949): 6.

Stolberg, Benjamin. "What Manner of Man Was Samuel Gompers?" The Atlantic Monthly 135 (March 1925): 36.

Processing Information

Sue Ann McMaster at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially processed these records in November 1990. The University of Maryland Libraries received the records and the finding aid in 2013. In 2017, Bria Parker exported and cleaned the finding aid contents from the Eloquent Systems database using OpenRefine, and finally transformed the finding aids into Encoded Archival Description (EAD) using a series of programmatic scripts. The finding aid was ingested into ArchivesSpace in 2017, at which point Jennifer Eidson updated the descriptive content for accuracy. Revisions include changes to biographical/historical notes, scope and content notes, and the creation of new collection numbers. Jennifer Eidson also enhanced custodial histories and re-wrote collection titles to better conform to archival standards.
Title
Guide to the AFL Office of the President, Rosa Lee Guard papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Sue Ann McMaster at the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archives.
Date
1990-11
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