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AFL Research Department, Convention Meeting records

 Collection 0027-LBR-RG13-007

This collection covers the planning of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention in 1953. The planning process was done under the AFL Research Department, which collected information of importance to the AFL. Documents include agendas, reports, speeches, and correspondence.


  • 1953

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.


0.5 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of the Collection

Dating 1953 and consisting of agendas, reports, speeches, correspondence, and lists, the materials in this small collection provide a glimpse into the administrative details of planning the federation's national convention. William Schnitzler, then secretary-treasurer of Labor's League for Political Education, in particular reported on the conduct of that department's political fund.

Biographical / Historical

After the 1940 convention the CIO established an Economic Division, headed by Ralph Hetzel, Jr., to prepare information and analyses on matters of national economic importance, including taxation, price control, and fiscal policy. In 1942 J. Raymond Walsh assumed the leadership of the newly named Department of Research and Education. Kermit Eby headed the department from 1947 to 1950 when Stanley H. Ruttenberg became director (Proceedings of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1938-1955.).

The decision of the 1944 AFL convention to obtain the services and advice of persons technically trained in the analysis of issues of economic and industrial relations marked the first formal establishment of research services for the AFL. Ultimately known as the Research Department, this unit collected and analyzed information on issues of importance to the leaders of the federation (The American Federation of Labor Proceedings, 1944-1955.).

The bureaucratic structure of the AFL prior to the 1955 merger with the CIO was somewhat fluid, and staff members of the various departments fulfilled a number of different functions. Boris Shishkin, one of the economists, often carried a number of administrative functions such as coordinating convention activities.

Custodial History

The materials in this collection came into the George Meany Memorial Archives sometime before 2000 with other documents collected and maintained by Boris Shishkin. 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.

Processing Information

Lee Sayrs at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially processed these records in 2000. The University of Maryland Libraries received the records and the finding aid in 2013. In 2017, Bria Parker migrated the information contained in this finding aid from the George Meany Memorial Archives' Eloquent system. All migrated finding aids have been cleaned using OpenRefine software and ingested into ArchivesSpace using programmatic scripts created in Python. Upon ingest, Rebecca Thayer reviewed and minor revisions to this finding aid. Revisions include changes to biographical/historical notes, scope and content notes, and the creation of new collection numbers. Rebecca Thayer also enhanced custodial histories and re-wrote collection titles to better conform to archival standards.

Guide to the AFL Research Department, Convention Meeting records
Finding aid written by Lee Sayrs at the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archives.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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

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