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CIO International Affairs Department, Michael H. S. Ross files

 Collection 0072-LBR-RG18-002
Michael Ross was the Director of the CIO International Affairs Department during World War II, and later served as Director of the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department from 1958 to 1963. This collection of primarly covers relations between officers at the CIO and the AFL and the effects of the Cold War on CIO policy toward Europe and the Soviet Union. Types of material include correspondence, clippings, minutes, reports, and subject files.

Dates

  • 1920-1963

Creator

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

30 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of the Collection

The collection primarily covers relations between officers of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the effects of the Cold War on CIO policy toward Europe and the Soviet Union. Both issues are highlighted by the CIO's participation in the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) from its founding in 1945 to the CIO withdrawal in January 1949. The files concerning the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Trade Secretariats (ITS) also highlight the major issues. The attempt to affiliate the ITS with either the U.N., the WFTU, or the ICFTU, is documented in these records. Significant correspondents include: Mike Ross, Philip Murray, Walter Reuther, Victor Reuther, James Carey, Elmer Cope, Adolph Germer, Jacob Potofsky, Walter Citrine, Louis Sallant, and Arthur Deakin.

These records also provide a detailed look at the relationship between the CIO and the United States government. In this period the U.S. established numerous labor advisory committees to secure organized labor's viewpoint on political and economic issues. Records concerning the following groups can be located in this collection: the Labor Advisory Committee of the Department of Labor, the Foreign Operations Administration Labor Advisory Committee, the European Recovery Project Trade Union Advisory Committee and the Economic Cooperation Administration Trade Union Advisory Committee. The CIO also interacted with the Office of Military Government of Germany (especially the Manpower Division), the Department of Labor's Office of International Labor Affairs, the Department of State's Division of International Labor, Social and Health Affairs, and the labor attaches of the numerous U.S. embassies.

This collection also contains correspondence, reports, clippings, writing, diaries, photographs and memorabilia that Michael Ross created and collected during his career. Although the papers came to the George Meany Memorial Archives (GMMA) from his family, most of the material relates to his work as head of the CIO’s International Affairs Department and is properly described as an addition to RG18-002, CIO International Affairs Department, Director’s Files, Michael H.S. Ross, 1945-1955, of which it is now a part.

The collection also contains letters and reports to and from Ross on international labor developments from the 1940s and 1950s. The material reflects the problems involved in creating a viable international trade union organization, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The documents also point to important differences of opinion among American labor leaders like the CIO’s Victor Reuther and the AFL’s Irving Brown and Jay Lovestone.

Biographical / Historical

Michael Herbert Stanfield Ross was born on September 12, 1898 to a working-class family in London, England. At the age of 17, he joined the British Army and fought in World War I from 1915 to 1919. After demobilization, he studied economics and became an active member of the British Labor Party. In the 1920s, Ross wrote articles on politics and labor for numerous journals and magazines—a practice he continued for the rest of his life.

In 1931, Ross moved to Moscow, where he worked as an editor in the Educational Department of the Foreign Section of the State Publishing House. He emigrated to the United States in 1933 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen on May 23, 1941. From 1934 to 1936 he worked for the Public Works Administration in Washington, D.C. In 1936 and 1937 he was a research assistant for the LaFollette Civil Liberties Committee. In 1938 Ross moved to Philadelphia and attended Swarthmore College, earning a B.A. in economics in 1940. From 1938 to 1942 he also lectured at the Pennsylvania School for Social Work. In 1942 the Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers in Camden, N.J., hired Ross as director of research. The next year Ross moved back to Washington where he served as the union’s Washington representative. During his years in Washington, Ross also served as a labor member on several wartime committees: the Shipbuilding Commission, the National War Labor Board, the War Manpower Commission, and the War Production Board.

In May 1945 Ross became the staff director of the CIO International Affairs Department. He also served as the CIO representative to Europe from 1953 to 1955. In December 1955, he became assistant director of the International Affairs Department (IAD) of the newly merged AFL-CIO under director George Brown, formerly of the AFL. Ross was appointed director of the department on January 1, 1958, and served until his death on November 9, 1963.

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into five series:
Series 1
International Organizations
Series 2
United States Government Agencies
Series 3
Congress of Industrial Organization
Series 4
International Affairs Department, General Subject Files
Series 5
Michael Ross Personal Files
Series 6
Photographs and Graphics
Filing systems followed by the CIO International Affairs Department required that correspondence be filed by name of organization or by subject, rather than by name of correspondent. In some cases, when the amount of correspondence was small, folders contained a mixture of organizational names filed alphabetically, generally under the initial letter of the organization's name. Hence organizations whose names begin with "M" could be filed together in one folder rather than individually. Occasionally, an individual correspondent warranted a file under his or her own name. These fall in the appropriate alphabetic sequence.

Copies of outgoing mail were kept with the original. Though all files were kept chronologically, often an exchange of several letters about a particular subject was kept together and filed by the date of the beginning of the exchange. Researchers will need to cross reference under all possibilities.

Arrangement

Filing systems followed by the CIO International Affairs Department required that correspondence be filed by name of organization or by subject, rather than by name of correspondent. In some cases, when the amount of correspondence was small, folders contained a mixture of organizational names filed alphabetically, generally under the initial letter of the organization’s name. Hence organizations whose names begin with “M” could be filed together in one folder rather than individually. Occasionally, an individual correspondent warranted a file under his or her own name. These fall in the appropriate alphabetic sequence.

Custodial History

The archivists at the George Meany Memorial Archives faced two issues in establishing provenance for Mike Ross's International Affairs Department Director's files. First, over the years much of this material had been disbursed and unused, so archivists faced the problem of recreating the filing system as it had originally existed. Second, archivists had to evaluate the effects on the department's files of the December 1955 merger of the AFL and the CIO. Series and sub-series were recreated to match the filing system of the CIO International Affairs Department. The way the merger occurred presented difficultly in managing the CIO material archivally because it had sometimes been accessioned with pre-merger AFL or post-merger AFLCIO records. Apparently, the material had not been interfiled, however. Archivists removed all material belonging to the pre-merger CIO international affairs department and arranged it into the collection described here.

Later, 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. Series 5 (box 19) was in a group of nine boxes given to the University of Maryland in January 2014 by Bob Reynolds, archives staff (while at the National Labor College) and managing editor of Labor’s Heritage journal. This box may have once been a part of PD1996-0014, four boxes of which were noted to be in Bob Reynolds' possession.

Related Materials

Related material at University of Maryland includes:

AFL and AFL-CIO International Affairs Department, Country Files, 1945-1971

AFL and AFL-CIO International Affairs Department, Jay Lovestone Files, 1939-1974

AFL and AFL-CIO International Affairs Department, Irving Brown papers, 1943-1989

Office of the President: George Meany, 1952-1960 (Series IX, International Files: also available in Microfilm Collection 31 [low quality film])

Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America (IUMSWA) records

For other material on Michael Ross, see:

Elmer Fern Cope papers, 1903-1965, Ohio Historical Society

Adolph Germer Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Sidney Hillman papers, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America records at the Catherwood Library at Cornell University

Jacob Potofsky papers, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America records at the Catherwood Library at Cornell University

Serafino Romualdi Papers, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America records at the Catherwood Library at Cornell University

The Papers of John Brophy, The Catholic University of America

The Philip Murray Papers, The Catholic University of America

The Papers of Richard L. G. Deverall, The Catholic University of America

The Joseph D. Keenan Papers, The Catholic University of America

Other published works can be found in the American Working Class History. A Representative Bibliography, edited by Maurice F. Neufeld, Daniel Leab and Dorothy Swanson (New York, 1983) and the "Annual Bibliography on American Labor History" in Labor History. Particularly important works include Ronald Radosh, American Labor and United States Foreign Policy (New York, 1969). Roy Godson challenges many of Radosh's assertions in his American Labor and European Politics (New York, 1976). See also Ronald L. Filippelli American Labor and Postwar Italy 1943-1953; A Study in Cold War Politics (Stanford, 1989). Leroy James Lenberg's Ph.D dissertation The CIO and American Foreign Policy, 1935-55 (Pennsylvania State University, 1973) provides an overview of some of the important issues for the CIO of the period.

Separated Materials

The processing procedure documented in the Custodial History held with one exception: the records of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The numerous accessions concerning the ICFTU contained few records created exclusively by the CIO and even that material had been frequently interfiled with both post-merger AFL-CIO material and pre-merger AFL material. This material represents a coherent unit within the International Affairs Departments of the AFL, the CIO, and the AFL-CIO and will be processed separately.

All photographs were moved to the George Meany Memorial Archives’ audio-visual collection. A small collection of posters from the European Office was also removed. All CIO pamphlets are kept separately. Researchers should examine the AFL-CIO Pamphlet Collection (RG34-002) finding aid.

Processing Information

Allen Smith at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially processed these records in 1991, and Anders Lewis and M. Lee Sayrs initially processed RG18-006 (now a part of these records) in 1996. Copies of outgoing mail were kept with the original. Though all files were kept chronologically, often an exchange of several letters about a particular subject was kept together and filed by the date of the beginning of the exchange. Researchers will need to cross reference under all possibilities.

The University of Maryland Libraries received the records and the finding aid in 2013. In June 2015, staff at the University of Maryland merged RG18-002 with another existing and similar Michael Ross collection (RG18-006). These two merged collections became the present RG18-002. The original box 1 from RG18-006 became the new box 18 in RG18-002 and was placed in entirety in RG18-002’s Series 4: General Subject Files. To simplify the amount of work, the new box 18 remained in its original order as a separate box. The folder titles from box 18, however, were arranged intellectually among the existing alphabetical inventory for RG18-002 Series 4.

One box of photographs from RG18-006 (previously box PC/1) were physically interfiled alphabetically with the photographs from RG18-002. Folders from both were re-numbered and re-labeled to represent their new organization. In both cases, original folder titles were retained.

In addition, one box (accession number 2015-082) of Michael Ross papers contained in boxes given to the University of Maryland by Bob Reynolds, was added to the collection. This box is now box 19 in RG18-002 Series 5. Archives staff found that the records in this box were mostly Michael Ross’s own personal files, and so a new series was created to hold them. This new series became series 5 and the photographic collections (previously series 5) became series 6. University of Maryland Staff inventoried the box, labeled the folders, organized the folders alphabetically, and re-housed the contents of the box.

In 2017, Bria Parker exported and cleaned the revised finding aid contents, 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 2018, at which point Rebecca Thayer updated the descriptive content for accuracy. 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.
Title
Guide to the CIO International Affairs Department, Michael H. S. Ross files
Status
Completed
Author
This collection was processed by Allen Smith, Lee Sayrs, and Anders Lewis at the George Meany Memorial Archive.
Date
1991
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