George Meany, born in 1894, was a major figure in the American labor movement, having served as President of the AFL-CIO for 24 years by the time of death in 1979. This is a collection of George Meany's early career papers, dating from 1935-1960, consists of material relating to his tenure as president of the New York State Federation of Labor (1935-1940), congratulatory messages and the telegrams on his elevation to Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL (1939), and personal correspondence (1939-1960).
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3.75 Linear Feet
This is a collection of George Meany's early career papers, dating from 1935-1960, consists of material relating to his tenure as president of the New York State Federation of Labor (1935-1940), congratulatory messages and the telegrams on his elevation to Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL (1939), and personal correspondence (1939-1960).
Born in New York City on August 16, 1894, George Meany was the son of Michael Joseph and Anne Cullen Meany. In 1910 Meany followed his father into work as a plumber becoming first an apprentice plumber and in 1917 a journeyman plumber. He joined the United Association of Plumbers and Steam Fitters of the United States and Canada (UA) and in 1922 won the position of business agent to New York Local 463. From then he mounted steadily through the ranks of union leadership, serving as a delegate to the New York City Central Trades and Labor Assembly, in 1932 won a seat as a vice-president of the New York State Federation of Labor, and moved to the presidency of the state body in 1934. During his years at the state federation, Meany focused on lobbying activities before the state legislature, on efforts to initiate federal work relief, and on restoring the membership and finances of the state organization.
Meany's career took a major turn in 1939 when he was elected to the position of secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). He was an active federation officer, particularly after 1948, when he began to take over more of the decision-making from President William Green who had become ill. During his years as secretary-treasurer, Meany served on numerous boards and committees including: National Defense Mediation Board, National War Labor Board, executive board of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, National Advisory Board on Mobilization Policy, and the Contract Compliance Committee.
When William Green died in 1952, the AFL executive council appointed Meany as acting president, and he subsequently won the position which he held until his retirement in December 1979. Along with Walter Reuther of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Meany spent much of the first years in office working for the merger of the CIO with the AFL. The merged organization, AFL-CIO, elected Meany its first president in 1955. Meany's work as president was marked by fervent anticommunism, avid interest in international affairs, and considerable influence in the councils of the Democratic Party.
George Meany married Eugenie A. McMahon on November 26, 1919. They had three children: Regina Meany Mayer, Genevieve Meany Lutz, and Eileen Meany Lee. Meany died January 10, 1980, within weeks of retiring from the AFL-CIO presidency. He is buried in Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, MD.
This collection is organized into three series:
The AFL-CIO Office of the President transferred these records to the George Meany Memorial Archives before 1984. 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.
Tom Connors at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially processed these records in 1984. 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.