The collection contains records created and retained by Larry Rogin during the course of his career as a labor educator within the American labor movement. The papers span the years 1926-1988, with the bulk of records dating between the early 1930s to late 1950s and consists of teaching and research materials related to labor education.
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3.15 Linear Feet
This collection offers valuable items for researchers interested in the history of the workers’ education movement. It contains material used by Rogin in creating his class lectures and course outlines for instruction at the Brookwood Labor College and other schools, universities, and labor research/education departments.
Topics include: collective bargaining, effective organizing methods, union leadership, and labor history. The collection also focuses on his affiliation with the Textile Workers Union of America. Researchers interested in southern labor and in race relations can find information about the TWUA’s role in the CIO’s 1946 southern organizing drive known as Operation Dixie.
Larry Rogin was born in New York City in 1909. His early years showed an affinity for activist politics, which manifested itself in his membership in the Socialist Party and involvement with the Rand School of Social Science. He attended Columbia University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Upon earning his Master’s degree in 1931, Rogin went on to pursue a PhD for which he hoped to write a dissertation on the history of the Pennsylvania labor movement. In 1933, to facilitate his research, Rogin became the education director for the American Federation of Labor’s Reading, Pennsylvania Federated Trades Council. Rogin did not complete his dissertation but never left the labor movement. Rogin was a pioneer in America’s workers’ education movement.
Believing that a strong, healthy, and most importantly, democratic labor movement depended on an educated working class and a firm sense of social consciousness, Rogin committed himself to the task of instructing America’s unionists. In 1935, Rogin left his post in Reading, to become an instructor at Brookwood Labor College outside New York City, which was a trailblazing institution in the field of labor education. Due to diminishing financial support from CIO unions friendly to the school and other difficulties, the school closed down in 1937. From there, Rogin moved on to become education director for the American Federation of Hosiery Workers (AFHW), which ultimately became part of the CIO-based Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA).
During his stay with the TWUA, Rogin played a prominent role in the union’s southern organizing drive. A firm believer in racial integration, Rogin oversaw the establishment of some of the first interracial labor educational efforts in the South. Rogin did not leave the TWUA until 1957, when he accepted a position as director of worker education for the Institute of Labor & Industrial relations at the University of Michigan. Then, from 1960 to 1966, Rogin served as director of education for the AFL-CIO. Upon his retirement, Rogin continued to be active in worker education serving as project director for the National Institute of Labor Education (NILE), and co-authoring a national study on labor education sponsored by the U.S. Office of Education. Rogin’s last job was as advisor and part-time faculty member at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies. Rogin died in 1988.
The majority of materials found in this collection deal with items related to labor education and Larry Rogin’s role in its growth. Labor education began as an attempt to address the needs and issues surrounding rank-and-file worker participation in the activity and governance of unions. Its core programs were geared toward instructing workers how to be effective unionists. To that end, programs incorporated a wide range of subjects such as collective bargaining, labor law, union administration, steward training, and industry economics. Labor education was, however, also motivated by a desire to expand workers’ knowledge of society as a whole and promote their general educational and cultural advancement. Thus, coursework also focused on the broader topics of history, sociology, and politics while promoting personal development through classes on literacy and the creative arts.
In training workers in effective methods of union organization and promoting their understanding of larger social and political issues, the ultimate goal of labor education was to prepare workers for action, both within the workplace as well the greater community.
The labor education movement germinated at the turn of the twentieth century within the broader reform movement of the Progressive era from the combined efforts of socialists, progressive educators, and social reformers. Unlike its European counterpart, U.S. labor education initially developed outside of the official labor movement. Socialist reformers were the primary leaders of the early worker education movement. Convinced of the inadequacy of AFL-style business unionism, socialists advocated a program of radical social reconstruction. Thus, one of the major objectives of institutions such as the Rand school (founded in 1906) and Brookwood Labor College (founded in 1921) was to raise the consciousness of the working class and prepare them for their roles as actors for social change. Rogin spent his early teaching career at both of these institutions.
The economic pressure of the Great Depression forced many of these early independent labor colleges to close their doors or cutback their programs. The New Deal, however, brought in a wave of pro-labor legislation that swelled the ranks of the AFL and CIO. It also created a large and complex apparatus for labor management relations, making labor education imperative for effective union organizing and administration. In contrast to the earlier, socially oriented workers’ education movement, the union-based labor education program focused predominantly on the maintenance of the union and leadership training. During this period, Rogin spearheaded education innovation while working for the American Federation of Hosiery Workers (AFHW) and the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA). In the post-war period, the growth of university programs in labor education absorbed some of the functions of various unions’ programs and transformed the field into labor studies.
As the civil rights legacy of the 1950s and 1960s wound its way into the university in the form of black and women’s studies, many university campuses began recognizing the need for a discipline, which examined class as well as race and gender. The study of work, workers, and their organizations fell under the rubric of labor studies. Furthermore, industrial relations and with them, collective bargaining, continued to grow more complex in a technologically advancing global economy. Thus, in this period we find Rogin at work in the labor relations programs at the University of Michigan and American University, as well as serving as consultant to labor studies programs at a number of other universities.
During the 1950s and beyond, the American labor movement did not abdicate its responsibilities to worker’s education. The AFL-CIO created a department of education and, in the late 1960s, an education center. Rogin served both as an education director of the AFL-CIO and as a faculty member at the AFL-CIO’s The George Meany Center for Labor Studies.
Lacking any useable organization or file categories, the collection has been arranged in a subject-chronological way and does not necessarily reflect the unknown original order and file structure used by Rogin.
This collection is organized into five series:
The records comprising this collection were transferred to the George Meany Memorial Archives by Hilda Rogin in 1989. 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.
Joseph Deodato and Bob Reynolds at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially processed these records in 2003. 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.