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AFL, CIO, and AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records

 Collection 0044-LBR-RG9-001

This collection primarily documents AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department director Boris Shishkin's civil rights activities, particularly his participation on federal government committees. Shishkin was also the civil rights spokesperson for the AFL prior to the merger, when it had no civil rights department. Document types include correspondence, surveys, and press clippings.


  • 1943-1967

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.

From December 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022, significant sections of this collection will be closed to staff and researchers while the materials are being digitized. This is not indicated at the series or folder level; please contact us at for more information.

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.


10.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of the Collection

This collection represents a critical time period for civil rights and labor relations and activities of the AFL, CIO, and AFL-CIO. The bulk of this collection documents Russian immigrant Boris Shishkin's civil rights activities, particularly his participation on federal government committees such as the Fair Employment Practice Committee, President's Committee on Government Contracts, the President's Committee on Government Employment Policy, the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities, the League for Industrial Democracy, and Workers Defense League. Another important area covered by this collection is the fact-finding work done by the Jewish Labor Committee in the mid-1950s on minorities and Southern labor unions. Major topics include race relations, discrimination policy, fair labor practices, and integration of organizations and schools. Materials include correspondence, reports, clippings, memos, surveys, questionnaires, minutes, and proceedings.

Biographical / Historical

Information about the Civil Rights Department is available in the external document below.

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into three series:

Series 1
Subject Files, 1943-1965
Series 2
Chronological Files, 1961-1967
Series 3
Near Print Materials, 1948-1960

Custodial History

The AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department transferred these records to the George Meany Memorial Archives in 1982. 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

AFL and AFL-CIO Research Department, Boris Shishkin papers: Series 2 contains a 249 page unpublished manuscript by Boris Shishkin, "Organized Labor and the Negro"

The Library of Congress holds the NAACP records, including the Herbert Hill papers, 1869-2004, who was their labor secretary.

Processing Information

Bob Reynolds and Lee Sayrs at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially processed these records in 1992 and 1996. 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, CIO, and AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records
Finding aid created by Bob Reynolds at the George Meany Memorial 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.

Revision Statements

  • 1996: Materials redescribed by Lee Sayrs at the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archives.
  • 2018-01-22: Revisions and updates made post-ArchivesSpace migration by Rebecca Thayer. Please see the processing note for more detailed information.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

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