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AFL-CIO International Affairs Department, Serafino Romualdi records

 Collection 0045-LBR-RG18-009

The International Affairs Department was formed to promote free trade unionism throughout the world. Serafino Romualdi was involved with Latin American unions and later directed the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) which focused on Central American countries. This collection contains materials documenting the AFL-CIO's relationship with trade unions and politics in the Central Americas including reports, correspondence, union contracts, minutes, speeches, and photographs.


  • 1945-1961

Language of Materials

Researchers should note that much of the material in this collection -- especially in series 1 and 3 -- is in languages other than English, including Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and French. While some documents are accompanied by English translations, most are not.

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.


12.5 Linear Feet (8 Paige boxes and 1 document box.)

Scope and Content of the Collection

This collection documents Serafino Romualdi's work primarily during his tenure as inter-American representative of the AFL and AFL-CIO and as assistant secretary of ORIT. The date range for the collection is 1945-1961, with a bulk date range of 1955-1959.

The collection is especially rich in providing researchers with first-hand accounts of the political, economic, and social situations in the countries of the Americas during this period. The collection also provides insight into the AFL and AFL-CIO's interest and involvement in and analysis of the trade union movement and politics in the region.

Biographical / Historical

Serafino Romualdi was appointed the first inter-American representative of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1948 and continued in that position after AFL and Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) unification in 1955. His role was to establish contacts with Latin American unions in an effort to counteract communist influences and build a rival inter-American federation of labor: the Inter-American Confederation of Labor (CIT). Upon the founding of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in 1949, the CIT was transformed into the Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers (ORIT; Organizacion Regional Inter-Americana de Trabajadores) and Romualdi was appointed assistant secretary of the new organization, as well as editor of the Inter-American Labor Bulletin.

In 1962, the American Institute for Free Labor Development(AIFLD) was founded through the combined efforts of U.S. labor, business, and government, and Romualdi was chosen its first executive director. This was Romualdi's last full-time position in the area of inter-American labor activity and he remained with AIFLD until resigning shortly before his retirement in 1965. Romualdi died in 1967.

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into five series. Files within series are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.

Series 1
Country Files, 1945-1960
Series 2
Correspondence, 1952-1961
Series 3
ORIT, 1950-1959
Series 4
Miscellaneous, 1945-1959
Series 5
Photographs, 1955-1958

Custodial History

The AFL-CIO Department of International Affairs transferred these records to the George Meany Memorial Archives in August 1982. Some documents in series 1 and 2, which appear to have been integrated into Romualdi's files at the time of their creation or acquisition, originated with David Sternback and Harry H. Pollak, both of whom served under Romualdi as associate inter-American representatives of the AFL-CIO. 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

This collection has been processed to the folder level.

Sarah Springer 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 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.

Guide to the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department, Serafino Romualdi records
Processed by Sarah Springer 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