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AFL Office of the President, William Green papers

 Collection 0047-LBR-RG1-015

William Green was President of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) from 1924-1952. This collection of Green's papers includes correspondence, minutes, speeches, questionnaires, calendars, and printed materials arranged according to topics such as fascism, politics, congressional elections, injunctions, racial discrimination, the Taft-Hartley Act, and British labor.


  • 1888, 1909-1952

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.


14.5 Linear Feet (29 hollinger boxes)

Scope and Content of the Collection

This group of Green materials is a miscellaneous collection of records including correspondence, minutes, speeches, questionnaires, calendars, and printed material arranged in ten series, that for some unknown reason were not transferred to Wisconsin during the 1950s (see note on related records below). Although the earliest date in the collection is 1888, most of the document are dated 1925 to 1952. Materials on the following topics appear in the collection: fascism, politics, congressional elections, injunctions, racial discrimination, Taft-Hartley Act, and British labor.

Biographical / Historical

William Green, the second president of the AFL, was born in Coshocton, Ohio, on March 3, 1873. With eight years of formal education, Green followed his father into the coal mines at the age of sixteen. By 1891 he had become active in union activities serving first as secretary of the Coshocton Progressive Miners Union (later a local of the United Mine Workers Union) and subsequently moving upward in the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) organization from District Officer in 1900 to International Secretary-Treasurer, 1912 to 1924. Shortly after beginning his tenure as UMWA Secretary-Treasurer, Green won a position on the American Federation of Labor's (AFL) executive council and in 1924 became president following the death of Samuel Gompers. Green held that position until his own death on November 21, 1952.

William Green supported the labor movement in the political arena as well as within the UMWA and AFL organizations. He served two terms in the Ohio senate from 1910 to 1913 where he wrote the Ohio Workmen's Compensation Act; he represented labor at international labor conferences following the end of World War I; and he worked with various presidential committees and boards during the New Deal, World War II, and the Korean War.

Organization of the Collection

This collection is organized into ten series:

Series 1
Conferences, 1925-1934, 1944
Series 2
Speeches and Addresses, 1925-1934
Series 3
Reference Files, 1888-1939
Series 4
Political Correspondence, 1926-1933
Series 5
Correspondence, 1938-1952
Series 6
Memoranda, 1934-1952
Series 7
Invitations, Engagements, 1936-1952
Series 8
Discrimination Survey, 1941
Series 9
Biographical and Personal, 1925-1952
Series 10
Printed Matter, 1942-1950

Custodial History

The George Meany Memorial Archives acquired this collection from the AFL-CIO. It is not clear when because the accession is not documented well. It is also not clear why these records were not part of a transfer to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in the 1950s. 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

Related collections include:

RG1-014, Office of the President, William Green Papers, 1891-1952 (Microfilm 13);

RG1-019, AFL Office of the President, President's Files, William Green, 1869-1955;

RG1-021, Office of the President, William Green Files, 1934-1952 (Microfilm 76);

and RG1-023, AFL Office of the President, President's Files, William Green, 1940-1952.

Researchers interested in William Green's work with the AFL should know, however, that the bulk of the papers created by the President's Office during William Green's 28-year tenure are housed at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. The papers were transferred to Madison between 1955 and 1962 under terms of an agreement between the federation and the society that was initiated when the society became concerned about the possible consequences of an in-house microfilming program then in place at AFL headquarters. The American Federation of Labor Records at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Series 7: Strikes and Agreements File, 1904-1953 Series 11: Files of the Office of the President, 1881-1952, which includes papers for Samuel Gompers and William Green and documentation of competition and cooperation between the CIO and AFL.

In addition, selected files have been digitized and are now available in Proquest: American Federation of Labor Records, Part 1: Strikes and Agreements File, 1898-1953 American Federation of Labor Records, Part 2: President's Office Files, Series A: William Green Papers, 1934-1952

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed at the George Meany Memorial Archive in 1984 and with the finding aid being updated in 1998 by Lee Sayrs. 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 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.

Guide to the AFL Office of the President, William Green papers
Finding aid created by staff 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.

Revision Statements

  • 1998-08: Finding aid revised by Lee Sayrs.
  • 1998-03: Finding aid entered into GenCat.
  • 2018-01-22: Revisions and updates made post-ArchivesSpace migration by Rebecca Thayer. Please see the processing note for more information.
  • 2022-11-07: Revisions made to Related Materials note by Jennifer G. Eidson.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

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