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AFL Office of the President, President's Files, William Green

 Collection 0059-LBR-RG1-019

William Green was president of the AFL from 1924-1952. These papers describe his time in office from a personal rather than professional point of view. Types of documents include correspondence, memorabilia, and reference files.


  • 1869-1955

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.


11.94 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of the Collection

This collection is comprised of correspondence, financial records, speeches, reference files, and printed material documents Green's activities during the time he was president of the AFL and for some of the years prior. The materials are generally of a personal nature and do not fully document AFL policy making or implementation, but rather show the influence of the Office of the President. Researchers should examine related collections in the University of Maryland's AFL-CIO Archive and Labor Collections, and elsewhere for a complete understanding of Green's position in the American labor movement.

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 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 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 state's 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 seven series:

Series 1
Series 2
Expense Reports
Series 3
Series 4
Speeches, Addresses
Series 5
Reference Files
Series 6
Reference Files, Miscellaneous
Series 7
Printed Matter

Custodial History

This collection (RG1-019, Office of the President. President's Files, William Green Papers, 1927-1952) was transferred in 1982 from the Ohio Historical Society to the George Meany Memorial Archives under a deed of gift from William Green's son, Harry C. Green. The papers had been removed from William Green's office at the time of his death in 1952 by his secretary Theo C. Glenn. When Glenn died, the papers reverted to the Green family who deposited them with the Ohio Historical Society in 1980 for the purpose of microfilming them. At the end of that project, Harry Green donated the records to the Meany Archives. 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.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm copies available.

A second copy is available at the Ohio Historical Society with a detailed inventory.

Related Materials

The bulk of the papers created by the Office of the President during William Green's 28-year tenure are housed at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (SHSW) in Madison, Wisconsin. The papers were transferred there 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.

William Green papers at the Ohio Historical Society.

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

Related collections at the University of Maryland AFL-CIO Archives include:

RG1-002, Office of the President, Copybooks, 1883-1925 (Microfilm 34). (also referred to as American Federation of Labor (AFL) Letterbooks, 1883-1925);

RG1-003, Office of the President, National and International Unions, Correspondence, 1890-1959;

RG1-009, Office of the President, Strikes and Agreements File, 1898-1953 (Microfilm 33 and Microfilm 30);

RG1-012, AFL Office of the President, political correspondence, 1908-1944;

RG1-013, AFL Office of the President, Samuel Gompers and Woodrow Wilson correspondence, 1914-1919;

RG1-015, AFL Office of the President, William Green papers, 1888-1952;

RG1-016, Office of the President, Speeches and Addresses, 1924-1952;

RG1-017, Office of the President, Copy Books, 1925-1960;

RG1-018, Office of the President, Reference Files, Communism, 1925-1936;

RG1-020, Office of the President, Correspondence with State and Local Central Labor Councils, 1932-1967 (Microfilm 6);

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

RG1-022, Office of the President. Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1937-1968;

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

RG1-024, Office of the President, Correspondence, 1926-1934, 1940-1968;

RG1-025, Office of the President, International Affairs and Affiliations, 1949-1967;

RG1-026, AFL-CIO Office of the President, George Meany papers, 1935-1960;

Cigar Makers International Union records spanning the years 1864-1974.

Separated Materials

AFL or labor-related publications were removed from Series 7 by archivists at the George Meany Memorial Archives and transferred to the publications collection.

Processing Information

It is unclear whether this collection was processed by archives staff at the George Meany Memorial Archives in 1982, or if they were already processed by the Ohio Historical Society between 1980 and 1982 before being trasferred. Series 1-5 were microfilmed by the Ohio Historical Society between 1980 and 1982.

The University of Maryland Libraries received the records and the finding aid in 2013. In 2018, 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, President's Files, William Green
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

  • Revisions and updates made post-ArchivesSpace migration by Rebecca Thayer. Please see the processing note for more detailed information. : 2018-03-06
  • 2022-11-07: Revisions made to Related Materials note, and Existence and Location of Copies note added 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