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Joseph Uehlein papers

 Collection 0100-LBR

This collection documents the professional and personal activites of Joe Uehlein from 1974 to 2017. Uehlein is a former director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns, former Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department (IUD), and a founder of the Labor Heritage Foundation (LHF). The materials reflect Uehlein's passion for the arts as relating to labor and his dedication to labor organization and campaigns.


  • 1974-2017
  • Majority of material found within 1980-2005


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.

This collection contains audiovisual materials. Items that cannot be used in the Special Collections reading room or are too fragile for researchers require that a digital copy be made prior to use. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit, so we may determine the proper steps to be taken.

Most of this collection is stored offsite. Requests to use these materials must be submitted at least 2 business days in advance of your visit.

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.


53.66 Linear Feet (33 record storage boxes and two oversize flat storage boxes)

Scope and Contents

The Joseph Uehlein papers consist of materials from 1974 to 2017 documenting the professional and personal activities of Joe Uehlein. The papers include speeches, correspondence, video tapes, news clippings, posters, minutes, and conference materials. Topics mentioned in the papers include globalization, labor law, labor arts, Eastern Airlines and Ravenswood Steel campaigns, and the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department.

Biographical / Historical

Joseph Uehlein is a former director of the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Campaigns, former Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Department (IUD), and a founder of the Labor Heritage Foundation (LHF). Uehlein’s expertise with strategic campaigns is best demonstrated in the wealth of material on the Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation (RAC). From 1991-1992, workers at the RAC in West Virginia were locked out, but the union employed a comprehensive corporate campaign that reached all the way to Switzerland and then-fugitive billionaire owner Marc Rich. Eventually the company backed down and recognized the union. [1] Uehlein corresponded with the authors of the book on the strike, and used it as a case study to train union leaders in strategic campaign tactics.

A passion for the arts and a belief in their power to change the world is clearly reflected in Uehlein’s papers, with “Art and Activism” a frequent folder title. Uehlein himself is a lifelong musician, both with his band The U-Liners, and as a solo artist. His work and his music are intertwined: protest, labor struggles and hopes, and the importance of the environment are all important themes. Uehlein was also a founding member of the Labor Heritage Foundation, which is dedicated to using the arts as a way to empower unions and the labor movement. [2]

Uehlein was also a member of the board of directors of Ceres, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, a nonprofit sustainability organization. [3] The collection contains especially detailed records on Ceres from 2001-2002, for researchers interested in both the influential group itself or in the sustainability movement as a whole.

1. Bronfenbrenner, Kate and Juravich, Tom. Ravenswood: The Steelworkers’ Victory and the Revival of American Labor. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 1999. 2. “Mission Statement – Labor Heritage Foundation.” 2018. Accessed 2018-02-07. 3. “About Us | Ceres.” 2016. Accessed 2018-02-07.

Custodial History

Joe Uehlein donated these materials in 2017 to the University of Maryland Libraries in two accessions.

Processing Information

This collection was minimally processed by Rebecca Thayer in 2018.

Some materials were put in new boxes if the boxes were dirty. Posters were taken out of poster tubes, flattened by the Preservation department, and placed in oversize and folders and boxes. Many of the materials were housed in hanging folders, which were discarded and replaced with acid-free file folders. In some cases, folders were overstuffed and materials were divided into two or three folders. This was designated with a [1], [2], or [3] in the folder's title. For example, Ravenswood [1] and Ravenswood [2] were originally one folder but were divided into three in order to prevent damage to the materials. Rusted paperclips, binder clips, and disintegrating rubber bands were removed. Loose materials were placed in folders. Empty folders were discarded but their title is listed in the inventory along with a note that the folder was empty.

Box 12 is a special case since all materials were loose in the box and there were no folders at all. The loose papers were arranged in a loose chronological order and placed in folders to protect the papers and prevent them from being damaged. No attempt to rearrange them was made, so the items are in their original order with imposed folder divisions.


Guide to the Joseph Uehlein papers
Minimally Processed
Processed by Rebecca Thayer.
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