The AFL-CIO Information Department coordinates and manages public relations and media outreach for the AFL-CIO. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the AFL-CIO produced their own sound recordings within the then Public Relations and Information Department. This collection consists of 5,769 audio tapes, of which approximately 642 tapes are processed for Series A: Constitutional Conventions of the AFL, CIO, and AFL-CIO, Series B: Conventions and conferences of AFL-CIO staff departments, special one time conventions and other meetings, and Series I: "As We See It" (radio program).
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.
Portions of this collection are stored offsite. Requests to use this material must be submitted 48 hours in advance of visit.
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 research find sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.
642 Tape Reels
The AFL-CIO Information Department coordinates and manages public relations and media outreach for the AFL-CIO. During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the AFL-CIO produced their own sound recordings within the then Public Relations and Information Department. The entire collection consists of 5,769 audio tapes, of which approximately 642 tapes are processed from Series A: Constitutional Conventions of the AFL, CIO, and AFL-CIO, Series B: Conventions and conferences of AFL-CIO staff departments, special one time conventions and other meetings, and Series I: "As We See It" (radio program). Unprocessed recordings document AFL-CIO Press Conferences, Speeches by George Meany and Lane Kirkland, Congressional testimony of George Meany and others from the AFL-CIO, radio and television commercials, and public service announcements related to labor issues, interviews with labor leaders including George Meany, labor music by Joe Glazer, radio programs "The World of Labor" and "Labor News Conference" as well as other radio programs, COPE reports, and recorded lectures and symposiums at the George Meany Memorial Archive.
During the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, the AFL-CIO produced their own sound recordings within the old Public Relations and Information Department. Sid Breckner was the recording engineer for the AFL-CIO throughout much of this period. In 1982, the Labor Institute for Public Affairs (LIPA) was formed and built a quality video studio in the AFL-CIO building. Since that time, much more of the AFL-CIO's media outreach has been done with video recordings. The lack of audio tapes after that point in this collection may signify little radio work was being done, or, that the material has yet to be moved to the archive.
This collection is organized into 15 series. The tapes are organized into series by subject. Within each series they are organized according to control number, unless there was a more appropriate way to organize them, such as chronologically by year.
The AFL-CIO Information Department transferred these records to the George Meany Memorial Archives in 1985 from the "tape closet." 13 boxes of recordings from the radio show "The World of Labor" (Series J) were donated to the Meany Archives by Gordon Cole of the International Association of Machinists; date unknown. 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.
This collection is partially processed. Archives staff at the George Meany Memorial Archives initially inventoried and processed three series of this collection in the 1990s, probably around 1997. Only three of the identified series have been fully processed: Series A, Series B, and Series I. There are a total of 121 boxes of inventoried tapes and 22 boxes of non-inventoried tapes. The entire collection consists of 5,769 tapes. Approximately 642 tapes are currently processed and available on audio cassette tapes which were created for public access. In the 1980s or 1990s, the archives staff at the George Meany Memorial Archive conducted a preliminary survey to evaluate the broad nature of the holdings, and identify potential storage and damage issues. Data was collected during this inventory for use by the archive to process the large number of recordings, which is now available to archive staff at University of Maryland.
Originally, the audio tapes were stored in approximately 140 record center boxes. There was no real organization to them, but an inventory was made using dBase. The tapes in each box were pulled out, given a brief description, entered into dBase, and then put back. About 20 boxes, from Series J, "The World of Labor" were not entered into this inventory. As the tapes were entered into dBase, they were assigned control numbers. These numbers bear no relation to the subjects of the tapes, or their organization into series, but they were used to refer to the original reels or cassettes. The control number consists of the letter "c" followed by one to four digits (for example, c27, c220, c1205). A single control number may appear on only one tape or it may be repeated and assigned to more than one tape. Multiple tapes with the same control number usually have a common subject. For example, c2181 is used for 44 tapes, all of which are recordings of the 1967 AFL-CIO Convention.
The tapes are organized into series based on subjects. Most of the tapes have been pulled from the original boxes they were stored in and are now grouped according to series.
The majority of the original tapes are reel to reel. By the early 1970s, some of the tapes are the standard cassette format. Only a few of the tapes are labeled "copies" or "master" and no such distinction was included in the dBase database. There are, infrequently, multiple copies of some individual tapes.
The tapes from Series A, Series B, and Series I, were reformatted in three formats each for preservation purposes by Steve Smolian or Frederick, Maryland. Each copy was assigned a second number, and this number was recorded on each of the three copy formats. The "master preservation" copy is on high-quality reel-to-reel professional tape; these are labeled "MPR-1, MPR-2, etc.." (for "Master..." or "Meany preservation reel"). Smolian also created a cassette copy for normal reference use, and a DAT copy for higher quality that can be used to make broadcast quality duplicates. Each master tape is numbered, and the corresponding cassette and DAT have the same number. Cassette numbers are preceded by "MPC-" or "MC-" and DAT numbers by "MPD-" or "MD-." Additionally, each original tape copied onto a preservation tape is listed as a separate "track" under the main tape number. For example, preservation tape 21 contains copies of four original tapes, which are listed as four tracks numbered 0021-1, 0021-2, 0021-3, and 0021-4.
The University of Maryland Libraries received the records and the inventories and partial finding aids in 2013. In 2017, Bria Parker exported and cleaned the finding aid contents for series A, B, and I from item lists transcribed by Megan O'Hern from printouts from dBase and Steve Smolian, 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 Jennifer Eidson updated the descriptive content for accuracy using a "working draft" finding aid written by the Meany archives staff. Biographical/historical notes, scope and content notes, and the collection number was created. Jennifer Eidson also added custodial histories and series descriptions, and re-wrote collection and series titles to better conform to archival standards.
All original recordings and master preservation copies have restricted access and cannot be played.