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Lester N. Trachtman papers

 Collection 0542-LBR

Lester N. Trachtman (1934-2012) was a labor union activist and historian active from approximatley 1960-2000. These papers document his career and personal life. He held a number of important positions related to the labor movement in Africa and the United States, first as an Africa Specialist for the US Department of State from 1960-1965, and most notably as the Deputy Director for Program Planning at the African American Labor Center (AALC), AFL-CIO, from 1965-1982. In that capacity, he managed AFL-CIO programs and projects aimed at building organized labor across the African continent, concentrating on aging and female workers.


  • 1954-2008

Condition Description

One rolled parchment object and one textile object showing mold and dirt need preservation assessment.

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 some restricted material. Preliminary inventories note folders that should be screened by the collection curator before giving access to a public researcher.

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.


21 Linear Feet (14 Paige boxes)

1 Items (Oversized framed textile object)

Content Description

Lester Trachtman's papers includes oral history interviews from the African American History Center, subject and project files concerning African American Labor Center (AALC) projects, business correspondence, professional publications from Trachtman, office memos, records pertaining to organizations outside of the AALC, and personal correspondence and photographs from Trachtman. Also included are research materials and publications of Trachtman’s work related to labor force development and education for the U. S. Department of Labor during the early 1960s, and administrative records pertaining to his leadership role in the Washington D.C. chapter of the Jewish Labor Committee. The material is focused on geographic regions of Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, Nigeria, Zambia, Swaziland, Liberia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Togo and Mauritius, although the earliest and latest material in these papers mostly pertain to the United States.

Biographical / Historical

Lester N. Trachtman was born on April 11, 1934, and died in July of 2012 at the age of 78. He attended Columbia University as an engineering student, and then the Cornell School of Industrial Labor Relations, where he focused on the development of labor environments in newly-independent African nations, notably in Ghana (where he centered his postgraduate thesis). From 1960 to 1965, Trachtman started his career in labor relations, first as an intern and then as the Assistant African Area Specialist for the Department of State. He served as labor advisor to the African Division of United States Information Agency (USIA), concerning foreign labor policy for Africa. Starting in 1965 and until 1982, Trachtman was the Deputy Director for Program Planning at the African American Labor Center (AALC), AFL-CIO. In this position, he performed a variety of labor unionism tasks including: vocational education, occupational health programs, leadership training, designing and preparing hundreds of projects, and developing programs for women and aging workers in African countries. He also directed six Pan African conferences, and organized cooperative educational programs with multiple institutions (Cornell, Kenya Poly Tech, Boston University, Ghana Labor College, Trade Union Institute of Nigeria, Mater Dolorosa School of Botswana). Throughout his career, Trachtman was a prolific publisher of African labor relations material, and collaborated with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to publish a comprehensive book on Industrial Relations in Africa. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Trachtman served in leadership roles for the Jewish Labor Committee in the United States. Work regarding living wage gaps and religious union representation occupied the later years of his career.


The collection is organized into nine series.

Series 1
African American Labor Center (AALC) and African History Center records
Series 2
Jewish Labor Committee and Jews United for Justice records
Series 3
Records of Business with Other Organizations
Series 4
Project Research, Concepts, Drafts, and associated records
Series 5
Office Files and Memos
Series 6
Personal Correspondence
Series 7
Photographs and Postcards
Series 8
Series 9
Lester Trachtman Publications

Custodial History

This collection was donated to University of Maryland Libraries by Gerdy Trachtman on July 12, 2019.

Related Materials

This collection compliments the AFL-CIO African American Labor Center Records, and the Solidarity Center records.

Condition Description

One rolled parchment object and one textile object showing mold and dirt need preservation assessment.

Processing Information

This collection is minimally processed. The collection came to the Libraries in no particular order, aside from some rough groupings of similar material. Boxes were assigned sequential numbers and roughly organized into preliminary series. In most cases, materials have not been arranged chronologically. Researchers should note that although similar materials were grouped together as much as possible, related folders are still somewhat scattered among the boxes.

This collection contained approximately 9 linear feet, or 6 Paige boxes, of labor-related books not authored by Lester Trachtman. These materials will be reviewed by the curator, and either deaccessioned or entered into the catalog.

Paper clips were removed, and many of the original folders and binders were replaced with acid-free folders. Unlabeled or non-descriptive folders were assigned new titles. Photographs were left in their original file groupings and order, but were placed in acid-free envelopes. The oversized framed textile [poster] object needs preservation treatment and rehousing.

Guide to the Lester N. Trachtman papers
Minimally Processed
Processed by Tyler Black
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

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