Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

African American Labor Center (AALC) records

 Collection 0547-LBR

This collection documents the African American Labor Center (AALC) and the records from the executive director, Patrick O'Farrell, from 1957 to 1996. The AALC was founded in 1964 as an international extension of the AFL-CIO into a decolonizing Africa, and was incorporated into the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center in 1997. The AALC extended formal funding and support from the AFL-CIO to African trade unionists and organizations in the newly-developed nations, which took the forms of educational workshops, conferences, and training in practical trade union causes such as collective bargaining. Due to the wide scope of the AALC, the institution created an abundance of reports, correspondence, and internal records to document their activities in individual African nations, in Pan-African affairs, and between the United States and Africa. This material covers topics such as AALC projects or grants, educational meetings, conventions, and relationships with African trade union organizations like the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Organization of African Unity, and the Organization of African Trade Unionists.


  • 1957-1996
  • Majority of material found within 1962-1984

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. AFL-CIO staff and Solidarity Center staff reviewed boxes from 20 accessions to open them to the public on 7/18/2014, 12/9/2014, and 11/2/2015.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

This collection is unprocessed which means that materials are in the same state we received them and have not been reviewed by archives staff for content or condition.

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 via the AFL-CIO.

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.


261 Linear Feet (174 record storage boxes)

Content Description

The African American Labor Center (AALC) records consist of clippings, correspondence, reports, and other records created from 1957 to 1996. The materials in this collection cover multiple aspects of the AALC, including records pertaining to internal administration, project files and weekly reports of African nation activities, the AALC Women's Program, relationships with international labor organizations (notably the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)), visitor programs, grant agency interaction, meetings and conventions, AALC publications, and the African Labor History Center. Most records are products of the office of the executive director, Patrick O'Farrell.

Biographical / Historical

The African American Labor Center (AALC), also referred to as the African American Labor Institute, was established between 1964 and 1965 with the assistance of Jay Lovestone. Irving Brown served as the first executive director, and Patrick J. O'Farrell served as the second executive director of the AALC.

The purpose of the institution was to form international links with trade unionists and practical trade union causes in Africa, such as collective bargaining. The AALC was also responsible for union education centers in Africa, where local activists participated in workshops, seminars, and conferences in labor issues and activism. To further the trade union cause, the AALC was also very active in collaboration with regional labor organizations, such as the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), to whom they provided funding and accessory services or support. Initially, the African American Labor Center was structured to have an executive director, supported by deputy directors in specialized areas. In 1997, the AALC was combined with three other AFL-CIO international labor institutes, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI), and the Free Trade Union Institute (FTUI), to create the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center.


This collection is organized into twenty series by accession number. Each series represents a unique accession of archival material with the accession number order representing the date it was transferred to the archives.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection is stored offsite. For more information about requesting offsite materials please see our offsite policies:

Custodial History

Materials were originally accessioned by the AFL-CIO George Meany Memorial Archive from 1990-1996. This collection was transferred to the University of Maryland as a major archival transfer in 2013. Between 2014-2015, AFL-CIO staff and Solidarity Center staff reviewed records and approved opening 20 accessions to the public.

An additional 24 accessions, included in the 2013 transfer to University of Maryland, were also accessioned by the AFL-CIO George Meany Memorial Archive from 1990-1997, but these records remain closed to the public.

Related Materials

This collection complements the Solidarity Center records, the Lester N. Trachtman Papers (Deputy Director for Program Planning, the Irving Brown Papers (first executive director), and the Jay Lovestone Files, (heavily involved with establishing the AALC, as well as several other collections for the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department. All of these archival collections are available at the University of Maryland.

Processing Information

This collection material was accessioned but unprocessed by the George Meany Memorial Archives.

Box 18 from accession AR1996-0240 was deaccessioned by the George Meany Memorial Archive on February 16, 2011 after it was checked out to Solidarity Center staff on September 23, 2010.

AFL-CIO staff and Solidarity Center staff reviewed boxes from 20 accessions to open them to the public on 7/18/2014, 12/9/2014, and 11/2/2015.

Records Transfer Inventory (RTI) forms were digitized between 2018-2019.

In 2020, this collection was minimally-processed, though no physical processing was performed. Inventories were created from descriptive content available in digitized RTI forms for each accession documented by the Meany Archive. Many of the inventories describe material at the box level.

A resource record was created in ArchivesSpace and a series level record was added for each accession in the finding aid, listing the accessions in order by the accession number and including a descriptive title with dates.

Guide to the African American Labor Center (AALC) records
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