Paul Barton was a European Representative for the AFL-CIO, who served in the Paris Office during the Cold War. He worked for the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department from 1968-1994. His records represent the AFL-CIO’s international relationship with European countries from the 1960s to the 1990s. Materials include his personal writings, published manuscripts, and transcripts of radio broadcasts. Notable topics are the Prague Spring, and labor and Communism in Eastern Europe.
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 is stored offsite. For more information about requesting offsite materials please see our offsite policies:
This collection contains restricted material. These records are under the purview of the MOU between AFL-CIO and University of Maryland Libraries which states that records created less than 50 years ago will be restricted. Please check the series and folder listings for additional information. Restricted records are found in Series 1 and Series 5.
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.
17.23 Linear Feet (12 Paige boxes, 1 document box)
The collection contains articles and publications authored by Barton, subject and reference files, transcripts of radio broadcasts, newspapers, and newspaper clippings. The material was used or created by Paul Barton during his work with the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department between 1945 and 1992. Significant topics and events included in the collection are the Prague Spring and the 1953 uprising in Pilsen, as well as labor issues and Communism in Eastern Europe. One notable individual appearing in news clippings in the collection is Dieter Friede an anti-Communist editor for the Berlin newspaper Der Abend. Friede was kidnapped by the Russians in 1947 and forced by the Soviet State Security Force to “confess” to espionage. Friede was then sentenced to twenty-five years of hard labor.
Several languages are represented in this collection: English, French, German, Russian, Czech, and Spanish.
Paul Barton (birth name Jiří Veltruský) was born in Czechoslovakia on June 5, 1919. Barton worked in a metal factory before he received his PhD in the philosophy of aesthetics of semiotics with a special interest in theater after World War II. During World War II, he helped organize workers in the labor movement. Barton was a member of the Prague Circle (a group of intellectuals), and was an advocate for democracy in Czechoslovakia. When the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia successfully launched a coup and gained control of the government in 1948, Barton was forced to flee Prague. He travelled to Paris, where he would live for the remainder of his life.
Barton was the European Representative for the AFL-CIO, serving in the Paris Office during the Cold War. In this role, he helped establish close contact with the French trade unions and international labor movements. He also served as a United Nations representative for the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). Additionally, Barton was a freelance writer and journalist who wrote about the deterioration of democratic rights in Czechoslovakia and Eastern Europe. His book on Soviet labor camps was praised by Russian dissedent Alexander Solzhenitsyn. He worked for the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department from 1968 until his death in 1994.
This collection is organized into six series:
The papers of Paul Barton were transferred by the AFL-CIO International Affairs Department to the George Meany Memorial Archives in 1995. Several boxes of material were shipped from the Paris Office after his death, upon request of AFL-CIO President Lane Kirland. Barton's wife shared a bibliography of all of Barton's published writings. 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.
Christopher Carter initially processed this collection in Spring 2015 for a field study project as a volunteer. In October 2015, Graduate Assistant Megan O'Hern rehoused the collection into acid-free folders, and entered all descriptive content into a finding aid template in Word, and a folder list in Excel. At the time of processing, the labor collections were not included in the finding aid database, Archives UM.
The majority of the collection was organized by the creator into categories we used as series, upon preliminary review of folder titles and materials. In the original boxes Articles (2 boxes and parts of 2 others) were organized chronologically, although some are out of order. Conference Materials (1 box) were organized by conference. Miscellaneous Writings and Translations (5 boxes) were mostly unorganized. Radio Broadcasts (part of 1 box), were arranged by the group issuing the broadcast, then by date. Published Books (1 box) were unarranged, and there were different translations of the same book which were kept together. Reference Materials (1.5 boxes) were arranged by topic.
Original order was maintained where possible, while some materials were rearranged chronologically to facilitate researcher discovery and access. The majority of the collection materials were not written in English, and so were not rearranged at the time of processing because there were no resources for translation. As a result, folder titles are sometimes too general or inaccurate.
Materials were received in acidic storage boxes and papers were housed in construction paper folders, cardboard folders, and binders, and some newspaper print (sometimes folded and fragile) is present as well. Boxes were not consolidated when materials were rehoused in acid-free folders, because the existing boxes were suitable for storage offsite. As a result, some boxes are not full. Loose papers were foldered.
In 2020, Emily Moore, a Student Assistant, reviewed the accession record and finding aid descriptions created in 2015 and transferred the information into a Resource Record in ArchivesSpace. She also entered the series, box, and folder information into the record, linking the accession and resource records.
In 2022, folders with duplicate titles were added to the box and folder list. All folders were updated with date range information because many of the folders were “undated.” After adding dates, the folders were not rearranged into perfect chronological order, so some sections are in order and some are not. Additional minor updates included: ensuring folder numbering was accurate in each box, updating folder titles where possible, spelling out acronyms, and updating extents.
Many folders were past the 50 year restriction date, and were unrestricted. 9 folders remain restricted, and were housed into a new Box 13 [RESTRICTED].
Every box and folder in the collection is labeled with an obsolete collection number: RG18-011. During the migration to ArchivesSpace, it was determined that 0553-LBR would be the collection number assigned to this collection. The final collection number was added to the box label, but not changed on each folder. The collection boxes also have the accession number, AR1995-0015, included on old labels.