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Guide to the Philip M. Weightman Photographs PHOTOS 025

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Mary Allison Farley, 1988; Erika Gottfried, 2003

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 07, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator - dnr: Weightman, Philip M., 1902-
Title: Philip M. Weightman Photographs
Dates [inclusive]: 1944-1960s, (Bulk 1940s-1950s)
Dates [bulk]: 1944-1959
Abstract: Philip M. Weightman was an African American labor leader and civil rights activist who held leading positions in the Packinghouse Workers Union, the Congress of Industrial Organizations' Political Action Committee (PAC) and the AFL-CIO's Committee on Political Education (COPE). The collection contains images pertaining to various civil rights-related political action campaigns, including the bombing death of Harry T. Moore (1952), and includes images of Bette Davis, Langston Hughes, and Henry Wallace.
Quantity: 0.25 Linear Feet
Quantity: (110 images); b&w
Call Phrase: PHOTOS 025

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Historical/Biographical Note

Philip M. Weightman (1902-), an African-American labor union official and civil rights activist, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on June 13, 1902. His father, Philip Mitchell Weightman, was a contractor and butcher; his mother was Sarah Watts of Port Gibson, Mississippi. In Vicksburg Weightman attended St. Mary's Catholic School, the Cherry Street Public School, and Mrs. Johnson's School (during the summer months). He and his family moved to St. Louis in 1916, where he attended Sumner High School, at night. In 1917, at 15, he cut his teeth on politics when he organized a get out the vote drive in the old Fifth Ward, pinch hitting for his father who was a precinct captain and had suddenly been taken ill. That same year, Weightman, who had worked in his father's meat market in Vicksburg, joined the Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butchers Union in St. Louis. It was at a Labor Day parade, 1918, sponsored by the union that Weightman experienced an unpleasant act of discrimination that he remembered all his life. After the parade the union had a celebration and served food. He was standing in line when someone told him that he had to "get on the other line." This union attitude hurt him deeply. He left the celebration vowing that he would never join another union. He did not keep his word, however, for in the following years Weightman rose through the ranks of the slaughtering floors of packing houses in St. Louis and Chicago to respected stature in the labor movement. He also continued to hone his skills in mainstream politics, developing political "know how" that earned him a national reputation as an election-winner. He lost a few campaigns he was involved with, but his amazing successes in key battles overshadowed the failures.

Following his marriage in 1920 to the former Lululia Mays, he joined the Swift Packing, Company. After a stay at the Krey Packing Company, from 1926 to 1930, and involvement with A1 Smith's campaign for President, he moved to Chicago where he was again employed for many years at Swift and Company. In 1937 he helped organize Local #28 of the Packinghouse Workers CIO where he became the Chief Steward in the plant. In 1943 he was elected First International Vice President of the United Packinghouse Workers, a post which he held until 1948, when he joined the staff of the Political Action Committee (PAC) of the CIO. Philip Murray, then President of the CIO, selected him shortly after that for a special assignment in Panama to reorganize the administrative structure of the Government Employees Union there. He completed this mission in 90 days.

Weightman was also involved in community and civil rights activities. He was a member of the Chicago Human Rights Committee, Co Chairman of the Defense Bond Drive and the Red Cross Blood Bank at the Swift Plant, and First Vice President, Chicago, NAACP. He participated in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and on numerous occasions was a consultant for the National Urban League and other ad hoc groups. He served as a Field Director for PAC from 1948 to 1955. When the AFL anti the CIO merged in 1955, Weightman became a Field Director of the newly formed Committee on Political Education (COPE). In 1960, COPE Director, James L. McDevitt, named him as Assistant National Director. Weightman operated on the practical political premise that the black vote, combined with the liberal elements of labor and the Democratic Party, could win major elections. He worked tirelessly year round to increase black voter registration in the North and the South. He also formed alignments with other minority groups, including Puerto Ricans and Spanish Americans. His work carried him well over most of the 50 states.

In 1940, he was "loaned" by PAC to work in the campaign of Harry Truman, whom he admired greatly. The Weightman prognosis was that Truman could win with the black and labor vote, so he stumped the country on behalf of this candidate. With an able team of one man and one woman and some part time help, he managed over the years to increase voter registration in several Southern states and carry some crucial elections. A pilot project in Birmingham, seat of Jefferson County, increased black registration from, 5,000 to 11,000. Weightman also played a key role in the 1954 Congressional elections, by convincing his colleagues in PAC that emphasis should be shifted from civil rights to economic issues. Under his direction, PAC got out pictorial news spread on unemployment among blacks. Some of his notable achievements were: 1958, the defeat of right to work, proposals in Ohio and California; 1955, the record turnout of black voters in Tennessee for Senator Kefauver; 1960, the overwhelming minority vote for John F. Kennedy; 1961, the "miracle of New Jersey" in which Judge Richard Hughes won over former Secretary of Labor James P. Mitchell.

Upon his mandatory retirement in 1967 he was hired by the Office of Economic Opportunity as a Supervisory Labor Management Relations Specialist. He provided top management with specialized advice on matters pertaining to labor management cooperation, as well as serving as an overviewer and advisor for ten regional programs with labor liaison functions. He served as a principal contact for those with questions concerning interpretation and application of the labor management agreements, unfair labor practice complaints, third party involvement in the agency labor relations program, and other matters related to that discipline. Weightman retired from government Employment in February 1980. He currently resides in Washington, D.C. He had two children, (Mrs.) Eulalia Luke and Leonard; his son is now deceased.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection of 110 images provides considerable information about the work of PAC and COPE through three decades. Most of the photographs fall into these three groups: voter registration during FDR's re-election campaign (St. Louis, 1944); images relating to the bombing death of Harry T. Moore (1952), labor and political meetings (with particular emphasis on civil rights and African-American workers) (1950s); and voter registration in Chicago and New York City (1960s). Individuals pictured include celebrities such as Vice-President Henry Wallace, Langston Hughes, Bette Davis (these are filed in the "Personalities" folder), members of Duke Ellington's band, including composer and pianist Billy Strayhorn (in publicity shots for campaign to encourage African-Americans to register to vote), Captain Hugh Mulzac (the first African American merchant marine naval officer to command an integrated crew during World War II), Walter Reuther, and of course, of Weightman himself. Made up of less well-known individuals, but equally compelling, is a group photograph of African American representatives and members (possibly attending a CIO-sponsored meeting) from locals of various labor unions including the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; Cannery, Packing, and Allied Workers; United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers; Rubber Workers, and Shipbuilders.


Folders are arranged chronologically.

The files are grouped into 1 series:

Missing Title

  1. Inventory

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967 -- |v Portraits
  • Reuther, Walter, 1908-1970. -- |v Portraits
  • Wallace, Henry A. (Henry Agard), 1888-1965 -- |v Portraits
  • Weightman, Philip M., 1902- -- |v Portraits
  • Davis, Bette, 1908-1989
  • Moore, Harry T., d. 1951
  • Mulzac, Hugh, 1886- --Portraits.
  • Strayhorn, Billy -- Portraits.

Document Type

  • Black-and-white photographs.

Subject Organizations

  • AFL-CIO. Committee on Political Education
  • United Packinghouse Workers of America
  • Duke Ellington Orchestra
  • Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.). Political Action Committee

Subject Topics

  • African Americans -- Suffrage.
  • African American labor union members.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights.
  • African American labor leaders.

Subject Places

  • Chicago (Ill.)
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Saint Louis (Mo.)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Philip M. Weightman were transferred to New York University in 1981 by Philip M. Weightman. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives. Please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu, (212) 998-2630.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Philip M. Weightman Photographs; PHOTOS 025; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Material at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Philip M. Weightman Papers (Wagner 194). Philip M. Weightman oral history interview, in New Yorkers at Work Oral History Collection (Oral Histories 1)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Philip M. Weightman in 1980. Photographs from this donation were separated and established as the Philip M. Weightman Photographs (PHOTOS 025). The accession number associated with this collection is 1980.023.

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Container List


Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 1 Public Relation Releases – Servicemen
Folder: 2 Public Relation Releases – General
Folder: 3 Captain Hugh Mulzac
Folder: 4 Roosevelt–Related
Folder: 5 The Reverend John Johnson
Folder: 6 Members of Duke Ellington's band
Folder: 7 Personalities, Various
Folder: 8 Voter Registration Drive, St. Louis, Missouri
Folder: 8-a Group photograph : African American representatives and members (possibly attending a CIO-sponsored meeting) from locals of various labor unions.
Folder: 9 Bombing Death of Harry T. Moore
Folder: 10 CIO Convention, Ohio
Folder: 11 Tobias, Channing et al
Early 1950s
Folder: 12 Kroll, Jack et al
Folder: 13 Harlem Rally
Folder: 14 First Meeting of Merged COPE Staff
Folder: 15 Right-to-work Fight, Ohio
Folder: 17 CIO Convention, Newark, N.J., Anti-Discrimination Program
Folder: 18 Van A. Bittner, Vice President, United Steel Workers of America
Folder: 19 John W. Riff, Vice President, CIO
Folder: 20 Maury Maverick, Candidate for US senate, Texas
Folder: 21 Azie Taylor (Friend of Weightman, worked in White House)
Folder: 22 Voter Registration, New York City
Folder: 23 Voter Registration, Chicago

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