Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Guide to the Transport Workers Union of America and Shirley Quill Photographs PHOTOS 032

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 Collection processed by Erika Gottfried, 2009

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on September 10, 2018
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Quill, Shirley, 1918-
Title: Transport Workers Union of America and Shirley Quill Photographs
Dates [inclusive]: 1913-2007
Dates [bulk]: 1941-1966
Abstract: This collection focuses on the history of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU), founded in 1934, and Michael (Mike) Quill, its president from 1935-1966, although it also includes Quill family portraits, images of leftist and labor activist, Shirley Quill, who was his assistant and second wife, and snapshots and images of early TWU and CIO leadership and conventions. Highlights include a group portrait of the CIO leadership in 1940 (Joe Curran, Quill, Phillip Murray and John L. Lewis); the Unity Slate Victory party; Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the Ghandi Society Luncheon; and Mike Quill's last press conference, and his memorial service.
Quantity: 1.25 Linear Feet in 1 record carton, 1 manuscript box, 1 oversize flat file folder and 3 oversize folders in 2 shared boxes.
Language: Materials are in English
Call Phrase: PHOTOS 032

Return to Top »

Biographical/Historical Note

Much of the Transport Workers of America's (TWU) history centers around the fiery figure of Mike Quill, President of the TWU from 1935 to 1966. Quill, born in Kilgarven, Ireland in 1905, started with the IRT subway as a ticket taker. With the financial support of the Communist Party, Quill, together with Maurice Forge, Austin Hogan, and Harry Sacher, was able to lead a successful organizing drive among New York City transit workers beginning in 1934. With Quill as President, the TWU organized subway, bus, and taxi workers in New York and improved wages and working conditions. When he was elected to the City Council (1937-1939, 1943-1949), Quill also used that position to fight for the transit workers, even when it meant going against the American Labor Party, his base of support. With the consolidation of New York City's subway system under one transit authority in 1941, TWU gained more bargaining power. By 1950, their membership grew to over 100,000 transport workers. In the post- World War II period, Quill split with the Communist Party over a fare increase, and he then joined in the CIO effort to eliminate communist-dominated unions from the organization. By the 1950's, the TWU was the exclusive bargaining agent for New York Transit. TWU also expanded during the 1940s and 1950s to establish locals across the country for railroad and airline workers, utility workers, and taxi drivers, among others. The usual pattern of threatened strike and last minute negotiation was upset in 1965 when Quill led the TWU out on a massive strike. In spite of Quill and other TWU leaders being jailed for refusal to abide by a court order, TWU and New York City reached a settlement. Quill died of a heart attack less than three weeks after the settlement.

Shirley Quill, Brooklyn native and the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, was born in 1915 and became active with leftist and labor organizations in the 1930s while in college. She was a staff member of the Electrical Workers Union in New Jersey during the early 1940s. Quill met her future husband, Michael J. (Mike) Quill, in 1943 while helping with his campaign for New York City Council. She also served as Mike Quill's legislative secretary after his election to the city council. Their mutual commitment to union organizing and progressive politics led to a friendship and a long relationship. They married in 1961 (both had been previously wed). After Mike Quill's death Shirley Quill continued to be politically active, particularly in women's causes and New York City West Side Democratic Party politics; she was also instrumental in putting together the Association of Tenants of Lincoln Towers (the 4,000-apartment complex on the West Side of Manhattan, where she lived until her death), and wrote a biography of Mike Quill,Mike Quill, Himself : A Memoir. She died in 1991.

• Quill, Shirley. Michael Quill, Himself: A Memoir. Greenwich, CT: Devin-Adair, 1985.

• Cerra, Frances. "Tenant Group Put Clout to Work." The New York Times. December 26, 1982. Accessed June 14, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/12/26/realestate/tenant-group-puts-clout-to-work.html

• "Shirley Garry Quill, Tenant Organizer, 76." The New York Times. September 28, 1991. Accessed June 14, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/1991/09/28/obituaries/shirley-garry-quill-tenant-organizer-76.html

Return to Top »

Scope and Contents

The images in this collection (which may have been assembled by Shirley Quill when she was writing Mike Quill's biography) document many aspects of the history of the Transport Workers Union through Mike Quill's involvement with that history; it also includes Quill family portraits and snapshots and one professionally documented trip to Ireland by Quill (1963). The collection is strong on images of the early TWU and CIO leadership and conventions. Included are shots of the TWU conventions (1939, 1941, 1945, 1948, 1955 and 1961) and the CIO conventions (1937, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1954 and 1957); a number of TWU locals are also represented. One highlight is a group portrait of the CIO leadership in 1940 - Joe Curran, Quill, Phillip Murray and John L. Lewis. Mike Quill's effective use of the media is also evident by the many shots of him at press conferences and on television programs. One image, for example, shows him with TWU picketers at a television station during the 1953 bus strike. There are some shots of Quill speaking, both while organizing and serving as a city councilman. Quill's break with the TWU leaders affiliated with the Communist Party is documented through photographs of a anti-communism rally in 1948. Other highlights include the Unity Slate Victory party (1950), Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the Ghandi Society Luncheon (1963), and Quill's last press conference and the memorial service for him (1966). One folder in the collection features images of Shirley Quill specifically, although she also appears in images throughout the rest of the collection.


This collection has been arranged by subject.

Return to Top »

Access Points

Subject Names

  • Spellman, Francis Joseph, Cardinal, 1889-1967
  • Murray, Philip, 1886-1952.
  • Meany, George, 1894-1980.
  • Larkin, Dennis
  • King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
  • Hogan, Austin.
  • Haywood, Allan S., 1888-1953
  • Guinan, Matthew K.
  • Green, William, 1892-1973.
  • Santo, John, 1908-
  • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962.
  • Reuther, Walter, 1908-1970.
  • Quill, Shirley, 1918-
  • Potofsky, Jacob S. (Jacob Samuel), 1894-1979
  • O'Dwyer, Paul, 1907-
  • Curran, Joseph Edwin, 1906-1981
  • Dubinsky, David, 1892-1982.
  • Faber, Gustav, 1912-
  • Gildberg, Arthur

Document Type

  • Photographic prints.
  • Black-and-white photographs.
  • Color photographs.

Subject Organizations

  • Transport Workers Union of America. Local 100.
  • Transport Workers Union of America.
  • Transport Workers Union of America. Air Transport Division.
  • AFL-CIO.
  • Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.).

Return to Top »

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Some of the materials in this collection were most likely compiled by Shirley Quill for the book Mike Quill, Himself : A Memoir.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for most materials in this collection, created by the Transport Workers Union of America was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Shirley Quill were transferred to New York University in 1987. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Transport Workers Union of America and Shirley Quill Photographs; PHOTOS 032; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Archival Materials

Transport Workers Union of America: Records of Locals (WAG 234)

Maurice Forge Papers (WAG 106)

Gerald O'Reilly Papers (WAG 105)

Transport Workers Union, Local 100: S. Goldstein Interviews (OH 047)

Transport Workers Union, Local 100: Joseph Gayol Files (WAG 085)

Transport Workers Union, Local 100: Naomi Allen Files (WAG 295)

Transport Workers Union of America, Executive Board Minutes, 1938-1971 (Microfilm, Reel 7452).

Transport Workers Union of America Records (WAG 235 )

Transport Workers Union of America, Scrapbooks, 1933-1949 (Microfilm, Reels 7453/1-11)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) donated its records to the Tamiment Library in 1985. In 1987 Shirley Quill donated papers related to Mike Quill and his involvement in the TWU to the Tamiment Library. Photographs from both donations were separated from paper records and combined to establish a separate photographs collection. The accession numbers associated with this collection are 1985.002, 2011.097, NPA.1997.003, NPA.2001.041, and NPA.2008.028.

Processing Note

Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes.

No original order was apparent in the collection upon receipt. Materials were grouped into folders, arranged by subject headings created by the archivist.

The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) donated its records to the Tamiment Library in 1985. A small number of photographs from this donation were separated and created as the Transport Workers Union Photographs (PHOTOS 032). In 1987 Shirley Quill donated papers related to Mike Quill and his involvement in the TWU. Records from this donation were added to the Transport Workers Union of America Records (WAG 235) and photographs from it were established as the Shirley Quill Photographs (PHOTOS 139). In February 2014 the Shirley Quill Photographs and Transport Workers Union Photographs were combined into PHOTOS 032 and the collection renamed the Shirley Quill Transport Workers Union Photographs. In October 2014 the collection was renamed the Transport Workers Union of America and Shirley Quill Photographs to more accurately reflect the collection's shared provenance.


No materials were removed from this collection.

Return to Top »

Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Portraits/Mike Quill, Studio Portraits, In Bus With Son.
1941-1942, 1952
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Portraits/Mike Quill, Studio Portraits, at Press Conference Before Last Strike was Called, Memorial Program.
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Quill Family.
1937-1941, 1958-1963
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Mike and Shirley Quill to Ireland.
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Mike Quill and Family in Ireland.
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Shirley Quill.
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Irish History.
Box: 1 Folder : 8 New York State Industrial Union Council, First Convention.
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Transport Worker Union (TWU) Leadership.
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Transport Workers Union (TWU) Conventions.
1939-1948, 1955, 1961
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Strikes and Protests.
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) International.
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Transport Workers Union (TWU) Response to 50 Year Celebration of Subways.
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Transport Workers Union (TWU) Support of Other Strikes.
Box: 1 Folder : 16 American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) - William Green, Mike and Shirley Quill with George Meany/James Carey, Joe Curran.
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Local 100.
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Local 101 - Support of IBEW Against Brooklyn Borough Gas Corporation.
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Local 163 - Virginia Electric and Power Company.
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Local 206, 208, New Orleans, 225 Clifton, New Jersey.
circa 1949
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Local 234 - Philadelphia.
Box: 1 Folder : 22 Local 252 - Long Island, First Annual Dance Negotiations.
Box: 1 Folder : 23 Air Transport Division.
Box: 1 Folder : 24 Air Transport Division.
Box: 1 Folder : 25 Air Transport Division.
1948, 1955
Box: 1 Folder : 26 Railroad Division - Pennsylvania Railroad.
1956, 1960
Box: 1 Folder : 27 Taxi Division Local 150 - Local 300.
1944-1947, 1965
Box: 1 Folder : 28 Councilman Quill.
Box: 1 Folder : 29 Political Campaigns.
Box: 1 Folder : 30 World War II, Lobbying for Childcare Funding - Emergency Meat Conference.
Box: 1 Folder : 31 Martin Luther King, Jr.
Box: 1 Folder : 32 With the Press.
Box: 1 Folder : 33 Quill's Last Press Conference.
Jan 25, 1966
Box: 1 Folder : 34 Mike Quill Memorial.
Box: 1 Folder : 35 Publication Parties for Memoir of Mike Quill by Shirley Quill.
Jun 18, 1985
Box: 1 Folder : 36 Quill with Identified Individuals.
Box: 1 Folder : 37 Unidentified Meeting.
Box: 1 Folder : 38 Unidentified Groups.
Box: 1 Folder : 39 Unidentified Friends.
Box: 1 Folder : 40 Signed Robert Kennedy Photograph from Transport Workers Union (TWU) Collection.
Nov 1964
Box: 1 Folder : 41 Oversize Negative, 8" x 10" [possibly Quill's family in Ireland?].
Box: 1 Folder : 42 Miscellaneous, Snapsnots of last trolley car (Yonkers, New York), Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Mechanic Attacked and Injured By Bolice.
circa 1938
Box: 1 Folder : 43 Transport Workers Union (TWU) [Pictorial] Calendars.
1981-1988, 1990-1991, 1995-2000, 2007
Box: 1 Folder : 44 Shirley Quill's photograph album of a trip by Quill and herself to Israel.
circa 1953
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Portraits.
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Unidentified Events.
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Transport Workers Union (TWU) Biennial Convention, 9th.
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.
Box: 2 Folder : 5 General.
Box: 2 Folder : 6 General.
Box: 2 Folder : 7 General.
Box: 2 Folder : 8 General.
Box: 2 Folder : 9 General.
Box: 2 Folder : 10 General.
Box: 2 Folder : 11 General.
Box: 2 Folder : 12 General.
Box: 2 Folder : 13 General (Ephemera).
Box: OS002 Folder : 1 Unidentified Blow-ups of Mike Quill and Another Individual at a Microphone Being Interviewed [Oversize].
Box: OS002 Folder : 2 Publication Layouts
Box: XOS002 Folder : 1 Transport Workers Union (TWU) Atlantic City; First Annual Dinner Dance; Quill Proof [Oversize].
Flat-file: 7 Drawer : 15 Transport Workers Union (TWU) Convention [Panorama].

Return to Top »