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Guide to the Edward K. Welsh Papers TAM.074

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.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Emily M. Belcher, 1981; Wendy Scheir and Gail Malmgreen, 2005; and Tamiment staff, 2009

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 01, 2018
Finding aid is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Welsh, Edward K., 1902-1979
Source - dnr: Welsh, Miriam
Title: Edward K. Welsh Papers
Dates [inclusive]: circa 1930-1974
Dates [bulk]: 1960-1969
Abstract: Edward K. Welsh (1902-1979) began his career as a union organizer in 1930. In the 1940s, he was hired by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to organize workers in the steel, auto, and textile industries in the United States. He later organized laborers at the Panama Canal Zone. In 1961, the AFL-CIO sent Welsh to Africa as part of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) to assist various African trade union movements. He spent three and a half years in Africa. The collection mainly documents Welsh's trade union work in the United States and Africa, but also reflects some of his nonunion activities.
Quantity: 4.25 Linear Feet in 4 record cartons and 5 folders
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu at least two business days prior to research visit.
Language: Materials are in English. There are also likely some materials in Spanish and in several African languages.
Call Phrase: TAM.074

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Historical/Biographical Note

Edward K. Welsh (1902-1979) was born in New York City in 1902. As a teenager, he worked at the old Metropolitan Opera House, opening carriage doors for opera-goers. He also worked as a laborer, ditch digger, elevator operator, store clerk, shipping clerk, and longshoreman.

Welsh's career in the labor movement began in 1930, when he worked as a volunteer organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), Local 22 (dressmakers). Soon he became involved in radical politics, traveling with Communist Party notable Jay Lovestone and others to the Soviet Union. During that visit, Stalin hoped to secure Welsh as one of communism's supporters among African Americans in the United States. However, Welsh's close-up exposure to Soviet society caused him to alter his political allegiance. Nevertheless, his concern for workers' rights led him to continue to carry out his activism in the labor movement through writing, speaking and teaching.

During the 1940s, Welsh was appointed to the staff of Allan Haywood, vice president and director of organization of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), where he organized workers in the steel, auto, and textile industries in the South and in Ohio.

In 1950, Welsh was sent to the Panama Canal Zone by CIO president Philip Murray to organize workers there. With Welsh's help, 5,500 workers were enrolled in Local 900 of the Government and Civic Employees Organizing Committee within a year. In 1953, Welsh returned to New York City, where he organized office workers. He later moved to Detroit, where he conducted worker education and political action programs.

The CIO merged with the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1955. In 1961, AFL-CIO president George Meany assigned Welsh to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). Welsh's job was to assist trade union movements in Africa, specifically in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Kenya, and Uganda. During this period, the AFL-CIO sought out African union leaders to further the United States' political and economic interests in Africa. Sanctioned by the Department of State and the CIA, African labor leaders were given secret undercover support.

Welsh spent three and a half years in Africa organizing agricultural, textile, hotel, and building and construction workers. He returned to the United States in 1964 to work with taxicab drivers and hospital workers in New York City before retiring three years later. Welsh died in February 1979 at the age of 77.

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Scope and Content Note

Roughly half of the collection chronicles Welsh's trade union work in both the United States and Africa for the CIO, AFL-CIO, and the ICFTU. Genres of materials which document these activities include correspondence, reports, photographs, minutes, speeches, and other materials. Earlier files from the 1930s through 1950s shed light on Welsh's organizing efforts in the United States for the CIO and the AFL-CIO, as well as some of his nonunion activities and his work in Panama. Later files from the late 1950s and 1960s focus on the ICFTU and Welsh's involvement with the organization. The other half of the collection consists of collected pamphlets, periodicals, and newspapers on trade union activities in Africa, spanning from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Many files in the collection provide insight into the formation and development of the trade union movements in African countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, and Tanganyika (now Tanzania); criticism by African affiliates of the ICFTU administration; and the split between the All-African Trade Union Federation and the ICFTU. The papers also document conspiracy and bribery charges within the Kenya Federation of Labour, some of which implicate the CIA.

Arrangement

Series I-III are arranged in rough chronological order. In Series IV-VI, printed materials are grouped by country of origin. Series VII is arranged alphabetically by folder title.

The collection is organized into seven series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Correspondence, Biography, and Speeches, 1939-1971
  2. Series II: CIO, AFL-CIO, and Other Organizing Files, 1937-1974
  3. Series III: ICFTU Files, 1958-1971
  4. Series IV: African Pamphlets and Periodicals, 1956-1972
  5. Series V: News Clippings, 1956-1965
  6. Series VI: African Newspapers, 1955-1964
  7. Series VII: Photographs, circa 1930-1969

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Meany, George, 1894-1980.
  • Haywood, Allan S., 1888-1953
  • Bryher, 1894-1983
  • Corey, Lewis
  • Welsh, Miriam
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963
  • Welsh, Edward K., 1902-1979
  • Lovestone, Jay.
  • Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
  • McKay, Claude, 1890-1948.
  • Mboya, Tom.
  • Lubembe, Clement K., 1929-
  • Murray, Philip, 1886-1952.

Document Type

  • Pamphlets.
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence.
  • Minutes (administrative records)
  • Press releases.
  • Periodicals.
  • Speeches.
  • Reports.
  • Photographs.

Subject Organizations

  • United States. Central Intelligence Agency
  • Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.)
  • Area Committee for East, Central, and Southern Africa
  • All-African Trade Union Federation
  • African Labour College
  • AFL-CIO
  • Negro American Labor Council
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Kenya Federation of Labour
  • Confederation of East African Trade Unions
  • Pan-African Trade Congress
  • International Communist Opposition
  • International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

Subject Topics

  • Labor unions -- Organizing -- United States.
  • Communism -- United States.
  • Communism -- History.
  • African Americans -- Employment.
  • African American labor union members.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights.
  • Civil rights workers.
  • Working class -- Africa.
  • African Americans -- Suffrage.

Subject Places

  • Africa.
  • Africa |x Politics and government |y 1960-
  • Ethiopia.
  • Casablanca (Morocco)
  • Uganda.
  • Liberia.
  • Kenya.
  • Tanganyika.
  • Sudan.
  • Kenya |x Politics and government |v Addresses, essays, lectures.
  • Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Edward K. Welsh was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date; Edward K. Welsh Papers; TAM 074; Box number; Folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Archival Materials at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

There are a small number of images of Edward K. Welsh in the Sam Reiss Photographs Collection - Part II- Photographic Prints (PHOTOS 021.001) and the Daniel Nilva Photographic Negatives Collection (PHOTOS 067).

Many collections at the Tamiment Library feature the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. In particular, researchers may wish to consult the Printed Ephemera Collection on Trade Unions (PE 001).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Mirian Welsh, wife of Edward K. Welsh, in 1979, 1985, and 2007. The accession numbers associated with these gifts are 1979.004 and 1979.011.

Processing Information

Photographs separated from this collection during initial processing and from additional accessions were established as a separate collection, the Edward K. Welsh Photographs (PHOTOS 190). In 2013, the photograph collection was reincorporated into the Edward K. Welsh Papers (TAM 074).

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Container List

Series I: Correspondence, Biography and Speeches, 1939-1971

Scope and Content Note

Series I: Correspondence, Biography, and Speeches, 1939-1971 includes Welsh's personal and political correspondence (mostly incoming), notes, a poem, and speeches made prior to his departure for Africa. Also included is a short biographical sketch. Among Welsh's correspondents are W.E.B. Du Bois; Claude McKay; Langston Hughes; the writer Bryher; politician and diplomat W. Averell Harriman; A. Philip Randolph; Lewis Corey; Allan S. Haywood; Jay Lovestone, director of the Department of International Affairs, AFL-CIO; Clement K. Lubembe, deputy general secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labour; and Tom Mboya, general secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labour and Chairman of the ICFTU Area Committee for East, Central, and Southern Africa.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Biographical
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence
1939-1971
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Addresses and Speeches
1940-1953

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Series II: CIO, AFL-CIO, and Other Organizing Files, 1937-1974

Scope and Content Note

Series II: CIO, AFL-CIO, and Other Organizing Files, 1937-1974 consists of correspondence, minutes, telegrams, resolutions, lists, leaflets, programs, invitations, employment permits, leases, and addresses and speeches that provide insight into Welsh's early career as a labor organizer. Some materials document Welsh's work for the CIO from 1937 to 1955 as a field representative organizing workers in the North and South, as well as in the Panama Canal Zone. Other files concern his membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and his later union activities during the 1950s and 1960s. These activities included organizing drives to unionize black workers, an effort which contributed to the formation of the Negro American Labor Council.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 4 CIO
1937-1955
Box: 1 Folder : 5 AFL-CIO
1955-1960
Box: 1 Folder : 6 AFL-CIO
1961-1967
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Canal Zone
1951-1958
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Personal Finances (medical, leases, in Africa)
1962-1964
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Taxi Drivers Strike
1965
Box: 1 Folder : 10 NAACP Convention Materials
1957-1959
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Urban League of Greater New York
1959
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Negro American Labor Council
1959-1960
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Black Trade Unionists Committee, NYC Central Labor Council
1973-1974

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Series III: International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) Files, 1958-1971

Scope and Content Note

Series III: International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) Files, 1958-1971 includes correspondence, telegrams, reports, agendas, circulars, speeches, photographs, documentation of financial transactions, and news releases. Of particular interest is material on Welsh's appointment as ICFTU representative in Africa and reports on union activities in Liberia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika (now Tanzania). Also included is a list of ICFTU field representatives in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; a draft of the Constitution of the Confederation of East African Trade Unions; a report on the First All-African Trade Union Conference; and records of the Pan-African Trade Congress held in Casablanca in 1961. Additional documents deal with CIA involvement in Kenya; the formation of the African Labour College in Uganda, which provided educational training for trade unionists in Africa; and the opposition to Tom Mboya's affiliation with the ICFTU by African countries that wanted to operate independently. The series also includes speeches made by heads of African states at a summit conference held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963; a description of union activity and efforts to create a national trade union center in the Sudan; and financial accounts and a proposed program of organization and education within the Kenya Federation of Labour.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 14 ICFTU: Appointments in Africa
1961-1964
Box: 1 Folder : 15 ICFTU: Statement to UN
1962
Box: 1 Folder : 16 ICFTU: Correspondence
1961
Box: 1 Folder : 17 ICFTU: Correspondence
1962
Box: 1 Folder : 18 ICFTU: Correspondence
1963
Box: 1 Folder : 19 ICFTU: Correspondence
1964
Box: 1 Folder : 20 ICFTU: Official Correspondence and Bulletins
1961-1964
Box: 1 Folder : 21 ICFTU: Africa - Speeches, Reports, Resolutions
1958-1962
Box: 1 Folder : 22 ICFTU: Africa - Speeches, Reports, Resolutions
1963-1971
Box: 2 Folder : 1 ICFTU: East, Central, and Southern Africa Area Committee
1958-1963
Box: 2 Folder : 2 ICFTU: African Labour College, Uganda
1961-1964
Box: 2 Folder : 3 ICFTU: Africa - Finances
1961-1964
Box: 2 Folder : 4 ICFTU: Kenya
1961-1964
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Sudan
1960-1963
Box: 2 Folder : 6 All African Trade Union Conference (Casablanca)
1961
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Tanganyika Federation of Labour
1962
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Uganda
1961-1964
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Ethiopia
1963-1964
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Summit Conference of Independent African States (Addis Ababa)
1963
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Program - Honoring the President of Liberia
1964

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Series IV: African Pamphlets and Periodicals, 1956-1972

Scope and Content Note

A substantial portion of the periodicals in Series IV: African Pamphlets and Periodicals, 1956-1972 concern trade union activities in East and West African countries. Most of the pamphlets relate to nonunion activities, but there are a few pamphlets published by the ICFTU, the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the United Nations. There are three folders of miscellaneous pamphlets and periodicals with no direct bearing on trade unions in Africa. These publications will serve researchers interested in the trade union movement from an African perspective.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Gold Coast Today  
1956
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Kenya
1959-1964
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Nigeria
1960-1961
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Uganda
1960-1962
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Spearhead: The Pan-African Review  
1961-1963
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Ethiopia
1962-1963
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Voice of Africa  
1962-1963
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Reporter  
1962
Box: 2 Folder : 20 Reporter  
1963-1964
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Ethiopia Mirror  
1963-1964
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Pan Africa  
1963-1964
Box: 3 Folder : 3 West Africa  
1964
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Miscellaneous Pamphlets and Periodicals
1956-1962
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Miscellaneous Pamphlets and Periodicals
1963-1972

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Series V: News Clippings, 1957-1963

Scope and Content Note

The files in Series V: Clippings, 1956-1965 are a rich source of materials for research into African trade union activities. Most clippings include dates, but only a few include the names of the newspapers. One file is from the U.S. press.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Uganda
1957-1963
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Kenya
1962-1963
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Tanganyika
1962-1963
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Ghana
1962-1963
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Ethiopia
1962-1963
Box: 3 Folder : 11 United States
1962-1963
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Northern Rhodesia
1963
Box: 3 Folder : 13 South Africa
1963
Box: 3 Folder : 14 African Students in Bulgaria
1963
Box: 3 Folder : 15 MOSHI - Afro-Asian Conference
1963
Box: 3 Folder : 16 Miscellaneous Clippings
1956-1965
Box: 3 Folder : 17 Miscellaneous Clippings
1962-1963
Box: 3 Folder : 18 Miscellaneous Clippings
1962-1964

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Series VI: African Newspapers, 1955-1964

Scope and Content Note

The miscellaneous selection of issues in Series VI: African Newspapers 1955-1964 contains material relevant to trade union history in various African countries.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Uganda Argus  
1961-1962
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Uganda Argus  
1963
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Uganda Nation  
1962
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Uganda Nation  
1963
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Ethiopian Herald  
1963-1964
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Voice of Ethiopia  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 7 East African Standard(Kenya)  
1962
Box: 4 Folder : 8 East African Standard(Kenya)  
1963
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Daily Nation(Kenya)  
1962-1964
Box: 4 Folder : 10 MFANYI KAZI(Kenya)  
1963
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Daily Listener(Liberia)  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 12 Liberian Age  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Liberian Star  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 14 Egyptian Gazette  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 15 Ghanaian Times  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 16 Cameroon Times  
Jul 23, 1964
Box: 4 Folder : 17 Daily/Sunday Times  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 18 Nigerian Daily Sketch  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 19 Daily Express(Nigeria)  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 20 West African Pilot(Nigeria)  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 21 Nigerian Morning Post  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 22 Nigerian Tribune  
1964
Box: 4 Folder : 23 West African Worker(ICFTU Publication)  
1955 , 1963
Box: 4 Folder : 24 Assorted African Newspapers
1964

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Series VII: Photographs, circa 1930-1969

Scope and Content Note

Series VII: Photographs is comprised of black-and-white photographs that document Welsh's work for the CIO, AFL-CIO, and other labor organizations in Panama, Africa, and the United States, especially during the 1950s and 1960s. The series contains group shots and portraits of Welsh, mostly from his years in Africa. The images from Panama include shots of various meetings, banquets, and speeches (including several from the March of Dimes), as well as photographs of seamen at the Panama Canal. There are also images from the Summit of Independent African States in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia in May 1963 and three images from a folder labeled "Pictures - Africa," which consist of a group portrait featuring Welsh, an image of Welsh and another man holding up an embroidered shirt, and a candid photograph of Welsh and other men at the 14th Constitutional Convention of the CIO in 1952. Other images in the series are mostly photographs taken by news services of contemporary events in African nations during the 1950s and 1960s, as well as a few postcards and some group shots and portraits of various individuals.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: A003 Folder : 1 General
circa 1950-1969
Box: A003 Folder : 2 Panama
circa 1949-1953
Box: A003 Folder : 3 "Pictures - Africa"
circa 1950-1969
Box: A003 Folder : 4 Summit of Independent African States
May 1963
Box: A003 Folder : 5 Welsh, Edward Portraits and Group Shots
circa 1930-1969

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