Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives logo

Preliminary Inventory to the National Writers Union Records WAG.026

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Daniel Michelson, 2011; Addendum by Rachel Schimke, 2012

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 14, 2022
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Nicole Greenhouse to add additional archived websites and DACS compliance  , June 2022

Descriptive Summary

Creator: National Writers Union (U.S.)
Source: National Writers Union (U.S.). New York Local
Title: National Writers Union Records
Dates [inclusive]: 1976-2009
Abstract: The National Writers Union (NWU) represents freelance writers throughout the United States. The collection consists mostly of the records of the NWU's national office, New York and Los Angeles locals, as well as archived websites of the organization.
Quantity: 46.25 Linear Feet (in 48 boxes)
Quantity: 2 websites in 2 archived websites.
Language: Materials are in English and Spanish.
Call Phrase: WAG.026

Return to Top »

Historical/Biographical Note

The National Writers Union (NWU) represents freelance writers throughout the United States. It was formed in 1981 during the Writers' Congress held in New York City. By the end of the year, the organization had more than 1000 dues-paying members and was actively organizing around the country. The Union convened annual delegates' assemblies, offered a low-cost health and dental insurance plan for freelancers, instituted a committee structure, and produced materials to assist their membership such as a model book contract, a survey of New England publications and a checklist of questions for writers to use when bidding on jobs. Most significantly, the Union began to win contracts with periodicals, such as Mother Jones,  Columbia Journalism Review,  In These Times, and  Los Angeles Weekly. In 1981, the NWU affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW) as Local 1981. The NWU's fight for author retention of copyright in electronically published articles culminated in its victory in  Tasini v. New York Times Co. in 2001. As of 2011, the NWU has over 1,500 members in fifteen locals.

Return to Top »

Scope and Contents

The collection consists mostly of the records of the NWU's national office, although some material came from the New York and Los Angeles Locals. The records include National Executive Board minutes, officers' files, internal e-mails, local and national newsletters, membership applications and grievances. Also included are materials from Delegate Assembly meetings, which include minutes, reports, agendas and notes. Finally, there is particularily extensive documentation of the landmark lawsuit Tasini v. New York Times Co.


This collection has not been arranged by an archivist. The materials are arranged in the order in which they were received from the donor.

Return to Top »

Access Points

Subject Names

  • Tasini, Jonathan
  • Dubro, Alec
  • Reiser, Bob
  • Sunshine, Alice

Subject Organizations

  • Organizing Committee for a National Writers Union (U.S.)
  • National Writers Union (U.S.)
  • National Writers Union (U.S.). New York Local
  • Google Library Project
  • New York Times Company
  • National Writers Union (U.S.). New York Local

Subject Topics

  • Authors and publishers.
  • Authors -- Labor unions -- United States.
  • Copyright infringement.
  • Copyright -- Databases.
  • Copyright -- United States.
  • Freelance writing

Return to Top »

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Unprocessed paper materials are closed until processing, due to the presence of personal identifying information throughout the records. The archived websites are available for research without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; National Writers Union Records; WAG 026; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

To cite the archived website in this collection: Identification of item, date; National Writers Union Records; WAG 026; Wayback URL; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by the National Writers Union, NY Local in 1985. The accession number associated with this gift is 1985.021. Additional materials were donated in 2009 and 2012. The accession numbers associated with these materials are 2009.070 and 2012.007.

https://www.nwu.org/ was initially selected by curators and captured through the use of The California Digital Library's Web Archiving Service in 2009 as part of the Labor Unions and Organizations (U.S.) Web Archive. In November 2015, this website was migrated to Archive-It. Archive-It uses web crawling technology to capture websites at a scheduled time and displays only an archived copy, from the resulting WARC file, of the website. In April 2022, https://freelancesolidarity.org/ was added. The accession number associated with this website is 2022.055.

Processing Information

In 2014, the archived website was added as a series. Additional website was added in 2022.


Archived websites are made accessible for purposes of education and research. NYU Libraries have given attribution to rights holders when possible; however, due to the nature of archival collections, we are not always able to identify this information.

If you hold the rights to materials in our archived websites that are unattributed, please let us know so that we may maintain accurate information about these materials.

If you are a rights holder and are concerned that you have found material on this website for which you have not granted permission (or is not covered by a copyright exception under US copyright laws), you may request the removal of the material from our site by submitting a notice, with the elements described below, to the special.collections@nyu.edu.

Please include the following in your notice: Identification of the material that you believe to be infringing and information sufficient to permit us to locate the material; your contact information, such as an address, telephone number, and email address; a statement that you are the owner, or authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed and that you have a good-faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law; a statement that the information in the notification is accurate and made under penalty of perjury; and your physical or electronic signature. Upon receiving a notice that includes the details listed above, we will remove the allegedly infringing material from public view while we assess the issues identified in your notice.

Return to Top »

Container List

Archived Websites, December 2009-ongoing. 2 websites in 2 archived websites.

National Writers Union Archived Website: December 2009-ongoing


Freelance Solidarity Project Archived Website: April 2022-ongoing


Scope and Content Note

The National Writers Union (NWU) represents freelance writers throughout the United States. It was formed in 1981 during the Writers' Congress held in New York City. In 1981, the NWU affiliated with the United Auto Workers (UAW) as Local 1981. Capture of the website began in 2009. In the early period of the website (2009-2012), the NWU highlighted their work to protect copyright for writers in digital publications, freedom of expression for writers, economic rights, protect against media consolidation, health and safety for writers, and solidarity with other unions. They also have information on their divisions, committees, and caucuses, specifically the Community Action Program Committee, Poetry/Fiction Caucus, Civil Rights Committee, Book Division, Journalism Division, Grievance and Contract Division, and BizTech Division. In 2013, captures of the website improved. In 2015, the website redesigned. The new website had a focus on NWU chapters, writers issues related to copyright, writers' pay, freedom of expression, health and safety, the Shield Bill, and diversity. The website also includes information on internationl press passes, tour promotion, talent database, contract help, and news. Additional Divisions established include the Spanish Language Division, National Writers United Service Organization, and the Freelance Solidarity Project.

The Freelance Solidarity Project is a division in the National Writers Union, established in 2018. They work to organize digital media workers and works with freelance employers (such as magazines and other publications) to outline baseline terms for freelance media labor, such as writing, photography, illustration, audio, design, video, or other freelance digital media work. The website contains their action campaigns related to rate sharing, the PRO Act, COVID-19 graduated payment schedules, Medicare for all, the New Yorker Union, and the Freelance Isn't Free Act.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Due to technical or privacy issues, archived websites may not be exact copies of the original website at the time of the web crawl. Certain file types will not be captured dependent on how they are embedded in the site. Other parts of websites that the crawler has difficulty capturing includes Javascript, streaming content, database-driven content, and highly interactive content. Full-Text searches of archived websites are available at https://archive-it.org/organizations/567.


Websites are captured semiannually.


Crawl was limited to domains and subdomains of https://nwu.org/ and https://freelancesolidarity.org/ in order to remain within the collection scope and data constraints.

Return to Top »