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Guide to the Labor Research Association Records TAM 129

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

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Tamiment staff (2009). Edited to reflect addenda (2012).

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 17, 2018
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Historical/Biographical Note

The Labor Research Association was founded in 1927 by Grace Hutchins, Anna Rochester, and Robert Dunn, LRA's director from 1927-1975, along with Solon DeLeon and Alexander Trachtenberg. Hutchins (1885-1969) was the principal writer on wage-earning women for the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), and a member of LRA's staff until 1967. Rochester (1880-1966), a Marxist historian, economist, and Communist Party member, was Hutchins' lifelong companion. It is not known whether Dunn (1885-1977) was a member of the Communist Party. The LRA was politically close to the CPUSA, although there were no formal ties. LRA's purpose was to "conduct investigations and studies of social, economic, and political questions in the interest of the labor movement."

The principal activities of the LRA have been research, consulting, and the publication of books, pamphlets, articles, and serials on labor and industrial relations, U.S. political economy and industry, civil liberties and other issues of concern to the labor movement. Many of the LRA's publications seek to educate the labor movement, from a Marxist standpoint, about broader political economic issues. LRA has received broad acceptance and support within the labor movement, and unions of various political outlooks have availed themselves of LRA's services. As a research, rather than advocacy organization, has largely refrained from taking partisan positions on disputes within the labor movement. LRA offers research and consulting services to national and local unions and other labor organizations. This activity was of special significance in the 1920s - 1940s when few labor organizations were equipped to perform these services. LRA also provides research assistance to individuals and students upon request. LRA currently (1991) publishes the bi-monthly Economic Notes (1934- ), providing analyses of long-term economic trends, and the bi-weekly Trade Union Advisor (1988- ), providing economic forecasting for trade union leaders. Located on East 11th Street, New York City since its founding, the LRA moved to 145 West 28 Street in 1991.

Among the books produced by the LRA are Apologists for Monopoly(1955),  The History of the Shorter Workday(1942),  Monopoly Today(1950), and  Trends in American Capitalism(1948). The seventeen volumes of the  Labor Fact Book, published between 1931 and 1965, were widely circulated reference books. Approximately 45 books, written by or prepared under LRA auspices, were published by International Publishers, the (unofficial) CPUSA publishing house. The LRA has also published numerous periodicals, including  Mining Notes(1931-1939),  Textile Notes(1931-1939), and  Railroad Notes(1937-1986). LRA articles have appeared in the  Daily Worker,  Federated Press,  New Masses, and numerous union periodicals.


Robert Williams Dunn served as the executive director of the Labor Research Association until 1975. Born in 1895 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Dunn graduated from Yale College in 1918 and in 1920 received a fellowship in labor relations from the New School for Social Research. In 1915, Dunn joined the Socialist Party and served as the president of the Collegiate Anti-Militarism League from 1916-1918. In 1919-1920, he was a general organizer for the American Textile Workers Union and became research director in 1921. In 1922-1923, Dunn was a representative on the American Friends Service Committee-USSR Famine Relief project, along with Anna Louise Strong and Jessica Smith. Dunn was a member of the technical advisory staff of the First U.S. Trade Union Delegation to the Soviet Union in 1927, along with Rexford Tugwell and Jerome Davis. A joint record of the Delegation was published in 1928, Soviet Russia in the Second Decade. This delegation helped to bring about recognition and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and the USSR in 1933.

In 1923 Dunn served as acting director for the American Civil Liberties Union,and remained on its executive committee until 1941. Dunn, and other members of the ACLU's left wing, resigned at this time because of the ACLU's anti-Communist stance. From 1927 to about 1942, Dunn gave lectures at the Workers School on topics such as employer's tactics, research methods, and the World War II economy. From 1926-1940, Dunn directed the American Fund for Public Service, which gave grants and loans to organizations or publications working in the field of education and industrial organization. In the early 1930's, Dunn served as the chairman of both the Prisoner's Relief Fund and the Anti-Imperialist League of the United States. In the late 1940's Dunn was the director of the Civil Rights Congress of New York and served as the treasurer of the Bail Fund of the CRC from 1948 until the Fund was dissolved in 1951. Following the temporary seizure of the Daily Worker by the Internal Revenue Service in 1956, he was involved with the Emergency Committee for a Free Press, as well as the Committee for the Vindication of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1965-1966.

Dunn wrote or co-wrote 12 books, including: The Labor Spy(1924),  American Foreign Investments(1926),  Spying on Workers(1932), and  Company Unions Today(1935). He also edited the 17 volumes of the  Labor Fact Book, was a part-time writer for the Federated Press, and contributed to numerous newspapers and journals. In 1925, Dunn married Stanislava Piotrovska, a graduate of Columbia Teachers College. In 1930, they had one son, Roger Williams Dunn.