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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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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

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Labor Research Association span the years 1914-1981, with the bulk of the material from 1930 - 1970. The collection consists mainly of unpublished manuscripts and reports, research notes and memos, and correspondence, chiefly that of Robert Dunn. Also included in the collection are personal memorabilia and other materials documenting related political activities of Dunn. The collection provides good documentation of the LRA's research and publications, some sense of LRA's relations with the labor movement, but provides little direct information on LRA's policy process, relations with the CPUSA, or other activities. The collection provides little information on Hutchins and Rochester.

Series I, Administrative (1942-1976), contains scattered minutes and annual reports on LRA trade union services, and a file of brief histories of the LRA. This small series provides little documentation of the policy process of the LRA.

Series II, Correspondence (1918-1981), consists of three sections, arranged alphabetically: General Correspondence; Officers Correspondence--Robert Dunn; and Other Officers Correspondence. The largest section is Dunn's correspondence, and the majority of the General Correspondence is also Dunn's. The correspondence is mainly with intellectuals or with trade union officials with whom the LRA provided and exchanged information and statistics on industry. Some prominent individuals with whom Dunn corresponded were Herbert Aptheker, John N. Beffel, Cedric Belfrage, Samuel Darcy, John Dewey, Jerome Davis, Carl Haessler, Gus Hall, Philip Frankfeld, Cheddi Jagan, James Weldon Johnson, Oakley C. Johnson, Corliss Lamont, Vito Marcantonio, Otto Nathan, Scott Nearing, Andrew Overgard, Carl Reeve, Pete Seeger, Jessica Smith, Anna Louise Strong, and Alexander Trachtenberg. The collection contains extensive correspondence between Dunn and Grace McDonald of the California Farmer-Consumer Legislative Committee, labor scholar Jurgen Kuczynski of East Germany, and Walter and Elizabeth Rogers, whose folder also contains materials published from their "Victory Library." This section also contains correspondence, songs, and poetry of John Bovingdon.

Series III, Reports and Research Notes (1925-1974, bulk 1930s-50s), is arranged alphabetically by topic. This series contains a variety of forms including segments of reports, notes, memos, and outlines. The research in this series seems to have been commissioned by unions or formed the basis for later LRA publications. The LRA provided trade union services for local AFL and CIO unions, national offices of progressive CIO unions, and other worker organizations, such as the Finnish Federation. In 1947, the LRA supplied reports to 1,154 trade unions. The reports cover a broad range of contemporary economic and political issues, including accounting terminology, anti-communism and civil liberites, economic planning, informers, labor history, local and regional issues, monopoly, taxation, unemployment, and war profits. Folders eight and nine contain biographical sketches of prominent reactionaries.

Series IV, Manuscripts (1920-1976), is arranged alphabetically by title (there are sixty manuscripts). Most folders in this series contain a single, usually pamphlet or chapter length manuscript, or segment thereof. About half of these folders name the authors, among them several significant figures in the CPUSA. One quarter of the manuscripts pertain to specific industries, including coal, construction, chain stores, the film industry, farming, oil, shoes, telephone and textiles. Selected titles with an historical focus include "Banking, history in the US", "The Southern differential", by Herbert Aptheker, "Southern lumbering", by Art Shields and Ester Lowell, "Germans in U.S. unions" by Karl Oberman, "Negroes, New Jersey" by Harold Weaver. Folders "Espionage, I-IV" contain an incomplete typescript of The labor spy, 1924, written by Sidney Howard, with the collaboration of Robert Dunn.

Series V, Publications (1929-1974), contains LRA articles which appeared in various periodicals, reviews of the Labor Fact Books, a folder of questionnaires disseminated between 1931-1935 by the LRA and the CPUSA-initiated Pen and Hammer Clubs, and indexes for LRA serials for the 1930s.

Series VI, Dunn-Political Activities, Writings, Memorabilia (1914-1973), consists of published and unpublished articles by Dunn, his lectures at the Workers School 1927-37, and information related to some of the organizations and activities he participated in, such as the Civil Rights Congress of New York. This series contains three folders of information gathered in the 1927 Trade Union Delegation to the Soviet Union. Personal correspondence of Dunn, with letters from Ella Bloor and Charles Taft II, are also included. This series also contains a scrapbook consisting of clippings and memorabilia documenting Dunn's years at Yale as president of the debating team, and his early political activities.

Series VII, Labor Spies (1911-1954; bulk 1920s-early 1930s), contains clippings, essays, flyers, press releases, reports, etc. Included are reports written by labor spies and reports prepared by or for LRA. LRA leader Robert Dunn this material while writing his book The Labor Spy (1924). The processed files are arranged alphabetically, one topic to a folder. A more detailed description of this series follows:

Newspaper articles are approximately 50% of the series. Many of the articles have "D.W." written on them, meaning that they were from The Daily Worker. Correspondence, almost 25% of the series, is approximately equally divided between that by spies and that of the L.R.A. Interviews with labor spies, essays by L.R.A. members, and occasional write-ups by spies themselves are also almost 25% of the series. In addition to writings by Dunn, the collection includes articles by Leo Huberman. Material by and about Louis Budenz is in the "Mac Donald Russell" file, and others. The presumably original transcripts of interviews are usually one-on-one. The interviewer is not given, but is presumably a member of the L.R.A. The people being interviewed are spies or former spies, presumably late in their careers and perhaps newly critical of their profession. Transcripts of interviews with labor spies are included in several files, but the files on the "Sherman Service Inc." (files 44 & 45) contain several. As a primary source and example of what labor spies do, the daily reports by active labor spies makes a stand out of file 42, "Philadelphia Hosiery Plant". Files 24 through 26 are about union organizer Adolph Lessig, who denied being a spy. These files are also of interest because of their volume, the labor court transcript, and the allleged involvement of the International Auxiliary Company in the case. While many files include information on particular spies, "Jacob Nosovitsky" (files 34 & 35) was active in several agencies in this country and perhaps the only spy represented in these records who worked abroad.

Series VIII: Labor Leaders, Professional Patriots, and Other Topical Files (unprocessed), contains five linear feet of research files, mostly from the 1920s-1940s. There is one box on "Labor Leaders" [i.e. conservative labor union leaders opposed by LRA], two boxes on "Professional Patriots," i.e. anti-labor and right-wing organizations, and one box of topical files for subjects beginning with "S" such as Smith Act, and the Spanish Civil War.

Series IX: Addendum (2010) contains minutes (1927-2000, incomplete); unpublished writings including a history of the Workers Health Bureau, and "Words for Workers," a 206 pp. glossary by Communist labor leader Ernest De Maio (1908-1990), as well as a file commemorating his life; correspondence of Grace Hutchins and material relating to her death; business records relating to various LRA periodicals, files on topics and other organizations, and a framed letter from President "Bill" Clinton greeting the LRA's 22nd annual award dinner.

Series X: Addendum (2012) contains programs and planning materials for the 22nd-31st Annual Labor Awards Dinners. There are also year-end financial statements, Board of Directors minutes, documents related to District 65 Pension Plan, et al. v. Labor Research Association, tax returns dating back to the 1940s, and digital media recordings of LRA events.


Organized into ten series: I. Administrative ; II. Correspondence ; III. Reports and research notes ; IV. Manuscripts ; V. Publications ; VI. Robert Dunn political activities, writings, memorabilia ; VII. Labor Spies ; VIII: Labor Leaders, Professional Patriots, and Other Topical Files (unprocessed); IX Addendum, 2010; X Addendum, 2012 (unprocessed)

Folders are arranged alphabetically subject/author heading within each series.