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League for Mutual Aid Records

Identifier: LR000455

Scope and Content

The papers of the League for Mutual Aid reflect the daily functioning of the League, including its fundraising and loan-granting activities.

Series 1: General Office Files, 1920-1972 Correspondence, minutes, membership lists, financial reports, and other items which document the daily functioning of the organization. Included in this series are correspondence with contributors, information on the National Sharecroppers Fund and the Joint Apprenticeship Program, and material concerning the liquidation of the League.

Series 2: Loan Case Files, 1940-1972 Applications, correspondence, financial statements, and other material comprising the loan case files of the League's Revolving Loan Fund relating to loans granted to help striking workers and to enable others to pay initiation fees and apprenticeship program dues.


  • 1920 - 1972
  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1972



Collection is open for research.


Researchers must sign a Restricted Use Form.
Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


The League for Mutual Aid was a national organization founded by Roger N. Baldwin in New York City in 1920 with the goal of helping workers and others in personal emergencies regardless of race, creed, or politics. This help included interest-free loans, free legal advice, aid in finding employment and low-cost housing, and medical referrals. Among others, the League helped the victims of World Wars I and II, those hurt by the Depression, victims of McCarthyism, and civil rights workers. Throughout the years, the membership of the League included Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, John Nicholas Beffel, Earl Browder, Stuart Chase, A. J. Muste, Scott Nearing, A. Philip Randolph, Norman Thomas, and Rexford G. Tugwell. In addition to providing loans to individuals, the League also accepted groups of borrowers under special arrangements. These included southern sharecroppers, minority youths--who used the loans to pay their initiation fees and dues in the building trades unions--and longshoremen who were expelled with Harry Bridges from the International Longshoremen's Association. The League for Mutual Aid was governed by a 15 member Executive Committee which was elected annually by the membership. The Committee raised and administered the funds of the organization and decided on loan applications. The Executive Committee also maintained an Advisory Committee, composed of prominent people from a number of states, which advised members on problems and recommended services. In 1972, the membership of the League voted to liquidate the organization and the League's funds were turned over to the Human Rights Fund of the Workers' Defense League.


3 Linear Feet (6 MB)

Language of Materials



The League for Mutual Aid was a national organization founded with the goal of helping workers and others in personal emergencies. They provided personal and group loans, legal advice, employment and housing aid, and medical referrals. Their records reflect daily operations, including fund-raising and loan-granting activities, until their liquidation and absorption by the Human Rights Fund of the Workers' Defense League.


Arranged in 1 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), and Series 2 (Boxes 3-6). Folders are arranged alphabetically.


The papers of the League for Mutual Aid were received with the papers of the Workers' Defense League by the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in August 1970 and were opened for research in July of 1983.


Ten photographs relating to the 50th Anniversary Dinner of the League on 21 March 1970, featuring Roger Baldwin, have been placed in the Archives Audio-Visual Collections.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in July, 1983.
League for Mutual Aid Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA