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AFT Local 28: St. Paul Federation of Teachers Records

Identifier: LR000417

Scope and Content

The period covered by the collection is 1898 to 1970, with emphasis on the strike period of 1946-47 and relatively little on the years 1966-70.

Important subjects in the collection: Salary Political tactics Tenure Local government Loyalty Merit raises Strikes

Important correspondents in the collection: Mollie Geary Paul Meier Lettisha Henderson Florence Rood Michael McDonough Flora Smalley Mary McGough

Series Description: Series I, Grade Teachers Federation, 1898-1920: These records include minutes, correspondence, printed pamphlets and bulletins, yearbooks, and a written history of the two-year period from 1916 to 1918. The major concerns are amendments to the city charter, the fight for salary increases, resistance to the "merit" pay system instituted by Commissioner of Education William Wunderlich as well as dismissal cases, the Palmer Drills, and "Loyalty Clubs" formed by the superintendent.

Series II, St. Paul Federation of Women Teachers, 1918-1953: Included are a written history, correspondence, publications, mimeographed reports, pamphlets of the Federation and other associations. They are primarily concerned with salary fights, legal rights and research on tenure cases, including rights of academic freedom.

Series III, St. Paul Federation of Men Teachers, 1918-1956: These records are made up primarily of correspondence, mimeographed reports and notices, publications, memos, clippings, and typed lists. They cover charter amendment struggles, membership drives, Minneapolis Locals 238 and 59 strike efforts, salaries, and the 1946 "St. Paul Story" of the strike.

Series IV, Teachers Joint Council, 1935-1955: This is the largest of the series and includes correspondence, memoranda, radio addresses, bulletins, publications of the Federation and other related organizations, strike publicity, newspaper clippings of the strike, reports, and minutes of meetings. The material covers policies of the Council, the dismissal of State Commissioner of Education Rockwell with its political implications and "Red" smear tactics, charter amendment campaigns, and the financial situation of the St. Paul Schools. The major part of the series, however, consists of documentation of the 1946 strike: how it came about; activities and tactics; and support, both local and national. The Teachers Joint Council was made up of the Executive Board members of the Women's and Men's Locals 28 and 43, who worked in concert from 1935 until the merger of the two unions in 1957.

Series V, St. Paul Federation of Teachers Local 28, 1957-1970: This record group includes a written history, minutes, lists, and miscellaneous correspondence, booklets, and pamphlets. The minutes of meetings from 1957 through 1965 make up the largest part of the records, but membership recruitment, the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary, and a tribute to one of the founders of the local, Mary McGough, are also documented. 1957- 1970, 1 box.

Series VI, Books: This series consists of minute books, directories, and news clippings. The minutes of the Grade Teachers Federation cover the period of May 18, 1898 through April 5, 1915; the minutes of the Federation of Women Teachers range from March 11, 1929 through March 3, 1946; minutes of the Joint Salary Committee of the FWT, FMT, Principal's Club and PTA cover December 1, 1927 through January 31, 1928; and minutes of the Committee of One Hundred, an informal organization of teachers and principals formed to study relief financing policies in 1939, cover the period of December 20, 1939 through May 6, 1941. The final items in this series are the St. Paul School Directories of personnel for the years 1909 through 1930 and miscellaneous newspaper clippings.

Series VII, Scrapbooks: There are 16 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings dated irregularly from March 19, 1917 through April of 1947. The clippings cover most of the important union encounters and the strike is fully covered in five scrapbooks. A 17th scrapbook of the Association for Childhood Education contains a few ACE printed newsletters and some trivia.


  • 1898 - 1970


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


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 St. Paul Federation of Teachers, Local 28, received its charter from the American Federation of Teachers on September 30, 1957. Its origins, however, date back to the formation of the Grade Teachers Federation in 1898. This organization received a charter from the American Federation of Teachers, AF of L, on June 18, 1913, and was designated the St. Paul Federation of Women Teachers, Local 23. The St. Paul Federation of Men Teachers was chartered on February 19 of the following year, as Local 43. The two locals worked closely together through the Joint Council of Teachers and were eventually merged in 1957 into the present federation.

It is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, the American Federation of Teachers, the Minnesota AFL-CIO Federation of Labor, the St. Paul Trades and Labor Assembly, and the Minnesota Federation of Teachers. The Federation is the fifth oldest local in continual existence in the United States, was the first teachers' union in Minnesota, declared the first organized teachers' strike in the country, and organized the first group insurance for teachers and the first teachers' credit union. A number of its programs had national influence and it was instrumental in changing local government as related to education.


5 Linear Feet (10 MB, 1 SB)


The St. Paul (Minnesota) Federation of Teachers, Local 28, is the fifth oldest American Federation of Teachers local in continued existence in the U.S. and the first teacher's union in Minnesota. It evolved from the Grade Teachers Federation (1898) and received its AFT charter June 18, 1918 under the St. Paul Federation of Women Teachers, Local 28. The St. Paul Federation of Men Teachers was chartered February 19 of the following year as Local 43. The two locals worked together closely through the Joint Council of Teachers and in 1957 merged into the present federation. Correspondence, minutes, bulletins, and other materials on formation of these unions and their merger are included, as is material concerning the merit pay system, tenure cases, strike efforts, and membership recruitment.


Arranged in 7 series – Series 1 (Box 1), Series 2 (Box 2), Series 3 (Box 3), Series 4 (Boxes 4-7), Series 5 (Box 8), Series 6 (Boxes 9-10), Series 7 (Scrapbooks, storage box).


The papers of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers were deposited with the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs on November 4, 1970, by James D. Robinson.

Related Materials

AFT Collections

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the AFT Local 28: St. Paul Federation of Teachers Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

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Detroit MI 48202 USA