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AFT Massachusetts Federation of Teachers Records

Identifier: LR001071

Scope and Content

The papers in the AFT: Massachusetts Federation of Teachers Collection reflect the relationship of local school boards and communities with the teachers and ot her staff members of the school systems. Most of the documents relate to contract negotiations and collective bargaining. The collection also contains a large number of newspaper clippings dealing with issues of concern to educators, parents and school officials.

Important subjects in the collection: Collective bargaining--Education Education--Massachusetts Public employee unions--Massachusetts Strikes and lockouts--Teachers Teachers--Massachusetts Teachers--Salaries, etc.--Massachusetts Teachers’ unions--Massachusetts

Important correspondents in the collection: Rose Claffey Paul Devlin Sally Parker


  • 1952 - 1980


Language of Materials

Material 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 Massachusetts Federation of Teachers (MFT) was originally known as the Massachusetts State Branch, American Federation of Teachers. The charter application for the state organization was submitted to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in February of 1938 by eleven representatives of then-existing AFT locals in Boston, Cambridge, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, Springfield and Western, Massachusetts. The original name for the organization was chosen because the Bay State counterpart of the National Education Association was known as the Massachusetts Teachers Federation. The name existed until the early 1960s when the Massachusetts Teachers Federation became the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and the State Branch, AFT, adopted its current name of the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers.

As an organization, the MFT continued to grow, establishing its own offices, first in Lynn, the center for several of its early locals in the strong union cities on Boston’s North Shore, and then, as its membership expanded throughout the state, in the capital city of Boston. During its first 25 years, the MFT was largely run by monthly meetings of local delegates, who chose state officers from among their own ranks. After the hiring of full-time staff in the mid-1960s, delegate meetings became more concerned with setting policy, with the staff planning day-to-day action. In 1968, the delegates created an Executive Board with a president, four vice presidents, a corresponding secretary, a treasurer, and four committee chairpersons. In June 1969, the MFT held its first a nnual convention, and from then on, the conventions set broad policy and elected officers. The board made more immediate policy decisions, and the executive secretary and staff made the decisions necessary to carry out policy. Over the years, the size of the board grew. By the 1987 annual convention, the number of vice presidents had increased to 22. A major change in structure occurred in 1980, when the Executive Board voted to make the presidency a full-time position with the president acting as chief executive officer.

The central administrative figure in the MFT was Rose Claffey, who almost single-handedly organized locals in the 1950s as a vice president of the AFT and who served as MFT executive secretary from 1964 to 1975. In 1976 Claffey was succeeded by Paul Devlin, a union representative active in local organizing and contract negotiations.


12 Linear Feet (12 SB)


Collective bargaining, strikes and issues facing public education in Massachusetts. There is a lot of information on the various locals in Massachusetts and their issues ranging from strikes to contract negotiations.


PLEASE NOTE: Folders are computer-arranged alphabetically in this finding aid, but may actually be dispersed throughout several boxes in the collection. Note carefully the box number for each folder heading.

Related Materials

AFT collections


A large number of contracts have been transferred to the Archives Library and a few photographs have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the AFT Massachusetts 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

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA