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AFSCME Office of the President: Arnold S. Zander Records

Identifier: LR001986

Scope and Content

The papers in this collection reflect Zander's interest in international affairs, the organizing efforts of the union throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, and the relations of AFSCME with the AFL, the CIO, the AFL-CIO, and with other unions and labor organizations.

Important subjects: AFL, 1927-1955; AFL-CIO, 1955-1961; AFSCME conventions, 1938-1955; Collective bargaining; CIO, 1937-1955; Early AFSCME history; Government and Civic Employees Organining Committee, 1950-1958; Housing; Jurisdictional disputes, 1937-1961; Building Services Employees Union (now SEIU); GCEOC; Hod Carriers; Teamsters; International Confederation of Free Trade Unions; International Federation of Unions of Employees in Public and Civil Services, 1947-1961; Office Employees International Union, 1944-1961; Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI); Organizing AFSCME, 1937-1961; Police organizing; Social security; "Spotlight", 1952-1961; Wisconsin labor organizing, 1936-1958;

Important correspondents: Brewer, Gordon; Caldwell, John P.; Chapman, Gordon; Flaxer, Abram; Garey, Colonel A. E.; Goldberg, Arthur J.; Gotbaum, Victor; Green, William; Helz, Martin; Kramer, Leo; McEntee, William J.; Meany, George; Mire, Joseph; Morgan, Thomas E.; Mueller, Marjorie; Murray, Milton; Reuther, Walter; Wilson, Henry; Wurf, Jerry;
Series Description: Series I, General Files, 1927-1962: Correspondence, memoranda, travel reports and other materials relating to Arnold Zander's term, as President of AFSCME. These files concern organizing, jurisdictional disputes, international groups, finances, insurance plans, investments in real estate, relocatino of the headquarters to Washington, D.C., and, in general, the early history of AFSCME.


  • 1927 - 1964
  • Majority of material found within 1936 - 1964


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.


Arnold S. Zander was born in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, on November 26, 1901. He earned a masters degree in city planning from the University of Wisconsin in 1929 and, two years later, a doctorate in public administration from the same institution. From 1930 until 1934 he was the principal examiner in the Wisconsin State Bureau of Personnel. During this period he became involved in the formation of the Wisconsin State Employees Association. He served as its financial sectretary in 1932 and by 1934 was its full-time Executive Secretary. In 1934 he began working with the AFL as a part-time representative in an effort to organize the growing number of public groups into a national union.

By December 1935 the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees had come into being with Zander's original Madison, Wisconsin, group as Local 1, and it held its first convention in Chicago. Zander and Roy Kubista were elected President and Secretary-Treasurer respectively. By October 1936 AFSCME was fully chartered by the AFL, independent of the American Federation of Government Employees, under whose jurisdiction it had been affiliated with the AFL previously, and Zander was again chosen as President. He remained in that office until 1964.

As President of AFSCME Zander took a great interest in the international aspects of public employee organizing and attended meetings of the International Labour Organization, the Trades Union Congress, served on the executive board of the International Federation of Unions of Employees in Public and Civil Service (IFPCS), and later on the executive committee of the Public Services International (PSI). He visited many countries as a representative of AFSCME. He was also an active member of the United World Federation.

Zander was interested in consumer affairs and supported the cooperative movement. During the period of 1947 through 1949 he chaired the AFL standing committee on consumer cooperatives, and from 1948 until 1951 he co-chaired the Council for Cooperative Development.

In 1964 Zander was replaced by Jerry Wurf as President of AFSCME. He died in 1975.


50.5 Linear Feet (115 MB)


This collection encompasses the Office of the President's records during the tenure of AFSCME's first and founding president, Arnold S. Zander, from 1935 to 1964. Information on the formation of AFSCME and early AFSCME history can be found in this collection. Additionally, the collection reflects the organizing efforts of AFSCME throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and the relations between AFSCME and the AFL, CIO, AFL-CIO, and other unions and organizations. Further, Zander's particular interests in consumer affairs and the international aspects of public employee organizing appear in these records.


Files are arranged alphabetically by name or subject. Labor unions are filed under the first operative term in their name. In groupings of files with the same main heading files of general correspondence are placed first. Some such groupings are arranged chronologically rather than alphabetically by subheadings so as not to disrupt the chronological sequence. Alphabetical folders of general correspondence are placed at the end of each alphabetical section.


The papers of AFSCME President Arnold S. Zander were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in 1974 by AFSCME.

Related Materials

AFSCME collections


Approximately ten photographs of Zander or relating to AFSCME have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual collections.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in March 1983.
Guide to the AFSCME Office of the President: Arnold S. Zander 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