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Philip Taft Papers

Identifier: LP000495

Scope and Content

Important subjects covered in the collection are: AFL-CIO foreign relations resolutions, 1955-1969 IWW Bisbee deportation, 1917-18 IWW federal trials, 1918-23 IWW and agricultural workers, 1913-17

Series I, IWW articles, 1960-1962 1972: Handwritten notes, photocopies of trial transcripts and other background material for Taft's four articles on the IWW. Also includes some correspondence relating to his research in Washington D.C. and Arizona.

Series II, Biographies, undated: Biographies of labor leaders, politicians, journalists and others concerned with labor interests. Some are quite brief, others include newspaper clippings and more extensive information.

Series III, AFL-CIO foreign relations resolutions, 1955-1969: Photocopies of foreign relations resolutions, including brief discussions of the issues of each country or organization.

Series IV, Philip Taft, 1930-1976: Biographical material relating to Taft including an oral history, newspaper articles, and the program of a memorial service.


  • 1955 - 1972


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. 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.


Dr. Philip Taft was born in 1902, in Syracuse, New York. At the age of 14 he left New York and spent the next eight years working at odd jobs in factories, Great Lakes ore boats, the Midwest grain harvest, Northwest logging camps and the railroad. It was during this period, in 1917, that he joined the Industrial Workers of the World. He later worked with the IWW Organization Committee, an executive group for the agricultural workers.

He returned to New York and finished High School at the age of 26. He was then accepted at the University of Wisconsin, where he worked with Selig Perlman, a prominent labor historian. He co-authored "The History of Labor in the U.S. 1896-1932" with Dr. Perlman while still a graduate student, and went on to write numerous books on economics and labor history. Among these was an in-depth, two volume history of the American Federation of Labor.

He received his doctorate in economics in 1935 and subsequently worked for the Wisconsin Industrial Commission, the Resettlement Administration and the Social Security Administration. In 1937, he joined the economics department faculty at Brown University and served as department chairman from 1949-1953.

Dr. Taft was on of the founding editors of the "Labor History" journal in 1959, and served on the editorial board until 1976. After his death in 1976, the editors of Labor History devoted an issue (Winter 1978) to him and his work. It contains, among other articles, a transcript of part of an interview with Taft, which provides information on his involvement with the IWW, his early experiences and views on organized labor.


2 Linear Feet (4 MB)


Labor historian Philip Taft authored various books on economics and labor history, including The History of Labor in the U.S. 1896-1932, which he co-authored with Selig Perlman, and was a founding editor of the journal, Labor History. An early member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Mr. Taft served on the IWW Organization Committee. Mr. Taft’s papers concern his research on the labor movement, particularly regarding the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and his involvement with the IWW.


Arranged in 4 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), Series 2 (Box 3), Series 3 (Boxes 3-4) and Series 4 (Box 4). Folders are arranged alphabetically.


The Philip Taft papers were donated by Theresa Taft, and placed in the Archives between 1971 and 1979.


Seven books concerning labor history and economics, several newspapers, including the "International Press Conference" 1923-24, all of which have been placed in the Archives' library. Numerous pamphlets concerning the AFL-CIO and other unions, and reprints of most of Taft's articles were also placed in the library.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in January 1985.


Guide to the Philip Taft Papers
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