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Brookwood Labor College Records

Identifier: LR000567_BLC
Important subjects include: American Federation of Labor Brookwood executive board Chautauqua program Conference of Progressive Labor Action (CPLA) Continental Congress of Workers and Farmers Curricula Extension school Faculty as listed Ideological factionsm Muste, Abraham Johannes Labor songs and plays Student activities Student files Student newspapers Union contributors Worker education

Correspondence include: Oscar Ameringer Roger N. Baldwin Mary C. Barker Toscan Bennett Merlin Bishop Selma Borchardt John Brophy Jay G. Brown Fannia M. Cohn Josephine Colby Cara Cook Eugene V. Debs Len De Caux John Dewey David Dubinsky John Edelman Katherine P. Ellickson John Fitzpatrick Elizabeth G. Flynn Paul Fuller Gustav Geiges Clinton S. Golden William Green Carl Haessler Florence C. Hansen Sidney Hillman Charles Evans Hughes A.J. Kennedy John C. Kennedy Charles Kutz W. Jett Lauck Abraham Lefkowitz E.J. (Jakc) Lever Homer Martin John Martindale James H. Maurer A.J. Muste Harry Nilsson Jacob Potofsky Roy Reuther Victor Reuther Lawrence Rogin Florence Rood David J. Saposs Rose Schneiderman Joel Seidman Tucker Smith Helen Norton Starr Mark Starr Tom Tippett Mary Van Kleeck H.G. Wells Mathew Woll Phil E. Ziegler

Series Description: Series I: School Files Correspondence, memos, printed material, and general school records concerning the Brookwood organization, 1921-1937.

Series II: Subject Files Correspondence and memos concerning various organizations and individuals, 1921-1937. Also included are some pamphlets, clippings, and miscellaneous material.

Series III: Extension School Files Brookwood Extension School correspondence and memos relating to students in several eastern states, 1928-1936. Included are reports, publicity material, and other records.

Series IV: Student Files Files on Brookwood students and student related material consisting of correspondence, memos, quesitonnaires, and some graduation and student election material. They date from 1921-1937.

Series V: Chautauqua Correspondence and other material related ot the Chautauqua program put on by the Brookwood labor players, 1933-1937.


  • 1921 - 1937


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.


49 Linear Feet (98 MB)


Brookwood Labor College was a co-educational resident workers' institution which called for progressive, non-factional education for workers as it sought to play an increasing role in the task of building a militant, intelligent, powerful labor movement. Their records document the operation of the college during its sixteen years.


The Brookwood Labor College was a co-educational resident workers' institution situated at Katonah, New York, some forty-one miles from New York City. Founded in 1921, it was the outgrowth of a labor conference held on March 31-April 1 of that year. Its plicy called for a progressive, non-factional education for workers as it sought to play an increasing role in the task of building a militant, intelligent, powerful labor movement. Its curriculum focused on the study, analysis, and discussion of the philosophy and policies of labor organizations in the United States and the world, including the American Federation of Labor.

Within a few years after it was established, Brookwood was officially endorsed or financilaly supported by thirteen national and international unions including the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, the American Federation of Teachers, and the United Textile Workers. In 1928 a rift developed between teh AFL and Brookwood which led to the withdrawl of support by the AFL-affiliated unions.

In 1930 Brookwood set up an extension department in response to an increasing demand for lectures and courses outside of Brookwood. Earlier, Brookwood had started a program of summer institutes dealing with various labor problems.

In 1933 Brookwood weathered a faculty conflict concerning its policy of non-factional labor education and continued on until 1937 when it closed its doors due to a lack of funds.

Among the many students at Brookwood were Merlin Bishop, Len De Caux, E.J. (Jack) Lever, John Martindale, and Roy Reuther. The faculty included such leaders as Katherine Pollack Ellickson, J.C. Kennedy, A.J. Muste, David J. Saposs, Cara Cook, Tucker P. Smith, Mark and Helen Starr, and Tom Tippett. Fannia M. Cohn, John Brophy, Abraham Lefkowitz, and James H. Maurer were some of the members of the board of directors.


Arranged in 5 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-14), Series 2 (Boxes 15-58), Series 3 (Boxes 58-60), Series 4 (Boxes 60-96), and Series 5 (Boxes 96-98). Folders are arranged alphabetically.


The papers of the Brookwood Labor College were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in September, 1972, by Mark and Helen Starr.


A group of photographs and three scrapbooks relating to Brookwood have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collections. Included are photographs of students, faculty, other labor leaders, and the building at the Brookwood Labor College.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Guide to the Brookwood Labor College Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

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Detroit MI 48202 USA