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Industrial Workers of the World Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR000130
Part I: Important subjects covered in the collection are: Bisbee Deportation; Arthur Boose; Cartoons of the IWW; Centralia Conspiracy; Colorado Mine Wars; Conventions; Court Trials; Criminal Syndicalism; Emergency Program; Claude Erwin; European Revolutionary Syndicalism; Everett Massacre; Factionalism; Farm Worker Organization; Foreign Administrations, IWW; Free Speech Fights; Harlan Mine War; William D. Haywood; Joe Hill Case; International Working Men's Assn.; Kemerovo (Russia) Colony; Joyce Kornbluh Collection; Labor conditions, early 20th century; Lawrence Strike; Lumber Camps; Marine and Dockworkers; Migratory Workers; Miners' conditions; Minute Book, 1906 1911; Pacifism and Patriotism, W.W.I; Pamphlet and Leaflet Collection; Paterson Strike; Poems and Verse; Police Brutality; Prisoners; Raids and Plots; RILU; Vincent St. John; Stickers and Stickerettes; Subversive listing; Fred W. Thompson; William E. Trautmann; Walter H. Westman; Ben H. Williams; Work Peoples' College

IWW Unions and Branches which are the focus of new, detailed material recently received include: Unions AWIU# 110; LWIU# 120; MMWIU# 210; CMWIU# 220; OWIU# 230; GCWIU# 310; BCWIU# 330; CWIU# 310 330; MMWIU# 440; FWIU# 460; MTWIU# 510; RRWIU# 520

Branches Balitmore, Berkeley, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Duluth, Houson, Los Angeles, Manhattan, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, San Pedro, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma

Among the correspondents are: Elmer Anderson, George W. anderson, Walter Bendle, T. J. Bogard, Arthur Boose, Richard Brazier, O. R. Chandler, J. R. Daniels, A. S. Embree, Claude Erwin, A. J. Farley, A. Grundstrom, Covington Hall, William D. Haywood, Joyce Kronbluh, James La Gosh, E. W. Latchem, John A. Law, Herbert Mahler, Albert Prashner, Nicolaas Steelink, Fred W. Thompson, William Unger, Walter H. Westman, Ben H. Williams
Series Description: Series I, Proceedings of the IWW, 1905-1971, Boxes 1-6: This series is comprised of official proceedings and minutes of conventions; further proceedings will be added as long as the conventions occur. Occasionally these are supplemented by reports and extracts. The Fourth Convention (1908) was not officially recorded, but reports published in the Industrial Union Bulletin are included here. Proceedings not found here can be seen on microfilm, listed in the Appendix (5). Box 6 includes the proceedings of various conferences, 1948 1967. These are general and district membership conferences. Conferences within particular unions are filed with the papers of the unions in Series III.

Series II, The General Executive Board, 1906-1958, Boxes 7-15: The GEB's Minute Book includes handwritten minutes from the years 1906 1911, excepting 1909, for which there are no entries. William E. Trautmann and Vincent St. John wrote most of the entries. The fragile volume has been duplicated for research use. Minutes of other years, from 1917 to 1939, are also in Box 7, as well as miscellaneous supplemental material including correspondence, lists and reports. Some information on the "Split" of 1923 24 is here. Reports of General Secretary Treasurers are also to be found in Box 7. General Executive Board Bulletins from 1929 to 1958 are in Boxes 8 to 15.

Series III, General Organization, Boxes 16 96:

Subseries A, The IWW General File, Boxes 16-27: This is an alphabetically arranged general file of correspondence, and other material, including papers of most dates during the organization's history. Documents of the IWW — the constitution, preamble, various by laws, manifesto, Charts, etc. — are filed here. Other material includes correspondence of foreign syndicalists, material on bequests and estates, various printed programs, papers on the "Split" and the "Emergency Program," the RILU, some IWW radio broadcasts from Detroit, material on strikes and correspondence of several well known members.

Subseries B, Bulletins and Financial Statements, 1917-1971, Boxes 28-38: Office Bulletins and General Office Bulletins, later titled General Organization Bulletins, are in this series, as well as financial statements. In 1956, the two were combined into one publication. Boxes 36 to 38 include ledgers and daybooks, many from branches, and some unidentified.

Subseries C, The General Recruiting Union, 1926-1965, Boxes 39-42: Papers of the General Recruiting Union include financial statements, ballots, conference and convention minutes and notes, correspondence, GRU general organizing committees' papers, the official organ, Recruit, and bulletins.

Subseries D, General Organizing Committees, 1937-1951, Box 43: Minutes, correspondence, property lists of district groups.

Subseries E, Unions, Branches and Delegates, 1915-1972, Boxes 44-96: The papers of various unions include minutes of conventions and conferences, correspondence, financial statements, bulletins, and other material, as listed in the folder descriptions. As the membership declined, such records were more frequently kept by a branch, rather than by the several unions in an area. Delegates' records are also included here. In many cases, their correspondence and other correspondence in this series, provide colorful and interesting detail, both retrospective and current, on IWW history. Records of most of these groups were seized and destroyed by the government between 1917 and 1922. Therefore, records of the unions before those dates are rare; a few exist in the trial evidence papers.

Series IV, Foreign Administrations, 1946-1965, Boxes 97-98: Correspondence, minutes and miscellaneous items from four foreign administrations: Australian (1948 1964), Canadian (1947 1965), British (1946 1964), and Swedish (1946 1964). These administrations were quite independent, and the papers consist more of general correspondence than of actual internal business. The single letter of Mike Patton, with (Russian) Kemerovo Branch minutes, is filed in the General File.

Series V, Legal Problems, Trials and Defense, Boxes 99-136:

Subseries A, Raids and Plots, 1917 1919, Box 99: List of materials seized by the U.S. government in coast to coast raids. Some are compiled by U.S. agents, others by IWW delegates. An unauthenticated paper purporting to be a report of County Council, Butte, Montana raid plans, 1919, is included.

Subseries B, Trials, Boxes 100-130:

1. The Joe Hill Case, Boxes 100-102: Mostly retrospective, these papers are a reaction to an article published in 1948 by Wallace Stegner, which implied that Joe Hill was "guilty." Efforts to refute that brought forth clippings, trial transcripts, research material, rebuttal articles and much correspondence on the subject.

2. The Haywood Case (1917 1918), Boxes 103-123: The complete transcript of the 1918 trial, U.S. vs. Haywood, et al., is enhanced by papers of preliminary hearings, appeals and some formerly missing trial evidence comprised of IWW bulletins and letters, 1913 1917. There are also "Jail Bulletins" and "Trial Bulletins" published by the IWW before and during the trial.

3. Centralia, Box 124: Transcripts, briefs, appeals, petitions and a published song on the Centralia incident (1919) and trial. Further material on this can be found in Series X, the pamphlets and leaflets.

4. Criminal Syndicalism Cases, 1918-1927, Boxes 125-127: This group of papers includes trial transcripts, correspondence, appeals, statements and other items on indictments for criminal syndicalism. California cases (1918 1927) are in Box 125, Kansas and Washington cases (1918 1923) in Box 126, and other states (1918 1923) in Box 127. Many of these indictments were based on IWW publications and therefore, the internal contents here include much interesting material on IWW thought as expressed through publications considered inflammatory by the various state governments.

5. Miscellaneous Legal Papers, 1912-1967, Boxes 128-130: These three boxes contain a miscellany of papers on legal matters. They include a master's report on the Lawrence Strike, indictment records, 1918 1919, deportation hearings, inquests, Colorado Mine War cases, 1928 1929, Harlan, Kentucky mine cases, 1931 1932, and others, as listed in the folder inventory.

Subseries C, The General Defense Committee, 1918-1969, Boxes 131-134: The GDC was concerned with legal problems and prisoners' welfare. These papers include correspondence, lists, appeals, statements and financial records, as well as a number of Defense Bulletins, 1924 1942.

Subseries D, Prisoners, 1918-1938, Box 135: Records of convictions, reprieves, pardons, bail and bond funds, prison roll calls and some correspondence comprise the records in this box.

Subseries E, Subversive Listing, 1949-1962, Box 136: The papers here reflect the problems of the IWW under New York's Feinberg Act of 1949 and later, after the organization was cited as "subversive" by the U.S. Attorney General on April 29, 1953. They include correspondence, memoranda, research notes, etc.

Series VI, Work Peoples' College, 1918-1963, Boxes 137-138: Work Peoples' College near Duluth, Minnesota, has been cited as the earliest of all labor union oriented colleges. Founded in the second decade of the twentieth century, it was partly financed by the IWW, which also sent many students there. Finnish socialists and the Finnish Industrialisti, a popular newspaper linked to the IWW, were the main forces behind the bilingual institution. The curriculum of this school was part of the evidence in the 1918 trial of Haywood, et al. Papers include correspondence, leaflets, class lecture outlines, school publications (many in the Finnish language), school plays and compositions and other items.

Series VII, Songs, Poems and Artwork, Boxes 139 144: Little Red Song Books, sheet music and other music, including original arrangements, are included here, along with rejected lyrics and poems. Verse and poems of well known IWW poets, such as Richard Brazier, Ralph Chaplin, Covington Hall and Robert Whitaker are among these literary works. This series also includes many cartoons, including a group of original Joe Troy cartoons and a great number of stickerettes, the famous IWW "little organizers."

Series VIII, Original Manuscripts and Personal Accounts, Boxes 145-148: Short and longer manuscripts are contained in Boxes 145 and 146. Notable here are Ben H. Williams' history, "The Saga of the One Big Union: American Labor in the Jungle," and William E. Trautmann's recently discovered manuscript, "The Power of Folded Arms and Thinking Bayonets." The manuscript of Fred Thompson's IWW History is here, and manuscripts of Dick Brazier, E.W. Latchem, A.S. Embree, James Phillips and many others. Boxes 147 and 148 are manuscript drafts and research material donated by Joyce Kornbluh, author of Rebel Voices. There are a great variety of poems and excerpted material (some unattributed) on the IWW.

Series IX, Miscellaneous Materials, Boxes 149-155: Various published materials, articles, clippings, scrapbooks, bibliographic material, and odd copies of publications are included here.

Series X, Pamphlets and Leaflets of the IWW, and other Pamphlets, Boxes 156 180: The pamphlet collection includes some pamphlets not published by the IWW, but left in the headquarters files. Pamphlets and leaflets are in alphabetical order, by title. Various local leaflets are included. Foreign language pamphlets, frequently translations of popular IWW pamphlets, are in Boxes 179 and 180. There is a card file with subject headings as well as the list included here. Information on pamphlets is also to be found among the legal papers (Series V). Nearly every pamphlet published by the IWW is included here, either in original form or copied.

Oversize Material, Box 181
Part II: Part 2 of the Industrial Workers of the World Collection contains General Executive Board correspondence from the 1960s and 1970s and minutes, newsletters and correspondence from several branch locations and foreign administrations covering the same time period. Also included are Constitutional General Convention minutes from the 1970s, membership dues booklets, songs, cartoons, poetry, articles, legal case files, and a large assortment of English and foreign-language pamphlets and leaflets. Of particular interest are the reports of undercover private detectives posing as IWW members who investigated IWW organizing among Arizona miners in 1923.

Additional important subjects in part 2 of the collection: Anti-Vietnam War Movement; Arizona miners, organizing; Cartoons of the IWW; Conventions; Foreign administrations, IWW; General Executive Board; General Defense Committee; Junior Wobblies; Legal cases, 1920s; Poems and songs; Subversive listing litigation; Trials

Local branches Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York Regional, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Tacoma

Local unions AWIU #110; FWIU #420; FFWIU #640; GCWIU #310

Additional important correspondents in part 2 of the collection: Guy Askew; Fred Barsotti; Jon Bekken; Jim Bumpas; Frank Cedervall; Carlos Cortez; Clarence Darrow; Elizabeth Gurley Flynn; Michael J. Hargis; Patrick Murfin; Jarama Jahn; Carl Keller; Dorice McDaniels; Walter Mondale; Henry Pfaff; Vincent St. John; Pete Seeger; Shelby Shapiro; Kathleen L. Taylor; Studs Terkel; Fred Thompson; W. H. Westman
Part III: The IWW records, Part 3 include mainly correspondence, reports, and photographs that document the union’s activities and goals primarily during the time they were headquartered in Ypsilanti. Since the organization is global, some reports come from places as far as Sweden and Germany. Of particular note are copies of Junior Wobblies cards dating from the 1930s.

Important Subjects: Labor unions--Organizing; Boycotts; Picketing; General strikes

Important Names: Industrial Workers of the World; Chase, Fred; Semel, Rochelle; Rush, Robert A.; Pixler, Penny

Dates

  • 1903 - 1996

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Boxes 156-180 (Part 1, Series X) MUST stay at the reference desk. Researchers can only see ONE folder at a time.
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.

Extent

102 Linear Feet ((182 MB, 11 SB), 1 OS)

Abstract

The Industrial Workers of the World was founded in 1905 and is a member-run union for all workers. The IWW organizes all workers producing the same goods or services into one union instead of pooling them by skill or trade. Numbered among its members (known popularly as Wobblies) are lumberjacks, miners, farmhands (especially migrant workers), sailors, and workers in textile mills. Since their founding, the IWW has made significant contributions to labor struggles around the world. The union is proud of its long-standing tradition of fierce defense of the first amendment and breaking down barriers of race, ethnicity, and gender. Since it's founding in Chicago, the IWW has moved its headquarters around the country.

Part 1 includes minutes and proceedings, trial records and evidence, newspapers, pamphlets, poems, cartoons, songs, and correspondence. Subjects of interest include the Centralia Conspiracy; criminal syndicalism; the Everett Massacre; Free Speech fights; organization of farm workers; labor conditions; the controversy between craft and industrial unionism; government raids and seizures; trials of various members; foreign IWW administrations; political prisoners; GEB 1960's-1970's; conventions 1970's; Junior Wobblies; Houston Branch; and information on such figures as Vincent St. John. Correspondents include T.J. Bogard, Arthur Boose, Richard Brazier, Frank Cederval, A.S. Embree, William D. Haywood, Claude Irwin, Joyce Kornbluh, John A. Law, George Lucas, Albert Prashner, Rudolf Rocker, Vincent St. John, Nicolaas Steelink, Fred W. Thompson, William Unger, Walt Westman, and Claire Whitaker.

Part 2 of the Industrial Workers of the World Collection contains General Executive Board correspondence from the 1960s and 1970s and minutes, newsletters and correspondence from several branch locations and foreign administrations covering the same time period. Also included are Constitutional General Convention minutes from the 1970s, membership dues booklets, songs, cartoons, poetry, articles, legal case files, and a large assortment of English and foreign-language pamphlets and leaflets. Of particular interest are the reports of undercover private detectives posing as IWW members who investigated IWW organizing among Arizona miners in 1923.

Part 3 include mainly correspondence, reports, and photographs that document the union’s activities and goals primarily during the time they were headquartered in Ypsilanti. Since the organization is global, some reports come from places as far as Sweden and Germany. Of particular note are copies of Junior Wobblies cards dating from the 1930s.

History

Part I: Over the turn of the century, the cause of labor and unionism had sustained some hard blows. High immigration, insecurity of employment and frequent economic recessions added to the problems of any believer in unionism. In January, 1905 a group of people from different areas of the country came to Chicago for a conference. Their interest was the cause of labor (viewed through a variety of political glasses) and their hope was somehow to get together, to start a successful drive for industrial unionism rather than craft unionism.

A manifesto was formulated and a convention called for June, 1905 for discussion and action on industrial unionism and better working class solidarity. At that convention, the Industrial Workers of the World was organized. The more politically minded members dropped out after a few years, as the IWW in general wished to take no political line at all, but instead to work through industrial union organization against the capitalist system. The main beliefs of this group are epitomized in the preamble to the IWW constitution, which emphasizes that the workers and their employers have "nothing in common." They were not anarchists, but rather believed in a minimal industrial government over an industrially organized society.

The first dozen years of the IWW saw the organization grow among laborers who were the least shielded from the economic oppression of the times: miners, lumberworkers, migratory farmworkers, dockworkers, railroad gangs, textile weavers and many others. These were people to whom the IWW preamble had special appeal. Strikes at McKees Rocks, Lawrence, Paterson and elsewhere, the Wheatland Hop Riot, the Bisbee Deportation and the Centralia and Everett Massacres were all events which provided the "Wobblies" with national causes and heroes. Free speech fights, the 8 hour day struggle and a few winning strikes brought them some success.

Colorful leaders emerged, who attracted public interest: Big Bill Haywood, the crowd pleaser; the quiet Vincent St. John ("the Saint" to his friends); the skilled orators, J. T. "Red" Doran, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Joseph Ettor, James P. Thompson; the poets, Ralph Chaplin, Arturo Giovannitti; the songmakers, especially Joe Hill; and of course, the martyrs whose killings evoked much sympathy and horror — Frank Little, Wesley Everest, and the other victims of hundreds of violent incidents.

Later leaders of the IWW — speakers, poets, great organizers — were also talented and colorful. Although they worked as hard, often at greater odds, their timing in history was not so conducive to the appearance of gay insouciance and dash; rather than impressing the public as the social crusaders that they were, they seemed either annoying or dangerous.

In 1917, the strong tide of patriotism as this country joined World War I, worked against the success of union groups daring to suggest strikes or share the new profits. Especially was the IWW, with its large foreign enrollment and "anarchist" literature, subjected to fierce scrutiny and criticism. Laws on criminal syndicalism were passed and the government seized papers and records from all IWW headquarters. Most of these records were destroyed, which explains the scarcity of IWW historical papers. Those who were not already imprisoned, operated under a continual threat of charges of criminal syndicalism. Not only had leaders been jailed and records destroyed, but office equipment and funds of cash were seized and never returned.

The diminished membership hung on through the twenties, when a hopeful increase in organization was quashed by the Depression. Another period of some hope and increased membership in the forties was countered in the early fifties by an attorney general "subversive" listing and the Taft Hartley Act.

Still, a corps of believers has carried on, with membership varying from year to year. Some of their ideas, once so radical, such as the 8 hour day, are now accepted. Even the 6 hour day is discussed. Free Speech Fights have been repeated. The Congress of Industrial Organizations has had some success with horizontal unionism. Their scorn of contracts and job security was one reason the IWW strength diminished, yet today some people see vision in those fears: pensions, insurance, installment obligations and guaranteed securities, however desirable, may indeed hobble a labor militant in his effort to move for more working class power.

Besides creating a colorful chapter in labor history, and laying a strong foundation for belief in industrial unionism, the IWW remains an example of a group which has stood up for its principles against nearly impossible odds.
Part III: The Industrial Workers of the World was founded in 1905 and is a member-run union for all workers. The IWW organizes all workers producing the same goods or services into one union instead of pooling them by skill or trade. Since their founding, the IWW has made significant contributions to labor struggles around the world. The union is proud of its long-standing tradition of fierce defense of the first amendment and breaking down barriers of race, ethnicity, and gender. Since it's founding in Chicago, the IWW has moved its headquarters around the country. Ypsilanti, MI served as its third general headquarters between 1995-1999. During that time the union launched a campaign against Borders Books in Philadelphia that included picketing other Borders across the country.

Arrangement

Part I: Arranged in 10 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-6), Series 2 (Boxes 7-15), Series 3 (Boxes 16-96), Series 4 (Boxes 97-98), Series 5 (Boxes 99-136), Series 6 (Boxes 137-138), Series 7 (Boxes 139-144), Series 8 (Boxes 145-148), Series 9 (Boxes 149-155) and Series 10 (Boxes 156-180), and oversize material in Box 181. Folders are arranged alphabetically chronologically, or in original order, depending on the series.

Series 3 is further divided into five subseries. Series 5 is further divided into five subseries, with subseries B further divided into five trials.
Part II: Folders are listed by their location within each box. They are not necessarily arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout the entire collection.
Part III: Folders are listed by their location within each box. They are not necessarily arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout the entire collection.

Acquisition

Part I: The papers of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in February of 1965, by the Industrial Workers of the World. Other deposits have been made subsequently.
Part III: The records of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were originally placed in the Reuther Library in February of 1965, by the Industrial Workers of the World. This subsequent deposit was made by the Ypsilanti headquarters office.

Related Materials

Part I: Alfred and Rose Anderson Papers; John Beffel Papers; George and Grace Brewer Papers; Joe Brown Papers; John and Phyllis Collier Papers; Sam Dolgoff Papers; E.F. Doree Papers; Hagbard "Herb" Edwards Papers; Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Papers; Matthew and Elizabeth Serviss Fox Papers; Jean Gould Papers; Covington Hall Papers; Nicholas Hyshka Papers; IWW - Detroit-Ann Arbor Branch Records; IWW Minneapolis Branch Records; IWW - San Francisco Bay Area Branch Records; E.W. Latchem Papers; Ben Legere Papers; George Lutzai Papers; Tom Mooney Papers; John Oneka Papers; John Panzner Papers; Peoples Song Library Records; Matilda Robbins Papers; Nicolaas Steelink Papers; Nemmy Sparks Papers; William E. Trautmann Papers; Western Federation of Miners: Calumet Hecla Strike Records; Workers Defense League Records
Part III: IWW Detroit/Ann Arbor Branch Records, IWW Minneapolis Branch Records, and IWW San Francisco Bay Area Branch Records.

Transfers

Part I: Around 1,000 photographs and printed reproductions are in the IWW photograph collection. They were arranged alphabetically by person, topic and event, and a cross index is available. Included are photos concerning the Centralia Conspiracy; Colorado Coal Strike and Mine Wars, 1927 1928; Wheatland; the Lawrence Strike, 1913; the Everett Massacre; Harlan, Kentucky mine wars; Junior Wobblies; deportations; and the lumber, textile, mine and steel industries. There are photos of Eugene Debs, William D. Haywood, Joe Hill, Frank Little, Wesley Everest, Tom Mooney, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and many others.
Part II: A club, a cigar-box ballot box, audio tapes, bumper stickers, pins, photos, posters, office stamps, a printing block for the 6-hour day, and sheets of unused dues stamps have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection. A microfilm copy of Maricopa County Court records relating to IWW activities and some books, serials, constitutions and volumes of the General Organization Bulletin have been transferred to the Archives Library.

Processing History

Part I: Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library on September 4, 1984.
Part II: Part 2 processed and finding aid updated by Walter P. Reuther Library on May 17, 1996.
Part III: Part 2 processed and finding aid updated by Katelyn Jedro on August 9, 2013.
Title
Guide to the Industrial Workers of the World Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Date
1984-09-04
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 1996-05-17: Part 2 was processed and finding aid updated by Walter P. Reuther Library.
  • 2013-08-09: Part 3 was processed and finding aid updated by Katelyn Jedro.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
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