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William Cahn Papers

 Collection
Identifier: LP000808
The William Cahn Collection contains a number of unpublished manuscripts on labor and other topics, material dealing with the ILGWU advertising campaign, reference files of printed material on unions and labor-related subjects, a few articles published by Mr. Cahn and a small amount of correspondence.

Important subjects in the collection: Harry Bridges International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union Race discrimination in employment Strikes and lockouts--Teachers--Connecticut--New Haven Trade-unions and Afro-Americans Trade-unions and mass media Trade-unions--hospitals United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America

Dates

  • 1940 - 1979

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

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

2 Linear Feet (2 SB)

Abstract

The first Connecticut member of the Newspaper Guild and a founding officer of the Connecticut State Industrial Union Council, William Cahn worked as a writer and graphic artist. His work includes the award-winning labor history campaign sponsored by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), and extensive journalistic coverage of the rise of industrial unionism during the Depression. Mr. Cahn’s papers document his interest in labor issues, including the ILGWU advertising campaign, his work as publicity director of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE), and unpublished manuscripts.

History

William Cahn was born in New York City, May 29, 1912, and graduated from Dartmouth College, where he began his writing career and learned the graphic arts trade as editor of the undergraduate newspaper. His association with the labor movement began in the 1930s when, as a reporter for the Bridgeport Times Star, he became the first Connecticut member of the Newspaper Guild. He was elected a founding officer of the Connecticut State Industrial Union Council at that time. As a newspaperman he covered the rise of industrial unionism during the Depression and interviewed leading labor and political figures.

Following World War II Cahn served for a decade as publicity director of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers. In the 1960s, while working as a communications consultant for the Solow/Wexton advertising agency, he designed and wrote most of the award-winning messages on labor history sponsored by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union in newspapers throughout the country. Illustrated with historical photographs, they appealed to America’s social conscience by placing contemporary social problems in historical perspective. As a freelance writer and historian, Cahn authored numerous articles and several books, including Milltown, A Pictorial History of American Labor, corporate histories and biographies. He died on October 13, 1976.

Arrangement

Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Transfers

A large number of photographs and illustrations used in Cahn’s books, slides of the Bicentennial memorial service in New Haven, Connecticut, marking the 80th anniversary of the death of Alfred W. Phelps, called the “father of the eight-hour day,” and an audiotape from the 1975 New Haven teachers’ strike have been transferred to the Audiovisual Deparment.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Title
Guide to the William Cahn Papers
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
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Detroit MI 48202 USA