Skip to main content

Selma Borchardt Papers

Identifier: LP000357
Subjects include: AFT Conventions, 1922-1964 AFT Executive Council, 1925-1961 AFT Factionalism and Communism, 1933-1940 Exchange Teachers Programs, 1945-1964 Federal Aid to Education, 1938-1962 Foreign Trade Unionism Greater Washington Central Labor Union, 1936-1966 Institute of World Studies, 1946-1962 Juvenile Delinquency Legislation, 1940-1961 Kappa Beta Pi Legal Sorority, 1936-1944 Kuenzli, Irvin, Dismissal From AFT, 1954 National Women's Trade Union League, 1918-1948 Social Security Legislation, 1939-1957 UNESCO, 1945-1964 Vocational Education, 1953-1958 Washington Teachers Union, 1916-1964 Washington Trade Union College, 1919-1924 Women's Joint Congressional Committee, 1923-1961 WFEA Board of Directors, 1927-1941 WFEA Conferences, 1923-1942 WFEA Travel Bureau World Peace Through Education, 1923-1942 Workers Education Youth Problems, 1936-1960

Series Description: Series I, Course Work and Articles Series II, World Federation of Education Associations Sub-Series 2A, Correspondence Sub-Series 2B, Correspondence of Officers and Staff Sub-Series 2C, Board of Directors and Conferences Sub-Series 2D, World Peace Through Education - Plan and Proposals Sub-Series 2E, Office File Sub-Series 2F, Series III, Boxes 75-78 nstitute of World Studies Series IV, American Federation of Teachers Sub-Series 4A, Correspondence Sub-Series 4B, National Office and Executive Council Sub-Series 4C, Conventions Sub-Series 4D, Convention Reports and Washington Newsletters Sub-Series 4E, Legislation Sub-Series 4F, International Relations Committee Sub-Series 4G, Field and Local Sub-Series 4H, Factionalism and Communism Sub-Series 4I, Washington Trade Union College, Washington Teachers Union, and Washington Public Schools Sub-Series 4J, Local Labor Councils Sub-Series 4K, American Federation of Labor and AFL-CIO Sub-Series 4L, Office File Series V, U.S. Government Commissions Series VI, Womens' Associations Series VII, Office File Series VIII, Clippings and Published Material


  • 1911 - 1967
  • Majority of material found within 1922 - 1962


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.


100 Linear Feet (173 MB, 1 SB, 2 OS)


Correspondence, minutes, reports, speeches, press releases, and notes collected by Miss Borchardt, who served as legislative representative and vice-president for the AFT (1924-62), chairman of the AFT International Relations Committee (1927-62), secretary of the AFL Education Committee (1929-55), and director of the World Federation of Education Associations (1927-46). Miss Borchardt also served as a member of many governmental committees and conferences including the National Advisory Board of the National Youth Administration (1934-44); the U.S. Office of Education Wartime Commission (1941-43); the White House Conferences on Children and Youth (1930, 1940, and 1950); and the White House Conference on Education (1955). Subjects include the communist issue within the AFT, exchange teacher programs, federal aid to education, the Institute of World Studies, juvenile delinquency, National Women's Trade Union League, Social Security legislation, vocational education, and workers' education. Correspondents include George Ai ken, George Axtelle, Mary Barker, Arthur Capper, John Sherman Cooper, George Counts, Mary Dent, John Ekiund, Arthur Elder, Walter George, William Green, Lister Hill, David Starr Jordan, Abraham Lefkowitz, Henry Linviiie, Jay Lovestone, James Mead, George Meany, Carl Megel, A.J. Muste, Hilda Smith, and Matthew Woll.


Selma Borchardt was born in Washington, D.C. on December 1, 1895. She died on January 31, 1968. She received a B.S. in Education from Syracuse University in 1919, and an A.B. in 1922. In 1937, she received an M.A. from Catholic University, and later, she completed all the requirements for a Ph.D., except a publication of a dissertation. She also received a law degree from the Washington College of Law in 1933.

After teaching and supervising schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, 1919-1921, Miss Borchardt became the legislative representative and a vice president of the American Federation of Teachers in 1924. She retained these positions until 1935, and in 1942 she regained them and kept them until she retired in 1962. She also served as chairwoman of the International Relations Committee. From 1929-1955, she was secretary of the AFL Education Committee.

In 1927, Miss Borchardt became a director of the World Federation of Education Associations, a world-wide organization established in 1921 to promote peace and good will among educators of all nations. During the twenty-five years of its existence, it sponsored several international education conferences. When the World Federation of Education Associations became defunct in 1946, Miss Borchardt was on the committee for the establishment of its successor, the Institute of World Studies, a non-profit organization which sponsored educational institutes in England, France, Switzerland, Denmark and Holland.

Besides participating in the AFT and the WFEA, Miss Borchardt was a member of the National Youth Administration, 1934-1944, and of the U.S. National Committee on UNESCO, 1946-1952. She was a delegate to the White House Conferences on Children and Youth in 1930, 1940 and 1950, and she was a delegate to the White House Conference on Education, 1955. She was a member of the U.S. Office of Education Wartime Commission, 1941, and when it was dissolved, she was placed on a smaller committee to supervise the operation of the High School Victory Corps, 1941-1943. Miss Borchardt was secretary of the Education Committee of the Washington Central Labor Union, and the director of the Washington Self-Help Exchange, 1936-1941. In 1934, she was admitted to the D.C. bar, and in 1944, she was admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court bar.


Arranged in 8 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-6), Series 2 (Boxes 7-74), Series 3 (Boxes75-78), Series 4 (Boxes 79-145) Series 5 (Boxes 146-155), Series 6 (Boxes 156-159), Series 7 (boxes 159-170), and Series 8 (Boxes 171-173, and oversize box 2). Folders are arranged alphabetically or chronologically depending upon the series or subseries.

Series 2 is divided into 6 subseries. Series 4 is divided into 12 subseries


The papers of Selma Borchardt were deposited with the Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs in September, 1969 by Louis Camera.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in March 1971.
Guide to the Selma Borchardt Papers
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

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA