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John Walsh Papers

 Collection — Box: Small Processed Collections: W-Z, Box 15, Folder: 2-3
Identifier: LP001145

Scope and Content

The papers of John Walsh reflect not only the plight of the unemployed in the western United States but also to a considerable extent the philosophy and beliefs of the IWW.

Important subjects covered in the collection are: Working conditions Views on religion

Contents: Series I, Correspondence, 1919-1936 Correspondence of Joseph Walsh to his brother John. The letters reflect working conditions in the western United States and also contain political discussions and speculations on America's future. Folders 1 and 2: Correspondence, Joseph Walsh's letters to his brother John.

Index to Subjects: Coolidge, Calvin, 1:2 Daly, Robert E., 1:1-2 England, United States competing with, 1:1 Gorapers, Samuel, 1:1 Hearst, William Randolph, 1:2 Japan, potential enemy of United States, 1:1 Lewis, John L., 1:1 Religion, Joseph Walsh's views on, 1:1-2 Sinclair, Upton, 1:2 Strikes, 1:1 Working conditions, 1:1-2


  • 1919 - 1936


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.


Born in New York City in 1880,John Walsh began working at age 12 as a newsboy and held a variety of jobs as a youth. He was a member of the International Longshoremen's Association, the Longshoremen's Protective Association, the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance and the Hod Carriers and Building Laborers' Union before joining the IWW in 1905. In 1907, Mr. Walsh served as strike committee chairman when 60,000 I LA members walked off the job in New York Harbor. In 1917, Mr. Walsh was an organizer for the IWW.He was called to testify on his own behalf during the trial of Bill Haywood and other IWW members by the United States government on charges of being involved with criminal syndicalism in July of 1918. Beginning in 1919, John Walsh corresponded regularly with his brother Joseph who was traveling throughout California and the southwestern United States in search of work, particularly in the silver and copper mines of that region. Joseph Walsh's letters to John comprise this collection. In these letters, Joseph describes the harsh working conditions the miners and other itinerants encountered and the attempts to unionize these workers. Others contain bitter denunciations of capitalism and discussions of the Depression and a possible second world war. The correspondence ceased in 1936 when it is believed that Joseph succumbed to respiratory illness.


.5 Linear Feet (2 folders)


John Walsh was a member of various labor unions, and served as strike committee chairman in the International Longshoreman’s Association, and as an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Mr. Walsh’s papers consist of correspondence between himself and his brother, Joseph Walsh. The letters convey Joseph Walsh’s observations about the Depression and the events leading up to World War II, and describe the working conditions of laborers, particularly that of miners, and the unemployed in California and the Southwestern United States.


Materials arranged chronologically in 2 folders.


The papers of John Walsh were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in June of 1982 by Fred Thompson, former General Secretary-Treasurer of the IWW and opened for research in January of 1984.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in January, 1984.
Guide to the John Walsh 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