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AFT Secretary-Treasurer's Office Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR000348_STO
The Secretary-Treasurer's files provide information about the functioning of the national office, early organizing efforts, and issues of concern to the AFT.

Series I, Florence Curtis Hanson Files, 1928-1935, Box 1: Correspondence with Mary C. Barker and George Davis, and a few items relating to Chicago teachers' unions.

Series II, George Davis Files, 1934-1937, Box 1: A small amount of correspondence and other material relating to Mr. Davis' work as Secretary-Treasurer. A few letters fall outside the dates of his tenure.

Series III, Irvin R. Kuenzli Files, 1936-1953, Boxes 2-8: Subseries A: Academic Freedom, 1936-1953, Box 2: Correspondence, reports, and other material relating primarily to the work of the AFT's National Academic Freedom Committee.

Subseries B: Miscellaneous, 1936-1951, Box 2: Correspondence and reports.

Subseries C: National Office, 1936-1953, Box 2: Correspondence and materials primarily relating to personnel matters.

Subseries D: Non-AFT Organizations, 1938-1953, Box 3: Correspondence, minutes, and publications concerning Mr. Kuenzli's activities in labor and educational organizations.

Subseries E: Organizing, 1949-1953, Boxes 4-5: Correspondence and reports relating to the work of the AFT's national field representatives.

Subseries F: Policy, 1942-1954, Boxes 5-7: Correspondence, minutes, reports, and other records documenting the work of the AFT's Commission on Educational Reconstruction and AFT testimony on federal aid legislation.

Subseries G: Referenda, Surveys, and Constitutional Amendment Material, 1937-1953, Boxes 7-8: Correspondence, questionnaires, and ballots recording membership positions on various union procedures and policies.

Series IV, Carl Megel, Clinton M. Fair, Paul D. Ward, and Robert M. Porter Files, 1954-1967, Boxes 8-11:

Subseries A: Locals, 1954-1960, Box 8: Primarily procedural manuals for use by locals.

Subseries B: Miscellaneous, 1957-64, Boxes 8-9: Primarily Executive Council agendas.

Subseries C: National Office, 1955-1961, Box 9: Reports relating to building construction and personnel matters.

Subseries D: Policy, 1954-1962, Box 9: Reports covering various policy concerns of the AFT, including merit pay and strikes.

Subseries E: Referenda, Surveys, and Constitutional Amendment Material, 1955-1967, Boxes 9-11: Reports, questionnaires, and ballots recording membership positions on various union procedures and policies. A number of files contain proposed constitutional amendments submitted by locals.

Series V, Mary R. Wheeler Files, 1963, Box 11: 1963 convention materials collected by Mary R. Wheel
The AFT Secretary-Treasurer’s Office Records, Part II primarily covers the tenures of Robert Porter (1967-1991), Ed McElroy (1992-2004), and Nat LaCour (2004-2008), but also includes material from years under F. G. Stecker (1918-1926), Florence Curtis Hanson (1926-1935), Irvin Kuenzli (1936-1953), and Greg Humphrey (1991-1992). Departments within the national office report to the secretary-treasurer, who also coordinates local affiliates’ needs from the national office, and is involved with the AFL-CIO secretary-treasurers.

Series 6: Affiliate Files, 1943-2005 (Boxes 12-122, 228-229, 232, 234, 236-238) This series contains files related to local and state affiliates. Includes runs of files related to collective bargaining (CB), defense funds, militancy funds (MF), and strike loans (SL) cases. Individual locals files contain correspondence, constitutions, by-laws, bargaining agreements and contracts, copies of charter applications, per capita payments, insurance and benefits coverage available to members, and material related to local elections and investigations by the executive council into local operations. Affiliates are generally identified by their assigned local number.

Series 7: Correspondence and Chronological Files, 1962-2005 (Boxes 122-133) Series 7 contains correspondence from or to the Secretary-Treasurer’s office. Due to a staffing change in the national office, many documents from roughly 2000-2005 were not filed. Correspondence and chronological files from these years may contain documents related to other series. While correspondences to or from AFT Vice-Presidents were removed and placed in Series 9, records related to affiliate, department, and financial records from 2000-2005 may appear in this series.

Series 8: AFT Departments, 1959-2005 (Boxes 133-149, 232) This series contains documents from departments within the AFT, which report to the Secretary-Treasurer. Departments include: Administration; AFT Healthcare; AFT Higher Education; AFT Nurses and Health Professionals (FNHP); AFT PLUS Member Benefits; AFT PSRP (Paraprofessionals and School Related Personnel); AFT Public Employees (formerly known as Department of Public Employees or Federation of Public Employees); Albert Shanker Institute (ASI); Communications (includes the former Editorial and Public Relations departments); Conventions, Meetings and Travel; Educational Issues; Human Rights and Community Relations; Information Technology; International Affairs; Legal; Legislation; Office of the President; Organization and Field Services; Political (including the Committee on Political Education, or COPE); Research; Retirees; and the Union Leadership Institute. Types of documents include correspondence, reports, and meeting minutes.

Series 9: Executive Council, 1925-2005 (Boxes 149-174, 227, 232, 235) This series documents the activities of the Executive Council, including AFT Vice Presidents, various groups made up of council members, conventions, and governance activities. Includes Program and Policy Councils, and various committees and task forces. Document types include meeting minutes and notes, resolutions and proposed resolutions, constitutions and amendments, meeting packets that include reports from various committees and departments, correspondence, especially of Vice-Presidents.

Series 10: Financial Records, 1916-2005 (Boxes 174-191, 230-231) This series contains ledgers, ledger pages, reports, budgets for various control, insurance, disaster relief funds, various trusts, contributions to other organizations, tax records, and audits. Also includes correspondence with insurance companies, financial consultants, and contribution requests.

Series 11: Personnel Files, 1934-2005 (Boxes 188, 192-201, 233, 238-240) Contains documents related to personnel, including national and regional office staff, field and organizing personnel, and contractors. Documents relate to policies, benefits, and staff unions, especially the AFTSU (American Federation of Teachers Staff Union), and OPEIU (Office and Professional Employees International Union), including contracts, bargaining, and grievances. Personnel files also include correspondence with and reports from employees.

Series 12: Subject Files, 1925-2005 (Boxes 201-227, 232, 233) Includes material created and collected by the Secretary-Treasurer’s Office on topics related to politics, government entities, various projects, events, charities, and other unions. Includes files related to activities of the Secretary-Treasurer outside of AFT, such as board positions for other organizations. A large amount of material is from and relating to the National Education Association, which includes discussions and plans for a merger of the AFT and NEA, and the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations).

Dates

  • 1916 - 2005

Creator

Language of Materials

Material primarily in English. Some material is in Spanish.

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

234.75 Linear Feet (224 SB, 2 MB, 29 OS)

Abstract

Papers covering the activities of various secretary-treasurers of the AFT. The secretary-treasurer oversees departments within the national office, collects per capita dues, responds to affiliates’ needs such as strike and collective bargaining assistance, and is closely involved with the AFT Executive Council and the AFL-CIO secretary-treasurers. Part I topics of note include organizing, segregated locals, worker education, international teacher unions, federal aid to education, and academic freedom. Part II contains additional content related to the subjects in Part I, as well as material related to union finances, various assistance programs, strikes, the AFT Executive Committee and Council, AFT National Conventions, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO, especially jurisdictional disputes and secretary-treasurers' meetings.

History

The American Federation of Teachers created the office of Secretary-Treasurer at its 1918 convention. The only full-time paid officer of the AFT, the Secretary-Treasurer handled routine business matters and made minor policy decisions between meetings of the Executive Council. His executive duties included implementing policies adopted by the convention and the Executive Council, supervising national office personnel, servicing existing locals and assisting in the organization of new ones, and generally representing the union's position in labor and educational conferences and publications.

Florence Curtis Hanson, President of the Chicago Federation of Women High School Teachers, served as Secretary-Treasurer from 1926 until illness and a controversy over union finances brought about her resignation in 1935. Her successor, George Davis, President of the Cleveland local, served only temporarily, maintaining his residence in Cleveland and resigning immediately after his reelection in 1936.

The Executive Council then appointed Irvin R. Kuenzli Secretary-Treasurer. A Latin teacher in Springfield, Ohio, he served as President of Springfield Local 296 and of the Ohio Federation of Teachers before being elected a national Vice-President. His tenure as Secretary-Treasurer coincided with a period of dramatic growth in the AFT. In addition to his regular union duties and to his work on various AFT committees, Mr. Kuenzli was active in national and international educational and labor organizations such as the American Council on Education and the International Federation of Free Teachers' Unions, of which he was elected President in 1951.

When Carl Megel became President of the AFT in 1952, he transferred many of the tasks previously performed by the Secretary-Treasurer to his office. A conflict developed between the two officers, resulting in Mr. Kuenzli's dismissal in December of 1953. The new President then reorganized the office of Secretary-Treasurer, assigning routine administrative tasks to a staff of secretaries and administrative aides.

Arrangement

Arranged in 5 series: Series I, Florence Curtis Hanson Files, 1928-1935, Box 1: Files are arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material and then chronologically. Series II, George Davis Files, 1934-1937, Box 1: Files are arranged alphabetically by subject or type of material and then chronologically.

Series III, Irvin R. Kuenzli Files, 1936-1953, Boxes 2-8: Subseries A: Academic Freedom, 1936-1953, Box 2: Files are arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. Subseries B: Miscellaneous, 1936-1951, Box 2: Arranged alphabetically. Subseries C: National Office, 1936-1953, Box 2: Arranged alphabetically and chronologically. Subseries D: Non-AFT Organizations, 1938-1953, Box 3: Files are arranged alphabetically and chronologically. Subseries E: Organizing, 1949-1953, Boxes 4-5: Files are arranged alphabetically by correspondent and then chronologically. Subseries F: Policy, 1942-1954, Boxes 5-7: Arranged alphabetically. Subseries G: Referenda, Surveys, and Constitutional Amendment Material, 1937-1953, Boxes 7-8: Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

Series IV, Carl Megel, Clinton M. Fair, Paul D. Ward, and Robert M. Porter Files, 1954-1967, Boxes 8-11: Subseries A: Locals, 1954-1960, Box 8: Files are arranged alphabetically and chronologically. Subseries B: Miscellaneous, 1957-64, Boxes 8-9 Subseries C: National Office, 1955-1961, Box 9: Arranged alphabetically. Subseries D: Policy, 1954-1962, Box 9: Arranged alphabetically. Subseries E: Referenda, Surveys, and Constitutional Amendment Material, 1955-1967, Boxes 9-11: Files are arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

Series V, Mary R. Wheeler Files, 1963, Box 11: Arranged alphabetically.
AFT Secretary-Treasurer’s Office Records, Part II is arranged in 7 series – Series 6 (Boxes 12-122, 228-229, 232, 234, 236-238), Series 7 (Boxes 122-133), Series 8 (Boxes 133-149, 232), Series 9 (Boxes 149-174, 227, 232, 235), Series 10 (Boxes 174-191, 230-231), Series 11 (Boxes 188, 192-201, 233, 238-240), and Series 12 (Boxes 201-227, 232, 233).

Folders in each series are simply listed by their location within each box. They are not arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout several boxes within each series. Large sections of Series 7, Correspondence and Chronological Files, contain material unfiled by the AFT office due to staffing changes. As such, this series may contain material more appropriate to other series such as affiliate files or department records for that time period, approximately 2000-2005. However, correspondence with AFT vice-presidents has been removed and placed in Series 9, Executive Council.

Acquisition

The files of the Secretary-Treasurer's Office of the American Federation of Teachers were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in May of 1969 by the AFT and were opened for research in 1970 as the Miscellaneous Old Files Series of the AFT Collection. The material was reprocessed and a new guide was written in May of 1986.
The AFT Secretary-Treasurer’s Office Records, Part II were placed in the Reuther Library in multiple installments from 1975 to 2006. The Reuther is the official repository for the American Federation of Teachers’ records.

Related Materials

AFT National Defense Cases Records, AFT Office of the President Records, AFT Educational Issues Department Records

Transfers

Non-manuscript Material: One photograph of F. C. Snow, AFT Western states organizer, has been placed in the Archives Audio-Visual Collection. A few issues of The Chicago Union Teacher for the years 1931-1942 are available in the Archives Library.
From Part II, photographic negatives, audiocassettes, and a VHS tape (box 232) have been transferred to the Reuther’s AV Department. Digital files have been placed in the Reuther Digital Repository.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Stefanie Caloia on July 9, 2015.
Title
Guide to the AFT Secretary-Treasurer's Office Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Stefanie Caloia.
Date
2015-07-09
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2015-07-09: Added part II.
  • 2016-02-15: Added boxes 236-240.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA