Labor Archives Roundtable

Labor Archives Roundtable
Meghan Courtney

The session opened with brief remarks from a representative of Crawford Media, who offered discounted archival services for labor archives.

Conor Casey provided an update on existing projects:

  • Labor Archives portal proposal
    • Currently functioning as a Google doc due to limited interest from OCLC and Northwest Labor Archives.
    • The link to this is on the LAR microsite, so add there if you can.
  • LaborOnline Column and LAWCHA relationship update
    • LAWCHA is looking for short articles of roughly 500 words to publish on labor archives topics. It’s an ongoing article space, so the hope is that people can give some news on their repositories, repurpose some blog articles, etc. Please send articles to Conor Casey.
  • Labor Archives Directory Updates
    • Please check the links and update your listings in the Labor Archives Directory. The link to the Google doc for this is also on the LAR microsite.
  • Labor Archives repository map
    • This is an ongoing project – the link is on the roundtable website.

Roundtable session for next SAA:

  • Ideally, a session would create a connection to other issues that relate to other SAA groups. Examples include Women and labor, labor history as regional history, politics and political science, or building donor relations/records management.
  • Interested parties would send ideas for topics to the listserv.

Discussion: How to handle privacy issues with grievances/arbitration in your collections?

  • Traci Drummond noted that there are existing articles on this topic from 1979 and 1989.
  • One attendee referenced the “fat file” method used on an FBI appraisal project.
  • Louis Jones noted that in general, grievances give a lot of insight into the functions of the union. Several audience members agreed.
  • Another audience member suggested that repositories ought to ask researchers to sign release forms promising to omit any individuals’ names and assess data in aggregate only.
  • Additional ideas welcome on the listserv.

LAWCHA 2015, “Fighting Inequality: Class, Race, and Power”

  • The event will be held at the end of May 2015 at Georgetown and represents a joint conference of the Labor and Working-Class History Association and the Working-Class Studies Association.
  • Event organizers are looking for panels and workshops related to responses to crises.
  • Conor Casey asked for volunteers to form a subcommittee that would be charged with preparing presentation proposals. Several people volunteered.

Program: Moving the AFL-CIO Archives to the University of Maryland
Jen Eidson and Lauren Brown

The Meany Memorial Archives selected the University of Maryland to be their new home.

They set up some guidelines in their agreement, such as

  • Closed records for a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 50 years after creation, and the unions (or AFL-CIO) would have some say in the length of time before opening.
  • During the move, the donor organizations would have time to review their records and take things back.
  • Organizations would no longer have official historians with sole access to the records.
  • The AFL-CIO keeps intellectual property rights and will make financial contributions to support the collections. This includes one Labor Collections Coordinator and two Graduate Assistants.
  • The University of Maryland’s library system also supports the program.
  • The AFL-CIO would send copies of all finding aids and databases in their possession.

The project saw roughly 22,000 linear feet of materials moved in the 90 days following contract finalization. Each box has a barcode that helped facilitate the re-shelving process.

During after the move, they’re working on providing access to researchers and trying to provide access to the unprocessed records as well. They are obligated to re-open collections within 180 days of the move.

In order to increase access, many of the publications in the collections are now a part of HathiTrust. ArchivesSpace helps internal access.


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