Digitizing the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records

In May 2021, Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) began a three year grant project with Georgia State University’s Southern Labor Archive – “Advancing Workers Rights in the American South: Digitizing the Records of the AFL-CIO’s Civil Rights Division.”

SCUA will digitize and make accessible online approximately 45 linear feet (or 20-25%) from the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records (listed below), as well as 20 – 16mm films from the AFL-CIO Labor Film collection.  Georgia State University’s Special Collections & Archives will be digitizing 119 linear feet and some audio recordings from the Records from the AFL-CIO’s Southern Area Director’s Office Civil Rights Division for online access.  This project is supported by a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The grant program is made possible by funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  For more details about the grant award visit CLIR’s list of 2020 funded projects and the University of Maryland Libraries’ announcement.

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“Get Out the Vote” Spotlight – MaryPIRG

We believe that the full participation of young people in the political process is essential to a truly representative, vibrant democracy. Together young people have the power to elect the next generation of leaders who will fight for our shared vision of the future, but only if we vote.  

MaryPIRG New Voters Project

MaryPIRG is Maryland’s own Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). PIRGs are a federation of non-profit organizations that emphasize grassroots organizing and direct advocacy as a way to create progressive political change. The first PIRGs were founded on college campuses in the 1970s. MaryPIRG has been active at the University of Maryland since 1973. In addition to the student chapter at UMD, MaryPIRG also has offices in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. 

One of MaryPIRG’s biggest campaigns is their “Democracy” campaign. The “Democracy” campaign focuses on expanding voter access and diminishing the effect of special interest money in elections. It also pushes for state and local legislation that creates publicly funded elections programs, automatic voter registration, and election day registration. The “Democracy” campaign also works to register students to vote through the New Voters Project, which helps students register to vote ahead of primary or general elections at UMD.

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“Get Out the Vote” Digitization Spotlight- Objections to Woman Suffrage Answered by Alice Stone Blackwell

The reasons why women should vote are the same reasons why men should vote – the same as the reasons for having a republic rather than a monarchy.

Alice Stone Blackwell, 1910

Each month, we shine the spotlight on items from the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America that have been fully digitized and made accessible online.

For January, we are showcasing Objections to Woman Suffrage Answered by Alice Stone Blackwell.

Alice Stone Blackwell (1857-1950) was a suffragist, journalist, editor, and activist. This pamphlet, printed in 1910 is her thorough examination and refutation of the arguments commonly made against women’s suffrage. Blackwell responds to 34 arguments, including:

  • Women “don’t understand business”
  • Women as voters could disrupt the established “division of labor”
  • Women suffrage “will lead to family quarrels and increase divorce”
  • If granted the franchise, women should also serve in military and police forces.

You can read the complete digitized pamphlet with of Blackwell’s arguments for women’s suffrage online in the Internet Archive.

Visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view this item and more on display in the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America or explore the exhibit online.

New Exhibit: Takejiro Hasegawa (1853-1938) Innovative Publisher of Meiji Japan 

Visit Hornbake Library and explore three exhibit cases inside the Maryland Room which showcase the publishing career of Japanese publisher Takejiro Hasegawa.

Hasegawa used national exhibitions and world’s fairs to promote his publications. He began his career during the Meiji period beginning in 1868 when Japan rapidly industrialized & adopted Western ideas & practices. He ran a thriving business importing products from the West including books. By 1884, he decided to become a publisher, focusing on educational books written by Westerners living in Japan.

Hasegawa published a series of Japanese folktales in English, French, German and other European languages and in the Western manner reading from left to right with attractive illustrations.  Initially he published these folktales to help Japanese learn Western languages and was later motivated to sell books in Western markets.  Hasegawa used national exhibitions and world’s fairs to promote his publications. Included in the exhibition are images from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago where Japan spent lavishly to showcase itself with a Japanese temple, tea garden, and exhibits.  One of every six Americans visited the Chicago exposition to see the 65,000 exhibits spread across 633 acres of fairgrounds.

Several of Hasegawa’s publications are on view in the exhibit cases and you can read the full text of the fairy tale Momotaro displayed on the adjacent iPad. The world’s fair publications are from the University Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives collections and Hasegawa’s fairy tale books are on loan from John Schalow, former UMD Libraries Special Collections cataloguer who curated this exhibit.

“Get Out the Vote” Spotlight – Pauli Murray

Now you are strong
And we are but grapes aching with ripeness.
Crush us!
Squeeze from us all the brave life Contained in these full skins.
But ours is a subtle strength
Potent with centuries of yearning,
Of being kegged and shut away In dark forgotten places.

We shall endure
To steal your senses In that lonely twilight
Of your winter’s grief.

To the Oppressors. Pauli Murray.

Pauli Murray was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW), as well as a poet, author, lawyer, and civil rights activist. Murray is well known for highlighting the experiences of African-American women in particular. Her work sheds light on “Jane Crow,” a term she coined to illustrate that southern Jim Crow laws impacted women, too. 

Some Jim Crow laws made voter registration and electoral processes more restrictive, so political participation among many southern black voters was suppressed. Such laws included poll taxes, literacy tests, and residency requirements. Voter turnout dropped drastically in the South as a result. 

Murray’s book States’ Law on Race and Color examined and critiqued Jim Crow and similar laws throughout the U.S. It drew on social and psychological theory as well as legal theory, which drew some criticism within the legal profession. However, States’ Laws on Race and Color was hugely influential to the Civil Rights movement. Thurgood Marshall, who was then the NAACP chief counsel and would eventually become a Supreme Court justice, called it the “bible” of the civil rights movement, and the NAACP mirrored Murray’s social-scientific approach in their arguments in Brown v. Board of Education

 

On display in the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America is Dark Testament and Other Poems. By Pauli Murray. Norwalk, Conn., Silvermine, 1970.

At the heart of the Special Collections & University Archives exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America are advocates and grassroots organizations who have fought for expanding the right to vote. Their individual and collective voices have driven major changes to American voting rights, moving the nation closer to the ideal of “one person, one vote.”

Visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America or explore the exhibit online.

Vox Pop Travels America, 1935-1948: A Story Map

Co-host Warren Hull interviews Sgt. Gooseman from the Air Sea Rescue School. Keesler Field. Biloxi, Mississippi. April 2, 1945.

Radio broadcasting played many important roles during World War II. Comedy, drama, music, and information programs entertained, boosted wartime morale, promoted the war effort, and informed listeners about the progress of the war. As a broadcasting archive, the Mass Media & Culture Collections at the University of Maryland has many resources that document the roles radio played during World War II. One such resource is  Vox Pop Travels America, 1935-1948, a story map highlighting Vox Pop, a long-running radio interview program that spent the war years interviewing service men and women and defense plant workers from locations all over the United States.

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“Get Out the Vote” Digitization Spotlight- “No Compromise of Human Rights” by Charles Sumner

The same sentiment which led us to hail the abolition of slavery with gratitude as the triumph of justice, should make us reject with indignation a device to crystallize into law the disenfranchisement of a race… The attempt now is on a larger scale and is more essentially bad than the Crime against Kansas or the Fugitive Slave Bill. Such a measure, so obnoxious to every argument of reason, justice, and feeling, so perilous to the national peace and so injurious to the good name of the Republic, must be encountered as we encounter a public enemy

Charles Sumner, 1866

Each month, we shine the spotlight on items from the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America that have been fully digitized and made accessible online.

For December, we are showcasing a speech by Senator Charles Sumner (1811-1874): No Compromise of Human Rights: No Admission in the Constitution of Inequality of Rights, or Disfranchisement on Account of Color.

Charles Sumner was a United States Senator from Massachusetts from 1851-1874. He was vehemently anti-slavery, denouncing the Compromise of 1850 and the “Crime” against Kansas (the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854) which encouraged the expansion of slavery. In 1856, he was violently attacked on the Senator floor by Congressman Preston S. Brookes, a pro-slavery Democrat from South Carolina. In 1867, he worked with Congressman Thaddeus Stevens from Pennsylvania on a campaign to advocate for full voting rights for African Americans across the nation.

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What’s in a place name? Exploring the history of Piscataway Park and Accokeek Creek Site

Before European settlers invaded their lands in the seventeenth century, Indigenous communities of different sizes, languages, and cultures existed throughout present-day Maryland. Algonquian peoples, including the Piscataway, Conoy, and Mattaponi tribes, lived and traveled along the Potomac River, from the Chesapeake Bay to present-day Washington, D.C., including in nearby Accokeek, Maryland. Early travel accounts of white colonizers, like the journals and maps of Captain John Smith, identify geographic names that designated the Native peoples, cultures, and languages of those places. Many of these Indigenous words, such as Chesapeake, Patapsco, and Wicomico, still mark the landscape today. Accokeek, for example, derives its name from the Algonquian word for “at the edge of the hill,” and the neighboring Potomac River is named for the Patawomeck tribe that lived along the waterway’s southern bank.

Black and white photo of entrance sign: "Moyaone Reserve." A forest of trees is behind the sign and an unpaved road lays before it.
Entrance to Moyaone Reserve, circa 1957

Just as Native place names endure, so do Native communities and sites of their local cultural heritage and historical significance. Accokeek, Maryland is home to Piscataway Park, named after the local Piscataway tribe and divided into seven areas, including the Moyaone Reserve, a present-day residential community. In 1922, husband and wife Henry and Alice Ferguson purchased the land upon which Moyaone Reserve rests as a rural getaway from their daily lives in Washington, D.C. Interested in the history of the land, the Fergusons initiated archaeological digs beginning in the 1930s. These digs unearthed evidence of Indigenous presence in the area extending back thousands of years and gave the area its name. Moyaone (pronounced Moy-own) translates to “home place” and was an important village of the local Piscataway tribe, which John Smith visited in 1608 and is believed to have been situated near the present-day Moyaone Reserve.

Black and white aerial photo of the Moyaone Reserve mid-excavation, circa 1936. The land is mostly untouched except for a crescent strip that appears to have been stripped and excavated.
Aerial view of Moyaone excavation site, 1936
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Featured collection: AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records

The AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department was established “to encourage all workers without regard to race, creed, color, national origin or ancestry to share equally in the full benefits of union organization.” The department investigated complaints of discrimination at work and actively to addressed issues of fair employment, housing discrimination and school discrimination. They created and distributing informational pamphlets, holding conferences, and working with federal agencies and independent civil rights organizations.

The AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records include correspondence, press releases, reports, subject files and interviews, primarily from the 1960s through the 1980s. The topics in this collection cover all the activities conducted by the Civil Rights Department.

Explore the AFL-CIO Civil Rights Department records finding aid

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963

What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

“Get Out the Vote” Digitization Spotlight- Annual Report of the Philadelphia Female Anti-slavery Society

To overthrow an institution which has grown up, to giant size, in the heart of a mighty nation; which has its foundations in the strongest depraved principles of human nature; which is surrounded and sustained by the sanctions of law and public opinion, and protected by the suffrage of a false religion; to destroy and utterly lay waste such an institution, and to do so by moral influence on the minds of the community, it is not the work of a day, or a year. Such a work is ours. It can be accomplished only by constant and unwearied effort, day after day, and year after year, by seizing every opportunity to pour a ray of light on the darkened understanding, or a softening influence on the hardened heart, till the mind of the nation is renovated, and the pillars of slavery are removed.

Annual Report for the Philadelphia Female Anti-slavery Society, 1938

Each month, we shine the spotlight on items from the exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America that have been fully digitized and made accessible online.

For November, we are showcasing the Annual Report of the Philadelphia Female Anti-slavery Society.

The Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society (1833-1870) was formed by women who had been denied positions in the American Anti-Slavery Society, but responded to William Lloyd Garrison’s call for women to become actively involved in the abolition movement. the society circulated petitions to Congress, raised money through annual fairs, organized lectures, held conventions coordinated with other abolitionist women societies, and much more to aid anti-slavery causes in America.

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