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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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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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.

Featured collection: Filipino American Community Archives

The Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives documents significant historic events related to the transition of United States’ occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946) to the country’s independence, including Filipino military and government service. Unlike the west coast Filipino immigrants (primarily farmers, laborers, cannery workers) during the first half of the twentieth century, D.C. area Filipino immigrants worked for the U.S. government and the military serving in World Wars I and II, and for federal or local government and educational agencies. This collection is important in depicting the lives of first and second-generation Filipino-American immigrants and how their families developed. The collection demonstrates Washington, D.C., Filipino ties and fluidity of movement to the Philippines, to other areas of the country, and to the Washington, D.C. area. The individuals portrayed in this collection are the Filipinos who eventually created a community in the D.C metro area before the immigration reform of the 1960s and the completion of the Beltway in 1964.

This collection also is also beginning to document succeeding generations of Filipino Americans. After immigration laws relaxed in 1965, the next large wave of Filipinos began arriving and settling in the D.C. . Their stories are very different from the early Filipino immigrants in D.C. who were U.S. colonial and federal civilian government workers, taxi cab drivers, and WWII soldiers who fought under the American flag.

Explore the Filipino American Community Archives collection finding aid

Mr. and Mrs. Panganiban with two other men outside Manila House, 1944

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.

Featured collection: Children’s Television Workshop records

The Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) records document the founding and organization of CTW, as well as the public television programming that they produced and distributed. Included are administrative reports and correspondence, program files, research articles and data, press clippings and notices, international programming files, and the files of the Community Education Services.

CTW, now known as Sesame Workshop, was conceptualized as a television program that would promote early childhood education, especially for low0income families. Two years later, in 1968, CTW was officially founded. With support from several organizations, including the United States Office of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, and NET, among others. In 1968, Cooney also managed to recruit Jim Henson and his puppets for their help on their new program Sesame Street, which debuted in November 1969 and continues on air today.

CTW debuted several subsequent programs including The Electric CompanyFeelin’ GoodThe Best of Families3-2-1 Contact, and Square One TV, among others. In 2000, CTW officially changed its name to the Sesame Workshop which today continues with the mission to “help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.”

Explore the Children’s Television Workshop records finding aid


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.

Celebrating American Archives Month with Maryland & Historical Collections

October is American Archives Month, a month-long celebration of historic documents and records and the people that make them available for use. In Maryland & Historical Collections (MDHC), we know that people give our collections purpose. These people include the subjects represented in our collections, the students and researchers who use our materials in person and virtually, and the staff and volunteers who innovate ways of sharing Maryland history and culture with the public.

I recently spoke with two MDHC student assistants, Susannah Holliday and Matt LaRoche, to learn their thoughts on archives and the work they contribute to Special Collections and University Archives. Susannah is a graduate student in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, and Matt is a graduate student in the dual History and Library Science (HiLS) program. Working in MDHC gives them opportunities to apply what they learn in their classes to the everyday practices of a real archive. As the archivists of the future, Susannah and Matt offer great insight into the value of the historic record and the possibilities that exist when more people are involved in archives.

Susannah Holliday (left) and Matt LaRoche (right) stand outside on UMD's campus, each maneuvering a dolly stacked with several records boxes.
Archives everywhere! Susannah Holliday (left) and Matt LaRoche (right) transport archival materials across campus to their new home at Hornbake Library.
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“Get Out the Vote” Digitization Spotlight- A Relation of Maryland, 1635

Early voting laws in American varied throughout the colonies and territories, with authority to create and enact new laws limited to an appointed few. Published in 1635, A Relation of Maryland describes the geography, peoples, and other practical information Maryland to those making the journey to the province. It includes the Charter of Maryland, in which King Charles I of England granted to George Calvert proprietary rights to a region east of the Potomac River.

The early Maryland historical text is featured in Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America, a Special Collections & University Archives exhibit exploring the history of voting rights in America.

Each month, we shine the spotlight on items from the exhibit that have been fully digitized and made accessible online.

For October, we choose the oldest item in the exhibit, pulled from the Rare Books collection in Hornbake Library: A Relation of Maryland; Together, with a Map of the Countrey, the Conditions of Plantation, His Majesties Charter to the Lord Baltimore, published in London, 1635.

In section VII of the Charter of Maryland, Lord Baltimore is authority to enact laws “in agreement” with the freemen of the province, although mechanisms of obtaining consensus are not outlined and left entirely up to Lord Baltimore’s discretion:

“Know Ye therefore further, that We, forges, our Heirs and Successors, do grant unto the said now Baron, (in whose Fidelity, Prudence, Justice, and provident Circumspection of Mind, We repose the greatest Confidence) and to his Heirs, for the good and happy Government of the said Province, free, full, and absolute Power, by the Tenor of these Presents, to Ordain, Make, and Enact Laws, of what Kind soever, according to their sound Discretions whether relating to the Public State of the said Province, or the private Utility of Individuals, of and with the Advice, Assent, and Approbation of the Free-Men of the same Province, or the greater Part of them, or of their Delegates or Deputies, whom We will shall be called together for the framing of Laws, when, and as often as Need shall require, by the aforesaid now Baron of Baltimore, and his Heirs, and in the Form which shall seem best to him or them.”

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.

“Get Out the Vote” Spotlight – Margaret Brent

Margaret Brent was an early advocate for expanding voting rights law, challenging the Maryland General Assembly to grant her voting rights in 1648. 

Margaret Brent, born circa 1600 in Gloucestershire, England, was a prominent attorney, “founding mother” of Maryland, and the first female in the colonies to demand the right to vote in court. She first arrived in St. Marys City, Maryland with three of her siblings in 1638. She subsequently became involved in various business ventures and became the first woman landowner in Maryland. She was renowned for her business savvy and knowledge of the law. In 1647, then-Governor of Maryland Leonard Calvert appointed her executor of his estate shortly before he died. As Calvert’s executor, she played an instrumental role in stabilizing Maryland at a time of political crisis for the colony. 

In 1648, Brent argued before the provincial assembly for a voice in the council and two votes, one as Lord Baltimore’s representative and one as a landowner in her own right. As an unmarried, property-owning gentlewoman, Brent’s argument was consistent with English law, but she was ultimately denied the vote. After falling out of favor with the Calvert family, Brent moved to Virginia, where she died circa 1671.

You can view the transcript of request for the right to vote to the Maryland General Assembly in 1648 in volume 1 of the Archives of Maryland, on page 215. The volume is available in Special Collections & University Archives and online through the Internet Archive:

At the heart of the Special Collections & University Archives exhibit Get Out the Vote: Suffrage and Disenfranchisement in America are advocates, like Brent, 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.

Pioneer Newswoman Ann Corrick

“Beauteous Ann Corrick, the Radio Gal” (1)

Earlier this year, I wrote about our ongoing efforts in Mass Media & Culture to amplify women’s voices in broadcast history. Investigating intriguing figures in our collections – people once prominent in their fields – often reaches a dead end when trying to assemble a career timeline. Such was the case with a female journalist, active from the 1940s to the 1960s, whose literal voice was among those news stories from Westinghouse broadcasting which we recently digitized. 

Ann Marjorie Corrick achieved several “firsts” as a journalist, research showed, but she seems to have disappeared from the public record after 1970. A published interview or two, an occasional quote in newspapers, and one or two sentences in trade publications during her career were all I could find. Many of her male colleagues at Westinghouse received obituaries in major newspapers. When Corrick died in Palo Alto in 2000, there wasn’t any notice, even in the local press (2). However, what I was able to uncover illuminates the work of a tenacious reporter who forged an impressive career by any standard. 

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Djuna Barnes and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

While Djuna Barnes is most known for her fiction writing, she also had significant ties to the women’s suffrage movement.  Djuna’s connection to the women’s suffrage movement started at a young age.  Djuna’s grandmother, Zadel Gustafson Barnes, was a writer, journalist, and poet. Zadel wrote profiles of well-known suffragists such as Frances E. Willard and participated in the National Woman Suffrage Association’s International Council of Women. Zadel was also active in the temperance movement, which was closely tied to the women’s suffrage movement.

Despite Djuna’s familial connection to the women’s suffrage movement, she had no qualms about occasionally mocking it.  In an August 1913 article Djuna portrays the suffragists as making ridiculous statements such as “cleanliness is next to women suffrage.”  These depictions portray suffragists as foolish caricatures.  Djuna continues this approach in her 1913 article, “70 Suffragists Turned Loose.”  Djuna engages with negative stereotypes of suffragists, such as portraying them as figures who emasculate and intimidate men.  However, some of Djuna’s criticism is about the perceived conservatism of some suffrage leaders such as Carrie Chapman Catt.  Djuna portrays Chapman Catt as admonishing aspiring suffragists for the length of their dresses and preparing them for speeches in front of audiences from “the factory world.”  Djuna criticizes Chapman Catt’s focus on respectability politics and her classism, showing a willingness to engage in more nuanced critiques of the suffrage movement.  

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