Pride in the Labor Movement

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Pride at Work national convention poster by Ricardo Lewis Morales, Northland Poster Collective, San Diego, 2006. Pride at Work Records.

In honor of Pride Month, we are featuring items from the Labor Collections at Special Collections and University Archives that highlight the role of the LGBTQ+ community in the labor movement. This particular item will be on display in the upcoming exhibit, “For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America” opening October 2017.  LGBTQ+ people of all types are involved in every aspect of labor, although labor unions ignored or excluded them until recent decades. The Pride at Work poster calls attention to the role the diverse LGBTQ+ community played in American history and American labor history and demonstrates a reversal of labor union policy towards LGBTQ+ people.

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Phoney Papers, Racket Presses, and Fake News

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Cartoon by AFL-CIO News cartoonist, John Stampone, illustrates both the ILCA and ILPA’s efforts to enforce their ethical standards and stop so-called racket papers from taking advantage of local businesses and unions.

National dialogue has radically changed over the first half of 2017. Phrases like “alternative facts” and concern over “fake news” has been the subject of presidential tweets and investigative reporting. While issues over reputable and authoritative news and information are critical discussions, concerns over the media are not only a thread throughout American history.  It was an issue within the labor movement as well. Continue reading

3rd Annual Labor History Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon

2017 edit a thon flyerBring your laptop and join a community interested in promoting labor history by editing entries in the popular online encyclopedia. WikimediaDC will be on hand to give a short presentation on how to edit in Wikipedia, and be available with expert help during the editing time. We’ll focus on developing entries related to the Labor History Collections at the University of Maryland, including the AFL-CIO Archives. Participants will receive complimentary issues of Labor’s Heritage journal. No editing experience necessary – Basic computer skills needed – Virtual editors welcome!

Date: Friday, May 5th
Time: 12:00-3:00pm
Location: AFL-CIO Headquarters, Washington, DC
Can’t make it?  Consider editing any time during the month of May with these resources!

Is History on Repeat? More Cartoons from John Stampone

The idea that history repeats itself is a popular concept. Whether expressed as “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it” or “there’s nothing new under the sun,” this concept has found countless different expressions for itself. While it may be a cliche, it is a very real part of working in an archive. The collection could be from 10, 50, or 100 years ago, and I still find myself surprised by how resonant the materials can be with the present. The cartoons of John Stampone is one such case.

Stampone, a Maryland native having lived in Baltimore, Silver Spring, and Olney, drew cartoons that explored foundational concepts of America and the American labor movement (as has been previously discussed with regards to his Thanksgiving cartoons) as well as exploring the critical issues of his day. While looking through his work, I was struck by how some of the images and critiques he makes seem more relevant than ever in 2017.

One such image is a cartoon for the AFL-CIO News celebrating Labor Day in 1978. The cartoon depicts, in the foreground, a hand engraved with the words “U.S. Labor Day.” The hand is holding a radiant gemstone with the words “Human rights” emanating from it. This hand is juxtaposed against an image of the Kremlin the background out of which a hand rises clutching a ball and chain inscribed with “oppression” on it. The stark binary between the darkened Kremlin and the brilliant gem of human rights really speaks to the growing tensions from the 2016 Presidential Election.

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The second cartoon that stood out for me is from 1975, also from the AFL-CIO News. It depicts a man, labeled “deepening recession,” hiding around a corner with a club labeled “social, racial tensions” as a pain of men one labeled “human rights” and the other “human relations” begin to turn the corner. The cartoon argues that human rights and relations are threatened by a recession that creates conflicts between classes and races. Coming out of our most recent recession and the political events that have followed, perhaps reaching its climax with the 2016 election, this cartoon remains relevant speaking to our current economic, social, and racial conflicts, almost 50 years later.

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The AFL-CIO News is fully digitized online – check it out!

Benjamin Bradley is a second year MLIS student in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. He works in the Labor Collections at UMD’s Special Collections and University Archives. You can also find him over in McKeldin Library where he is the GA for Electronic Resources.

Exploring Labor’s History Through the AFL-CIO Poster Collection: A Blog Series (Part 4)

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One of the more unexpected items in the collection are two objects from student protests in Paris. 1968 was a tumultuous year in France which saw radical student demonstrations erupt in Paris. Most notably, students held demonstrations and occupied their universities in opposition to Charles de Gaulle. The first item depicts de Gaulle with the now iconic phrase “Le Chienlit C’est Lui!” (one translation: “He is the chaos”.) The phrase appropriates a pun de Gaulle made in a speech.  The second, larger item was created by a student group at the Sorbonne, a Parisian university, la Coordination des Comités d’Action. The poster criticizes de Gaulle along with Georges Pompidou, the president, and Christian Fouchet, the interior minister, claiming “Les provocateurs ce son eux!” (They are the agents of violence)

Contact us at askhornbake@umd.edu for more information about our Labor Collections.


Benjamin Bradley is a second year MLIS student in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. He works in the Labor Collections at UMD’s Special Collections and University Archives. You can also find him over in McKeldin Library where he is the GA for Electronic Resources.

Exploring Labor’s History Through the AFL-CIO Poster Collection: A Blog Series (Part 1)

The American Federation of Labor was founded just about 150 years ago in 1886. Continuing today, the AFL-CIO and its member unions and organizations have traveled together through a tumultuous history of social challenges and changes: worker’s rights, child labor, segregation, World War II, Apartheid, the 40 hour work week, communism, LGBT rights, and so much more. During the past year, I have been inventorying the AFL-CIO poster collection here at the University of Maryland’s Special Collections and University Archives’ Labor Collections. This inventory will enable researchers and staff to find and access these posters and facilitate future digitization projects. As I finish up inventorying the collection, I thought I would share my experience with the collection.

This AFL-CIO Posters collection contains over 900 items ranging from broadsides, circulars, posters, and clipsheets. It spans the early days of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) up to the present-day AFL-CIO. It contains items from a variety of unions and organizations, international and American, and in a variety of languages including: French, Spanish, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Polish, Chinese, Korean, Icelandic, Hebrew, and Arabic. My time with this collection truly has been a journey through time and place. From late 19th century shipyards to contemporary, global struggles for human rights.

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