A “Complex and Multi-Talented Man”: Exploring the Fascinating and Complicated Legacy of Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin speaking at Solidarity Day, September 19, 1981, https://digital.lib.umd.edu/resultsnew/id/umd:687295

As Pride month comes to a close, the Meany Labor Archive wanted to highlight the life and legacy of one of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s close advisors and mentors, gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. In one of our last blog posts, co-written with University Archives, we explored the radical legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, specifically his ties to the labor movement. A key figure in the Civil Rights movement, Rustin advised Martin Luther King, Jr on nonviolent protesting, and was a chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. And while the March on Washington is commonly considered one of the largest civil rights demonstrations in United States history, the largest demonstration was actually a system-wide school boycott in New York City, beginning on February 3, 1964. Over 360,000 elementary and secondary students went on strike, with many of them attending “freedom schools” that opened up around the city. And who did local leaders recruit to guide the protests? None other than Bayard Rustin. As the lead organizer for the strike, Rustin immediately solicited volunteers and met with church and community leaders to obtain their commitment to organize their membership for the strike. On February 3rd, 464,361 students did not show up for school. In freezing temperatures, picket lines formed outside 300 school buildings, and over 3,000 students marched with signs reading “Jim Crow Must Go!,” “We Demand Quality Education!,” and “We Shall Overcome!” And although the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) never publicly endorsed the strike, nearly 10% of teachers were absent, and the union supported teachers who refused to cross the picket line. The day after the strike, Rustin declared that it was the “largest civil rights protest in the nation’s history.” Prior to organizing two of the largest civil rights demonstrations in United States history, Rustin also played an important role in the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which challenged racial injustice through the usage of “Gandhian nonviolence.” As a member of CORE, Rustin trained and led groups in actions against segregation throughout the 1940s. 

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Online Exhibit – How We Might Live: The Vision of William Morris

Are you looking for a way to enjoy Literature and Rare Books’ digital holdings?  Explore our updated virtual exhibit How We Might Live: The Vision of William Morris.  This online exhibit offers insight into William Morris (1834-1896), who was an author, socialist, decorator, printer, calligrapher, and leader in the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Morris was inspired by the Middle Ages to produce beautiful, high quality works.  Morris’ creations include furnishings from Morris and Co. and books published by Kelmscott Press.  Morris was also active in the English Socialist movement and founded the Socialist League in 1884.

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Join us for afternoon tea

The University of Maryland Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives would like to invite you to join us for Afternoon Tea at our Annual Open House on October 15th between 2-4pm.

Special Collections and University Archives is home to a number of collections that capture the complex history of immigration to the United States. This year, we hope to engage in conversations with you about these objects and this history.

Driven by the passion of faculty, staff and students across University of Maryland’s schools and colleges, the Year of Immigration programming strives to increase awareness about immigration, global migration and refugees and to use that education to foster a more diverse and inclusive community.

To participate, drop by anytime during the event. We can’t wait to share a cup with you.

Join us for an afternoon tea at our fall open house on Monday, October 15th from 2-4pm in the first floor lobby of Hornakbe Library North

An invitation to our annual open house

Preservation Maryland records in UMD’s Special Collections

Preservation Maryland Dispaly in the Maryland Room

Jen Wachtel with the Maryland Room Mini-Exhibit, Steward to Advocacy

Marylanders value the state’s history and often recognize Preservation Maryland as one of the state’s foremost historic preservation organizations. Preservation Maryland is nationally renowned for its advocacy, outreach, and funding efforts. Founded in 1931, Preservation Maryland made the University Libraries its official institutional repository in 2008. These records are an incredible resource for historic preservation students as well as anyone interested in Maryland history.  An abstract of the collection is available here, and you can check out a Preservation Maryland mini-exhibit in the Maryland Room for the month of April! Continue reading

Ask an Archivist: The Questions We Ask Ourselves

This year October 5th is “Ask An Archivist” Day!  For us, Ask an Archivist Day usually means fielding questions from the public about what life in an archive is like.

However, this week a group of student archivists working at the University of Maryland’s Special Collections and University Archives are taking this time to start a conversation about the nature of archives more broadly. This “Ask An Archivist” Day, they are asking: “Can I break the archive?”


In the 2009 article published in Archival Science, Jeannette Bastian concludes that, “a cultural expression has no end; it is always becoming something else.” In one sense, this is intuitive: there is “culture” all around us and it is constantly evolving. This ceaseless evolution is exactly what can make  the dinner table at Thanksgiving so uncomfortable. After all, having so many generations in one place is bound to cause friction. But, it’s not just “culture” that’s evolving. It is all the things that culture entails. The objects, documents, and evidence of culture–typically the stuff of archives–is itself bound to the constant flux of relationships and activities that frame and contextualize their existence. We tend to think of archives as evidence of a distant past that are static. Safe in their archival boxes, nothing can harm or change the objects that have been chosen to represent the past.

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Volunteer Opportunities in Special Collections and University Archives

Looking to gain experience working in a special collections library or archival repository? Special Collections and University Archives is host to volunteers and field study students looking to build up their resumes. They work closely with  library staff to make accessible some of the University’s most valuable research collections.

Current volunteer/field study opportunities include:

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Student Spotlight: Instruction & Outreach GA Edie Sandler

IMG_3915_1It is a leisurely summer weekend following my freshman year at UCLA, and I’ve got my fencing  gear packed in the back of my boyfriend’s 1986 Volvo, and four hours until practice. Just enough time to warrant spending 20-something dollars for a visitor’s ticket to the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. The grounds are breathtaking and perfectly manicured; the reputation of its art collection peerless and the architecture of the library and museum impressive. But nothing compared to the moment I walked into the library and spotted the vault.  The vault door looks like something out of a bank, cracked open just far enough for the curious to get a glimpse inside.  I was hooked.

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Archiving AFL-CIO

Spotlight on Paul Barton:

AFL-CIO European Representative, 1968-1994

Creating a plan

As a part of my Master of Library Science degree, I worked at the AFL-CIO Archives for my field study course and worked on a semester-long project with the institution.  The collection I worked on was the unprocessed records of Paul Barton, the European Representative of the International Affairs Department of the AFL-CIO, to make them accessible to the public.  This collection is twelve linear feet of records created and accumulated by Barton between 1945 and 1992.  To make these records accessible we conducted a survey of the records, created a processing plan, and wrote the finding aid.

Understanding the subject

Barton/Veltrusky working in his Paris apartment, circa 1970s.

Barton/Veltrusky working in his Paris apartment, circa 1970s.

As a part of this process we conducted some research on Paul Barton to provide context for the records.  Paul Barton, whose real name was Jiri Veltrusky, was a Czech from Czechoslovakia born on June 5, 1919.  Barton who, as an intellectual in Prague received his PhD in the philosophy of aesthetics of semiotics with a special interest in theater, was a member of the Prague Circle, a group of intellectuals, as well as an advocate for free trade unions and democracy.  When the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia successfully launched a coup and took over the government in 1948, Barton, like other pro-democracy advocates, was forced to flee the country or face persecution, ultimately fleeing to Paris where he would live the remainder of his life.  In the early years of his exile Barton used several pseudonyms before settling on Paul Barton.  While in Paris he spent time writing articles and supporting the labor union movement, becoming a representative of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions before joining the AFL-CIO around 1968.  Upon joining the AFL-CIO he served as the European Representative of the AFL-CIO International Affairs department, serving in the Paris office until his death on May 31, 1994.

Contextualizing the collection

Books authored by Barton

Books authored by Barton

Barton’s papers reflect the many communities the AFL-CIO worked with as the records are found in six languages, English, French, German, Russian, Czech and Spanish.   The topics in the records also demonstrate concerns held by Barton and the AFL-CIO, with topics ranging from trade unions in the USSR and developing countries and forced labor in the USSR.  The records also reflect the views of labor unions concerning such historical events like the Prague Spring in 1968 and the 1970 Polish Protests.

These records complement currently available collections in the AFL-CIO Archives, including the records of Jay Lovestone (0073-LBR-RG18-003), Irving Brown (0074-LBR-RG18-004), and the AFL and AFL-CIO International Affairs Department Country Files (0071-LBR-RG18-001 and 0043-LBR-RG18-010).  The Thomas Kahn papers will also be an important collection to consult, once it’s processed.  Note: Records dating after 1970 may be restricted.

Click here to view the collection finding aid for the AFL-CIO, International Affairs Department. Paul Barton papers.

Explore UMD’s labor collections, including the AFL-CIO archive.

To find out more about UMD Labor Collections, email askhornbake@umd.edu.

By Chris Carter
University of Maryland iSchool graduate, May 2015

Books Published Before 1850

The ‘History of the Book’ class being offered through the iSchool at the University of Maryland often has an assignment requiring students to compare a book published before 1850 with its more modern equivalent. It gives students the opportunity to examine differences in binding, paper, size, and many more details that distinguishes books produced in different eras. They are able to examine a rare book up-close, taking in the tactile nuances that you don’t always find in a modern paperback or ebook.

7930000422_d195852794_oSpecial Collections and University Archives has a wonderful Rare Books collection that can serve as a teaching tool for those interested in book history. Stop by the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library North and ask a librarian for more information about our Rare Books holdings.

Interested in more history of the book resources in Hornbake Library? Check out our subject guide.


If you are interested in locating a book published from a particular time period, use the ‘Advanced Search‘  function in the Classic Online Catalog and limit the date range to the years you would like to search, then limit the location to ‘Marylandia & Rare Books’. If you would also like to view books from McKeldin and other libraries on campus, simply skip this step.  You can also narrow your search by title, author, or keyword.

If you have any questions, we are here to help! Visit us in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library North and ask a librarian.


  • Balzac. Eugénie Grandet. (1841) Rare Stacks PQ2166 .A1 1841
  • Balzac. Le Pere Goriot. (1839) Rare Stacks PQ2168.A1 1839
  • Boswell. Life of Johnson (1807)  Rare Stacks PR3533.B6
  • Bryant, William Cullen. Poems. (1832) Rare Stacks PS1150.E32 & PS1150.E32a
  • Bunyan, John.  Pilgrim’s Progress.  Rare Stacks PR3330.A1 1844 (other editions also available)
  • Burke, Edmund.  Reflections on the Revolution in France.  (1790) Rare Stacks DC150.B8
  • Byron, Lord. Childe Harold’s pilgrimage. (1812). Rare Stacks PR4357 .A1 1812b
  • Chaucer, Geoffrey. The works of Geoffrey Chaucer. (1721). Rare Folio PR1850 1721
  • Defoe, Daniel.  Robinson Crusoe (1810) Rare Stacks PR3403.A1 1810 (2 v.)
  • Dickens, Charles. American Notes (1842) Rare Stacks E165.D53 1842
  • Dickens, Charles.  The Old Curiosity Shop. (1841)  Rare Stacks PR4566 1841
  • Dickens, Charles. The posthumous papers of the Pickwick Club. (1842). Maryland Rare Stacks PZ3.D55 Pi 1842
  • Goldsmith, Oliver.  The Vicar of Wakefield. (1830)  Rare Stacks PR3490.A1 1830
  • Homer.  Iliad.  (1795) Rare Stacks PA4025.A2 1795 (other editions also available)
  • Homer. The odyssey of Homer. (1818) Rare Stacks PA4025.A5 P6 1818 (other editions also available)
  • Livy.  Roman History (Ab urbe condita) (1578) rare Folio PA6452 .A2 1578
  • Locke, John.  Letters Concerning Toleration (1765) Rare Folio BR1610.L4
  • Marshall. Life of George Washington (1804) Rare Stacks E312.M342
  • Milton, John. Paradise lost. (1739) Rare Stacks | PR3560 .A1 1739. (other editions available)
  • Poe, Edgar Allan. The Raven and Other Poems. Maryland Rare Stacks | PS2609 .A1 1845b
  • Thomas Paine. Rights of man; being an answer to Mr. Burke’s attack on the French revolution. (1791) Rare Stacks JC177 .C128
  • Richardson, Samuel.  Clarissa. (1751) Rare Stacks PR3664.C4 1751
  • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Contrat social; ou, Principes du droit politique. (1762) Rare Stacks JC179 .R83 1762a
  • Scott, Sir Walter.  Kenilworth (1821)  Rare Stacks PR5319.A1
  • Scott, Sir Walter. Rob Roy. (1818) Rare Stacks PZ3.S43 Ro 1818
  • Shakespeare. The merchant of Venice. (1802). Rare Stacks PR2838 .A1 1802. (several of Shakespeare’s works are available in altered editions)
  • Shakespeare, William. The plays of William Shakespeare, in ten volumes. (1773) Rare Stacks | PR2752 .J6 1773
  • Shelley. Poetical Works (1840) Rare Stacks PR5402 1840
  • Smith, Adam.  Wealth of Nations  (1789) Rare Stacks HB161.S612 (other editions available)
  • Sterne, Laurence. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. (1774)  Rare Stacks PR3714.T4 1774
  • Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War (1588)  Rare Folio PA4452 .A2 1588
  • Virgil.  Aeneid (1529)  Rare Folio PA6801 .A2 1529
  • Voltaire. Historical and critical remarks on The history of Charles XII, King of Sweden. (1732) Rare Stacks DL732 .L33
  • Wollstonecraft, Mary. Vindication of the Rights of Women.  (1794) Rare Stacks HQ1596.G62