The Revolution Will be Printed: Graphic Arts as Activism is a celebration of printed works that drive social change through celebration, critique, and creation. To kick off this exhibit, I am thinking about artwork created for two different printed newspapers in Hornbake’s holdings, El Malcriado and the AFL-CIO News that cover the Delano Grape Strike.
In protest against poor pay and working conditions, over 800 farmworkers agreed to strike and walked off their jobs in the grape fields of Delano, California in September 1965. The strike leaders were Filipino members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). They reached out to the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) for support. The NFWA membership, whose leaders included César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, voted in overwhelming favor of striking. The AWOC and the NFWA then became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) union.
El Malcriado was established by César Chávez as the unofficial newspaper of the UFW (United Farmworkers of America) in 1964. It was titled after a rallying cry from the Mexican Revolution and was printed first in Spanish and then in English as well (1910-1920). The woodcuts, engravings, and pen-and-ink drawings for El Malcriado continue a Mexican-American (Chicano/a/x) graphic arts tradition.
This cover by Frank Cieciorka brings together cultivation and cultural heritage. Agricultural labor is brought back to ancient practice through the prominence of maize and the integration of Mesoamerican sculpture and architecture. Cieciorka is also known for the woodcut print of the fist that graced countless posters and buttons at demonstrations throughout the 1960s.
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.
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.
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.
A recent addition to the UMD Labor Collections is now available for the public: the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO records, containing material dating from 1896 to 2016. The Metro Washington Council (MWC) is a local labor council representing a federation of 175 diverse local unions in Washington, DC and the surrounding area. Presented to the archives in September 2018, the Metro Washington Council records examine
Today is May Day! Also known as International Workers’ Day. May Day is considered an international labor holiday. This post highlights some of the materials in our collections related to May Day. Much of our May Day material can be found in the May Day, 1885-1986 folder in the vertical file collection, and the Haymarket folders in the Morris B. Schnapper collection!
May Day was created by a resolution initiated by American Socialists at the International Socialist Congress in Paris, France, in July of 1889. The purpose of May Day was to gain support for an eight-hour work day. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada, precursor to the American Federation of Labor, and the Knights of Labor cooperated in preparing for a general strike in U.S. cities on May 1, 1886. And on that day, approximately 350,000 American workers went on strike, impacting over 11,000 businesses. Although workers in New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, and other cities participated, Chicago was widely considered the center of May Day agitation, largely due to Chicago being one of the few cities with broad union and radical solidarity in support of the eight-hour day.
The Labor Heritage Foundation (LHF), an Allied Group of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1983 by Joe Glazer, Joe Uehlein, and Saul Schniderman. The non-profit strives to promote labor activism through a combination of music, arts, and culture. Donated to the University of Maryland in 2016, the LHF records document decades of labor activities and events including: correspondence with leaders in the labor movement like Pete Seeger and Archie Green, administrative documents, songbooks, photographs, and audiovisual materials.
On June 10, 2002, protesters marched down Constitution Avenue with signs reading “STOP ASHCROFT’S WAR ON IMMIGRANTS” and “ASHCROFT: WHERE IS THE COMPASSION?” These impassioned union members of SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 82 called for fair immigration laws and fair treatment of immigrants. This protest came in response to Attorney General John Ashcroft’s statement four days earlier:
“…arresting aliens who have violated criminal provisions of [the] Immigration and Nationality Act or civil provisions that render an alien deportable … is within the inherent authority of the states.” 
Ashcroft delivered this statement in light of the attacks on September 11, 2001, after which President George W. Bush’s administration tightened immigration restrictions in the interests of national security. Ashcroft called this policy a “new war [in which] our enemy’s platoons infiltrate our borders … The vulnerabilities of our immigration system became starkly clear on September 11.” Bush and Ashcroft’s critics, including the SEIU and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) accused the administration of conflating the War on Terror with a war on immigrants in the United States and treating immigrant workers unfairly.
Founded in 1921, the SEIU has a long history of organizing workers in the service industry, including many immigrants. The Labor Collections team selected a photograph from the SEIU’s June 2002 protest in Washington, DC for the exhibit display “Immigrants Get the Job Done” because the SEIU is historically active in support of immigrant worker’s rights. In the photograph, you can see a “Justice for Janitors” banner, referencing one of the SEIU’s most famous campaigns. The Justice for Janitors movement, mainly comprised of low-wage immigrant workers, uses methods such as civil disobedience, in order to achieve social and economic justice, including fair wages, improved working conditions, and better healthcare.
SEIU Local 82 marching against criminalization of undocumented immigrants, June 10, 2002. Photographer Bill Burke. Page One, Photography, Inc. Records. You can see this photograph in person in the exhibit “For Liberty, Justice, and Equality: Unions Making History in America” in person or online.
The rights of immigrant workers in the United States is not a new debate. For labor unions, immigrant labor was not always viewed as a positive contribution to the fabric of American society. Long before the formation of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) in 1955, major national unions adopted protectionist and often-racist stances against Chinese labor reminiscent of current rhetoric surrounding Mexican immigrant labor in the United States. Examining the correspondence of two national labor union leaders at the beginning of the 20th century provides context for the debate about immigrant labor in the United States.
On February 1, 1905, Samuel Gompers, the President of the AFL (American Federation of Labor) wrote to Frank Duffy, the Secretary of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBCJA), expressing his concerns that local UBCJA unions in Honolulu might support Chinese immigrant labor. He claims,
“My information is that several local unions in Honolulu … are endangering the policy of protection of the American workmen and Caucasian race, by allowing them to be induced … to favor modification of the Chinese Exclusion law.” (emphasis added)
Gompers was referring to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (renewed in 1892, made permanent in 1902, and repealed in 1943). The law prohibited the immigration of all Chinese laborers for 10 years and was the first law intended to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to, or becoming naturalized citizens of, the United States. Gompers saw the exclusion of Chinese labor from the U.S. Territory of Hawaii, which was not yet a state, as a cause for the labor movement, and even went so far as to describe Japanese labor as “evil.”
Portrait of AFL President Samuel Gompers, 1914, UBCJA archives.
Portrait of UBCJA General Secretary Frank Duffy, 1901.
The above images are available in Digital Collections: Gompers and Duffy.
Gay Student Alliance – The Gay Student Alliance (GSA) was established at the University of Maryland in the 1970s as the successor of the Student Homophile Association (SHA). This collection contains newspaper clippings and editorials from the Diamondback chronicling the campus response to the gay community during the 1970s.
“Since 1979, when the Gay and Lesbian Labor Alliance was formed, Nancy Wohlforth has been working to bring gay issues into the labor movement. Now the organization is called Pride At Work and is a full-fledged constituency group in the AFL-CIO. National cochair Wohlforth and the newly hired executive director, Kipukai Kuali’i, will fight for domestic-partner pension benefits, greater employment protection, and transgender inclusion. They also want gays and lesbians to understand the power and benefit of unions. ‘Frankly, a lot of people still see the union as a bunch of old white boys who want nothing to do with their interests,’ Wohlforth says, ‘clearly that’s not the case.’
-The Advocate on Nancy Wohlforth in the Best and Brightest Activists collection, August 17, 1999. Continue reading →