May Day in the Meany Labor Archives!

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.

In Chicago, May Day demonstrations were large and continued for several days, with roughly 80,000 workers marching down Michigan Avenue, led by Albert and Lucy Parsons. According to a 1935 article written by Lucy Parsons, titled, “The Story of Haymarket,” between May 1st and May 3rd, “the strike was spreading like wild fire. The bosses were hostile, the police were brutal to the last degree!” On May 3rd, employees of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company held a noon meeting to discuss the strike, when, according to Parsons, “two patrol wagons, loaded with police, dashed down upon them and began clubbing and shooting those unarmed workers.” After the incident, August Spies, a speaker at the meeting, returned to the office of the German radical newspaper, Arbeiter Zeiting, and issued a flyer that called the famous meeting in Haymarket Square to “protest against this outrage.”

The next day, approximately 3,000 people attended the meeting at Haymarket Square. According to Lucy Parsons recount, “the Haymarket meeting was a perfectly peaceful meeting,” but as the meeting ended, “about two hundred police rushed upon us with drawn clubs and pistols, clubbing and shooting into this peacefully assembled meeting of men, women, and children.” After police rushed the meeting, “someone hurled a bomb into their ranks. Who threw that bomb was never known.” The bomb killed one policeman, and several others were fatally injured either by the bomb, or the rioting that followed.

Here is a publication from 1915 comparing May Day with Labor Day, written by Socialist Labor Party member Boris Reinstein, titled “International May Day and American Labor Day.” Reinstein compares May Day and Labor Day, arguing that May Day is the “drilling day for the Social Revolution,” that was “created by the workingmen themselves, in defiance of the capitalist class and its governments,” while Labor Day, on the other hand, was a “gift” that workers “received from their masters, the capitalists, through the capitalist politicians,” further arguing that Labor Day was “created by the political agents of the American capitalists to fan the sleeping giant, the American working class, while the capitalists are sucking its blood.”

Next, we have a 1931 “May Day Manifesto,” published by the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party, and printed by the Victoria House Printing Company in London. The manifesto calls for unity and organization, and “renews its pledge to strive in politics and industry for the creation of a saner system in which work and wealth will be equitably shared, leisure will be organised, and science and invention will lighten the toll of all, rather than service to enrich the few.” The manifesto also argues that “organisation is our most pressing and immediate task. In unity of purpose, in fidelity to the principles which inspired the pioneers of our Trade Union, Co-operative and Labour Organisations, we pledge ourselves afresh on this May Day to the ideals of freedom, peace, and social justice which our organised Movement exists to serve.”

Next, we have the front page, and main article the 1937 May Day issue of Miner’s Voice, published by the Butte Miners’ Union. The article revisits the 1917 Butte Miners’ Strike, where “miners, smelter workers, and mechanics in Butte and Anaconda, betrayed by the American Federation of Labor officials, national, state and local, struck against the rustling card system, for the right to organize and live like human beings.” For “the members of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers–the bearer of the militant tradition of the Western Federation of Miners and of the long fight for industrial unionism shared with the United Mine Workers–,” May Day 1937 was “a day of rejoicing over signal victories gained and of confidence of victory in the serious struggles for the extension of industrial unionism to the mines, mills, and smelters as yet unorganized.” The article also expresses support for the Peoples Front in Spain, arguing that “the fight against Spanish Fascism is a fight against Fascist reaction in America.”

Next, we have a flyer from the Daily Worker for the 1948 May Day Rally at the National Press Building in Washington, D.C., held on Sunday May 2nd. The rally included speakers Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Gerhart Eisler, George Meyers, and William C. Taylor. Written from the perspective of “The Spirit of May Day,” the flyer provides background information on the history of May Day, while calling into question its current legacy, suggesting that mainstream media “spent the last 62 years trying to keep me locked in a closet so the people won’t hear my message.” Echoing the comparison made by Boris Reinstein in 1915, the flyer argues that the media “persuaded the leaders of the American Federation of Labor to change Labor Day from May 1 to the first Monday in September.” The flyer argues that, arriving in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 1948, “the Spirit of May Day finds, in fact, that the rulers of America, in the name of sacred American institutions, are out to dominate the world and establish a police state at home,” while providing a short and simple message: “Get together! Organize! Regardless of race, color or creed, unite!”

Next, we have a full-page article from the May 2-8, 1979 issue of In These Times, written by noted labor historian Richard Schneirov (a graduate student at Northern Illinois University at the time), titled “Haymarket: Albert Parsons and the American origins of May Day.” Suggesting that “May Day goes by quietly” in the U.S., Schneirov provides detailed history not only of May Day, or Haymarket, but the broader history behind the labor movement in Chicago, and the history of Albert Parsons, the “most prominent Chicago anarchist of the period.” Parsons’ political career, Schneirov argues, makes it clear that Haymarket radicals “were neither lone terrorists nor isolated radicals removed from mass trade union activity,” further arguing that “Parsons and the Chicago anarchists played a major formative role in the shaping of the American socialist and labor traditions. And it was those traditions that created the May Day labor holiday, celebrated now in almost every country in the world–except the U.S.”

"Haymarket: Albert Parsons and the American origins of May Day."

May 2-8, 1979 issue of In These Times. Haymarket Riot (1886), 1958-1986. George Meany Memorial Archives, Vertical File collection, 1.20.13. Special Collections and University Archives. https://archives.lib.umd.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/386349

For more information on May Day materials in our collections, please contact the Meany Labor Archives!

By Alan Wierdak, Archives Specialist for the George Meany Labor Archive.

 

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New Acquisitions in the National Trust for Historic Preservation Library: Adding to the Papers of William J. Murtagh

This past October, the historic preservation community lost one of its champions in Dr. William J. Murtagh. Dr. Murtagh, who served from 1967 through 1979 as the first “Keeper” of the National Register of Historic Places, led the movement and fostered the organization which recorded, approved, and promoted the preservation of historically significant locales throughout the United States. The Special Collections at the University of Maryland libraries is especially proud to house the William J. Murtagh papers, a portion of which has been available since 2004 within the National Trust Library in Hornbake Library.

A Philadelphia native, “Bill” Murtagh studied abroad from 1954-1955 at the Universities of Bonn and Freiburg in Germany before returning to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a PhD in architectural history in 1963. His early academic career led to a focus in Moravian architecture, a southeastern Pennsylvania Dutch style characterized by its masonry, attention to city planning, and communal organization. In 1967, Murtagh published Moravian Architecture and Town Planning, documenting the style’s prevalence in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and other North American communities.

Murtagh wore many professional hats during a long life devoted to historic preservation, promoting the National Trust for Historic Preservation and supporting preservation efforts nationwide. All of this comes in addition to his service as the National Register’s first keeper, where he presided over the approval of over 20,000 historic sites ranging in size and scope from the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Fallingwater, to an 18th century brick schoolhouse in Providence, Rhode Island. The position also inherited the registry of other incredibly diverse locales such as the Lincoln Memorial and the San Francisco Cable Car system. [1]

He saw the movement as “a way to combat visual and cultural pollution” and emphasized the intrinsic connection of historic places to local communities [2]. He accepted proposals broadly “so long as a state provided evidence that a place was somehow, to some degree, significant, no matter how provincial it might seem to outsiders” and made the National Register a designation encouraging of local definitions of historical importance rather than a top-down or dismissive establishment. [2]

His organizational presence was boundless and included service on numerous preservation-focused boards and committees including the U. S. Committee of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS), Historic Bethlehem, Inc., Preservation Institute-Nantucket, the Governor’s Consulting Committee on the National Register for the state of Maryland, the Pacific Preservation Consortium, and many others.

Dr. Murtagh extended his academic career as a professor and administrator. He taught at George Washington University, the University of Florida, Columbia University, the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and here at the University of Maryland, just to name a few. In 2006, he would also publish Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America, a textbook and primer introducing a wide range of students to the concepts and field of historic preservation.

In his later years, Murtagh resided in Sarasota, Florida, and Penobscot, Maine, where he continued his involvement in the historic preservation movement, following and advising on both local, national, and international topics. In October 2018 at the age of 95, Dr. Murtagh passed away from heart failure at his Florida residence. [2] [3] He left behind an extensive body of work and a permanent imprint on the protection of many significant “districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects” in the United States. [1]

University of Maryland Special Collections and University Archives received Murtagh’s papers in three different accessions. The first and largest accession of the William Murtagh Papers spans 50.25 linear feet and is fully processed. It is organized into 15 series detailing Murtagh’s careers in academia, published writing, and service to professional organizations. Materials include extensive mixed personal and professional correspondence, postcards, photographs, travel materials, reports, papers, conference materials, notes, speeches, publications, course materials, blueprints, drawings, audio recordings, and memorabilia.

The two new additions supplement the original collection in more ways than previously imagined. Newly received lecture recordings, notes, and correspondence enhance our understanding of Dr. Murtagh’s academic and publishing careers while drawings, photographs, and daguerreotypes further contextualize his personal life and genealogy. Lectures, notes, and faculty filings demonstrate Murtagh’s value to historic preservation programs at multiple schools like the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Extensive unprocessed slide collections, estimated at around 9000 slides, document his work and leisure activities (which were not far different), displaying sites across the country and the world.

The new collections also add awards and memorabilia including a key to the city of Savannah, Georgia, a Louise DuPont Crowninshield Award for historic preservation, family keepsakes, and artistic paintings and sketches done by Murtagh post-retirement.

The new collections reiterate and emphasize Dr. Murtagh’s vast commitment to Historic Preservation into retirement and with his local communities in Maine and Florida. The materials also document his active role in the Keepers Preservation Education Fund (a scholarship fund for preservation students), the writing of Keeping Time, and participation in local preservation societies.

University of Maryland Special Collections and University Archives, also home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation Library, is honored to have the William J. Murtagh papers, alongside those of his fellow preservationists Frederick L. Rath, Charles Hosmer, Ernest Allen Connally, and Charles E. Peterson, and hope that they are utilized by researchers investigating the history and practice of historic preservation in the twentieth century.

[1] U.S. National Park Service. n.d. “National Register of Historic Places.” Accessed February 4, 2019. https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/index.htm

[2] Smith, Harrison. 2018 “William J. Murtagh, ‘Pied Piper’ of American Historic Preservation.

Dies at 95.” The Washington Post, October 30, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/william-j-murtagh-pied-piper-of-american-historic-preservation-dies-at-95/2018/10/30/8d3e282e-dc4e-11e8-b3f0-62607289efee_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.57401ee9139b

[3] Roberts, Sam. 2018. “William J. Murtagh, Lion of Historic

Preservation, Dies at 95.” The New York Times, November 5, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/05/obituaries/william-j-murtagh-dead.html


Willem Kalbach is a second year MLIS student in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. He works in the State of Maryland and Historical Collections at UMD’s Special Collections and University Archives.


The Letters of Katherine Anne Porter Now Available Online!

We are proud to announce a new online resource exploring the life and work American author Katherine Anne Porter is now available!

Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977  provides access to digitized correspondence written by Porter, whose literary archives is held in Special Collections and University Archives in Hornbake Library. Previously, researchers interested in reading her letters visited the Maryland Room (the reading room for special collections and University Archives) in person or requested photocopies/scans of the materials. Now, users have instant access to approximately 3800 items of her correspondence, which have been digitized and made accessible online, via a searchable and browsable database .

This online resource is the result of an extensive digitization project in the Libraries. The Katherine Anne Porter Correspondence Project is an ongoing collaboration between the University of Maryland Libraries Special Collections and University Archives and Digital System and Stewardship units, supported by a grant from the Katherine Anne Porter Literary Trust. 

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) is known primarily for her short stories and novel, Ship of Fools. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1966 for The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter. She lived a rich life, traveling across the United States and abroad while writing both fiction and nonfiction. Her correspondence highlights her interests in writing, travel, politics, and current events, as well as documenting her private life and career.

Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977  offers a glimpse into her bustling life and career, providing background information and historical context for both Porter enthusiasts and those unfamiliar with her work.

Along with images of Porter throughout her life, users can explore details of Porter’s life by decade, as well as by the places she lived and visited, both in the US and abroad. These glimpses into her biography reveal fascinating aspects of her life. For example, did you know Katherine Anne Porter contracted the Spanish Influenza while working as a reporter in Denver? That she lived in Berlin during the rise of the Nazi Party? Did you know Porter lived in College Park, MD? And she lived in Washington D.C. at the time of the Kennedy inauguration?

Visit Katherine Anne Porter: Correspondence from the Archives, 1912-1977 and discover more!

Collection Highlight: The Labor Heritage Foundation


John Handcox performing with Mike Honey. 0115-LBR, Box 14, Folder 26.

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.

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Navigating Archival Collections

As we prepare to say goodbye to ArchivesUM, we look toward the future and how much better searching will be using our new Archival Collections database. Our previous blog post explored why we decided to adopt a new database for managing our finding aids. This post will provide tips for successful navigation within the new Archival Collections database.

Welcome to Archival Collections. The homepage provides some background on what users can expect to find using this search and helpful tips on how to request desired material for use.

Archival collections homepage
Archival collections homepage

Searching is super simple and results to keyword searches much improved. Advanced search is already included on the main page, but simple keyword search will yield great results.

On the results page, you will see individual items, folders, digital material or collections, related to your search term. Use the filters on the right hand side of the screen to limit your results by date, type or choose another filter. For more information or to find answers to frequently asked questions, visit our Archival Collections help page.

Archival Collections search results page
Archival Collections search results page

Once you find something that you would like to view, click the “Request” button in the top right column of the item record to view the box, and click “Request” again to import the information into your Special Collections Account.

Archival Collections item page
Archival Collections item page
Archival Collections box list page
Archival Collections box list page

Returning users will be prompted to login. If you are a new user, you will need to set up an account.

Special Collections Account login screen
Special Collections Account login screen

Once you have imported everything into your account, you will select the first group of up to 15 items or boxes that you would like to view in our reading room and schedule the date of your visit. Material can be requested on site, but it is recommended that you request material in advance of your visit in case it needs to be pre-screened or retrieved from Severn Library. Material can be placed on hold and quickly retrieved upon your arrival, allowing you to get right to your research.

Special Collections Account unsubmitted requests screen
Special Collections Account unsubmitted requests screen

For more information about any of these topics visit our Archival Collections help page.

Rare Community Radio Broadcasts Now Digitized

Photo of stack of audio reel boxes from NFCBSpecial Collections & University Archives is pleased to announce 600 historic community radio broadcasts are now available for streaming in UMD Digital Collections. These programs represent a portion of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) Program Archive, which resides in the National Public Broadcasting Archives (NPBA) held by Mass Media & Culture. They were digitized through a Recordings-at-Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) in 2017.

Spanning the years 1965-1986, these broadcasts come from community stations mostly throughout the U.S. and Canada, many of which are still thriving, and others which are no longer on the air. The breadth of programming contained in these programs is remarkable, and underscores the still-active mission of the NFCB to support and promote the participation of women and people of color at all levels of public broadcasting. This collection is one of few known archives that feature underrepresented voices in the history of American media.

Photograph of audio reel boxes with titles of programs including

Anna Johns, the student assistant who created the enhanced metadata for the programs, described some of the more intriguing contents she encountered as she listened. For instance, the Feminist Radio Network, a project created and managed by women at Georgetown in the 1970s, offered some especially valuable content:

One particularly interesting recording, “Mabel Vernon: Suffragist” presents an interview with a 91 year old woman who participated in the woman’s suffrage movement. A program called “Writing about Women’s Lives” meanwhile, features both interviews with authors Grace Paley, Maxine Kumin, and Alice Walker and readings of their short works, while a “Classic Blues” program presents the music of influential women while discussing their importance to the development of the genre. These recordings preserve the momentous impact of diverse women through history, allowing contemporary feminists to observe their predecessors firsthand.

Among some of the interviews, lectures and speeches, Ms. Johns found valuable material there as well:

The program “Kahn-Tineta Horn of Mohawk Nation” contains a lecture by Native American activist Kahn-Tineta Horn about suppressed truths regarding Native Americans throughout history, as well as injustices imposed upon Native American people historically and in the contemporary era. The program “Auburn Avenue and Atlanta Black Commerce” features an interesting discussion about the city of Atlanta between World War I and World War II from the perspective of African American individuals, largely through interviews with people who lived through the era. And the program “Nikki Giovanni on Education” is a particularly notable 1978 speech by poet Nikki Giovanni discussing the importance of literacy, and the difficulties faced by African American children in schools.

Photo of stack of audio reel boxes with titles including

Additionally, there is a substantial number of musical programs that feature live performances from cultures throughout the world, including Javanese gamelan, Russian folk, Brazilian capoeira, Japanese koto, African mbira and American bluegrass.

With access to these rare and vital primary source materials, scholars from a wide range of disciplines including anthropology, media studies, sociology, political science, ethnomusicology, folklore, African-American history, and LGBTQ and women’s studies will be able to enrich historical contexts in both their research and teaching, broadening understandings of the human experience in the latter half of the 20th century. These recordings will also be useful to educators from kindergarten through graduate school because they illustrate American history from alternative perspectives and demonstrate the vital platform that community radio has provided for people whose voices aren’t often heard on commercial airwaves.

Laura Schnitker, Curator of Mass Media & Culture, was interviewed about the project on a podcast called Radio Survivor. Listen online


Post by Laura Schnitker | Ethnomusicologist, Audiovisual Archivist, and Curator of Mass Media & Culture in Special Collections and University Archives at University of Maryland Libraries

Photo of stack of audio reel boxes with titles including

The Illustrated Wartime Correspondence of Hendrik Willem van Loon

One of my favorite duties as a graduate assistant is working the reference desk in the Maryland Room. Having only been a part of Special Collections and University Archives for less than a year, there are still a number of collections I haven’t seen, and helping others with their research is one way that I get to learn more about our holdings. Recently, a researcher introduced me to the illustrated letters of Hendrik Willem van Loon in the Helen Sioussat papers. I was delighted by the brightly colored, whimsical illustrations van Loon drew on the envelopes he sent Sioussat, and seeing them inspired me to learn more about the two friends, both of whom were compelling historical figures I knew little about.

Illustration of a whale on an envelope by Hendrik Willem van Loon, sent via airmail to Helen Sioussat in Nassau, Bahamas

Envelope from a letter from Hendrik Willem van Loon to Helen Sioussat, February 24, 1941

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