Prologue Magazine

African Americans and the American Labor Movement

Federal Records and African American History (Summer 1997, Vol. 29, No. 2)

By James Gilbert Cassedy

The records of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have been, and will remain, indispensable to the study of African American labor history. Thirty NARA record groups (approximately 19,711 cubic feet of documentary material) document the activities of federal agencies whose core missions pertained to labor and labor management relations. There are also many other record groups that contain material of interest to students of American labor history even though they document the activities of federal agencies whose primary concern was not the resolution of labor disputes or the control of labor management relations. Locating records that document the role of African Americans in American labor history can be difficult because the federal agencies and offices that created these records arranged their indexes and files by name of institutions such as the name of the company or the name of the union involved in a controversy. This overview briefly traces the growth of black labor relations and provides an introduction to the research value of several NARA record groups.

African Americans are known to have participated in labor actions before the Civil War. In the early nineteenth century, African Americans played a dominant role in the caulking trade, and there is documentation of a strike by black caulkers at the Washington Navy Yard in 1835.1 Caulking was of great importance in shipbuilding, for a ship was not fit for service unless it was caulked to prevent leaking.

At the end of the Civil War, ex-slaves had to adjust to freedom and a new labor system. The National Archives contains millions of documents concerning this transition. Luckily, researchers can avail themselves of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, a multivolume documentary editing project.

The Freedom volumes were compiled from twenty-five National Archives record groups, including Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (Record Group 105); Records of Civil War Special Agencies of the Treasury Department (RG 366); Records of the United States General Accounting Office (RG 217); the Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917 (RG 94); the Records of the Office of the Paymaster General (RG 99); and Records of District Courts of the United States (RG 21).2

Other record groups are less obvious sources of information. The General Records of Department of State (RG 59) and the General Records of the Department of Justice (RG 60) contain documentation of the black dock workers in Pensacola, Florida, who, in the winter of 1873-1874, organized a Workingman's Association and successfully defended their jobs against Canadian longshoreman brought in by dock owners.3

The formation of American trade unions increased during the early Reconstruction period. Black and white workers shared a heightened interest in trade union organization, but because trade unions organized by white workers generally excluded blacks, black workers began to organize on their own. In December 1869, 214 delegates attended the Colored National Labor Union convention in Washington, D.C. This union was a counterpart to the white National Labor Union. The assembly sent a petition to Congress requesting direct intervention in the alleviation of the "condition of the colored workers of the southern States" by subdividing the public lands of the South into forty-acre farms and providing low-interest loans to black farmers.4 In January 1871, the Colored National Labor Convention again petitioned Congress, sending a "Memorial of the Committee of the National Labor Convention for Appointment of a Commission to Inquire into Conditions of Affairs in the Southern States."5

Congress evidently showed little interest in either petition. Five years later the disputed presidential election of 1876 led to the Compromise of 1877 and the selection of Rutherford B. Hayes as President of the United States, the end of Reconstruction, and the beginnings of "Redeemer Rule" and "Jim Crow." When the Supreme Court handed down the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896, giving official recognition to the "separate but equal" doctrine, the official relegation of blacks to second-class status was complete.

A systematic review of the records and reports of the Bureau of the Census (RG 29), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (RG 257), the U.S. House of Representatives (RG 233), and the U.S. Senate (RG 46) will reveal volumes of information concerning the lives of African Americans during this period. A small sampling of these reports and publications includes the U.S. Bureau of the Census, Bulletin No. 8, Negroes in the United States (1905); the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Sixteenth Annual Report of the Commissioner (1901); and the U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor, Forty-ninth Congress, second session, Testimony Before the Committee to Investigate the Relations Between Capital and Labor (1885). W.E.B. Du Bois provided some of the statistical data on black labor to the Bureau of Labor and wrote reports for the Census Bureau.6

The decline in the relative position of African Americans vis à vis organized labor can also be seen in the railroad industry. During the Great Strike of 1877, for instance, rallies and marches in St. Louis, Louisville, and other cities brought together white and black workers in support of the common rights of workingmen. By 1894 Eugene Debs, leader of the American Railway Union in a strike against the Pullman Company, was unable to convince members of his union to accept black railroaders. Blacks in turn served as strikebreakers for the Pullman Company and for the owners of Chicago meatpacking companies against whom stockyard workers struck in sympathy with the Pullman Company employees.7

In 1909 white employees of the Georgia Railroad, represented by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, walked off their jobs, demanding that lower-paid black firemen be replaced by higher-paid whites. A Federal Board of Arbitration, appointed under the provisions of the Erdman Act of 1898, ruled two to one against the Brotherhood, stating that blacks had to be paid equal pay for equal work, thereby eliminating the financial advantage of hiring blacks. Erdman docket file 20, the Georgia Railroad Co. v. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, is found in the Records of the National Mediation Board (RG 13).8

The National Mediation Board was created by the amended Railway Act of June 21, 1934, to mediate railroad and, later, airline disputes. The board inherited the functions of an assortment of boards and panels created to mediate railroad disputes. The records of the National Mediation Board and its predecessors date from 1934 to 1965 and consist of 1,362 cubic feet of records.

The creation of the various federal railroad arbitration boards is significant, for it marks the beginning of federal efforts during the Progressive Era to stabilize and rationalize labor relations. An act of March 4, 1913, upgraded the U.S. Department of Labor to cabinet rank and authorized the secretary of labor, William Wilson, to act as a mediator or to appoint commissioners of conciliation in labor disputes. This conciliation function was assumed by the United States Conciliation Service, which became the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service under the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947.

The Records of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (RG 280), 1913–1948, contain approximately 1,300 cubic feet of information. This material includes an index with four sections: a subject index with perhaps seven hundred topics; a geographic index; a name index arranged by name of person, organization, or firm; and a name index to the conciliators and arbitrators. Approximately 180,000 dispute and arbitration case files are indexed. The files may range in size from one to several thousand pages and include intermediate and closing reports, agreements and other documentation of settlement, awards, and related correspondence (which may include union and company documents, transcripts of testimony, and newspaper articles). A reasonable estimate of the total number of extant Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service files pertaining to African American labor is nine thousand to eighteen thousand.9

During the Great Migration of 1916–1930, over one million blacks moved from the south to the north in search of better lives. It is conservatively estimated that 400,000 left the South during the two-year period of 1916–1918 to take advantage of a labor shortage created in the wake of the First World War.10 African Americans made significant gains in industrial employment, particularly in the steel, automobile, shipbuilding, and meatpacking industries. Between 1910 and 1920 the number of blacks employed in industry nearly doubled from 500,000 to 901,000. 11

The U.S. government, under pressure from African American leaders who demanded representation in the policymaking and administrative councils of government, established special offices concentrating on the mobilization of the black community. One such office, set up by Labor Secretary Wilson in 1918, was the Office of the Director of Negro Economics. The office, originally designed to help mobilize the black work force for the war effort, developed into a rudimentary economic employment opportunity agency. Except for the postbellum Freedmen's Bureau, the division was the first agency of its kind in the nation. 12 Records concerning the office are found in the Chief Clerks Files and the records of the Division of Negro Economics, both part of the General Records of the Department of Labor (RG 174). Other sources of information concerning African American labor during World War I may be found in the Records of the Council of National Defense (RG 62), the Records of the U.S. Shipping Board (RG 32), the Records of the United States Food Administration (RG 4), and the Records of the National War Labor Board (NWLB)—World War I (RG 2). During the NWLB's brief existence (April 1918–June 1919), 1,251 controversies were presented for settlement.

The U.S. government set up an intense security apparatus during World War I to monitor, detain, and prosecute those suspected of hampering the war effort. These offices included the Department of Justice (RG 60), the (Federal) Bureau of Investigation (RG 65), and the War Department General and Special Staff—Military Intelligence Division (RG 165). The security apparatus watched over the African American labor situation and kept tabs on individuals such as A. Philip Randolph, Ben Fletcher (president of the IWW-associated Marine Workers Association), and Marcus Garvey, leader of the "Back to Africa Movement." Information concerning Fletcher and Garvey is also in the Records of the Office of the Pardon Attorney (RG 204).

The Records of the United States Coal Commission (RG 68), 1922–1923, document the efforts of the federal government to control upheavals in the coal mining industry caused by the end of the war. The United Mine Workers of America Union was light years ahead of other AFL unions in its organization of black miners, but white miners and employers, however, more often than not shared fundamental ideas of black inferiority. Despite the uneven relationship between black and white coal miners, a substantial degree of solidarity arose among miners of all colors and nationalities. The Public Health Sanitary Surveys and the Mining Community Schedules prepared by the Living Conditions Section of the Coal Commission provide an opportunity to glimpse the lives of African American mining families living in Alabama and West Virginia during the early twenties. The Records of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (RG 280) contain a substantial amount of information regarding black and white miners during these postwar years.13

In 1925 A. Philip Randolph began his twelve-year fight to gain recognition of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters by the Pullman Car Company, the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and the U.S. government. Randolph ultimately succeeded in his quest in 1937 and in the process became a leader in the fight against racism in the workplace and the nation. The Records of the National Mediation Board (RG 13) and the Records of the U.S. Railroad Administration (RG 14) document the efforts of African American railroad workers and their unions to procure satisfactory compensation and job security.14

The Roaring Twenties came to a crashing halt with the Great Depression. Seeking ways to alleviate the massive unemployment, President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal advisers sought ways to put people back to work and to increase purchasing power. Among the alphabet soup of federal agencies created during the New Deal were the Civilian Conservation Corps (RG 35), the Work Projects Administration (RG 69), the National Youth Administration (RG 119), and the National Recovery Administration (RG 9). The Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration was headed by the noted educator and African American leader Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. The Records of the Women's Bureau (RG 86), founded in 1920, and the Records of the Bureau of Employment Security (RG 183) also provide researchers with extensive coverage of labor issues and African Americans. These records span the depression, World War II, and postwar eras.

Another agency created during the Great Depression was the United States Housing Authority, established in the Department of Interior by the U.S. Housing Act of 1937. The act authorized a system of loans, grants, and subsidies to assist local housing authorities develop low-rent housing projects. Local Housing Authority boards from across the nation sent in reports detailing their progress toward setting aside a portion of the public housing construction work for African Americans. The portion was to be based on the size of the black population in a particular locale. Included among these twenty thousand pages of records are a number of letters from local labor unions providing information concerning black laborers in skilled and nonskilled positions or attempting to explain the lack thereof.15 The Housing Administration generally observed local racial customs, and neither the administration nor the Housing Authority proposed, advocated, or supported legislation to specifically assist blacks.

New Dealers sought to institute the collective bargaining process by guaranteeing labor the right to organize and to designate representatives for collective bargaining purposes under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Board.16 African American leaders were disappointed that the Wagner Act of 1935 did not contain prohibitions against union race discrimination. In 1930 no more than 50,000 out of 1,500,000 black workers engaged in transportation, extraction of minerals, or manufacturing were members of any trade union. Furthermore, the AFL remained a conservative organization. A large number of member unions did not permit African Americans to join their ranks, and the AFL leadership showed little apparent interest in organizing black and white laborers in mass-production industries.17

The organization in 1935 of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which sought to organize industrial workers regardless of race or ethnic background, contributed to an alleviation of the historic conflict between African Americans and trade unions. Thousands of African American workers joined unions, and much of this growth is documented in the Records of the National Labor Relations Board (RG 25, approximately 5,140 cubic feet).18 These records include formal and informal case files as well as transcripts of hearings and exhibit files.

Protective labor legislation of the 1930s, such as the Social Security Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act, did not extend to agricultural workers, although 31.8 percent of the African American population in 1940 was employed in agriculture (40.4 percent in the South). A 1945 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of American agricultural unionism noted that "labor unionism in agriculture has been a rather anomalous and transitory development in the American economy. It has been composed of literally hundreds of organizations that were sporadic, scattered, and short lived." 19 The reasons why most labor unions failed in the 1930s were "the same reasons that made them vulnerable to agitation and strikes . . . [T]heir extreme mobility, the high seasonality of their work, and the low wage rates all combined to make unionization among them costly."20

Agricultural workers were further hampered in their efforts at unionization because of their low social status and political impotence, public perception of the traditional family farm, and agriculture laborers who had more "solicitude of their employers" than industrial workers had.21 The survey noted that the "more obvious hardships which periodically led to conflict were mitigated to some degree by appropriate Government action" including the work performed by the Farm Security Administration (RG 96).22 Although one piece of New Deal legislation, the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), adversely affected agricultural workers, it contributed to the rise of a remarkable agricultural labor union: the Southern Tenant Farmers Union (STFU).23

The STFU was founded in 1934 in eastern Arkansas, an area of large cotton plantations worked by sharecroppers and owned in many cases by absentee owner-investors. Immediately after World War I, the collapse of cotton prices led to strained landlord-tenant relations as planters sought to shift some losses to tenants by manipulating accounts and, in some cases, outright fraud. A group of African Americans organized the Progressive Farmers and Householders Union to protect themselves against exploitation and "advanc[e] the intellectual, material, moral, spiritual, and financial interests of the Negro race." The union was destroyed in the "Elaine Massacre" of 1919 in Phillips County, Arkansas, when white law enforcement officials and vigilantes from neighboring counties and states attacked union officials and members, killing up to one hundred African Americans.24

Economic conditions for the sharecroppers of eastern Arkansas did improve slightly during the 1920s, but with the depression of the 1930s, conditions were again ripe for agricultural labor revolt. Sharecroppers were faced with declining earnings, increased farm mechanization, and the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, which worked against their interests.

One way the AAA sought to raise the income of farmers was through a series of allotments and subsidies prescribing the amount of land that could be placed in production and paying farmers not to farm additional land. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration, which administered the act, worked with local AAA committees. In Arkansas, these committees were dominated by white plantation owners. These owners often used the local committees to circumscribe the common law rights of tenants and sharecroppers, did not pay sharecroppers their fair share of government compensation payments, and altered the sharecroppers' status to wage hands to disqualify them from receiving government payments.25

The STFU, ostensibly inspired by Socialist Norman Thomas and founded by Henry L. Mitchell and Henry Clay East in Tyronza, Arkansas, was an interracial union from its very beginning. Posing a direct challenge to the established order in Arkansas, in two years the union boasted twenty-five thousand members, which included former Ku Klux Klansmen as well as survivors of the "Elaine Massacre," and by the end of 1936 claimed thirty-one thousand members in seven states.26

With the assistance and support of individuals such as Secretary of the NAACP Walter White, Norman Thomas, and A. Phillip Randolph, and through the strategic use of strikes and public demonstrations under the leadership of Harry L. Mitchell, the STFU was able to directly alleviate some of the oppressive living and working conditions of its members. Perhaps more important, however, was the attention it focused on the living and working conditions of tenant farmers and sharecroppers. Due to the efforts of the STFU, Franklin Roosevelt established the President's Committee on Farm Tenancy soon after his 1936 reelection. The efforts of this committee helped lay the foundations for the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act, which established the Farm Security Administration and the Resettlement Administration, agencies that developed programs to assist migrant workers and authorized low-interest loans to farm tenants, sharecroppers, and farm laborers.27

By World War II, however, the STFU's day had passed. Mechanism within the cotton industry continued to increase, decreasing the need for tenant farmers. Approaching war clouds at the end of the 1930s shifted the focus of the U.S. government from domestic problems toward a more international outlook. Although the STFU was never fully integrated (most of its locals were all black or all white), it did leave an indelible mark upon the United States and symbolized for many what labor could accomplish if racial identity could be ignored.28

The improvement in the status of African American workers in American society on the eve of World War II should not be overstated. The 1940s would be a decade, however, when African Americans would achieve their greatest economic gains, in terms of real advances and in relation to whites, since the Civil War.

The advance of African Americans in American industry during World War II was the result of the nation's wartime emergency need for workers and soldiers. In 1943 the National War Labor Board issued an order abolishing pay differentials based on race, pointing out, "America needs the Negro . . . the Negro is necessary for winning the war."

Early in 1941, A. Philip Randolph announced the creation of a March on Washington Committee, promising that unless President Roosevelt issued an executive order ending racial discrimination in hiring by unions and employers and eliminating segregation in the armed forces, ten thousand Americans would march through Washington demanding an end to segregation. The number of threatened marchers grew from 10,000 to 50,000, and then to 100,000. Despite the entreaties of Roosevelt and his intermediaries, Randolph made it clear that nothing less than a presidential executive order would stop the march. Roosevelt gave in and issued Executive Order 8802.29

After asserting that national unity was being impaired by discrimination, the executive order declared it to be the "duty of employers and of labor organizations to provide for the full and equitable participation of all workers in defense industries, without discrimination because of race, creed, color, or national origin." All federal agencies concerned with defense production were ordered to administer such programs without discrimination, and all defense contracts were to include a provision "obligating the contractor not to discriminate against any worker because of race, creed, color, or national origin." Executive Order 8802 also established the Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC).

The Records of the Committee on Fair Employment Practice (RG 228) document its activities from June 25, 1941, to June 28, 1946. The committee formulated and interpreted policies to combat racial and religious discrimination in employment; received, investigated, and adjusted complaints of such discrimination; and assisted government agencies, employers, and labor unions with the problems of discrimination. The committee handled fourteen thousand complaints of discrimination from all regions of the country, 80 percent of which were filed by African Americans.

Executive Order 8802 was Roosevelt's compromise with Randolph, and as such it had some inherent weaknesses. For instance, the executive order did not mention military segregation. Nor could the FEPC require compliance with its decisions and directives. To obtain compliance, it depended on its own powers of persuasion or the prestige of other government agencies concerned with manpower and labor relations.

Despite its weaknesses, the FEPC had some notable successes. Its own investigations and directives against discriminating corporations, unions, and government agencies helped to increase the African American presence in the nation's defense industry from 3 to 8 percent. For the first time, the federal government admitted that blacks suffered from discrimination and that government had a responsibility to remedy it.

The National War Labor Board for World War II was established in the Office for Emergency Management by an executive order of January 12, 1942. The board was to act as the final arbiter of wartime labor disputes and to pass on adjustments in certain wages and salaries. There are approximately 3,187 linear feet of record material in Record Group 202, of which approximately 2,486 feet is case file material. Among those records are dispute case files, accompanying transcripts, and transcripts of executive sessions of the National Defense Mediation Board (1941–1942), the predecessor agency to the World War II NWLB; the board's headquarters dispute case files and transcripts; a complete set of case files from the twelve regional NWLB offices; and case files for some of the board's commissions and panels on industries.

At least ten cases in these files concern racial discrimination. Moreover, the number of individual files from all regions of the United States, and the presence of records of special commissions on industries in which blacks were particularly concentrated (for instance, shipbuilding and meatpacking), suggests that the records of the National War Labor Board may well be an underused source of information on African American workers during World War II.30

Other record groups of interest to researchers of the World War II period include the General Records of the Department of Justice (RG 60), which contain files concerning the Fair Labor Standards and Civil Rights; the Records of the Office of Labor of the War Food Administration (RG 224), which contain extensive information concerning African American farm laborers and migrants; the Records of the Federal Maritime Commission (RG 178), which contain information concerning labor and discrimination in the shipbuilding industry; the Records of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (RG 100), formerly the Bureau of Standards; the Records of the Wage and Hour and Public Contracts Divisions (RG 155), which contain information on black workers in the tobacco, paper, lumber, and other industries; and military record groups such as the Records of the Army Staff (RG 319) and the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165).31

Black labor unionism became part of a wider campaign for civil rights after World War II. After the merger of the CIO and the AFL in 1955, it seemed that the AFL had placed a conservative pall over the entire organization, dividing white and black unionists. It was also the era of the civil rights movement, and black union officials such as Ed Nixon and A. Philip Randolph were among the leaders during the Montgomery bus boycott and the 1963 March on Washington. African Americans were to continue to press their demands for justice within unions in the 1960s and 1970s through internal union organizations such as the Ad Hoc Committee of Steel Workers and the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement. Confronting continued union and corporate discrimination, African American civil right groups sought redress through a number of court cases under Title VII, Equal Employment Opportunity, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

A number of record groups document the intersection of the civil rights and labor movements. General Records of the Department of Labor (RG 174) include numerous files of concern to African Americans and the civil rights movement among the records its secretaries, 1953–1976. Records of Temporary Committees, Commissions, and Boards (RG 220) include the records of the President's Committee on Migratory Labor, the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, and the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. Records of Agencies for Economic Opportunity and Legal Services (RG 381), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (RG 403), and the Commission on Civil Rights (RG 453), as well as the Records of the United States District Courts (RG 21), the Records of the U.S. Court of Appeals (RG), and the U.S. Supreme Court (RG 267) present a number of opportunities for the student of African American and trade labor relations.

There are, no doubt, opportunities that this paper overlooks. The scholar with the Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States in hand can find many more. Finding aids, such as Debra Newman's Black History: A Guide to the Civilian Records in the National Archives and her compilation of Selected Documents Pertaining to Black Workers Among the Records of the Department of Labor and Its Component Bureaus, 1902–1969, as well as Tab Lewis's essay "Labor History Sources in the National Archives" (Labor History, volume 31, numbers 1–2 [Winter-Spring 1990]: 98–104) will be of great assistance to the researcher.


1. Norman A. Hill, "Forging A Partnership Between Blacks and Unions," The Monthly Labor Review (August 1987): 38. There is probably further documentation of this event among the Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, Record Group 181, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC (hereinafter, records in the National Archives will be cited as RG ___, NA). See also Philip S. Foner, Organized Labor and the Black Worker (1981), p. 11, for information concerning the importance of African Americans in the caulking trade.

2. Ira Berlin, ed., Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861–1867, series I, vol. 3, The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Lower South (1990), pp. xxxiii–xxxiv.

3. Jerrell H. Shofner, "The Pensacola Workingman's Association: A Militant Negro Labor Union During Reconstruction," Labor History (Fall 1972). Both Record Groups 59 and 60 are cited in Freedom: A Documentary History.

4. Philip S. Foner, Organized Labor and the Black Worker (1981), pp. 22-33. Foner cites the petition as U.S. Senate, 41st Cong., 2d sess., S. Misc. Doc. 3, which is in fact an "Address of the Republican State Convention held in Richmond, Virginia, on the 24th and 25th of November 1869." Foner was referring to U.S. Senate, 41st Cong., 2d sess., S. Misc. Doc. 8.

5. U.S. Senate, 41st Cong., 3d sess., S. Misc. Doc. 25, serial 1442.

6. William H. Harris, The Harder We Run: Black Workers Since the Civil War (1982), pp. 22, 229.

7. Alan Dawley, "Paths to Power After the Civil War," in Working for Democracy: American Workers from the Revolution to the Present, ed. Paul Buhle and Alan Dawley (1985), pp. 44-45; William M. Tuttle, Jr., "Labor Conflict and Racial Violence: The Black Worker in Chicago, 1894–1919," in Black Labor in America, ed. Milton Cantor (1969), pp. 88–90.

8. Hugh B. Hammett, "Labor and Race: The Georgia Labor Strike of 1909," Labor History 16 (Fall 1975): 470–484. See also Eric Arnesen, "Like Banquo's Ghost, It Will Not Down: The Race Question and the American Railroad Brotherhoods, 1880–1920," American Historical Review 99 (December 1994): 1601–1633.

9. Based on the author's previous estimates of 180,000 Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Files, and multiplied by 5% (.05) to 10% (.10).

10. Carole Marks, Farewell—We're Good and Gone: The Great Black Migration (1989), p. 1.

11. Harris, The Harder We Run, p. 61.

12. Henry P. Guzda, "Social Experiment of the Labor Department: The Division of Negro Economics," Public Historian 4 (1982): 8; Jane Lang Scheiber and Harry N. Scheiber, "The Wilson Administration and the Wartime Mobilization of Black America," in Black Labor in America, pp. 126–127.

13. Harris, The Harder We Run, pp. 43–44; Joe William Trotter, Jr., Coal, Class, and Color: Blacks in Southern West Virginia, 1915–1932 (1990), esp. pp. 111-115.

14. Harris, The Harder We Run, pp. 77–94. See also Herbert Hill, Black Labor and the American Legal System: Race, Work, and the Law (1977). Hill provides an extensive overview of the struggles of African Americans and the railroad industry and unions in chapter 13. Using Records of the Fair Employment Practice Committee (RG 228) as well as other legal material, he traces the struggle of African American railroad employees from the Civil War to as recently as 1976.

15.Labor Records, boxes 1-20, Records of the Intergroup Relations Branch, 1936–1963, RG 196, NA.

16. Raymond Wolters, "Closed Shop and White Shop: The Negro Response to Collective Bargaining, 1933–1935," in Black Labor in America, pp. 137–138.

17. Ibid., pp. 139, 152. Jessie Carney Smith and Carrell Peterson Horton, eds., Historical Statistics of Black America, vol. 1, Agriculture to Labor and Employment (1995), p. 1106, provides a figure of 110,000 unionized African American workers in 1930.

18. James S. Olson, "Race, Class and Progress: Black Leadership and Industrial Unionism, 1936-1945," in Black Labor in America, pp. 153–164; and Sumner M. Rosen, "The C.I.O. Era, 1935–1955," in The Negro and the American Labor Movement, ed. Julius Jacobson (1968), pp. 188–208. For a different view of African American-CIO Relations see Richard Thomas, "Blacks and the C.I.O.," in Working for Democracy.

19. Stuart Jamieson, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Unionism in American Agriculture, Bulletin 836 (1945), p. 410; Smith and Horton, eds. Historical Statistics of Black America, p. 115.

20. Jamieson, Labor Unionism in American Agriculture, p. 406.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid. The records of the Farm Security Administration are part of the Records of the Farmers Home Administration, RG 96, NA.

23. Harris, The Harder We Run, p. 102.

24. Jamieson, Labor Unionism in American Agriculture, pp. 302–305.

25. Jerold S. Auerbach, "Southern Tenant Farmers: Socialist Critics of the New Deal," Labor History 7 (Winter 1966): 4–5; Melvyn Stokes and Rick Halpern, introduction to Race and Class in the American South Since 1890 (1994), pp. xii–xiii; Jamieson, Labor Unionism in American Agriculture, pp. 305-306.

26. Auerbach, "Southern Tenant Farmers," pp. 6–16; Harris, The Harder We Run, pp. 102–103; Jamieson, Labor Unionism in American Agriculture, pp. 306-316.

27. Auerbach, "Southern Tenant Farmers," pp. 16–17; Jamieson, Labor Unionism in American Agriculture, p. 325–326; Richard B. Morris, ed., Encyclopedia of American History (1953), p. 356.

28. Auerbach, "Southern Tenant Farmers," pp. 17–18; Jamieson, Labor Unionism in American Agriculture, pp. 305–306; Harris, The Harder We Run, p. 103.

29. Harris, The Harder We Run, pp. 116–117.

30. For information concerning industries with high concentration of African American workers, see Harris, The Harder We Run, pp. 117–122; and Rosen, "The C.I.O. Era," in The Negro and the American Labor Movement, pp. 202–205.

31. See the Preliminary Inventory to the Records of the U.S. Maritime Commission, entry 90, Labor Relations, which contains some information on African American labor in shipyards. Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of Intelligence (G-2), 1917–1949, and Records of the Army Staff (RG 319), Records of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Intelligence, 1939–1955, will contain an extensive amount of information concerning African Americans and Labor.


Articles published in Prologue do not necessarily represent the views of NARA or of any other agency of the United States Government.