Archives Library Information Center (ALIC)

New Deal Labor

Information on primary and secondary sources available through NARA that deal with topics of New Deal policies relating to labor and industry as well as links to related web sites.

Refer to Caption The NRA triplets: Margaret, Ann and Eileen Johnson. Schenectady, New York, ca. 1933. (FDR Presidential Library NLR-PHOCO-A-8337)

Selected bibliography

Bellush, Bernard. The failure of the NRA. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, Inc. 1975. xiv, 197 p.
HD 3616 U46 B4
Details the National Recovery Administration and evaluates the agency’s effectiveness in stabilizing the economy and improving industrial conditions. Uses NARA records from RG 9 and from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

Refer to CaptionNRA: Blue Eagle Emblem: poster displayed in restaurant window stating their participation and support for government program: woman hanging poster in window, ca. 1934 (FDR Presidential Library NLR-PHOCO-A-71160)

Bernstein, Irving. The New Deal collective bargaining policy. New York: De Capo Press, 1975. xi, 178 p.
HD 8072 B374 1975
Explores the origins and development of New Deal collective bargaining policy, focusing primarily on initiatives between 1933 and 1935. Follows two main lines of development in New Deal collective bargaining, the first of which began with the National Industrial Recovery Act and continued through to the passage of the Wagner Act. The second area covered concerns the Railway Labor Act of 1926 and the developments leading to the passage of amendments to the legislation in 1934. Uses federal records from RG 9, 25, 133, and 173 as well as materials from the FDR Presidential Library.

Cortner, Richard C. The Wagner Act cases. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1964. vii, 208 p.
JK 371 S6 C8
Uses the Wagner Act cases as case studies for a more general understanding of the behavior government agencies in constitutional cases and the factors that contribute to such behavior. Provides a historical account of the NIRA, the Wagner Act, and other legislation and agencies involved in New Deal labor policy.

Fine, Sidney. The automobile under the Blue Eagle: labor, management, and the automobile manufacturing code. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1963. viii, 566 p.
HD 3616 U46 F54 1963
Explores the effects of the NRA code on the automobile industry. May serve as a case study in the effects of the NIRA on industry in the United States. Uses NARA records from RG 9, RG 25, and RG 280 as well as resources from the FDR Presidential Library.

Gross, James A. The making of the National Labor Relations Board: a study in economics, politics, and the law. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1974. 2 v.
KF 3372 G7
Recounts the history of the National Labor Board and the two National Labor Relations Boards, following developments in the agencies from 1933 up to 1937, when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Wagner Act. Uses National Archives records from RG 9 and 233.

Himmelberg, Robert F. The origins of the National Recovery Administration: business, government, and the trade association issue, 1921-1933. New York: Fordham University Press, 1976. 232 p.
HD 3616 U46 H5
Places the National Recovery Administration in its historical context by outlining key aspects of governmental policy toward industry during the 1920s and early 1930s. Covers initiatives under the Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover administrations. Uses NARA records from RG 9, 40, 46, 56, 60, 122, 151, 174, 232, and 233 as well as resources from the Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential libraries.

Johnson, Hugh S. The Blue Eagle from egg to earth. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran, & Company, Inc., 1935. xiv, 459 p.
HD 3616 J6
Autobiographical history and personal account of the activities of the National Recovery Administration as told by its chief administrator, Hugh S. Johnson, following the termination of the program.

Irons, Peter H. The New Deal lawyers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982. xiv, 351 p.
KF 6020 I7
Provides an account of the cases against three key agencies of the New Deal: The National Recovery Administration, the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, and the National Labor Relations Board. Focuses specifically on the lawyers involved in defending the agencies and the litigation strategies they used in the cases. Uses materials from the FDR Presidential Library and federal records from RG 9, 16, 25, 60, and 145.

Lyon, Leverett, et al. The National Recovery Administration: an analysis and appraisal. Washington: The Brookings Institution, 1935. xxii, 947 p.
HD 3616 U46 L8
Account of the origins and first years of operations of the NRA. Provides insight into the structure of the administration and the scope of its activities.

Martin, George. Madam Secretary: Frances Perkins. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976. xv, 589 p.
HD 8073 P38 M3
Account of the life of Frances Perkins from appointment as Secretary of Labor to the end of her life. Highly narrative, based largely on Perkins’ oral history accounts.

O’Brien, Ruth. Workers’ paradox: the Republican origins of New Deal labor policy, 1886-1935. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998. xii, 313 p.
HD8072 O27 1998
Contends that New Deal labor policy was largely the continuation of policy trends of Republicans. Argues that the strict regulatory nature of New Deal and subsequent labor policy is evidence of its conservative origins and its focus on preserving individualism in the United States. Uses resources from the Hoover Presidential Library and RG 9.

Ohl, John Kennedy. Hugh S. Johnson and the New Deal. Dekalb: University of Northern Illinois Press, 1985. xi, 374 p.
E 748 J735 O3
Biography of Hugh S. Johnson, chief architect and administrator of the National Recovery Administration. Provides an account of Johnson's life before the New Deal and his work with the NRA during 1933 and 1934 and later as a syndicated newspaper columnist. Uses NARA records from RG 9, 16, 40, 61, 92, 94, 156, 163, 165, 200 and from the Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Perkins, Frances. The Roosevelt I knew. New York: The Viking Press, 1946. viii, 408 p.
E 807 P4
Perkins provides personal recollections and interpretations of Roosevelt’s life and work. Several chapters cover topics related to labor and industry.

Sealander, Judith. As minority becomes majority: federal reaction to the phenomenon of women in the workforce, 1920-1963. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983. xiii, 201 p.
HD 6095 S4
Looks particularly at the activities of the Women’s Bureau, but also at various temporary government agencies which dealt with female workers, in order to understand federal response to shifts in female employment patterns between 1920 and 1963. Chapter four looks at policies toward female workers under the New Deal.

National Archives and Records Administration

Archives Library Information Center

The ALIC collection includes government documents related to various agencies connected with labor policy under the New Deal including the Department of Labor, the National Bituminous Coal Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the National Recovery Administration, and the National Industrial Recovery Act.

Information about available materials can be accessed through the library’s online public access catalog.
"NRA: posed shot of two woman dressed in costumes promoting National Recovery Administration programs with blue eagle emblem, NRA letters, and American flags in background," ca. 1934. (FDR Presidential Library NLR-PHOCO-A-74201379)

Federal Records

The National Archives and Records Administration has a variety of materials relating to industry and labor in the New Deal era. Information is held in various record groups including RG 9, 25, 150, 174, 222, 223, and 287. For more detailed information on available records, see the web version of the Guide to the Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. The following finding aids, relating to record groups connected with New Deal labor, are available through ALIC:

Preliminary inventory of the records of the National Recovery Administration (RG 9), compiled by Homer L. Calkin, Meyer H. Fishbein, and Leo Pascal, 1952.
CD 8026 A32 no. 44

Select list of documents in the records of the National Recovery Administration (RG 9), compiled by Homer L.[sic] Calkin and Meyer H. Fishbein, 1954.
CD 3022 A35 no. 12

Preliminary inventory of the records of the National Bituminous Coal Commission (RG 150), compiled by Wallace B. Goebel and rev. by Charles Zaid, 1964.
CD 3026 A32 no. 156

Preliminary inventory of the general records of the Department of Labor (RG 174), compiled by Forrest R. Holdcamper, 1964.
CD 3026 N3 no. 58

Selected documents pertaining to black workers among the records of the Department of Labor and its component bureaus, 1902 - 1969, compiled by Debra L. Newman, 1977.
CD 3022 A35 no. 40

Preliminary inventory of the records of the Bituminous Coal Division (RG 222), compiled by Norman D. Moore, 1967.
CD 3026 N3 no. 150

Related collections in the Washington, D.C. area

Georgetown University Special Collections

The Special Collections division of Lauinger Library of Georgetown University houses several manuscripts relating to New Deal labor, including the Robert F. Wagner papers. More information about holdings may be accessed through the library’s Special Collections Division web site.

"NRA: Poster: Blue Eagle: Displayed by businesses to show support for government program," ca. 1934 (FDR Presidential Library NLR-PHOCO-A-7163)

Department of Labor Library

The Department of Labor Library, one of the oldest cabinet-level libraries, features a large collection of books and periodicals and several special collections related to the history of labor. The Department of Labor Library maintains a web site with information about the library, an on-line version of the library catalog, information about special collections, and resources for those interested in labor history.

The above photographs are available online through the National Archives Catalog.