Records from the American Federation of Labor Letterbooks
(also known as the Letterpress Copybooks of Samuel Gompers)
The original copybooks are at the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, but this guide is keyed to the microfilm edition which is available at the LC, and at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of N. Carolina, Chapel Hill. Page numbers are listed first.
59 SG to McCaffrey, 6-11-14, organizing nurses
545 G. B. Means to SG, 7-20-14, on organizing textile workers in South
604 SG to Feeney, 7-28-14, organizing the unorganized in Philadelphia (letter sent to many others)
623 SG to Forbes, 7-27-14, organizing women
959 Chas Henry to SG, 7-21-14, IWW and textile workers in South Carolina
1001 SG to Kennan, 8-4-14, AFL Labor Forward organizer for Philadelphia
4 Evans to SG, 8-3-14, organizing black elevator operators
424 SG to Plats, 9-18-14, organizing stenographers in San Francisco
163 SG to Pettit, 10-14-14, organizers' commission
816 SG to Robins, 1-22-15, If AFL continues to fund WTUL organizer, the Executive Council wants reports and a voice in strategy [Reel 190, Robins to SG, 2-1-15, notes typo]
264 SG to McCarthy, 2-23-15, Labor Forward campaign in Lowell, Mass. [More on this reel]
95 SG to Lennon, 3-12-15, he defends Santiago Iglesias as a skilled organizer
1030 SG to Cannon, 4-10-15, white janitors want to organize
173 SG to Sonderman, 6-21-15, organizing male tobacco strippers
81 SG to Blakely, 9-11-15, Labor Forward Movement
322 SG to Mary Anderson, 9-15-15, needs an organizer who is willing to move around.
972 SG to Wallace, 10-28-15, follow up to 9-30-15 letter, re: organization; 8 hr day legislation for all workers.
504 SG to Hunt and Joyce, 12-31-15, female organizer
752 SG to Duffy, 2-24-16, re: black organizer in Florida. (SG to Terry, 2-18-16, 582, commissions him.)
248 SG to Goodes, 2-29-16, salaried black organizer
663 SG to Hamilton, 3-11-16, organizing black workers
828 SG to Lyon, 4-3-16, organizing bank clerks
853 SG to Lampsan, 4-19-16, organizing high school teachers
469 SG to Wilson, 5-1-16, denial of right to organize in Ohio (more, 471-474; 499; 612; 616; 707; reel 208, 88, copies referred to follow; 522; 687; 690.)
61 SG to Tritipoe, 3-17-16, organizing office workers
430 SG to Duke, 5-23-16, Labor Forward campaign in Richmond
160 SG to Dewey, 6-13-16, organizing teachers, professors and the Gary system
856 SG to Sullivan, 9-15-16, organizing black workers (see also, SG to Belcher, 8-30-16, 319; organizing black workers in Texas, reel 213, Carpenters’ reply, 254)
1010 SG to Pettipiece, 9-16-16, organizing Chinese (see Pettipiece to SG, 9-8-16, 996; SG sends it to Scharrenberg, 995)
193 SG to Organizers, 10-18-16, black migration north
839 SG to Salmon, 2-26-17, Panama Canal union; campaign to organize blacks in South
848 Bascomb to SG 2-20-17, black waiters want to organize
20 Convention call, 5-23-17, to organize Federal Employes Union
224 SG to Thompson, 7-19-17, letter re: organizers (1,947 volunteers)
927 Johnston to SG, 8-22-17, Justice Department investigating labor organizers at employers' behest [SG sends it on, 926; a similar letter follows, 929]
222 Livingston to SG, 9-3-17, re: organizing janitors [reply follows]
512 Glenning to SG, n.d., re: organizing female housekeepers at arsenal [cover letter, 9-19-17, says he just received it] "We know you are a busy man at Washington, but we are also human beings and cannot stand to be trampled on no longer."
187 Wines to SG, 10-3-17, shoeworkers in Missouri; B&SWU won't organize because of United Shoeworker presence; Wines says most of them have no experience with any union and don't know the difference between the two unions (more, 893, 898)
488 SG to Young, 10-16-17, re: organizing timber workers and conditions for production of spruce for aircrafts (more, 873)
87 SG to Valentine, 11-3-17, Women's complaint re:male organizer, all relevant letters follow.
435 Lamson to SG, 11-10-17, interesting advice from Alpine : "Don't organize, learn the business yourself."
574 Loper to SG, 12-8-17, RR helpers and laborers are organizing.[SG sends it on, 573]
39 Fred Hayes to SG, 12-28-17, blacklisted for trying to organize RR carmen.
171 SG to Forbes, 1-8-18, female volunteer organizers appointed
323 Porter to SG, 1-26-18, Janitors in San Francisco want an organizer [SG reply, 325]
589 Jennie Newman to SG, 3-3-18, trying to organize cereal mill workers. Crafts said they would stand by them but they did not
96 SG to Ayers, 3-16-18, urging his Federal Labor Union to accept girls who worked during strike.
204 SG to Clemmons, 2-28-18, advises black organizer to organize as many black unions as possible while he looks into black Central Labor Union (more, SG to Russell, 3-25-18, 203; but NB, 917, his commission is revoked, 4-10-18)
526 SG to RR Helpers, 4-19-18, plans to organize national union
203 SG to Shearod, 5-16-18, organizing black Federal Labor Union in Waco
243 SG to Gerlack, 5-15-18, organizing black workers in Chattanooga
389 SG to Clark, 5-21-18, reaching out to Coeur D’Alene Timber workers. [copy to Call, who is from Spokane, 409]
488 SG to Kreyling, 5-27-18, forming national union of RR laborers
952 Wood to SG, 6-8-18, telegram re: organizer for Mine, Mill and Smeltermen tarred and feathered; demands protection from government
28 SG to Fitts, 6-17-18, more on RR helpers and laborers union; p.563, Executive Council is acting on charter application but Hod Carriers union is contesting jurisdiction
91 SG to Woodrow Wilson, 6-18-18, Western Union trying to organize company union
264 SG to Nolte, 6-26-18, convention to organize systems federation for Pennsylvania RR shop workers
503 C.T. Wicks to SG, 7-1-18, he’s trying to organize car works; some interesting comments on women and boys
512 SG to Bastien, 7-6-18, appointing him French-speaking organizer for Canada [more, AFL Records reel 96, Draper to SG, 470, 472]
971 Ralph Jones to SG, 7-12-18, one reason why it is so hard to organize RR shopmen: organizers run off with the money! [SG action, 970]
396 SG to Tobin, 7-30-18, it is declared government policy that labor has the right to organize.
396 Moyer to SG, 8-28-18, re: deportation of organizers in Birmingham; also organizing blacks
801 SG to Foster, 6-30-19, re: Hod Carriers Resolution #22, complaining that steel workers organizing committee is breaching their jurisdiction. They want laborers transferred. Also writing to Tighe, AAISW  and D’Alessandro 
133 Spills to SG, 7-13-19, re: RR Store room clerks, Meridian Miss., who are white and demand to be treated “as clerks and white.” The writer, District organizer for AFL, is female. [131, sent on to Brotherhood of Railway Carmen]
611 SG to Brandt, 4-4-19, organizer resigning because he thinks OBU is better for Canada
816 SG to Tighe, 9-16-19, re: steel strike; thinks strike should be delayed until President’s conference: Inasmuch as the iron and steel workers have been disorganized and unorganized for so many years, what grave wrong or injury can occur if the matter is held in abeyance? Suggests that steel interests are provoking the strike in order to launch a wider ranging open shop fight.
1013 Fitzpatrick to SG, 9-12-19, reply to SG’s 9-11 letter; mentions brutal murder of organizers; vague postponement would mean utter demoralization.
704 Caughlin to SG 11-5-19, Canadian textile/construction organizing difficulties. [Enclosed in SG to Campbell, 11-12-19, 703; SG reply, 705; Reel 247, 200, FLU 17079 settlement]
937 SG to Johnston, 11-19-19, re: organizing auto mechanics
833 Halliburtan to SG, 3-4-20, presumably a black organizer complaining about white scabs in Tennessee [sends it on, 832; reply, 835]
907, SG to Henry Pinkney,3-17-20, Boilermakers approve appointment of black organizer for Southern District, Ed. Turner, but SG says no funds available
949, SG to Shearin, National Brotherhood of Workers, 3-17-20, invites him to Executive Council meeting to discuss organizing black workers [reel 253, 310, meeting to be held 5-10-20]
1012, Ed Turner to SG, 3-16-20, re: black radicals [nb Turner is the Boilermakers' choice for black organizer, see 907] [Reel 252, 254 gives Turner’s term as organizer]
143 SG to Williams, 3-26-20, re: his plan to organize 65 black workers at Sapula, Ok.
391, SG to McCadden, 3-25-20, Steel Workers Organizing Committee, plans for organizing campaign
779 SG to Woll, 8-26-20, conference of union presidents interested in organizing iron and steel workers, called for 9-14 [more, reel 257, 8; reel 259, 141]
6, circular nd, organizing black local unions
67 SG to Duffy, 1-2-23, conditions in Virgin Islands now that US have taken over; but AFL can’t afford an organizer
331, Fenigston to SG, 3-1-21, Stenographers pay $100 a month to AFL and they want an organizer. [sent to Frayne, 331]
696, Circular, 3-14-21, re: Organizing workers in Panama Canal Zone.
945 SG to Claude Barnett, 4-18-21, black organizers;
879, Circular, 7-21-21, re: organizing [reel 274, 11, more]
534 SG to Holmes, 8-9-21, why they can’t afford more organizers
24 SG to Samuels, 8-20-21, his suggestions on an organizing pamphlet, re: collective bargaining.
459 SG to Wyatt, 9-1-21, firing him and other organizers – they don’t have the money
725 SG to Collins, 9-7-21, Executive Council’s plan for organizing textile workers
768, SG to Goggin, 9-8-21, furloughed organizer offers to work for expenses, but AFL can’t afford it.
537 SG to Perkins, 9-26-21, re: after convention raised salaries AFL had to cut organizers
681 SG to Newcomb, 9-30-21, 681, organizer dismissals and furlough, black freight organizers [see also 645 SG to Streifler, 9-29-21, furloughing organizers for 4 weeks [others, 665-668; 673-75 ][more on black freight hand organizer, 733]
682 SG to Jones, 9-29-21, Textile Workers Campaign and mentions unemployment conference [688 notes that Jones is Chair of the organizing committee]
690 C. N. Parker to SG 9-16-21, textile worker, praises SG Labor Day speech, AFL’s textile campaign, gives low down on rank & file experience. Says textile unions have not treated locals in the South fairly, have not paid strike benefits.[sends it on to Jones, 688. For origins of campaign, see Executive Council Minutes, AFL Records, Reel 6, fr. 567, pp 54-56; for memo on campaign conference, 9-20-21, and basic situation, see AFL Records Reel 31, fr. 2197; for organizers, fr. 2203]
707 O’Connor et al. to SG, 9-17-21, re: organizing newspaper writers; related material follows
800 Jones to SG, 9-30-21, Textile campaign report; the governor plays a surprisingly strong role, [reply, 791, he sends it to various people ; nb, p. 885 notes that Jones' salary is $10/day not $8; p. 785, circular based on Jones’s suggestion]
926, SG to McCarthy, 10-4-21, organizers' instructions re: Armistice Day – sent to many others
60 Hammet to SG, 10-5-21, re: black and white building trades workers in S.C – not enough whites to organize.
279 SG to Godshall, 10-10-21, AFL will support Fruit and Vegetable Workers Union [letter to Taylor follows; can’t afford to pay him][285 to Sharrenberg notes convention directed campaign to organize these workers]
396 Jones to SG, ca 10-10-21, another Textile report
569 SG to Flood, 10-13-21, organizers but almost illegible.
778 newspaper clipping of textile organizing meeting Gadsen, Ala.
114 McWillians to SG, 9-26-21, re: Frank Roney of LA, old time organizer, is on the verge of going to the poorhouse!
191 SG to Sullivan, 10-29-21, re: noting organizers work
288 SG to Mayer, 11-1-21, Dupont Corp owns the Willard Hotel; efforts to organize other Dupont Hotels; sends complaint to Hoover, 294
691, SG to McMahon, 11-10-21, can’t afford to keep textile organizers on.[see AFL Records Reel 31, 2210, McMahon to SG, 11-9-21, furloughing UTW organizers]
118 Thomas Manly to Gentlemen, 11-21-21, “The black stage hands have long desired an organization” [116 SG to Manly, 11-22-21, National Assn of Black Stage Employees –wants AFL charter; sending his letter to IATSE; 117 sent]
415 Manley to SG, 11-25-21, More on black stage hands; notes that IATSE is for white stage hands only. [sends it to IATSE 414]
95, SG to Fischer, 12-12-21, L. M. Johnson is trying to organize black barbers in Port Arthur; Tex; similar letters follow re: black Tailors
444 Ryan to SG, 12-10-21, black RR workers [see also 378 SG to Bulwarked, 12-19-21, re: black RR workers; quotes Ryan’s letter describing rules for organizing Negroes; SG to Ryan, 408, notes that he has informed coach cleaner locals of the decision and agrees no need for conference; 442 also sends Ryan’s statements to EC; 460 letter to coach cleaner. For original, see AFL Records, reel 31, fr. 1159]
758 Clay to SG, 12-29-21, Black car cleaners in Waco; this is a response to his 12-21-21 letter passing on Ryan’s rules [for original, see AFL Records, reel 31, 1162]
539 SG to Perry, 1-19-22, organizing a union of boot blacks in San Pedro, Ca.
282 SG to Hanly, 3-1-22, on organizing women; same goals different problems; which is why he opposes the Equal Rights Amendment
442 SG to Valentine, 3-1-22, re: female organizer and IBEW member
493 SG to Shurtleff, 3-6-22, re: organizers' furlough and AFL convention resolution re: black RR workers.
417 Tilton to SG, 3-21-22, wants to join Theatre Operators but their books are closed [sends it on, 416].
594 SG to Hutcheson, 7-18-22, guarding against socialist organizers
9 Idar to SG, 7-27-22, Idar is a special organizer and generally deals with Mexican and Pan American Labor Federation issues. Calles, RR strike, efforts to keep imported labor out [sent to RR Dept]
457, list of NYC organizers
209, SG to Tighe, 9-9-22, William Z. Foster apparently using SG’s name to reorganize steel workers
67 SG to Duffy, 1-2-23, conditions in Virgin Islands now that US has taken over; but AFL can’t afford an organizer.
589 SG to Moore, 1-15-23, Western Canada situation; OBU; Can’t send an organizer “We are skating on thin ice.”
117 SG to McMahon, 1-31-23, Textile Workers to try again in the South
64 SG to Adams, 2-27-23, re: his address to ACWA as an AFL organizer
206 SG to Caponer, 4-20-23, organizing
311 SG to Smith, 4-25-23, time to try and organize Washington, D.C., women workers [sent to many others 310-22].
364 SG to Fitzpatrick, 4-25-23, AFL’s financial relation to Chicago Federation of Labor – notes that Fitzpatrick and Frayne were the only organizers not furloughed. [more, 376]
476 Circular, 4-30-23, re: Supreme Court decision meeting, 4-24-23 and organizing women workers in Washington, D. C.
753 Noonan to SG, 5-10-23, organizing GE workers [reply, 751, sends it on, 752]
806 SG to Duffy , 5-15-23, Associated Employers of Indianapolis open-shop boast that unions headquartered there do their organizing elsewhere. [sent to others, 786-812; 826-853]
476 SG to Grantham, 6-13-23, organizing
528 SG to Bourne, 6-14-23, proposed laborers strike in Florida against 10 hr day. Why did organizer refuse to cooperate? [more, 527; 548-549; 794]
270 SG to Roebuck, 7-12-23, new committee to organize steel workers
286 and 287, SG to A. Philip Randolph, 7-17-23, sending a piece on organizing black workers
526 SG to Hogan 7-27-23, re: organizing White Collar workers
605 SG to Organizers, 9-7-23 re: Maintenance of Way and Textile Workers
670 Belden to SG, 10-9-23, office worker conditions; she implores him “in the name of Jesus” to send an organizer [reply, 672, sends it on 669]
793 Lent to SG, 10-6-23, one of several replies to circular re: organizing textile workers [the others proceed and follow]
821 Emmett Flood to SG, 10-18-23, trying to organize nurses
84, SG to Johnston, 11-14-23, re: Clinton Golden [who later becomes Phil Murray’s right hand man in the Steelworkers and CIO]
402, SG to EC, 11-18-23, AFL can’t afford two textile organizers [McMahon’s letter follows; informs McMahon, 848]
414 SG to Spitzer, 11-19-23, re: organizing rubber workers; notes convention resolution
421 Hannon to SG, 11-16-23, re:organizing steel workers.[sends it to Perkins, 420; more 990]
776 SG to Hutcheson, 3-24-24, organizer’s report re: IWW in Reno; carpenter and painter business agents are the radicals; they are trying to disrupt labor council [SG to organizer precedes; same goes to Hedrick, 773]
970 SG to Perkins, 3-29-24, mentions organizing committee of iron and steel workers
389 SG to Baker, 4-17-24, quotes organizer Baker’s endorsement of KKK and takes back his organizer’s commission.
963 SG to Flood, 5-6-24: “Your procrastination is intolerable. You will either follow instructions . . . Or quit and return to Chicago.”
183 Minutes of the meeting of General Organizers and Business Agents, Los Angeles, 6-10-24
173 R. L. Guard to Dowell, 12-8-24, AFL organizer Peter Collins is making public addresses opposing child labor amendment; more 221-222; 224.