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Consider the Laundry Workers
"Consider the Laundry Workers" -- cover picture of a pamphlet from the League of Women Shoppers, 1937.

Collections Overview

Printed Library Collections

The Tamiment Library's printed collections consist of books, pamphlets, and serials focusing on the history of labor, politics, political thought, civil rights, women's history, the Spanish Civil War, literature, the history of New York City, and the arts. Broadly speaking, the collections cover labor and the Left. Printed collections may be found in BobCat, NYU's library catalog.

Tamiment holds more than 80,000 books, tens of thousands of pamphlets, and more than 10,000 non-current alternative serials. Serials range from labor union convention proceedings, union journals, strike bulletins, underground newspapers, internal bulletins of radical organizations, and scholarly journals in labor and radical history. Holdings are particularly strong in titles indexed by the Alternative Press Index, Left Index, and Work-Related Abstracts. See the Serials Research Guide for more information.

Pamphlets in the Tamiment Library's collections include thousands of titles in print and on microform. Subject coverage spans the role of women in socialism and in the labor force, civil rights, labor union strikes, the Sacco-Vanzetti case, trade unionism, anti-Semitism, the Scottsboro case, the McCarthy Era, anarchism, communism, socialism, radicalism, and many other topics. The pamphlets are arranged in either distinct thematic collections or in the general pamphlet collection, in print or on microform. See the Pamphlet Collections Research Guide for full details.

Archival Collections

Rose Schneiderman
Rose Schneiderman (1884-1972), posing at sewing machine, 1908.
Rose Schneiderman Photograph Collection

The Tamiment Library holds some of the most important collections in the United States relating to labor and social history, the history of the Left, the place of the worker in American society, the evolution of labor law, women's history, immigrant history, and much more.

Tamiment preserves the history of working-class New York: its neighborhood associations, fraternal and ethnic societies, political organizations, and the unions that shaped the social and economic structure of the City.

The Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives is the designated repository for the records of the New York City Central Labor Council, its member unions and affiliated organizations.

Tamiment/Wagner holds more than 2,000 manuscript collections, a total of more than 20,000 feet of original papers and records. Detailed guides and inventories for many of these collections are available online. Browse the collections/finding aids list online or search the library's finding aids to find them.

Some archival holdings have been microfilmed and may be available via inter-library loan.

Some collections are stored offsite. If the designation "(offsite)" or "(offsite-cs) appears after a collection in the Collections List, it is stored offsite and boxes must be requested in advance of your research visit.

Political Collections

Socialism: The records of the Socialist Party are one of Tamiment's core collections. The Library's Socialist collections have a New York focus but include important record groups that are national in scope.

Some of the more significant collections are: early local Socialist Party and predecessor organization records, the Rand School of Social Science, the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, the New York Bureau of Legal Advice (precursor to the ACLU), papers of Eugene V. Debs, congressman Meyer London, Harry Laidler, William Mailly, and James Oneal, Rose Pastor Stokes, cartoonist Art Young, Michael Harrington, and Democratic Socialists of America.

Communism: Tamiment's archival collections document the activities of the Communist Party of the United States, its leaders, cadre, rank and file activists, and fellow travelers (including figures from labor and electoral politics, education, the arts and publishing).

Some of the more notable collections are: New York City Councilman Peter V. Cacchione, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, artist Hugo Gellert, Labor Research Association, National Council on American Soviet Friendship, autobiographical manuscripts by Party leaders rank and file activists.

In 2006 Communist Party of the United States donated its archives and the Library of the Reference Center for Marxist Studies to the Tamiment Library in order to make its history accessible to students, scholars, and activists. CPUSA: Ninety Years of History, a Tamiment Library exhibit curated by Peter M. Filardo and Michael Nash, containing highlights of the recent acquisition may be viewed on Flickr.

The Tamiment Library is also the repository for several related and popular front organizations, as well as the records describing many of the government investigations and prosecutions of the Communist Party and its members.

Tamiment has acquired microform collections documenting the history of Communism: the Comintern Archives: Materials of Congresses and Plenums of the ECCI, Files of the Communist Party of USA (CPUSA) in the Comintern Archives, and the papers of Earl Browder.

Related collections describe the history of Trotskyism and Socialist Workers Party, Anarchism, New Left, Unaffiliated Left Organizations, Women's history, and labor and left summer camps.

See our Radicalism Resources research guide for additional information.

Finding Archival Collections

To find archival materials, browse the Tamiment Library's Collections List or search finding aids. Follow links to finding aids and collection descriptions. Records for processed and cataloged archival collections may be also found in BobCat, New York University's library catalog.

See the Locating Materials in the Tamiment Library research guide for assistance.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives

Un Marino, Un Heroe
"Un Marino, Un Heroe" -- a poster from the Spanish Civil War, 1938.

The Abraham Lincoln Archives Collection is an ongoing project begun by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB) in the late 1970s. These Spanish Civil War veterans recognized the importance of preserving the history of the role of North American volunteers. They formed the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives organization (ALBA) and began to collect letters, writings, oral histories, photographs, posters, artifacts, and ephemera that would preserve this history and contextualize it within the ongoing struggle for radical social change. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives Collection was initially deposited with Brandeis University. In December, 2000 it was relocated to New York University's Tamiment Library.

The core of the archive is the roughly 300 individual collections documenting the life stories of Lincoln Brigade and Medical Bureau volunteers. Soldiers, nurses, and doctors are represented in these collections which contain documentation on approximately 10% of the U.S. volunteers who fought in Spain. There are also more than 10,000 photographs, 200 full color posters, postcards, oral history interviews, biographical materials, radio scripts, and artifacts (buttons, badges, uniforms, and a rifle).

At the end of the Spanish Civil War the administrative records of the International Brigades were taken to Moscow so that they would not be seized by Franco. They are deposited in the Russian State Archive for Social and Political History where they form part of the Comintern Archive. Sections of the IB records relating to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade were microfilmed for ALBA and the microfilm is now part of the collection at NYU. These administrative records of the International Unit and Brigades of the Spanish Republican Army include: selected files of the Military Commission, Communist Party organizations (Spanish and international), official military bulletins, records relating to: command and headquarters, mail service and censorship, transport, supplies, training, and prisoners. These records document the way the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was organized and functioned, its relationships with other international brigades, its political organizations, and relations with Spain's Republican government.

The Tamiment Library continues to build the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and is always interested in hearing from families and friends of volunteers, as well as researchers and collectors who may have relevant material to contribute to the archives.

Repainting Prometheus, Rockefeller Center
A worker from the union of Painters and Allied Traders repainting Prometheus, Rockefeller Center, New York City.
Painters & Allied Traders, DC-9 Photograph Collection

Non-Print Collections

Photographs, film, videotapes, posters and memorabilia provide a rich visual record of the history of labor and radical politics. Much of this visual material doesn't just supplement information in manuscript collections and papers--it can also provide evidence that is not available in written sources.

Photographs: Tamiment has more than 500,000 photographs documenting a wide range of subjects including: union organizing, the workplace, the shop floor, the changing nature of work, strikes, rallies, demonstrations, progressive political campaigns, socialists, communists, anarchists, and members of other leftist organizations. They also depict working class resorts, summer camps, New York City street scenes and architecture. Photographs from the collection are often used in films, television programs, books, exhibits, and websites. They have also been displayed at both union gatherings and academic conferences.

A small but growing number of these photographs have been digitized and are on display through the Tamiment website. These include the United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs Collection in ARTstor (available to NYU-affiliated researchers only); images within the finding aid to the Fifteenth International Brigade Photographic Unit Photographs Collection, which document participation by American volunteers on the side of the Republican government in the Spanish Civil War; and photographs featured in online exhibits via the Tamiment website. Some, but not all, of these digitized images may be reproduced.

Graphic Materials: The Library has a poster and broadside collection of more than 2,000 items, a number of original paintings and drawings, several thousand original pen and ink political cartoons, and more than 6,000 political buttons, as well as t-shirts, picket signs, banners, bumper stickers and other artifacts.

A selection of 1,500 of posters from Tamiment's graphics collection have been digitized and are on display in a ARTstor (available to NYU-affiliated researchers only). Selected posters are also featured in online exhibits via the Tamiment website. Some, but not all, of these digitized images may be reproduced.

Moving Images: About 100 video documentaries and feature films dealing with labor history and radical politics have been acquired through funding by the Jacob Blaufarb Endowment and the New York State Council on the Arts, as well as by direct donation. Videotapes cannot be borrowed but may be viewed at the Avery Fisher Center (Bobst Library, 2nd floor). A catalogue of these titles may be consulted at the Library. Among these works are two videos produced by Tamiment Library itself, drawing from two of its most important collections: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: The Rebel Girl and They Were Not Silent: The Jewish Labor Movement and the Holocaust.

The Library also holds more than 40 hours of archival film footage (including out-takes and unedited footage) which are described in a finding aid to the collection. These materials may be screened for research purposes, and some of them may be licensed. More archival film footage is available for research purposes only (contact Nonprint Archivist for information on these materials, which are described in an offline database). The collections also include several hundred hours of film that are part of the Library's Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and Communications Workers of America collections, a small portion of which is available for research, but not for licensing.

Finding Non-print Collections

See our Locating Nonprint Collections page for help finding materials.

Updated 07/18/2012

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