A union's historical records are the repository of its history, culture, and traditions. They are an important asset which documents the activities and rights of all union members and the role that the union has played within labor movement and American politics and society. A union's history and records document organizing campaigns (what worked and what did not); they also contain evidence of past practices that can be drawn upon during collective bargaining, grievances, and arbitrations. History and historical materials often promote solidarity. They may help in recruiting new members and are powerful tools that can be used to rally public support for the labor movement.
Living human memory quickly fades with time. History is, therefore, normally written from surviving written records. To insure that the history of the labor movement and your union's role in it is fully and accurately told, you should make sure that that your union records are preserved. One of the ways of preserving union records is to transfer inactive historical materials to an outside archival repository like the Tamiment Library/ Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. Archives are specialized repositories that care for unique historical materials. Archivists are trained to evaluate the long-term value of union records.
The Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives is the designated repository for the historical records of the New York City Central Labor Council and its member unions. The Wagner administers the records of more than 250 New York-based labor organizations as well as those of a number of international unions including the Communications Workers of America, Actors' Equity and the Transport Workers Union of America.
The Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives is eager to survey your union's records to determine their historical and administrative value. Once this value is established we can discuss whether it may be appropriate to transfer your historical records to the Wagner Archives.
ILGWU Jewish Labor Committee
Child Adoption Program Leaflet, 1949
If you are interested in the Robert F. Wagner Archives' Labor Records Preservation Program, please contact:
Chela Scott Weber
Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
New York University
70 Washington Square South, 10th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10012