American Labor History
The Special Collections Research Center collects and preserves material in American Labor History from the 19th through early 21st centuries. The flagship collection of this effort is the records of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Another strength in this collecting area are the records of the National Education Association.
Special Collections actively collects valuable materials from all aspects of US labor history that will benefit labor studies in history, law, political science, business, and other academic disciplines, including primary documents, photographs, and recordings that document the role of organized labor in the United States over the past 150 years.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Records
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has contributed $2 million to The George Washington University to create an endowed archivist position at GW and establish an exhibition of its archives for public display to enhance research on 20th century US labor relations. The Teamsters records, which date back to the early 1900s, will reside at GW on permanent loan.
The records include presidential papers from James R. Hoffa and James P. Hoffa; autographed political cartoons from the early 20th century; several hundred photographs and memos from the labor and civil rights movements, such as a photo of Jimmy Hoffa with Martin Luther King, Jr.; telegrams from President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and an extensive collection of wire spool audio recordings.
The IBT archivist catalogs the archives and acquires additional important historical labor documents through GW’s Gelman Library System. These initiatives to arrange the Teamsters archives are making public never-before-seen documents, letters, and photographs.
The Teamsters Union was established in 1903 and represents more than 1.4 million men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. To learn more about the history of the Teamsters, visit our Teamsters History website.
Other Labor Collections
In addition to the Teamsters Collection, this program includes the records of other labor unions, professional associations, and self-help organizations, some of which were precursors to later unionization efforts; the papers of various union organizers and labor leaders; political cartoons from the the late 19th and early 20th centuries; as well as a variety of other printed materials from the same time period, including pamphlets, flyers, and ephemera.
Please visit our Labor History topic page to view the collection inventories to current collections in this area.