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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Iowa labor collection

Repository: State Historical Society of Iowa. Libraries and Special Collections, Iowa City Center

Collection Description (CRHP): Narrators in this collection speak about African American experience in a wide variety of trades, including mining, meatpacking, freighting, construction, and foundry work. They also detail individual and collective efforts to respond to racism in the workplace and in other aspects of everyday life in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Waterloo, Burlington, Fort Dodge, Ottumwa, Quad Cities, Sioux City, Keokuk, Dubuque, and other Iowa cities. A range of union activity is represented, as are other forms of civil rights activism.

Materials from the Iowa Labor Collection were used by Shelton Stromquist in the book "Solidarity and Survival: An Oral History of Iowa Labor in the Twentieth Century" (Iowa City: U of Iowa Press, 1993).

Collection Description (Extant): Since 1974, the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI) has collaborated with the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, to ensure the preservation and active use of an archive on American workers and their communities. The Iowa Labor Collection consists of over 1,200 oral history interviews with Iowa trade unionists, and 1,500 linear feet of labor records. The State Historical Society of Iowa's extensive labor archive includes minutes of meetings, constitutions and bylaws, contracts and agreements, grievances, financial records, scrapbooks, photographs, and films; as well as newsletters, newspapers, and other literature. [. . . ] The collection is about real people, what they did, the values they held, and the changes they collectively brought to their communities. Because of the diverse industries, trade groups, and time periods represented in the collection, these primary sources serve as a pathway to understanding work in the Midwest, shedding light on issues of race, gender, ethnicity, and class as American society was transformed in the 20th century.

The State Historical Society of Iowa was awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services in 1999, which led to the development, preservation, and enhancement of the Iowa Labor Collection. Descriptive finding aids were created for 135 archival collections and a detailed index was generated for 1,000 oral history transcripts that were microfilmed. Subsequent donations of records and newer oral histories need attention so younger voices and ideas preserved in these materials can be shared.

Access Copy Note: Public use copies on cassette exist for most of the interviews. Minimal information about this very rich collection is available online; researchers are encouraged to consult the comprehensive index and visit the archives in person.

Collection URL: External Link

Date(s): 1920s-early 2000s

Digital Status: No

Extent: Transcripts, index, 1080 reel-to-reel tapes, 280 audiocassettes; 1500 linear feet manuscript holdings.

Language: English

Related Archival Items: Lists of related library holdings are available from the collection URL.For instance, the film archive holds "AFL-CIO Centennial Moments" (FR 3 1.5), which includes a one-minute commercial about AFL-CIO assistance with the civil rights movement and refers to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Act (produced c1981).

Interviewees: Leonard Ackerlund, Clare Adams, Sebastian Alvarez, Sylvester Ames, Orville Armstrong, Leo Azinger, Virgil Bankson, Howard K. Belkin, Winford G. Belmer, Renato Bianchi, Joe Blaser, Violet Bohaty, Harry Booth, John Brackin, Lucille Bremer, Chester G. Brinegar, Thomas Brown, John Buban, Carl Bunn, Jane Burleson, Percy Burt, John Buscher, Sam Clark, Archie Clements, Elmer Cline, Tom Cohagan, Delno Cole, Harold Colloton, Gene Condon, John Cooper, Herbert Cossano, Floyd Cottrell, Carl Dahl, Richard Dawson, Nancy Dehm, Tony Dellaca, Lloyd DeMoss, Murlie Dietz, Robert Dolan, Jennie Ducey, John Ducey, Earl Dupey, B.J. Early, Stan Eckert, Kenneth Ellis, Harriet Erzinger, Oma Ferguson, L.E. Fideler, John Fortier, Paul Fortune, Jesse Frazier, Julie Fritz, Frank Garcia, Mark Gavin, Marcel Gerard, Frank Grant, Jr., Dick Greenwood, John Griffith, Donald Grimes, Sam Grossklaus, James Hamlyn, William M. Harden, Don W. Harris, Jeannette Haymond, Joe Heger, Ralph Helstein, Clifford E. Herr, Jarvis Hiles, James Hilsinger, Louis Holbach, John Hollingsworth, Edwin Hollins, Paul Howke, Dorothy Huddleston, Harry Hunter, Albert Jennings, Nate Jennings, Ethel Jerred, Hans Jochimsen, Otto Jones, John Jordan, Viola Juehring, William Keast, Lloyd Kephart, Gary Ketchum, Marion Nadine Klamer, Michael Krajnovich, Jerry Kritz, John Kuchan, Axel Larsen, Paul Larsen, Richard Lindner, Richard Lowery, Lewis Loy, Pat Marshall, Clarence McCuen, Jenie McDonnall, Abe Meacham, Alvin Melsha, Herbert Menke, Jesse Merrill, Arthur Moore, Ruth Morrow, Mike Mosley, Charles Mueller, Julia Naylor, Ed Nixon, Betty Noe, Keith Noe, Bruce Nolan, Fred Nolting, Everett Northway, Joe O’Connell, Jack O’Hara, Perry Omer, Velma Otterman, Donald Peart, Corbin Perrin, Nels Petersen, Robert N. Peterson, Floyd Piper, Camille Price, Richard Price, Earl Riley, John Risser, Roscoe Rogers, Andy Ross, Don Rowen, Clarence Rowley, Lawrence Russell, Gus Sample, Robert Schorg, Harold Schutty, Robert B. Seaver, Robert Seltzer, Thomas Semmert, John Serrano, Merle Shea, Justine Shields, Eddie Simmons, Henry Simmons, Albert Smith, Virgil Smith, Robert Soesbe, Ethan Sproston, Florence Steele, James Steinbach, Norm Sterzenbach, Clieo Stringer, John Sullivan, Roosevelt Taylor, Betty Talkingon, Donovon Thompson, Merle Thompson, Slayton Thompson, Cuba E. Tredwall, Miriam Tyson, Irene Vaughn, Roy Vaughn, Richard Vignaroli, Elmer Vorwald, Marioin Walker, John Weatherstone, Charles Weed, G. Weida, Eugene Weems, Lloyd Weems, Marshall Wells, Richard Welch, Jack E. Whitaker, Edwin De White, Billye Smith Williams, Luther Williams, Joe Zibert

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African American labor union members
African Americans--Civil rights--Iowa
Black power
Discrimination in employment
Freedom Rides, 1961
Iowa--Race relations
Labor movement--Iowa
Labor unions
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Race discrimination--Iowa
Strikes and lockouts
United States. Civil Rights Act of 1964


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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