Starr, Mark, 1894-1985

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Mark Starr (27 April 1894, Shoscombe – 24 April 1985, New York City) was a British American labor historian and pedagogue. For 25 years he was educational director of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

Born in Shoscombe, Somerset he was the son of a staunch Free Methodist coal miner. From 1899 to 1907 he attended St Julian's National School. At age thirteen he began work in the mines, later migrating to South Wales. He joined the Miners' Federation of Great Britain and the Independent Labour Party and also attended classes arranged by the Workers Educational Association. In 1915 he won a scholarship to the Central Labour College in London, which helped broaden his intellectual horizons. In 1916 he returned to the coal fields and began teaching classes in industrial history under the auspices of the Aberdare District Miners' Federation. These lectures became the basis for his A Worker looks at History.

In 1918 he was called up to service in the army but became a conscientious objector on political grounds. While in prison his sister sent him a copy of the New Testament in Esperanto, which sparked a lifelong interest in the subject. Lobbying by his father got Starr transferred from prison to farm work in Northumberland. In Northumberland Starr came in contact with the Plebs League and became a leading member of that group.

After his release from prison he returned to South Wales and continued his educational work. In 1921 he helped organize the National Council of Labour Colleges and was the Plebs League representative on its council. During the 1920s, the Plebs League and the NCLC became increasingly divided over personal and political animosities. The Plebs were dominated by the Horrabin family: J. F. Horrabin edited Plebs magazine, his wife Winifred Horrabin was national secretary and his sister Kathleen was a clerk in the national office. Starr married Kathleen. The NCLC was dominated by J. P. M. Millar and his wife Christine. When the NCLC absorbed the Plebs in 1927 Starr began to find his position in the group untenable and immigrated to the United States to become an instructor at Brookwood Labor College in Katonah, New York. Though seen as an ally of the Horrabins, his marriage with Kathleen was deteriorating and ended with a divorce.

Along with the Horrabins, Starr briefly joined the Communist Party of Great Britain during the early 1920s, but soon left, unable to stomach the group's discipline. A trip to Leningrad in 1926 to attend an Esperanto conference further alienated him from the Soviets. He stood as a Labour Party candidate for Wimbledon in 1923 and 1924, obtaining about 30% of the vote each time.

In America, Starr continued as an instructor at Brookwood until 1935, when he became educational director of the powerful International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, a position he kept until 1960. He became active in the American Labor Party and the Liberal Party of New York, both of which the ILGWU was affiliated with. He was chairmen of the Queens branch of the Liberal Party from 1945-1959. After retiring from ILGWU he represented the International Labour Organization in Singapore and East Africa and continued his Esperanto advocacy. He was listed as the chairman of the Esperanto Information Center in 1973 when he signed the Humanist Manifesto II.

In 1932 Starr married Helen Norton, also a lecturer at Brookwood. They had two children, John, who died in infancy, and Emily. Mark Starr died on 24 April 1985.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Educational Dept. Executive Secretary. ILGWU. Education Department. Fannia Cohn photographs, 1920-1960. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Guide to the Harry Laidler Photographs, 1893-1968 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Kemp, Maida Springer, 1910-. Papers, 1942-1981 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Guide to the Rand School of Social Science Records, 1905-1962 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Smith, Hilda Worthington, 1888-. Papers, 1837-1975 (inclusive), 1900-1975 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Guide to the Josephine Colby Papers, 1912-1933 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Keys mss., 1972-1982 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Papers, 1942-1981 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Smith, Margaret Earhart, 1902-1960. Papers, 1940-1978 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Papers, 1940-1978 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Labor Leader Biographies, 1873-2010 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
referencedIn League for Industrial Democracy. League for Industrial Democracy. Pamphlets, 1922-1978. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Papers, 1837 (1900-1975) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Educational Dept. Executive Secretary. ILGWU. Education Department. Fannia Cohn papers, 1918-1962. Cornell University Library
referencedIn International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Communications Dept., Biography files. Pt.3. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Starr, Mark, 1894-. An Adventure in Education, address by Mark Starr, 1960. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Robert G. Spivack Papers, 1931-1970, (bulk 1936-1970) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Guide to the Socialist Party (U.S.) Correspondence, 1902-1947 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Workers Education Local 189 (U.S.). Records, 1939-1977. Wayne State University
referencedIn Workers' Education Bureau of America. Workers' Education Bureau of America records, 1921-1951. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Starr, Mark. Starr, Mark. Papers, 1951. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Guide to the Mark Starr Photographs, 1944-1955 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Brookwood Labor College (Katonah, N.Y.). Brookwood Labor College records, 1921-1937. Wayne State University. Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs
creatorOf Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion. Records. 1939-1977. 1940-1968. Ocean County College Library, OCC Library
referencedIn League for Industrial Democracy. Pamphlets, 1922-1978. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
referencedIn ILGWU. Education Department. Fannia Cohn papers, 1918-1962 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
creatorOf Guide to the Mark Starr Papers, 1912-1980s Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Wolfson, Theresa, 1897-1972. Wolfson, Theresa. Series 1. Correspondence, 1919-1970. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Workers' Education Bureau of America records, 1921-1951. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
referencedIn Inter-University Labor Education Committee. Series 2, Subseries 8. Correspondence with labor organizations, 1951-1957. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Guide to the Mark Starr Photographs, 1944-1955 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Guide to the Harry Laidler Photographs, 1893-1968 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Labor Leader Biographies, 1873-2010 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
referencedIn International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. New York Cloak Joint Board. ILGWU. New York Cloak Joint Board records, 1926-1973. Cornell University Library
referencedIn ILGWU. New York Cloak Joint Board records, 1926-1973 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
referencedIn American Federation of Teachers. Workers Education Local 189. Workers Education local 189 records, 1939-1977, (bulk 1950- 1977). Wayne State University. Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs
creatorOf Starr, Mark, 1894-. Reminiscences of Mark Starr : oral history, 1965. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Federation of Teachers. Workers Education Local 189. corporateBody
associatedWith American Labor Party. corporateBody
associatedWith Americans for Democratic Action. corporateBody
associatedWith British Information Services. corporateBody
correspondedWith Brookwood Labor College (Katonah, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Colby, Josephine. person
associatedWith Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion. corporateBody
associatedWith Hilda Worthington Smith, 1888-1984 person
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Educational Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Educational Dept. Executive Secretary. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Educational Dept. Executive Secretary. corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. New York Cloak Joint Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Inter-University Labor Education Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Kemp, Maida Springer, 1910- person
correspondedWith Keys, Donald person
associatedWith Laidler, Harry W. (Harry Wellington), 1884-1970. person
associatedWith League for Industrial Democracy. corporateBody
associatedWith Liberal Party of New York State corporateBody
associatedWith MAIDA (STEWART) SPRINGER KEMP, 1910- person
associatedWith Margaret Earhart Smith, 1902-1960 person
associatedWith Masaryk, Jan, 1886-1948 person
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Public Affairs Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Rand School of Social Science. corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, Hilda Worthington, 1888- person
associatedWith Smith, Margaret Earhart, 1902-1960. person
associatedWith Socialist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Socialist Party (U.S.). corporateBody
correspondedWith Spivack, Robert G. person
associatedWith Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Works Progress Administration. Workers' Education Project. corporateBody
associatedWith UNITE HERE (Organization) corporateBody
associatedWith Wolfson, Theresa, 1897-1972. person
associatedWith Workers' Education Bureau of America. corporateBody
correspondedWith Workers Education Local 189 (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Yorburg, Betty, person
Place Name Admin Code Country
England ENG GB
New York City NY US
Subject
Women--Employment--History--20th century
Labor movement--Japan
Labor unions--United States
Working class--Education--United States
Women--Employment--Great Britain--History--20th century
Labor unions--Officials and employees--United States
Labor unions and international relations--United States
Working class--Education
Labor movement--United States
World War, 1939-1945--Women
Socialism
World War, 1939-1945 Women Great Britain
Occupation
Educaters
Labor activist
Historian
Function

Person

Birth 1894-04-27

Death 1985-04-24

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 85305158