Oregon Historical Society Research Library

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By the mid-19th century, workers in crafts and trades formed unions across the country. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) became the first successful alliance of trade unions when it was organized in 1886. The AFL focused on organizing workers by trade or craft. By the 1930s, enough unions within the federation were unhappy with the AFL's unwillingness to organize workers industry-wide that they formed the Committee for Industrial Organization in 1935. Participating unions were expelled from the AFL and formed the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1938. The two merged in 1955 to form the AFL-CIO. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which was organized in 1905, sought to organize all workers into "one big union."

The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, which gave workers the right to organize and bargain collectively, served as an impetus for union organizing in the 1930s and battles between AFL and CIO unions over representation of workers at industrial plants. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 controlled union organizing and other labor-relations issues and helped push the AFL and CIO toward merger.

Among the earliest Oregon trades organized were the cigarmakers, hod carriers, and typographers, all of them forming locals affiliated with the AFL. About 1920, AFL-affiliated unions built the Labor Temple at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street in Portland, Oregon. By the first decade of the 20th century, workers were organizing in the Pacific Northwest lumber industry and on Pacific Coast docks. In addition to organizing by the IWW, workers in the lumber industry organized the International Woodworkers of America at Portland, Oregon, in 1936. On the docks, local unions tended toward independence, but they eventually organized the International Longshoremen's Association and International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union on the West Coast.

Through collective bargaining, the pressure of work stoppages and strikes, and political action, the unions won many benefits for their members, including better wages and working conditions and eventually health and pension benefits. However, unions also encountered anti-union movements, organizations, and employer groups, who used political and governmental action against them. Some were caught up in the hunt for Communist conspiracies that followed World War I and World War II. Major political battles centered on "right-to-work" laws, which prevented "closed shops," where workers were required to join a union. Some unions also participated in and allied themselves with other advocates of various political and social causes.

From the guide to the Labor Collection, 1872-1988, 1930-1955, (Oregon Historical Society)

The Performing Arts collection is an artificial collection compiled by the Oregon Historical Society Research Library staff.

From the guide to the Performing Arts Collection, 1795-2012, 1890-1992, (Oregon Historical Society)

Since its founding in 1898, the Oregon Historical Society has collected ephemera of all kinds, most of it documenting the history of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Around the mid-20th century, librarians at the Society began organizing these materials into what became known as "Topical Collections" formed around particular subjects, such as business and education. One such collection, "Ethnology," served as a catch-all for items related to population groups that share common ties of ancestry and culture. Often materials from other collections were separated from the original sources and added to the Ethnology Collection. Although this practice has since been discontinued, some materials are still filed in Ethnology if they come from accessions composed primarily of unrelated ephemera items. "Ethnic groups" are defined as people who are bound together by common ties of ancestry and culture.

From the guide to the Ethnology Collection, 1789-2009, 1880-1950, (Oregon Historical Society Research Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Labor Collection, 1872-1988 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Performing Arts Collection, 1795-2012, 1890-1992 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Ethnology Collection, 1789-2009, 1880-1950 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith AFL-CIO. corporateBody
associatedWith Agler, Edna person
associatedWith American Federation of Labor. corporateBody
associatedWith Baker Theatre (Portland, Or.) corporateBody
associatedWith Beck, Dave, 1894- person
associatedWith Bray, Charles E. person
associatedWith Bridges, Harry, 1901- person
associatedWith Browder, Earl, 1891-1973 person
associatedWith Cigar Makers' International Union of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Columbian Conservatory of Music corporateBody
associatedWith Communist Party of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Crichton, Linley Morton person
associatedWith Franks, Al person
associatedWith Gershkovitch, Jacques person
associatedWith Gompers, Samuel, 1850-1924 person
associatedWith Heilig Theatre (Portland, Or.) corporateBody
associatedWith Herbers, Mae person
associatedWith Honeyman, Nan Wood, 1881-1970 person
associatedWith Industrial Workers of the World. corporateBody
associatedWith International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Association. corporateBody
associatedWith International Longshoremen's Association. corporateBody
associatedWith International Woodworkers of America. corporateBody
associatedWith James, Samuel person
associatedWith Labor Temple (Portland, Or.) corporateBody
associatedWith Lewis, John Llewellyn, 1880-1969 person
associatedWith Meany, George, 1894- person
associatedWith Oregon Shakespeare Festival Association corporateBody
associatedWith Oregon Symphony corporateBody
associatedWith Peter Britt Music Festival (Jacksonville, Or.) corporateBody
associatedWith Portland Youth Philharmonic corporateBody
associatedWith Rubstein, Ariel, 1901- person
associatedWith Terney, Averta person
associatedWith United States. Labor Management Relations Act, 1947. corporateBody
associatedWith Willamette Valley Lumber Operators Association. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Portland (Or.)
Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Portland (Or.)
Actors and actresses
African Americans

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