Unions and Labor Archives

Pamela Hackbart-Dean
pa m e l a h a c k b a r td e a n labor archives have been collecting the papers of working people and the records of their trade unions and allied organizations since the early years of the twentieth century. Collecting repositories play several overlapping roles, assisting unions in constructing a usable past, preserving the movement's heritage, culture, and traditions, and making labor archives accessible to the public. Labor archivists, like most of their colleagues who preserve the records
more » ... of living organizations, often act as intermediaries between the unions whose records they administer and the research public. Developing strong relationships with individual unions and the labor movement is critical to the success of all labor-archives programs. If collecting repositories want to build strong labor collections, they must develop good and trusting relationships with unions and their members. Unions must be convinced that the archivist can be trusted with their internal records and that the labor archives are an asset to the labor movement. Collecting repositories need to demonstrate that archives and the labor movement's historical memory have real value from the union's perspective: it is important to