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Overview

In the period from the end of the Civil War through the early decades of the twentieth century, it became clear that the burgeoning labor movement in America was no passing phenomenon. And men like John Mitchell, who became powerful forces within the various unions, affected the development of life in America to its social, political, and economic core.

The John Mitchell Papers offers students of labor law, political science, history, and social issues perspective on a man and union that were vital catalysts for labor reform. Among the topics analyzed are standardization of wages, the eight-hour workday, safe and sanitary working conditions, and Mitchell's struggle to have the United Mine Workers recognized as the sole bargaining agent for all classes of mine workers.

Mitchell rose quickly from his humble beginnings to become president of the UMW in 1898, and his zealous work brought the union out of obscurity and into the national limelight. His work, and thus the papers in this important collection, extend beyond into Mitchell's involvement with the National Civic Federation, and the New York Workmen's Compensation Commission, the New York State Industrial Commission, New York State Food Commission, and the Women's Trade Union League.

The collection is divided into five series for ease of access and maximum research utilization:

 

Series I: Contains correspondence to and from Mitchell, as well as third-party correspondence dealing with organizations and causes with which he was associated. Also included are speeches and articles written by Mitchell, minutes, and reports. Famous correspondents include Clarence S. Darrow, Samuel Gompers, and Theodore Roosevelt. Comprising approximately 75 percent of the collection, this series records Mitchell's thoughts, plans, and actions regarding the vital issues for which he struggled.

 

Series II: Focuses on the official minutes, union proceedings, and union constitutions and conventions from 1891-1908. Also featured is a report of the special convention called to consider the famous Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902.

 

Series III: Of the six parts of this series, three concern the AFL and Mitchell's tenure as one of its executive officers, and three deal with papers concerning his involvement with the various New York State commissions mentioned above.

 

Series IV: Forty-five pamphlets are reproduced in this segment covering the history and philosophy behind the eight-hour workday, labor ethics, improvement of miners' working conditions, and the 1902 coal strike.

 

Series V: Features 83 photographs that preserve a pictorial history of Mitchell and the United Mine Workers Union.

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