Recently Opened Collections from the American Federation of Teachers

(31532) CCW Early Childhood Demonstration

The American Federation of Teachers is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. As part of the celebration, the Reuther has opened or added to several collections – the culmination of an 18 month collections backlog-processing project. The records are from the AFT National headquarters, regional, and local offices. These 13 collections represent the breadth of AFT activities from the local to the national level.

AFT Secretary-Treasurer’s Office Records
The Secretary-Treasurer’s records date to the founding of the union in 1916. Correspondence with top leadership, including presidents and the executive council, offers great insight into the workings of the union on a national level, as well as issues the various locals face.

AFT Secretary-Treasurer Ed McElroy, 1984

AFT President’s Office: Assistant to the President Bella Rosenberg Records
The President’s assistants play a crucial role in the operation of the national union. Bella Rosenberg worked closely with Al Shanker and Sandra Feldman on numerous AFT projects. She was heavily involved with various education reform initiatives such as peer review and the creation of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She assisted with the “Where We Stand” column and many speeches. Her collection contains a wealth of information on charter schools, privatization, AFT’s Lessons for Life campaign, and early childhood education.

AFT Educational Issues Department Records
This department conducts and applies research on a variety of topics. One of its projects is the Educational Research & Dissemination program, which creates professional development opportunities for teachers by translating academic studies into practical applications for the classroom.

AFT Organizing Department Records
Organizing became a distinct department within AFT in the 1970s, a time of tremendous growth for the union. The department and its regional offices oversee and assist locals with organizing campaigns and collective bargaining elections to facilitate the growth of the union.

AFT Great Lakes Regional Office Records
One such regional office, the Great Lakes office serves locals in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. This collection also includes records from other areas of the country, since organizing staff members often move around between regions. In addition to organizing and collective bargaining campaigns, the regional office has overseen local mergers with NEA affiliates.

Center for the Child Care Workforce Records
CCW began in the 1970s as an independent grassroots organization advocating for improved childcare quality through better wages and working conditions, as well as professional development opportunities for childcare workers. The organization carried out several studies and lead events such as Worthy Wage campaigns and In Praise of Providers to raise awareness and support their cause. It merged with AFT’s nonprofit Educational Foundation in 1994.

Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Records
Part of the healthcare division of AFT, the Wisconsin FNHP addresses issues and conditions impacting healthcare workers and their ability to deliver quality care to their patients. It represents registered nurses, LPNs, medical technologists, and others working in institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities in Wisconsin.

Ohio Federation of Teachers Records
The Ohio Federation of Teachers was established in the 1930s. OFT and its local affiliates are notable for their many initiatives, including The Toledo Plan, Career in Teaching, and Peer Assistance and Review programs which became models for other locals across the county.

Lake County Federation of Teachers Records
This federation of several locals is located within Lake County, Illinois. Members include primary and secondary schools teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff such as secretaries and bus drivers, psychologists and social workers, and higher education faculty and support staff.

St. Louis Teachers Union Local 420 Records
This collection contains great information about the local and its presidents, including long-time leader Betty Finneran, right, who was also involved with the local retirees, Council of Labor Union Women (CLUW), the Missouri ERA Coalition, and served as an AFT Vice-President.

United Educators of San Francisco Local 61 Records
Originally the San Francisco Federation of Teachers, this local merged with the National Education Association-affiliated San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association in 1989. The merger was unique because members of the UESF belonged to both AFT and NEA state and national chapters. These records reflect the period before, during, and after the merger.

AFT Local 691 Kansas City Federation of Teachers Records
The KCFT represents classroom teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, bus drivers, security officers, and school nurses in Kansas City, Missouri. One of the notable events in the Kansas City local’s history is the decades-long desegregation case in which AFT was involved. The case began in the late 1970s and wound up at the Supreme Court as State of Missouri, et al. v. Kalima Jenkins, et al. in 1995.

Mary Ellen Riordan Papers
Mary Ellen Riordan was president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers for over 20 years. Riordon lead one of the first collective bargaining efforts for teachers in the 1960s. During her tenure, the DFT was also involved with legal cases over agency fees and desegregation that went to the Supreme Court. Riordan’s papers also include her notes from college and teaching jobs in the 1930s and 1940s, her involvement with retirees and various community groups and state and national organizations. For more on Riordan, check out this blog post.

Stefanie Caloia was the AFT Project Archivist from August 2014 to February 2016. She is currently the Archivist for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).