Harry Laidler Photographs
Language of Materials
Harry Wellington Laidler, longtime director of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), was also a founder of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, was elected to the New York City Council on the American Labor Party ticket, and was the author of many books and articles on social issues. The collection contains individual and group portraits featuring Laidler, many taken at LID events, which include prominent socialist and liberal figures, and several family portraits.
Harry Wellington Laidler (1884-1970) was born in Brooklyn, New York, to William E. Laidler and Julia Heary Laidler, but he was brought up by an uncle, Thomas (or Theodore?) Atworth, a former president of the Photo Engravers' Union and a socialist. Laidler attended Ruskin College for workers in Missouri, and American Socialist College in Kansas, before he received a scholarship to Weslyan University, Connecticut. He graduated from Weslyan in 1907, and spent the next three years working as a newspaper reporter for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. In 1911 he completed his studies at Brooklyn Law School and was admitted to the New York State bar; in 1914, he received a doctorate in political economy from Columbia University. In, he 1919 married Agnes Fuller Armington. They had two children: John and Rosamond.
Laidler served as the executive director of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID) for almost fifty years (from 1910 to 1957). While still a college student, he joined the Inter-Collegiate Socialist Society (ISS)-the predecessor organization of LID--in its founding year of 1905. Laidler and the ISS emphasized the study of socialism rather than the promotion of socialist views. But the issue of whether or not to support U.S. participation in World War I caused divisions in the ISS as did opinion about the 1917 Russian Revolution. In 1921, the organization changed its name to the League for Industrial Democracy and also changed its emphasis. At that point, it became the educational arm for the Socialist Party, sponsoring a speakers bureau and publishing pamphlets.
Although he worked on Norman Thomas' presidential campaigns in 1928 and 1932, Harry Laidler later founded (with other socialists) the American Labor Party (ALP). In 1939, Laidler ran successfully on the ALP ticket for a position on the New York City Council. In spite of working for such causes as low- income housing, elimination of racial discrimination and guaranteed collective bargaining, Laidler lost the backing of the Socialist Party, the leadership of the ALP or of the Communist Party. His views favoring aid to the Allies while refusing to support Stalin after the German invasion of the Soviet Union lost him the support of these groups. Hence, Laidler was defeated when he ran for City Council a second time. In 1944, he helped to found the Liberal Party, in opposition to the ALP.
Folders are arranged topically.
The files are grouped into 1 series:
- Container list
Scope and Content Note
About one-third of these overwhelmingly black and images are portraits of Harry Laidler, many of them publicity prints for his work as a speaker for the League for Industrial Democracy, and a photograph of a painted portrait of Laidler by Bruce Moore. The portraits span his lifetime, however, including a view of the nine-year-old Harry, and Laidler at his desk in his later years. Some family photographs are also a part of the collection. Pictured in these are Laidler's father, William Ebenezer Laidler; his stepmother, Margaret Laidler; his maternal uncle, John J. Heary; his paternal aunt, Mrs. Theodore Atworth (the former Mary Laidler); his wife, Agnes Laidler; and his son, John A. Laidler.
Two striking images are of gatherings of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society ca. 1912. The collection is strongest in material on the LID. Many photographs show Laidler and LID's leadership at its 50th Anniversary luncheon in 1955; included are Mark Starr, Nathaniel Minkoff and Norman Thomas. LID annual conventions are represented here as well, with photographs of awards being presented to such notables as Senator Wayne Morse, Ralph Bunche, Rebecca Simonson of the American Federation of Teachers and novelist Upton Sinclair. Also of interest is a snapshot of George Bernard Shaw taken by Laidler in 1929 at a conference of the British Labour Party. Group photographs throughout the collection also include: Helen Gahagan Douglas, Socialist Saskatchewan Premier T.C. Douglas, A.W. Hayes, Ernst Papaneck, William H. Kilpatrick, Herbert H. Lehman, Frank C. Graham, Luigi Antonini of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, Sidney Hook, Roger Baldwin, a young Arieh Neier, and officers of the organization, The Reunion of Old Timers.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in 1893-1968, are expected to enter the public domain in year.
Identification of item, date; Harry Laidler Photographs; PHOTOS 009; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Most likely donated by John Laidler (Harry Laidler's son) circa 1971. Photographs from this collection were separated from Laidlers papers and established as the Harry Laidler Photographs (PHOTOS 009). The accession number associated with this gift is 1971.007. Additional images separated from the Harry Laidler Papers were added to the collection in 2003. The accession number associated with these materials is NPA.2003.021.
Separated from the Harry Laidler Papers (Tamiment 47).