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United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs

Call Number

PHOTOS.023.001

Date

1940-1992, inclusive

Creator

United Automobile, Aircraft, and Vehicle Workers of America. District 65 (Role: Donor)

Extent

27 Linear Feet in 8 manuscript boxes, 2 photograph boxes, 22 record cartons, and 2 folders in oversize shared boxes and in 2 folders in flatfile cases.

Language of Materials

Materials are in English

Abstract

District Council 65, United Automobile Workers (UAW) was organized in 1933 by a group of Jewish workers employed in dry goods warehouses on New York's Lower East Side. In 1935 it became a local of the Wholesale Dry Goods Employees Union; subsequently, it affiliated with the Distributive Trades Council of New York and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); it joined with the UAW in 1979. The union went out of existence in 1994, when bankruptcy forced it to close. This Collection consists of photographs spanning the late 1930s through the early 1990s, with the bulk from the 1940s, 1950s and 1980s. Besides documenting the life and times of the union itself, these images provide especially strong documentation for left and liberal causes of the 1940s-1960s, including civil rights, rank and file participation in union activities, and working class leisure and recreational activities. This images in this collection were shot by District 65's own Camera Club, which functioned as staff photographers for the union's biweekly newspaper, the Distributive Worker.

Historical/Biographical Note

District Council 65, United Automobile Workers (UAW) was organized in 1933 by a group of Jewish workers employed in dry goods warehouses on New York's Lower East Side. In 1935 it became a local of the Wholesale Dry Goods Employees Union; subsequently, it affiliated with the Distributive Trades Council of New York and the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); it joined with the UAW in 1979. The union went out of existence in 1994, when bankruptcy forced it to close.

Between 1937 and 1942, District 65 was at the center of a group of left-wing locals in New York City that organized large numbers of warehouse and retail workers; it later expanded its organizing to include white-collar workers in publishing and universities. Politically and socially active in areas beyond its own immediate concerns, District 65 was an early participant in the civil rights movement, as well as one of the first labor unions to publicly oppose the war in Vietnam. It took a progressive stance within its own organization also, with rank and file members playing an active role in their union.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into four series, one of which is arranged into subseries:

Series I: Distributive Worker, 1964-1990

Subseries I:A: Internal District 65

Subseries I:B: Worksites

Subseries I:C: Historical Prints

Subseries I:D: Domestic Issues

Subseries I:E: International Issues

Subseries I:F: Negatives

Subseries I:G: Contact Sheets

Series II: Contact Prints, 1940-1964

Series III: District 65 Divisions, undated

Series IV: Unprocessed Materials, undated

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of approximately 34,000 primarily black and white photographs spanning the late 1930s through the early 1990s, with the bulk from the 1940s, 1950s and 1980s. Besides documenting the life and times of the union itself, these images provide especially strong documentation for left and liberal causes of the 1940s-1960s, including civil rights, rank and file participation in union activities, and working class leisure and recreational activities. What particularly distinguishes these photographs from most collections of labor union images—which are largely limited to formal shots of the leadership and its activities—is that the Collection documents the everyday organizational life of District 65 and that of its diverse membership (including men and women of Jewish, African-American, Irish and Hispanic descent), as well as its leaders. Still more unusual, and probably unique among photographs shot for labor unions, the images in Series I – Subseries C (Historical Prints), Series II (Contact Prints), as well as some in Series III, were shot by District 65's own Camera Club, which functioned as staff photographers for the union's biweekly newspaper (known variously as New Voices, Union Voice, RWDSU Record, and The 65er). Because these volunteer photographers were themselves members of District 65, shooting from the inside of the organization, they were able to capture more relaxed, intimate views of fellow members than the images shot by the commercial contract photographers usually engaged by other unions.

In the process of recording the organizational occupational, recreational, and political activities, and (occasionally) the home lives of its members and leaders, the Camera Club's images also captured a wealth of valuable historical and social information. Warehouses, offices, factories; the storefronts, facades, and interiors of dozens of department stores (the union's members worked in dozens of now-vanished department stores that were then ubiquitous in cities large and small throughout of the U.S.), marquees and interiors of hotels, auditoria, nightclubs, and other public spaces; young working people at parties and dances and engaged in amateur team sports, retired workers, workers' homes and workplaces, streetscapes of New York City, and unguarded social interactions of working people are only some of the examples of the types of visual data that can be discerned from these images. In many cases the "unintentional" documentation that is contained in these images may as valuable as the documentation they hold of the events they were meant to record. The remainder of the images in the collection, more typically, were shot by various commercial photographers.

The first series of this collection is comprised of the photo morgue of The Distributive Worker (the union's newspaper from 1969-1994), the second series includes contact prints of some of the negatives contained in the collection United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Negatives (PHOTOS 023), and the third series includes photographs documenting the union's different divisions, which were organized by industry.

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by the United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 were transferred to New York University in 1996 by the UAW, District 65. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Archives. Please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu, (212) 998-2630.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs, PHOTOS 023.001; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, District 65 sent a gift of their records in 1979. Photographic prints from this donation were separated into their own collection, the United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs (PHOTOS 023.001). The accession numbers associated with these materials 1979.014. Six donations of photographs from the Distributive Worker made by UAW, District 65 were added to the collection between 1992 to 1994. The accession numbers associated with these donations are NPA.1992.007, NPA.1992.008, NPA.1993.001, NPA.1993.008, NPA.1994.008. 1994.016. Additional photographs have been added to this collection through a subsequent series of donations. The accession numbers associated with these materials are NPA.1999.035, NPA.2001.035, NPA.2002.026, NPA.2004.041, NPA.2004.071, and NPA.2006.093.

Related Archival Materials

United Automobile, Aircraft, and Vehicle Workers of America, District 65 Records (WAG 006)

United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Oral History Collection (OH 019)

United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Printed Ephemera Collection (PE 016)

United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Negatives and Interpositives (PHOTOS 023)

Roger Keeran Photographs (PHOTOS 187)

Ed Roth Photographs Collection (PHOTOS 160)

Collection processed by

Tamiment Staff

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 16:36:53 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid is written in English

Processing Information

In 1992-1993, photographs were placed into acid-free folders, which were labeled and arranged into a series and subseries order. This finding aid reflects box and folder level inventories created at that time.

Repository

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012