American Labor Conference on International Affairs Records
Language of Materials
The American Labor Conference on International Affairs (ALCIA) was organized in February 1943 by several labor leaders from the American Federation of Labor, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and the Railway Brotherhoods. The membership of ALCIA included American labor leaders, American and European scholars, and representatives of the European labor movement who lived in the United States. ALCIA studied political, economic, labor, and educational problems arising from World War II. It published reports, the quarterly "International Postwar Problems," the biweekly, "A.L.C. News Letter," and the monthly, "Modern Review." The ALCIA also participated in labor conferences. The records consist of correspondence, resolutions, constitutions and bylaws, reports, conference papers, press releases, speeches, minutes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, drafts of articles, and form letters. There is considerable information about American policy toward France and Charles DeGaulle, the postwar objectives of organized labor, the reconstruction of Germany, postwar European problems, and American policy toward Asia. Information about numerous conferences is included as well as drafts for articles, reports, and editorials. Note: Series 1-3 have been microfilmed (R-7124, reels 19-26) and patrons must use the microfilm copy of these series.
The American Labor Conference on International Affairs (ALCIA), a non socialist group, was organized in February 1943 by several labor leaders from the American Federation of Labor, the Congress of Industrial organizations, and the Railway Brotherhoods. The membership of ALCIA included not only American labor leaders but also American and European scholars and representatives of the European labor movement who were residing in the United States during World War II. Among the officers of ALCIA who were most prominent in labor and intellectual circles were William Green, David Dubinsky, Raphael Abramovitch, Clinton S. Golden, George M. Harrison, Louis Hollander, James T. Shotwell, Matthew Woll, Alfred Braunthal, and Albert Halasi.
The primary purpose of ALCIA was to engage in research on international economic and political problems for the benefit of the American labor movement. More specifically, ALCIA engaged in a systematic study of problems arising from the political, economic and social effects of World War II. Under the leadership of Varian Fry, ALCIA's executive secretary, the organization established four working commissions to research political, economic, labor, and educational questions. The commissions drafted reports and memoranda on such subjects as the White Plan for currency stabilization, disposal of government owned plants after World War II, the Baruch Report and economic welfare, 1945 tax reduction, postwar educational planning, the Bretton Woods Conference, and the Dunbarton Oaks proposals. These reports were then published by ALCIA as "Studies in Postwar Reconstruction" and "Occasional Papers". The commissions also provided information on labor and international affairs to a wider audience through a quarterly periodical entitled, International Postwar Problems, and a bi weekly news service entitled, The A. L. C. News Letter.
Besides its publications, ALCIA also submitted reports, memoranda, and statements on a variety of international issues to several labor conferences held during the mid 1940s. In May 1944, ALCIA representatives submitted amendments to the International Labor Organization's constitution at the annual ILO Conference in Philadelphia. During the summer of 1944, ALCIA sponsored a labor and politics forum at Pendle Hill, Pennsylvania. This two day conference featured discussions on the impact of the Dunbarton Oaks proposals, the relationship between labor and American foreign policy, and the status of international labor unity. Among the noted speakers at this special conference were Dr. Robert MacIver, Sir Norman Angell, Matthew Woll, Sen. Joseph H. Ball of Minnesota, Dr. James T. Shotwell, William Green, and Raphael Abramovitch. ALCIA also held several organizational conferences from 1943 to 1946.
In 1945 and 1946, David Dubinsky and other members of the Congress of Industrial organizations resigned from ALCIA because of a fundamental disagreement over the editorial policy of the organization. The CIO withdrawal caused the ALCIA leadership to change its policies concerning the gathering and distribution of information on American labor and international affairs. The result of this change was the publication of a monthly magazine entitled, Modern Review. In the first issue of Modern Review in March 1947, the editors stated that the journal signaled
"the first comprehensive effort of a significant section of organized labor in the U.S., and its liberal and democratic socialist allies here and abroad, to carry their views on world affairs to the public at large."
From this objective, the Modern Review staff sought to infuse "labor, liberal and progressive thought in America with the understanding of man's relationship to society that has emerged out of the sufferings abroad while projecting overseas such concepts as the rights and dignity of man."
Under the editorial supervision of Travers Clement and Lewis A. Coser, the staff of the Modern Review sought to achieve these goals by publishing articles from such noted writers as Hannah Arendt, Leon Blum, John Childs, Louis Fischer, Granville Hicks, Paul Keckskemeti, Solomon Schwarz, and Bertram D. Wolfe. The success of the Modern Review was short lived, however, as financial problems and ideological disputes among the editorial board members caused ALCIA to cease publication of the magazine in 1949. With the demise of the Modern Review, ALCIA terminated its operations in 1950.
Folders are generally arranged alphabetically.
Arranged in four series:
- I. Correspondence, 1941-1947
- II. Office files, 1940-1947
- III. Modern Review files, 1939-1950
- IV. Clippings on Labor Topics, 1944-1945 (not microfilmed).
- V. Fragile Originals
Scope and Content Note
The American Labor Conference on International Affairs Records, 1939 1950, is the second largest collection in the microfilm edition of the Socialist Collections in the Tamiment Library. The collection is organized into the following four series: (A) correspondence, 1941 1947, nd (103 subject files); (B) office files, 1940 1947, nd (102 subject files); (C) Modern Review files, 1939 1950, nd (96 subject files), and (d) Clippings on Labor Topics, 1944-1945 (not microfilmed). The types of material contained in this collection include correspondence, resolutions, constitutions and by laws, reports, conference papers, financial papers, press releases, speeches, minutes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, rough drafts of articles, and form letters.
Each of the microfilmed series (microfilm call number R-7124, reels 19-26) and the subject files therein have been assigned a frame number. Both the series and subject files have been cited in the complete reel list which follows this description of the arrangement of the collection. For a representative frame number (i.e., XI:A:2), the "A" indicates the first series, the "2" the second file therein, and the roman numeral "XI" indicates that the ALCIA Records are the eleventh collection within the published microfilm set Socialist Collections in the Tamiment Library, 1872-1956.
The correspondence series consists of 103 subject files which are arranged in alphabetical order according to the title of the file. The items within each subject file have been arranged in chronological order, with undated items placed at the end of the file. much of the correspondence in this series pertains to such routine organizational matters as responding to literature requests, scheduling meetings, sponsoring special conferences and conveying information about ALCIA activities, assisting other organizations in labor related issues, and handling financial information concerning ALCIA. In addition to these routine items, there is considerable information on American policy towards France and Charles De Gaulle after World War II, the postwar objectives of organized labor, the reconstruction of Germany, the stabilization of West European currencies, the security of Poland and the postwar intentions of the Soviet Union regarding Eastern Europe, European refugees, CIO resignations from ALCIA, the repeal of Chinese exclusion laws, the role of the United Nations in maintaining international peace, American policy towards Asia after World War II, and reform of the International Labor organization.
The principal correspondent in this series is Varian Fry, the executive secretary of ALCIA. Other prominent figures with considerable correspondence are Irving Abramson (XI:A:2), Bernard Baruch (XI:A:14), Adolph A. Berle, Jr. (XI:A:15), Bruce Bliven (XI:A:17), Ruth Fischer (XI:A:33), Clinton S. Golden (XI:A:39), B. F. Heine (XI:A:44), Dorothy Kenyon (XI:A:59), Oscar Lange (XI:A:61), Philip Murray (XI:A:64), Walter Reuther (XI:A:76), Hedwig Wachenheim (XI:A:91), Matthew Woll (XI:A:95), and Max Zaritsky (XI:A:102). There are also a few letters from Roger Baldwin, Pearl Buck, Max Eastman, William Green, Judith Lasky, A. J. Muste, Frances Perkins, Waverly Root, Frank Tannenbaum, Norman Thomas, Mark Van Doren, Robert Wagner, and Wendell Willkie. Some of the organizational files in this series pertain to the American Association for a Democratic Germany (XI:A:5), American Civil Liberties Union (XI:A:7), Citizens Committee to Repeal Chinese Exclusion (XI:A:26), Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society (XI:A:46), Institute of Pacific Relations (XI:A:49), International Rescue and Relief Committee (XI:A:55), Non Partisan League (XI:A:68), Union for Democratic Action (XI:A:85), and the Workers Defense League (XI:A:97).
The second series in this collection consists of 102 office files. These files are arranged in alphabetical order according to the title of the file or the document type. The only exception to this order are the three files at the end of the series which pertain to a meeting with Jan Stanczyk, the manuscripts for Free Labor, and the rough drafts for the international bulletin. The items within these files have been arranged in chronological order, with undated items placed at the end of the file.
One of the most interesting sections of this series is the ALCIA Conference papers (XI:B:14 XI:B:23). The ALCIA membership met occasionally in New York City to discuss various business matters concerning the organization. Most of the items in these files pertain to the first and second ALCIA Conferences which were held in June 1943 and December 1943 respectively. There are also materials in this series which relate to ALCIA Conferences held in December 1944 and January 1946 as well.
Two prominent sections in this series are the ALCIA Occasional Papers (XI:B:51 XI:B:55) and the papers drafted for research use by ALCIA officials (XI:B:57 XI:B:83). The Occasional Papers are divided into economic, educational, labor, monetary, and political series. The reports within these series have been arranged in chronological order and have been cited in the complete reel list. Some of the items contained in these files include Albert Halasi's essays on the Baruch Report, the White Plan for Currency Stabilization, the United Nations Bank, and the Bretton Woods agreements; George Denicke's articles on the Moscow Conference of 1943 and the Dunbarton Oaks proposals; and Solomon Schwarz's report on International Labor organization reforms. The research papers in this series ate arranged in alphabetical order according to the author's last name. These reports, like the Occasional Papers, contain some of the most analytical and informative insights into a variety of issues affecting the relationship between organized labor and international affairs. Some of the items contained in these files include Jules Dekock's report on Belgian trade unions, Herbert Elvin's report on the 1945 tax reduction proposal, Albert Halasi's numerous writings on postwar economics, Abba Lerner's report on the disposal of government owned plants, Paul Vignaux's article on the French trade union movement, and Hedwig Wachenheim's study on the revival of the German labor movement after World War II.
Other items of importance in this series include the Pendle Hill Conference papers; the Princeton Conference on Full Employment papers; ALCIA by laws and a statement describing its first year's accomplishments; ALCIA financial papers; two pamphlets on the International Labor Organization and the Bretton Woods Conference; ALCIA correspondence and reports concerning its labor, political, and educational commissions; and ALCIA papers concerning its relationship with the Liberal Party of New York. These files, as well as the contents in certain files, have been cited in the complete reel list for this collection.
The third series in the ALCIA Records consists of 96 subject files pertaining to the Modern Review. This series contains correspondence and drafts of articles which were published in the Modern Review. The correspondence~ files (XI:C:1 XI:C:23) are arranged in alphabetical order according to the author of the letter or the name of the organization for which the letter was written. In some instances, letters are arranged according to the recipient of the letter, if such a letter was written by a Modern Review staff member. Items within the correspondence files are arranged in chronological order, with undated items placed at the end of the file.
Virtually all of the correspondence pertains to such routine business matters as processing subscriptions, assigning manuscript deadlines, handling special literature inquiries, requesting manuscripts from noted writers, and receiving financial contributions. Among the prominent correspondents in these files are Hannah Arendt, Raphael Abramovitch, Alfred Braunthal, Travers Clement, Bruno Bettelheim, Reinhard Bendix, Roger Baldwin, Lewis A. Coser, David Dubinsky, Max Danish, Varian Fry, James T. Farrell, Paul Keckskemeti, Paul Kohn, Alfred Baker Lewis, Broadus Mitchell, James Rorty, George Saxon, Norman Thomas, Matthew Woll, and Milton Zatinsky.
Another important correspondence file in this series pertains to Daniel Bell and his work as editor of the modern Review in 1949 (XI:C:22). The letters in this file focus on Bell's efforts to change the Modern Review into a magazine of theory and ideas with no stated commitment to any specific political orientation. During the course of his involvement with Modern Review, Bell received letters from Hannah Arendt, Reinhard Bendix, Bruno Bettelheim, Morton White, Richard Hofstadter, Seymour Martin Lipset, Irving Howe, Bert Hoslitz, and Granville Hicks.
The second part of the Modern Review series contains numerous drafts of articles, reports, and editorials. These items are arranged in alphabetical order according to the author's last name. In some instances, more than one item has been filed under the name of a particular author. These items are arranged in alphabetical order according to the title of the item. There are also editorials (XI:C:45) and international press clippings (XI:C:59) in this part of the Modern Review series. Items within these files have also been arranged in alphabetical order according to the title of the article.
The drafts of articles, reports, and editorials contain valuable information on such issues as totalitarianism, military dictatorships in Latin America, the future of socialism, full employment policy, postwar German society, contemporary American liberalism, French and Italian socialism, the Yalta Conference, postwar European reconstruction, state capitalism, existentialism, the role of the artist in America, the question of postwar German guilt, and trade unions in postwar Soviet Union. Some of the prominent writers include Hannah Arendt, Leon Blum, John L. Childs, George Denicke, Ben Halpern, Granville Hicks, Paul Keckskemeti, Solomon Schwarz, and Bertram D. Wolfe.
Among the items which were not filmed in this collection were copyright correspondence, subscription lists, a speaker's manual (the folders not filmed from series I - III are indicated in the container list), as well as the entirety of Series IV. Clippings on Labor Topics, 1944-1945 (one box - see container list).
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by the American Labor Conference on International Affairs, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
Identification of item, date; American Labor Conference on International Affairs Records; TAM 038; box number; folder number or item identifier; Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Provenance unknown, but we have reason to believe the collection was donated by The New Leader in 1966. The accession number associated with this collection is 1966.002.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Due to the fragile nature of the original materials, researchers must use the microfilmed version; microfilm call number is Film R-7124, Reel 19-26. Portions of this collection are not on microfilm: Box 2, Folder 12; Box 12, Folder 14; Box 14, Folders 5-6; Box 15, Folder 12; Box 16, Folders 1-3; Box 22, Folder 10; Box 25.
About this Guide
Decisions regarding arrangement, description, and physical interventions for this collection prior to 2019 are unknown. In August 2019, materials were rehoused in archival boxes where necessary and relabeled in preparation for offsite storage.