Filling up six miles of shelving, the George Meany Memorial AFL-CIO Archive is the largest single donation to the university libraries ever, said Lauren Brown, manager of special collections. It is valued at $25 million and contains more than 40 million artifacts and documents ranging from campaign buttons and photographs to books and even a pair of old work boots.
The archive was curated and collected by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, an umbrella organization for 57 U.S. labor unions that represent more than 12 million workers. It joins several other university-housed collections of labor history, making this university among the largest union research sites on the East Coast, said Patricia Steele, dean of the university libraries.
The archive’s contents date back to the 19th century, offering researchers a long chronological span of documented events and issues in American workforce history, [Lauren] Brown [manager of special collections] said. Some groups, such as the history department, have sent students to the library for research projects and are planning to study the collection in future courses.
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