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AFL-CIO Region 8 records

 Collection
Identifier: L1974-15

Scope and Content of the Records

The Records, 1933-1969, parallel the long and distinguished career in the labor movement of Paul R. Christopher, who first went to work as a silk weaver in South Carolina in 1925 at age 14. In 1935 he was elected president of the United Textile Workers in North Carolina and a vice-president of the North Carolina Federation of Labor. Christopher allied himself with the fledgling Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC) in 1937, and when TWOC became the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) within the CIO, he was named TWUA state director in South Carolina. He moved to Tennessee in 1940 as the state CIO director, was named director of the CIO's Fourth Region in 1953; and when the AFL and CIO merged in December 1955, was named Director of the new AFL-CIO Region 8 headquartered in Knoxville and encompassing the states of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Correspondence and related material make up a large portion of the Region 8 records. Of particular importance is Christopher's correspondence with international unions; labor related organizations; companies; people associated with the labor movement; government agencies; local, state, and national labor organizations; labor related conferences; and individuals concerned with organized labor's political activities. Christopher also corresponded with various CIO departments, especially the CIO Political Action Committee; and as an adjunct to his interest in organized labor's political role, he corresponded regularly with Congressmen, Senators, and other governmental officials.

Christopher's work led him to be concerned with a variety of subjects important to union members. Some of the most prominent were: adult education, aid to Israel, anti-war associations, arbitration, civil rights, employment security, farm labor, foreign affairs, guaranteed annual wage, human welfare, industrial research, labor and religion, labor education, legislation, Medicare, minimum wage, political elections, political parties, poll tax, race relations, right-to-work laws, sales tax, school integration, segregation, senior citizens, Social Security, the soldier vote, Tennessee industry, Tennessee labor market, United Nations, voter registration, wage rates, welfare and pension plans, and workmen's compensation.

The periods of Paul R. Christopher's career as a union organizer and leader correspond to the series titles of this collection.

Christopher's correspondence was voluminous and detailed to mirror his far-reaching and varied activities. When feasible, within this inventory, folders are described to clearly identify union bodies and organizations associated with their contents. Any folders designated "miscellaneous correspondence" usually involve Christopher's personal activities. Also included in the collection's holdings are wax phonodiscs, one sound film, 47 photographic prints, and printed material such as newspapers and other periodicals, union proceedings, collective bargaining contracts, and pamphlets.

Dates

  • 1933-1969

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.
Oversized materials stored off-site. Contact archivist in advance to view these materials; 24-hour notice is required.

Biography of Paul R. Christopher

Paul Christopher was born February 14, 1910 in the Alice Mill Village in Easley, Pickens County, South Carolina. His father, Clarence Erasker Christopher, was a loom fixer and his mother Mary Jane (Hemphill) Christopher also worked in the Alice Mill. Young Christopher moved with his family to Greenville, South Carolina, was enrolled in a company grammar school (Poe Mill), and later attended Greenville's Parker District High School. At age fourteen, Christopher began work in the F.W. Poe Manufacturing Company, remaining in the mills (by his own account, at least six "cotton and rayon weaving mills" [letter from subject to George Mitchell, Executive Director, Southern Regional Council, Inc., 11/23/55, Southern Labor Archives, W.R. Pullen Library, Georgia State University]) until 1933, except for a period from 1930 to 1932 when he attended Clemson Agricultural College (now University), studying textile engineering. Shortly after leaving Clemson, Christopher met and married Mary Elizabeth Lybrand on August 13, 1932.

Upon returning to the cotton mills as a weaver, Christopher joined the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA) and quickly rose from within the ranks to the presidency of his local. In 1933 he secured employment as a full-time organizer and technical advisor for the UTWA, a post which he held until April, 1937. During these years, Christopher participated in a host of organizing campaigns, boycotts, and strikes, including the 1934 General Textile Strike. In recognition of his organizing abilities and leadership qualities, the North Carolina Federation of Textile Workers elected him president in 1934.

When the Congress of Industrial Organizations left the American Federation of Labor and began massive organizing drives among America's industrial workers, Christopher lent his support as an organizer and technical advisor to the Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC), chartered in 1937. After a two year organizing campaign, stymied by the "Roosevelt Recession," the TWOC was re-chartered as the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), and Christopher was elected a national vice-president, a position he held until 1941, while serving concurrently as TWUA South Carolina State Director.

In September 1940, Christopher moved to Tennessee with his wife and two daughters, Sara Jane and Patricia Ellen, there becoming executive secretary-treasurer of the CIO-affiliated Tennessee Industrial Union Council. Christopher was made CIO Tennessee State Director in 1942, a post he retained until being appointed CIO Region 4 (Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia) Director in 1953. Throughout the 1940s, Christopher held many concurrent administrative positions within the state and regional CIO, including Acting Southeastern Director for the CIO -Political Action Committee (1944 - 1946) and Tennessee State Southern Organizing Committee State Director during the Southern Organizing Drive, popularly known as "Operation Dixie." Following the merger of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1955, Christopher was appointed Director of AFL-CIO Region 8 (Tennessee and Kentucky) and remained in that post until his death in early 1974.

In addition to his career as a trade unionist, Christopher served in numerous social welfare agencies, educational organizations, and conferences and conventions covering a wide range of subjects. During World War II Christopher became associated with the following government agencies: Advisory Commission, Training-Within-Industry Division; War Manpower Commission, Region IX; Board of Directors, Tennessee War Fund; Tennessee War Services Council; Advisory Commission, Tennessee State Planning Commission; Knoxville (Tennessee) Area War Manpower Commission Labor Management Commission; National War Labor Board, Fourth (Southeast) Region; and Office of Price Administration Labor Advisory Committee.

Interested in labor education, Christopher was a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Summer School for Workers and the Executive Council of the Highlander Folk School. Community work evidenced itself in his membership on the Board of Directors, Knox County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Knoxville Community Chest, and he held membership in a number of civil rights organizations, including the Southern Conference for Human Welfare and the Southern Regional Council. A Democratic Party member and Unitarian, Christopher also held membership in fraternal organizations such as the Elks, Moose, and Young Men's Christian Association. While serving in many capacities in governmental, educational, community, and church organizations not directly connected with his work as a trade union leader, Christopher, revealed in his papers, pursued avocations as a stamp collector, ham radio operator, pilot, and "weekend" farmer.

Extent

61 Linear Feet (in 144 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract:

AFL-CIO Region 8 records are organized into five series: (I) United Textile Workers of America, 1934-1937; (II) Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC)/Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), 1937-1940; (III) Tennessee State Industrial Union Council (TSIUC-CIO), 1940-1953; (IV) Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Region 4 (Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina), 1953-1955; and (V) AFL-CIO Region 8, 1955-1969. The periods of Paul R. Christopher's career as a union organizer and leader correspond to the series titles of this collection.

Offsite Storage

The newspaper clippings may be stored offsite. Contact archivist in advance to view these materials; 24-hour notice is required.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Paul R. Christopher, March 14, 1974.

Online Availability

The photographs in this collection may have been digitized and are available online at Georgia State University Library Digital Collections.

Separated Materials

During processing, materials were separated to other Southern Labor Archives Printed Collections. For pamphlets, see the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection finding aid (note that this collection has been weeded over time). For periodicals, see the Southern Labor Archives periodicals collection finding aid or catalog. For constitutions, contracts, proceedings, and audiovisual materials, consult archivist.

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Constitutions Collection

  1. Constitutions Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), 1950; 1951; 1952
  2. Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA), 1940
  3. Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), 1939; 1946; 1948

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Contracts Collection

  1. Textile Workers Union of America, Local 513 (Knoxville, TN), 1943; 1945; 1946; 1947; 1948

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Pamphlets Collection

  1. Twenty-nine pamphlets added to the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection in the following subject areas: CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations), Civil Rights, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, Highlander Center, Labor History, Phillip Murray, Poll Tax, Southern Summer School for Workers, Textile Industry, Textile Workers, Workers Defense League, Tennessee Valley Authority, Automation, Labor and Religion, Labor-Management Relations Act

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection

  1. FTA Washington Newsletter, Food, Tobacco, Agricultural, and Allied Workers Union of America, CIO, June 1945-March 1948
  2. Georgia Council Spotlight, Georgia State Industrial Union Council, CIO, December 1953-March 1955
  3. North Carolina CIO News, North Carolina Industrial Union Council, CIO, November/December 1952-April 1953
  4. Southern Newsletter, Louisville, KY: Eugene Feldman, Editor, 1957-1958
  5. C.I.O. Labor Journal, Tennessee State Industrial Union Council, May 1951-November 1956
  6. C.I.O. News -- Southern Edition, C.I.O. Organizing Committee, October 1951
  7. Durham's Labor Review, Durham, North Carolina Central Labor Union, 1935
  8. East Tennessee Labor News, September 1948; January 1956; August 1963
  9. FTA News, Food, Tobacco, Agricultural, and Allied Workers Union of America, October 1946
  10. Hosiery Worker, American Federation of Hosiery Workers, July-December 1939
  11. Industrial Leader, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, September-December 1939
  12. North Carolina Labor, North Carolina State Federation of Labor, 1929
  13. Textile Labor, Textile Workers Union of America, July 1939; October 1951

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Proceedings Collection

  1. Congress of Industrial Organizations (C.I.O.), 1940; 1941; 1942; 1944; 1946; 1950; 1951; 1952; 1953; 1955
  2. United Furniture Workers of America (UFWA), 1941; 1943
  3. American Federation of Hosiery Workers (AFHW), 1938
  4. United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), District 50, 1940
  5. Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), 1939; 1941; 1943
  6. International Woodworkers of America (IWA) 1947; 1949; 1952; 1953; 1955; 1961; 1963; 1965; 1967
  7. Kentucky State Industrial Council, 1941
  8. Kentucky State C.I.O., 1955
  9. Kentucky State Federation of Labor, 1956
  10. Kentucky State AFL-CIO, 1963
  11. Maryland and District of Columbia Industrial Union Council, 1941
  12. North Carolina State AFL-CIO, 1966
  13. Tennessee State Labor Council, 1957

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Audiovisual Collection

  1. Seventeen (17) wax phonodiscs undated Bill Strength CIO Program, 1950
  2. CIO Interview Series [with] George Baldanzi interviewing John Riffe; Emil Rieve; Joe Beirne; Joe Curran; Gladys Dickerson (ACWA); Allan Haywood; Jacob Potofsky; and William Pollock
  3. CIO Series No. 3, "Songs from the Old Hymnal"
  4. L.C. Patterson -- The CIO Textile Union Up and Atom -- The Almanac of Freedom (PAC)
  5. CIO Enka Strike, 1950
  6. Wages and the National Economy -- Unemployment Compensation -- Mr. Fraud -- The Right to Wreck Man
  7. Joe Glazer and the PAC Bucks
  8. Images of History -- 20 Years of the CIO
  9. Working on the Railroads (3 discs)
  10. AFL and CIO Labor Rally
  11. CIO Political Action Committee (2 discs)
  12. Vestal Lumber Company election -- Pete Seeger S. Harman, President, Jervis Corporation
  13. "The Record of the 83rd Congress on Taxes," [by] Senator Russell B. Long (Democrat, Louisiana), (one (1) film) 1965

Processing Information

Processed by Robert Dinwiddie at the file level, May 14, 1989.
Title
AFL-CIO Region 8 [L1974-15]:
Subtitle
A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University
Status
Completed
Author
Georgia State University Library
Date
May 2001
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • May 2001: EAD finding aid created by Apex Data Services.
  • 2003: EAD revised by Morna Gerrard.
  • 2007: EAD revised by William Hardesty

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2880
404-413-2881 (Fax)