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John G. Ramsay papers

 Collection
Identifier: L1980-05

Scope and Content of the Papers

The papers, 1928-1979, of John Gates Ramsay include labor-related and personal files. The Papers are composed of six series of files: Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), 1939-1955; American Federation of Labor-CIO (AFL-CIO), 1955-1967, 1979; Community Relations Departments, CIO, AFL CIO, and United Steelworkers of America (USWA), 1936-1964, 1974; various international unions, 1937-1969, 1977; the National Religion and Labor Council of America (NRLCA), 1942-1971, 1978; and personal papers, 1928-1979. Each series is predominantly correspondence, with related newspaper clippings, programs, leaflets, reports, minutes, or financial documents attached. The Community Relations Departments series also contains a large sub-series identified by subject.

The bulk of the Papers concern Ramsay's community relations work for the CIO during its "Operation Dixie" organizing campaign in the South from 1946 to 1953. Ramsay's unique emphasis was to develop contacts with religious leaders and groups that might be useful in the labor organizing drives. His usual technique was to establish "Religion and Labor Fellowship" groups in localities where labor organizing efforts were being mounted. Lucy Randolph Mason, who was on the CIO staff as a Public Relations Representative in the South, assisted Ramsay in establishing many of these discussion groups. Prominent among Ramsay's correspondents are CIO President Philip Murray and other top CIO officers, notably John Riffe; USWA presidents Philip Murray, David McDonald, and I.W. Abel; Lucy R. Mason; Witherspoon Dodge, Clair Cook, and Willard Uphaus of the National religion and Labor Council of America, and Jesse Beder, Cameron Hall, and others of the National Council of Churches. the Community relations series contains extensive correspondence arranged chronologically and by state (thirty-four states are represented).

The Papers also reflect Ramsay's long and deep involvement with religious groups other than those with which he was related through his work. Most notably he functioned in many committees of the National Council of Churches and in several bodies of the United Presbyterian Church, including the Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations (CEMR), Presbyterian Men, and the Laymen's Movement. In conjunction with the CEMR, Ramsay in 1965 organized a program known as "Vacation With A Purpose," which recruited senior members of the USWA to use their long sabbaticals to visit industrial plants in Mexico and speak with religious leaders and laymen about the welfare of industrial workers in that country. Also in 1965, Ramsay spent three months in South Korea setting up the structure for grass roots "Committees for Industrial Evangelism." Another strong interest of Ramsay's that is reflected in the Papers is "Moral Re-Armament," an evangelistic movement that grew out of the "Oxford Group" in England in the mid-1930's. Moral Re-armament referred to the belief that an economic recovery in the Western democracies and the achievement of world peace would have to be preceded by a moral and spiritual awakening.

The Papers are completed by extensive series of photographs, periodicals, and pamphlets.

Dates

  • 1928-1979

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.

Biography of John G. Ramsay

John Gates Ramsay was born in Howe, Oklahoma, in 1902. His family moved first to Tennessee, then to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, during World War I. Ramsay worked for seventeen years in a steel plant in Bethlehem, and served as a vice president of a local union of the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers. In 1936 he joined the new Steel Workers Organizing Committee of the CIO and soon became president of Local 1409 of the United Steel Workers of America.

In 1940 Ramsay joined the organizing staff of the USWA. In 1942 he became an assistant to John Riffe in a USWA organizing drive in Columbus, Ohio. Shortly later, USWA President Philip Murray asked Ramsay to devote full time to community relations activities, particularly to the creation of a better understanding between organized labor and organized religion. The need for this effort had become apparent to the USWA leadership in 1943 during an organizing drive in Buffalo, New York, when many clergymen of the city openly opposed the unionization campaign after having been entertained by officers of the National Association of Manufacturers. It was with this mandate that Ramsay served in the CIO's organizing drive in the South from 1946-1953. When the drive ended in 1953, USWA President McDonald appointed Ramsay to continue this work in the national CIO office in Washington. When the CIO merged with the AFL in December, 1955, Ramsay moved to the Washington office of the Steelworkers, where he remained until his retirement in 1964.

Extent

15 Linear Feet (in 36 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract:

John Gates Ramsay, born 1902, was a steelworker early in his career, serving as a vice-president and president of local unions. He joined the new Steel Workers Organizing Committee of the CIO in 1936. From 1940 he was a member of the organizing staff of the USWA, serving in their Southern organizing drive in 1946-1953. He then worked in the national CIO office in Washington. Ramsay's unique emphasis was to develop contacts with religious leaders and groups that might be useful in the labor organizing drives. With the CIO's merger with the AFL in 1955, Ramsay moved to the Washington office of the Steelworkers, retiring in 1964. The John G. Ramsay papers, 1928-1979, include labor-related and personal files. The bulk of the Papers concern Ramsay's community relations work for the CIO during its "Operation Dixie" organizing campaign in the South from 1946 to 1953.

Acquisition Information

Donated by John Ramsay, February 26, 1980 and March 31, 1980.

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, oversize records, photographs, artifacts, and printed material were separated to other Southern Labor Archives collections. For photographs, see the Southern Labor Archives Photographs Collection finding aid. 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 oversize, proceedings, and artifacts, consult Special Collections for access.

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Oversize Location

  1. Newspaper and magazine articles Concerning Labor and Church issues, posters and bulletins (accession L1980-05).

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Photographs Collection

  1. 72 photographs, 22 negatives

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection

  1. 406 Pamphlets concerning capitalism; civil rights; communism, cooperatives; employment; labor-management relations; labor principles; Moral Re-Armament; Oak Ridge, religion; religion and labor; right-to-work laws; right wing groups; U.S. industrial policy; the steel industry; the United Steel Workers of America; teenage workers; and women in labor unions.

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection

  1. AFL-CIO Free Trade Union News, August 1977
  2. AFL-CIO Memo-Labor Law Reform, July 1977
  3. AIFLD Report (American Institute for Free Labor Development), October-November 1974
  4. Free Labor World, April 1966
  5. Headlines, March 1951
  6. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, January 1958
  7. IUD Bulletin, May 1957
  8. IUD Fact Sheet, October 1960
  9. Labor Letter, 1948; 1951-1952
  10. Labor's Economic Review, 1956; 1960
  11. Local 796 IUE-CIO News, January 27, 1955
  12. National Farmer' Union Washington Newsletter, August 16, 1957
  13. News Flash, 1959; 1962
  14. Official News, December 1927
  15. Ohio CIO Council News Letter, June 21, 1946
  16. The Propaganda Battlefront, May 15, 1945
  17. Religion and Labor, 1944-1964
  18. Religion-Labor in Action, 1955
  19. Rome (Ga.) GE IUE-CIO News, 1954
  20. The Senior Steelworker, November 1959
  21. The Southern Patriot, February 1951
  22. South Carolina Democratic Digest, May 1950
  23. The State Observer (Texas), 1954
  24. Virginia Human Relations News Letter, June 1956
  25. The Aircrafter, July 10, 1952
  26. AFL-CIO News, 1976-1977
  27. The CIO Atomic Worker, August 19, 1946
  28. Bethlehem Booster, August 20, 1941
  29. The Cincinnati Sun, August 26, 1949
  30. CIO News, October 17, 1949
  31. IUE-CIO News, August 2, 1954
  32. Militant Truth, 1945; 1950
  33. Steel Labor, 1941; 1946; 1953; 1957; 1960; 1977

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Proceedings Collection

  1. United Steel Workers of America, District 35, 1959-1960

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Artifacts Collection

  1. Bronze honorary membership plate given to Ramsay by USWA Local 2600, 1964

Processing Information

Inventoried by Alice Gernazian at the file level, June 17, 1983.
Title
John G. Ramsay:
Subtitle
A Guide to His Papers at Georgia State University Library
Status
Completed
Author
Georgia State University Library
Date
1983
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • June 2001: EAD finding aid created by Apex Data Services.
  • 2005, 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)