John G. Ramsay papers
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.
- Ramsay, John, 1902-1991 (Person)
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for research use.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.
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.
15 Linear Feet (in 36 boxes)
Language of Materials
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.
The papers are arranged into six series:
- Series I: Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), 1939-1955
- Series II: American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), 1955-1967, 1979
- Series III: International Unions, 1937-1969, 1977
- Series IV: United Steel Workers of America; CIO: and AFL-CIO: Community Relations Departments, 1936-1964, 1974
- Series V: National Religion and Labor Council of America, 1942-1971, 1978
- Series VI: Personal Files, 1928-1979
Donated by John Ramsay, February 26, 1980 and March 31, 1980.
The photographs in this collection may have been digitized and are available online at Georgia State University Library Digital Collections.
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
- Newspaper and magazine articles Concerning Labor and Church issues, posters and bulletins (accession L1980-05).
Separated to Southern Labor Archives Photographs Collection
- 72 photographs, 22 negatives
Separated to Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection
- 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
- AFL-CIO Free Trade Union News, August 1977
- AFL-CIO Memo-Labor Law Reform, July 1977
- AIFLD Report (American Institute for Free Labor Development), October-November 1974
- Free Labor World, April 1966
- Headlines, March 1951
- Industrial and Labor Relations Review, January 1958
- IUD Bulletin, May 1957
- IUD Fact Sheet, October 1960
- Labor Letter, 1948, 1951-1952
- Labor's Economic Review, 1956, 1960
- Local 796 IUE-CIO News, January 27, 1955
- National Farmer' Union Washington Newsletter, August 16, 1957
- News Flash, 1959, 1962
- Official News, December 1927
- Ohio CIO Council News Letter, June 21, 1946
- The Propaganda Battlefront, May 15, 1945
- Religion and Labor, 1944-1964
- Religion-Labor in Action, 1955
- Rome (Ga.) GE IUE-CIO News, 1954
- The Senior Steelworker, November 1959
- The Southern Patriot, February 1951
- South Carolina Democratic Digest, May 1950
- The State Observer (Texas), 1954
- Virginia Human Relations News Letter, June 1956
- The Aircrafter, July 10, 1952
- AFL-CIO News, 1976-1977
- The CIO Atomic Worker, August 19, 1946
- Bethlehem Booster, August 20, 1941
- The Cincinnati Sun, August 26, 1949
- CIO News, October 17, 1949
- IUE-CIO News, August 2, 1954
- Militant Truth, 1945; 1950
- Steel Labor, 1941, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1977
Separated to Southern Labor Archives Proceedings Collection
- United Steel Workers of America, District 35, 1959-1960
Separated to Southern Labor Archives Artifacts Collection
- Bronze honorary membership plate given to Ramsay by USWA Local 2600, 1964
Inventoried by Alice Gernazian at the file level, June 17, 1983.
- Abel, I. W. (Iorwith Wilbur), 1908-1987
- Bader, Jesse M. (Jesse Moren)
- Church work with the working class
- Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.)
- Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.). Community Relations Department
- Cook, Clair Marvin
- Dodge, David Witherspoon
- Hall, Cameron P.
- Iron and steel workers
- Iron and steel workers -- Labor unions
- Labor -- Religious aspects -- Christianity
- Labor leaders
- Labor unions -- Organizing
- Liphaus, Willard E. (Willard Edwin)
- Mason, Lucy Randolph, 1882-1959
- McDonald, David J. (David John), 1902-1979
- Murray, Philip, 1886-1952
- National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America
- Riffe, John, 1904-1958
- Southern States
- United Presbyterian Church of North America
- United Steelworkers of America
- Ramsay, John, 1902-1991 (Person)
- John G. Ramsay:
- A Guide to His Papers at Georgia State University Library
- Georgia State University Library
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Special Collections Repository
100 Decatur St., S.E.
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