HAPPY BELATED LABOR DAY!
As my family and friends well know, I have earned a reputation over the years for being notoriously tardy in sending off birthday and anniversary greetings. Today, as I continued to unpack boxes and catalog some rare books that arrived as part of a donation by Chris DeNoon in September, I was inspired to use this post to commemorate Labor Day—yes, I’m well aware that I’m more than one month late!
Although The Christopher DeNoon Collection for the Study of New Deal Culture is primarily focused on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s federal projects and programs, it also includes books that document the concurrent rise and influence of labor unions in the 1930s triggered by the economic deprivation of the Great Depression and the election of a president less hostile towards the concept of collective bargaining. Naturally, these developments were not looked on favorably by wealthy industrialists and large corporate employers, and some of the books donated by Mr. DeNoon comment on the ruthless tactics employed against union labor leaders and striking workers by hired spies, “scabs” and strikebreakers.
Other of the books included in the donation focused on the labor leaders themselves, using their biographical sketches to provide an inside story of the history of the labor movement.
JOHN L. LEWIS & HARRY BRIDGES
The newly emergent unions flexed their muscles throughout the thirties, and the collection contains a number of books documenting the resultant lockouts and strikes as management and labor squared off.
Mr. DeNoon’s gift also included a book of satirical editorial cartoons originally published in the Daily Worker. The cartoons were designed to foster cynicism and contempt among working class people for members of an apathetic and insensitive “ruling clawss.”
Other books of a more serious nature were written with the aim of exposing the attempted “frame up” of labor leaders. Newspaper reporter Estolv Ward, for example, chose to dramatize the trial in which the union leader of West Coast longshoremen, Harry Bridges. With the aid of felons and labor spies, perjured testimony, blackmail, and influence peddling, Bridges’ industrial giant enemies had been able to engineer his arrest and criminal prosecution as a member of a “revolutionary” organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. After a six month study of the facts of the case, however, the judge acquitted Bridges of the charges of treason and ended the deportation proceedings.
Once again, all of us here at The Wolfsonian-FIU library would like to express our appreciation to Christopher DeNoon for donating these items and making them available to the international community of scholars.