Steve Meyer's request produced one of the largest H-Labor discussions with 22 contributions. Seth Wigderson, H-Labor Moderator
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Date: Thu, 9 Jun 1994 10:39:43 EDT Subject: Steve Meyer Needs Help On Spying
Can anyone help Steve Meyer with this query? I have already told him about the work of Gary Fink and Charles Hyde. SW +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++
For a project tentatively titled "Rats, Finks, and Stool Pigeons," I am attempting to gather information on factory spies for the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. Although I have collected some materials-- books, articles, union proceedings against spies, and reports of spies, I am curious about whether or not anyone out there has come across archival records, especially factory spy reports, in the course of their research. Does anyone out there have any suggestions on where to look for such records?
Steve Meyer History University of Wisconsin-Parkside email@example.com +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++
Judging by the responses, Steve Meyer's work will be the hottest thing since the LaFollette Commission. SW Many thanx to BOB CHERNY: GERRY ZAHAVI: BOB ZIEGER: MICHAEL LONARDO: PETER HOLLORAN MEL DUBOFSKY: RICK HALPERN: JONATHAN ZEITLIN: SETH WIGDERSON +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ BOB CHERNY: Look at the La Follette Committee hearings and check out the records at the National Archives. I've looked only at the California files, and they have nothing but newspaper clippings--very disappointing.
The Surveillance Papers at the Meicklejohn Library, Berkeley, contain some reports by spies in various unions, left groups, and work sites around the bay area, especially San Francisco. But most are fragmentary--a report here and there, but few long runs. There's also some interesting material in the Norman Leonard Papers at the Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State, having to do spying but I'm not sure there are any actual spy reports.
Bob Cherny, San Francisco State <firstname.lastname@example.org>
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ GERRY ZAHAVI: In response to Steve Meyer's query:
There are some summaries and reports of labor spies in the Johnson family
papers (officers of the Endicott Johnson Corporation) at the George Arents
Research Library at Syracuse University. There is also at least one oral
interview at the Roberson Center in Binghamton with a former Endicott
Johnson "special" worker, a labor informant. See citations in my WORKERS,
MANAGERS, AND WELFARE CAPITALISM. There are also spy reports/summaries
from the 1920s and 1930s in a GE collection (still the property of GE and
currently closed) which I (and a few of my graduate students) am now in
the process of organizing and preparing a finding aid for. I'll let you
know when the collection and the finding aid is completed and available to
There are also detective files in the Great Northern Railroad collection at the Minnesota Historical Society. Good luck.
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ BOB ZIEGER: Steve Norwood, Univ. of Oklahoma, has been doing a lot of work on various phases of union-busting in the 20th century. "Robert H. Zieger" <RHAGZ@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu>
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ MICHAEL LONARDO: I'm not familiar with the archival sources, but there is a 1932 pamphlet by Robert Williams Dunn entitled Spying on Workers, that deals with the use of government and company spies in the ranks of labour, as well the use of stool pigeons by union officials against militants. It was published in New York by International Publishers.
Michael Lonardo Social Sciences Librarian Queen Elizabeth II Library Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John's, Nfld. A1B 3Y1
(709) 737-8196 email@example.com
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ PETER HOLLORAN I was on a tour at the OAH conference in Atlanta in April which included records of Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill industrial spies. As I recall, the mill hired detectives to pose as workers to bust the union in the 1890-1930 era. The records were single cards with personal data about the "union trouble makers." These documents are at Georgia Tech and are in a new book by Gary Fink. This may be useful. Peter Holloran <firstname.lastname@example.org>
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ MEL DUBOFSKY: In my own research many years ago on the WFM and IWW, I came across private detective reports in the governors' papers in the Colorado state archives, and an especially good set of spy reports on the 1896 Leadville strike. Other state historical societies and university archives have collections with spy reports, especially from Thiel Agency spies, who were especially active in the Pacific Northwest. I recall spy reports in lumber company archives at the U. of Wash- ington Library. And the Idaho state Historical Society had the full McParland report on the famous Moyer-Haywood-Petibone case. And aren't some Pinkerton fil es now available to researchers. Also, as I recall, some of the surveillance re cords in the National Archives included reports from private agency labor spies
Melvyn Dubofsky <DUBOF@BINGVMB> +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++
RICK HALPERN: Gary Fink has done some very good work with Fulton Bag, a Georgia coarse textile mill, utilizing extensive spies' reports. He has an article in a recent _Labor's Heritage_ and in Bob Zieger's edited collection, _Organized Labor in the 20th C South_. Gary's address is: Dept of History, Georgia State Univ, Atlata GA 30303. Also, the papers of the Union Stockyards & Transit Company (Chiacgo) contain spies reports on the activities of the UPWA in the 1940s; they're housed at U of I Circle. Of course, there are the stoolies for the FBI who surfaced during HUAC hearings, esp in the 1950s. The packing industry had a number of colorful characters, inc- luding Joe Poshkonka (Chicago Wilson plant) -- "I Was a Spy for the FBI" is his true story. Carl Nelson, a union founder at the same plant and long-time CP member "turned" as well and testified later in the decade against his old comrades. NLRB case files and, esp, the verbatin transcripts of Board hearings (at the Nat'l Archives) also contain plenty of spy testimony. Good luck. Rick Halpern, Dept of History, Univ. College London (UK) Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT email@example.com
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ JONATHAN ZEITLIN: Steve:
If you don't know the work of Arthur J. McIvor on British strikebreaking and labor spies, you might like to look at: 'Employers' Organisations and Strikebreaking in Britain, 1880-1914', _International Review of Social History_ 29, 1 (1984); and '"A Crusade for Capitalism": The Economic League, 1918-39', _Journal of Contemporary History_ (Oct. 1988). There is also a large literature on the British government's strikebreaking organization built up between 1919 and 1926, references to which can be found in Chris Wrigley's _Lloyd George and the Challenge of Labour: The Postwar Coalition, 1918-1922_ (Harvester, 1990). In general, employers' associations are a good source for spies' reports, as they often employed them: Howell Harris would know, for example, whether there is relevant material in the Philadelphia Metal Manufacturers' papers. jonathan zeitlin <firstname.lastname@example.org> +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++
SETH WIGDERSON: There were a number of anti-Red Squad lawsuits in the 1960's and 1970's. Unfortunately, in many of these the destruction of the records was part of the settlement. Unfortunate, because much government spying and harassment disappeared in the shredder. However, in a few cases that I know of the records have been preserved. You might contact the National Lawyers Guild as well as the ACLU which probably have a better handle on these. The one I know best is the Detroit Red Squad case, I know that the lawyers were trying to establish an archive and to get the victims to agree to donate their files. I remember that one of the lawyers working on this was Dick Soble. Also, the Socialist Workers Party had an extensive lawusit against government spying which did come up with some limited information on the actual nature of the spying. Pathfinder Press published a book on this called COINTELPRO. Seth Wigderson email@example.com +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++
This second round of responses to Steve Meyer's original request might remind us that when we seek for the causes of labor defeats, we should look also to the camp of capital. Seth Wigderson +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ Many thanx to: ELLEN SCHRECKER: GERRY ZAHAVI: AVI CHOMSKY: JULIE GREENE: SINAN DEMIREL: S.M. JACOBY: HOWELL HARRIS: JOHN HAYNES PHILIP SCRANTON: JAMES GREGORY: ANDREW LEE: +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ ELLEN SCHRECKER: The FBI files on its "Plant Informant Program" have been liberated via FOIA by Sigmund Diamond. He gave them to the Law School at Columbia. I've seen them, though they don't have actual reports (there aren't any field office files) there is some information about the Bureau's contacts with management and its labor spies. There is also stuff on the World War II Plant protection programs. You may also want to look at military intelligence records. Both army and navy intelligence officers were involved in plant protection programs. Joan Jensen's book on Army Surveillance is a good place to start. As far as I know, there's little or nothing on the Navy (which was just as important here).
Ellen Schrecker, Schreckr@yu1.yu.edu
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Regarding Steve Meyer's query: Cherny's response reminded me that the the Surveillance Papers at the Meicklejohn Library, Berkeley, do indeed contain spy reports and ARE AVAILABLE on 16mm microfilm from the Library (I microfilmed it for them three years ago). Also, Seth's reference to Red Squad files also brought back to me that the New York State Bureau of Criminal Investigations' Non-Criminal Investigations ("Red Squad") files do contain some factory informant reports. Although the index to the collection was destroyed, as part of my research into the Upstate New York Communist movement, I've been preparing an extensive finding aid to the 60+ boxes that comprise the collection. I'm about half-way home (it's now around 300 pages long). However, with what I have, I can point Meyer and other researchers to specific worthwhile pre-1960 case files. Gerry Z.
|Gerald Zahavi Internet: GZ580@CSC.ALBANY.EDU | |Dept. of History Bitnet: GZ580@ALBNYVMS.BITNET| |University at Albany-SUNY Phone: 518-442-4780 | |Albany, N.Y. 12222 Fax: 518-442-3477 |
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ AVI CHOMSKY: I've come across bits and pieces about company spies in my work on the United Fruit Company and U.S.-owned mining companies in Costa Rica. My stuff is all in-progress or forthcoming. See also Philippe Bourgois, _Ethnicity at Work_ on UFCO anti-labor policies, and Cindy Forster on UFCO in Guatemala in the 1950s in a recent Radical History Review article.
Avi Chomsky e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org History Department Phone: (207) 786-6462 (w) Bates College Fax: (207) 786-6123 (w) Lewiston, ME 04240 Phone/Fax: (207) 786-0589 (h)
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ JULIE GREENE: Dana Frank relied on spy reports in her _Purchasing Power: Consumer Organizing, Gender, and the Seattle labor Movement, 1919-1929_ (1994). Jacquelyn Hall has made use of the Fulton Mill spy reports: see her essays in _Visible Women: New Essays on American Activism_, edited by Nancy Hewitt and Suzanne Lebsock (1993), and in _Work Engendered: Toward a New History of American Labor_, edited by Ava Baron (1991).
In 1913 the U.S. government conducted an exhaustive investigation into the activities of the NAM. Much of the material concerns political mobilization and lobbying, but there's also a great deal on strikebreaking and unionbusting. See US House of Representatives, _Charges against Members of the House and Lobby Activities of the National Association of Manufacturers: Hearings before the Select Committee of the House of Representatives_, 63rd Congress, 1st Session, 1913; and US Senate, _Maintenance of a Lobby to Influence Legislation: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary_, 63rd Congress, 1st Session, 1913.
Julie Greene, Univ. of Colorado email@example.com
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ SINAN DEMIREL: The Broussais Coman Beck papers in the University of Washington archives contain extensive labor spy reports dealing with the labor movement in Seattle in the aftermath of the general strike of 1919. To the best of my recollection, there are about two years worth of daily reports from two spies, one of whom is rather sloppy, the other one a study in anal retention, submitting 2-3 pages daily, single-spaced, detailed descriptions without ever making a typo. Also - the Frederick Becker files at the national archives in Seattle (@ Sandpoint) contain naval intelligence records from the WWI period which I'm told are very good and Gov. Ernest Lister's papers in Olympia contain state Secret Service reports dealing with the same period. Good luck. From- Sinan Demirel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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Here are some suggestions:
Hope this helps. "S.M. Jacoby" <IDR0SMJ@UCLAMVS.BITNET>
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ HOWELL HARRIS: (1) In the course of my work on a metal-trades employers association in Philadelphia, c.1900-1940, I've come across clear but fragmentary evidence about spying/`informed reporting', but more about internal union affairs (bargaining strategies, likely demands, etc.) than anything else. Little evidence of payment for this-- most of it came from workers voluntarily, in the course of their regular contacts with employers and their association's officers.
(2) There's a juicy case reported in the Iron Molders' Union's conference proceedings for 1923--the Phila. Molders' business agent, James Cronin, responded to the depression of 1920 (and consequent reduction in his personal income from weekly assessments on employed members) by becoming the agent of a labor spy agency from NYC. When the partners in that business fell out, and took their disagreements into the civil courts, Cronin-- who had dominated the city's strongest craft union for almost a decade-- was exposed and expelled. There was a trial at the convention, so you should find a nice example of the *modus operandi* of his employers.
(3) Not quite *industrial* espionage, but I've found Military Intelligence Dept. files extremely useful for WW1-- for example, the MID had two and sometimes three agents in Phila. IAM meetings, producing near-verbatim transcripts of discussions; and clear evidence of the penetration of the union by Am. Protective League agents (incl. the business agent) and Pinkertons (his rival for the position) comes through.
(4) Might not quite suit your time-period, but the La Follette Hearings are full of good stuff. Also, of course, early NLRB case-files.
If anybody wants further information, just get in touch. Bye--
Howell Harris <H.J.Harris@durham.ac.uk> +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ JOHN HAYNES
On labor spy reports, the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress has the Pinkerton Detective Agency reports on infiltration of the Molly Maguires and an unidentified labor spy report regarding a Massachusetts textile strike (not further identified) from some time in the period 1900-1926. The Minnesota Historical Society in its John Lind Papers has reports from informants the WWI Public Safety Commission infiltrated into Minnesota locals of the IWW to see if the IWW was serious about sabotage of war production. From John Haynes, Haynes@mail.loc.gov
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ PHILIP SCRANTON: Steve! Great topic. There are two hints I can offer. First, in the Samuel Vauclain papers at the Historical Society of PA in Phila, there are a small number of handwritten spy reports on IAM organizing in 1910, as well as a wonderful shop petition for, I think, a Saturday half-holiday, with the signatures all inscribed in a circle (nice touch, no leaders to fire, somebody told me once that this was common practice in maritime workers complaints and petitions as far back as the 18th c.; don't know fer sure). Second, there are lots of spy reports in the Military Intelligence Division files for World War One at the Nat'l Archives, as literally hundreds of agents were recruited to work in munitions and war-related plants in 17-18. I copied materials for Phila, of course, and looked at others for Bridgeport, etc. in the east. They were charged with sniffing out Hun sympathizers, of course, but also looked for union folks and "slackers." There are about 3,000 boxes of MID materials, but there's a microfilm index by individual name and company name (not by city, if I remember rightly). It's RG 165. Best of success. Phil Scranton - email@example.com
+++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ JAMES GREGORY: Archie Green discusses the folklore/laborlore of finks and spies in his new book _Wobblies, Pilebutts..._ (Un. Illinois). And don't forget Upton Sinclair's 1919 novel, _100%: The Story of a Patriot_.
Jim Gregory Univ. Washington firstname.lastname@example.org
[Archie Green. Wobblies, Pile Butts, and Other Heroes: Laborlore Explorations. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 1993.] +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ ANDREW LEE: This is an older labor spy but Charles Siringo was a famous pinkerton labor spy/cowboy raconteur. He hates the left and labor but is even harder on the Pinkertons and famous bounty hunter Tom Horne (glorified in a biopic by [I think] Steve McQueen) as a hired killer for the bosses. Siringo broke with Pinkerton's over several issues (by his account, I haven't read any others) but still was anti-IWW. These works have several editions so am not including the publishers, but I will included a date. I read Two Evil Isms.
Siringo. Charles A. A Cowboy Detective 1912 246pp
Further Adventures of a Cowboy Detective. 1912 pp. 248-519
In the subtitle of both is "giving the inside facts of the bloody Coeur d'Alene labor riots" The subtitles on the two works are identical.
They were published in Ogilvie's Popular Railroad Series as no. 97 and no. 128. The first title was also published in Chicago by W. B. Conkey in 1912. They were reprinted n 1988 by U. Nebraska, 519 pp.
Ibid. Two Evil Isms, Pinkertonism and Anarchism, by a cowboy detective
who knows, as he spent 22 years in the inner circle of Pinkerton's National Detective Agency. Chicago: Charles A. Siringo, 1915. 109 pp.
Reprinted in 1968, c1967 in Austin, Texas by Steck Vaughn.
Ibid. A Lone Star Cowboy, being firty years experience in the saddle
as a cowboy, detective and New Mexico Ranger, on every cow trail in the wooly old West. Santa Fe, N.M., 1919. 290 pp.
He would be a perfect FBI director in a Ross Perot adnministration.
Andrew H. Lee
Tamiment Library "Neant, la Mecque des bibliotheques!" New York University Jules Laforgue, Salome
70 Washington Square South New York, New York 10012 (212) 998-2633 +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++ +++++
Thanx to Andrea and Andy for these latest Steve Meyer responses. This makes the total 22! SW +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ +++++++ ++++++ ANDREA CLARDY:
RESPONSE TO STEVE MEYER Gary Fink's work on labor spies, referred to in a number of responses to Steve Meyer's inquiry, is entitled The Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills Strike of 1914-1915: Espionage, Labor Conflict, and New South Industrial Relations. It is available from ILR Press at Cornell. 607/255-2264.
Andrea Clardy <email@example.com>
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Howell Harris mentions the Military Intelligence Division's (MID) reports on the Philadelphia area; this is a rich source which does include details of cooperation between MID and private detective agencies. A portion of the vast archival holdings is on microfilm: Randolph Boem, ed., _US Military Intelligence Reports: Surveillance of Radicals in the US, 1917-41_(1984; about 35 reels). The sections on World War I troublespots like Butte, MT, are especially interesting in this respect. The best guide to the MID material is Roy Talbert, _Negative Intelligence: The Military and the American Left, 1917-1941_. Similar material is contained in Theodore Kornweibel, Federal Surveillance of African Americans: The First World War, the Red Scare, and the Garvey Movement (c. 25 reels). Although I don't recall any specific instances of direct cooperation between federal agencies and private detectives, there is labor surveillance material in here from the MID, Dept. of justice Bureau of Investigation, and other agencies.
One odd published source that reprints quite a lot of spy materials from the WWI-Red Scare era is Jean E. Spielman, _The Stool Pigeon and the Open Shop Movement_ (Minneapolis: American Publishing Co., 1923.) Spielman was a leader in a grain millers' union that was busted by a company spy operation. - Great project!
Andy Neather firstname.lastname@example.org