Scope and Content
Title: William A. Seligman Papers (United Shoeworkers
of America - Los Angeles),
Date (inclusive): 1928-1941
Collection number: MSS 056
Seligman, William A.
Southern California Library for Social Studies and
Abstract: This small collection consists of the personal
and business correspondence of William A. Seligman, organizer of the Los
Angeles local of the United Shoeworkers of America C.I.O.
Donated to the Library by Michael Furmanovsky in the mid 1980s.
The collection is available for research only at the Library's
facility in Los Angeles. The Library is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday
through Saturday. Researchers are encouraged to call or email the Library
indicating the nature of their research query prior to making a visit.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Southern California Library
for Social Studies and Research. Researchers may make single copies of any
portion of the collection, but publication from the collection will be allowed
only with the express written permission of the Library's director. It is not
necessary to obtain written permission to quote from a collection. When the
Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research gives permission
for publication, it is as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be
obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], William A. Seligman Papers (United
Shoeworkers of America - Los Angeles), Southern California Library for Social
Studies and Research, Los Angeles, California.
William A. Seligman came to Los Angeles from Boston in late 1934 or
early 1935. Seligman had been involved with the Workers Education Council, and
union activities on the East Coast. In Los Angeles, he taught classes at a
labor school and eventually found work at a Los Angeles area shoe factory.
Disappointed with the working conditions there, he spent several years
attempting to start a Los Angeles local of the United Shoeworkers of America
C.I.O.[Congress of Industrial Organizations] The Los Angeles local (Local 122)
was finally formed in August 1937. After the formation, of the local he served
as Secretary/Organizer until the end of 1940 when he left for a new position in
Seligman expresses a variety of observations and criticisms of the
Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party Opposition
(Lovestonites) and their interactions with the labor movement and the
establishment of a Workers Party. Lovestonites were the followers of Jay
Lovestone who started out on the left wing of the communist party and then
worked his way right. He was a major proponent of the idea of American
Exceptionalism (the idea that the U.S. had been corrupted by Capitalist success
and therefore the communists in the U.S. should work closely with Trade unions
and non-communist intellectuals). Lovestone and his followers became very
critical of communist control of labor unions. Seligman appears to have
identified as a Lovestoneite. His wife Rose, who he married on March 21, 1936,
was a member of the Communist Party.
Scope and Content
The collection consists of correspondence, postcards, and Trade
Reports. The material is divided into two folders each of General
Correspondence and Trade Reports & Union Correspondence. General
correspondence includes letters of a mostly personal nature with friends on the
East Coast. These letters contain details about his move and adjustment to Los
Angeles and include comments on unionism, socialism, communism and the various
parties and divisions. The first folder contains letters received before his
departure for California. The two Trade Reports & Union Correspondence
folders contain official reports to the United Shoeworkers Union on the
activities of the local, as well as less formal correspondence with union
officials including letters concerning a dispute with Michael Padgett, a member
of the union board who was applying for a paid position within the union. The
last folder contains letters that refer to his leaving the union and a brief
reference to his new job. Also included is a 1941 letter thanking him for
taking interest in finding work for an Austrian refugee, Otto Heck. Other
correspondents include: Alice L. Dodge, Mary Wright, M. Page, Dave Grodsky,
Dave Price and James T. Mitchell.
The materials are arranged chronologically.