Edward J. Bloch Papers, 1931-2001
- Bloch, Edward J.
- This collection contains the papers of Edward J. Bloch, a native of New York who served in the military between 1943 and 1946 with assignments in Okinawa during World War II and post-war North China, taught science in Istanbul, Turkey (1947-1950), and dedicated the majority of his career to labor concerns as a representative for the labor union United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (1950-1984). Edward Bloch also served as President of the Labor Action Coalition of New York (1975 to the late 1990s), Director of the Interfaith Impact for the New York State Council of Churches (1987-1995), and ran unsuccessfully for two different congressional district seats (1984,1986,1995-1996). Among the many honors Bloch received during his lifetime is the Purple Heart, which he was awarded for his actions during World War II.
- 5.41 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Edward J. Bloch Papers, 1931-2001. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
The collected papers of Edward J. Bloch detail his early life, his military service in the Marine Corps during World War II, his three years in Turkey teaching biology, leadership in the UE, the Labor Action Coalition, the Capital Labor Religion Coalition, Interfaith Impact, Interfaith Alliance, three unsuccessful campaigns for Congress, and personal papers and correspondence.
Correspondence and creative writing make up the majority of Bloch's papers. His letters are particularly voluminous between 1944 and 1946, when he served in Okinawa and China as a Marine. During this time span, he wrote mostly to his parents and brother, Henry, concerning the war, his current positions in Asia, and on other personal matters. His father replied specifically with news from the home front concerning the war and politics. Other letters in the collection span his career in the UE, Congressional campaign runs, and varied personal subjects. Beside correspondence, Bloch wrote poetry, plays, essays, and other literature. These writings begin in the published version of his very early poetry, Verses(1931).
Of the records kept on the UE and Bloch's other union work, those files on General Electric and FBI files on Bloch and the UE stand out above the rest. Beside these records, only the 1984, 1986, and 1995-1996 congressional election folders have a great deal of substance. Election letters, news clippings, press releases, notes, speeches, pamphlets, stickers, a poster, buttons, photos, newsletters, and position statements, are all included in these files.
Many files were originally interspersed in various folders of the collection, leaving some half-written letters, notes detached from their original position, and copies of newspaper articles with missing sections or words. Most of the handwritten notes lack dates and are difficult to decipher. Likewise, many newspaper clippings lack dates and do not specifically mention Edward Bloch.
Some of the Capital District Labor Religion Coalition papers from 1981-1985 were created by former co-chair, Lawrence Wittner, a professor of history at the University at Albany. For more information on Wittner, consult the Lawrence Wittner (APAP-100) collection. The papers of Libby Post (APAP-045) include materials created during the 1984 and 1986 campaigns to defeat Gerald Solomon. Post served as Bloch's Press Secretary. For additional labor collections in the Department, see the online Labor subject guide at http://library.albany.edu/speccoll/conservation.htm. For other related collections, consult the Archives of Public Affairs and Policy in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archvies.
- Biographical / Historical:
Edward James Bloch (Block) was born to Henry, a New York attorney, and Sylvia Bloch, in New York City on April 17, 1924. As of 2002, he is a devout Presbyterian living in a rural town in upstate New York, with his second wife, Naomi Finkelstein.
Known as either Ed or Jim to his family and friends, he lived in Scarsdale, New York until he attended college. At the age of seventeen, Bloch entered the US Marine Corps V-12 program, which encouraged college students to train for military service. Simultaneously attending Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, Private Bloch rose to Lieutenant Bloch in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. Leaving Williams College between 1942 and 1943, he entered Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire, to continue the V-12 program.
Military service between 1943 and 1946 interrupted his academic career. During World War II he was stationed in San Francisco, California, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Okinawa, and North China. Rising from a 2nd Lieutenant to a 1st Lieutenant, Bloch became Rifle Platoon Leader in the "L" Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. While in Okinawa in 1945, he was shot in the right arm and leg. Months later, on September 30, Bloch's new assignment was the post-war occupation of North China. Interviewed years later, he recalled the atrocities committed against civilians here by a combined force of Marines and Japanese soldiers, who were ordered to prevent a further Communist infiltration in certain locations of North China. One such incident included taking part in the shooting of civilians under orders from a Japanese officer (Bloch, Edward J..Courage Coward Courage!!undated. p. 59-62. Oversize Box 1, Folder 15). For his actions in World War II, Bloch was awarded a Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Finished with his military career, Bloch returned to Williams College, receiving an B.A. in 1946. The following year, he attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and obtained an M.A. From 1947 to 1949, Bloch taught science and coached basketball and wrestling at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey. During this period, he also acted as a foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor.
By 1950, the soldier turned teacher came home. Between 1950 and 1984, Edward Bloch dedicated his time to labor concerns and the labor union, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). Beginning as a chief steward and rising to a field organizer and international representative, Bloch collectively bargained contracts with companies, such as General Electric, Westinghouse, and ExCello. He helped organize the Local 332 branch of the UE just outside Albany, New York. For seventeen years, he served as an international representative for UE and worked in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Vermont, and South Carolina.
From 1975 to the late 1990s, Edward Bloch served as President of the Labor Action Coalition of New York. In this position he coordinated the political action of numerous local unions, fought to save jobs and obtain employee benefits. Bloch also worked with the Labor/Religion Coalition of the Capital District for similar means.
In 1984 and 1986, Bloch ran two campaigns for New York State's 24th Congressional District seat. As a Democrat in 1984 and 1986, he faced Republican Gerald Solomon and lost both times. In 1995-1996, Bloch ran as an Independent candidate for the 21st Congressional District seat and again failed in his bid for election.
Beside his political ambitions, Bloch volunteered much of his time in the late 1980s and 1990s to interfaith organizations. Between 1987 and 1995, he served as Director of the Interfaith Impact for the New York State Council of Churches. As director, Bloch represented a collection of religious groups determined to translate their religious and moral beliefs into mostly legislative action. After eight years, Bloch left Interfaith Impact for the Interfaith Alliance (TIANYS). The Interfaith Alliance was similar to the Interfaith Impact, demanding changes in public policy based on religious understanding. As of the late 1990s, Bloch continued his volunteer service with the Interfaith Alliance.
Throughout his life, Edward J. Bloch developed his own religious and moral understanding or philosophy of life. Fearing the cruelty of anti-Semitism in America after the first World War, Bloch's parents, both of the Jewish faith, tried to hide his religious identity. Seeing the horrors of World War II in combat and in the occupation of China, he changed his allegiance from capitalism to socialism in the post-war period. During the Vietnam War, he protested US military intervention in Southeast Asia through Veterans for Peace in Vietnam. As a labor leader, he dedicated more than thirty years to workers through the UE, even being investigated by the FBI for ties to Communism in his union. Finally, while observing Presbyterian values and beliefs, he still recognized the need for interfaith organizations.
Bloch's family is mentioned frequently in his personal papers. They include his wife, Naomi, daughter Rebecca, and his three children from a previous marriage, Linda, Alan, and Susan. Other key figures mentioned in the collection are Lawrence Wittner, professor of history at the University at Albany, the late Joe Powers, former Chair of the Capital District Labor Religion Coalition, former Governor Mario Cuomo, and folk singer Pete Seeger (Bloch, Edward J..Courage Coward Courage!!undated. p. 59-62. Oversize Box 1, Folder 15).
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, by Edward J. Bloch in May 2001.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2012 by Michael J. Newman and Beth Sheffer.
- Social Activists and Public Advocates
Military and Armed Conflict
Albany, New York
World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Japan--Okinawa Island
- Bloch, Edward J.
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America
- New York (State)--Politics and government