Howard Abramowitz Papers, 1937-1985
- This collection contains research files created by and several typescript essays written by sociologist Howard D. Abramowitz. The collection amply documents his interest in the American labor movement and, in particular, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and sheds light on the scholarly research that he completed during the final years of his life.
- 0.6 cubic ft.
- English .
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Howard Abramowitz Papers, 1937-1985. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Abramowitz Papers).
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- Scope and Content:
This collection contains research files created by and several typescript essays written by sociologist Howard D. Abramowitz. The collection amply documents his interest in the American labor movement and, in particular, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and sheds light on the scholarly research that he completed during the final years of his life.
Some of the materials in this collection may be of interest to scholars of the CIO. The collection contains a carbon copy of a twenty-six page letter that CIO head Philip Murray wrote to President Harry S. Truman urging him to veto the Taft-Hartley Act, a transcript of a 1937 radio speech that United Auto Workers (UAW) President Walter P. Reuther delivered in his capacity as a CIO Vice President, and photocopies of internal CIO documents concerning the CIO's 1949 expulsion of the United Furniture Workers (UFW) and the UFW's 1950 return to the CIO.
The collection also contains information about several of the CIO's constituent unions and about CIO leaders' attitudes toward Communists within their unions. Documents detailing the activities the UAW include the transcript of Reuther's 1937 speech mentioned above, copies of correspondence (1945) between Reuther and UAW Fair Practices Committee head George W. Crockett concerning the insertion of clauses barring racial discrimination in UAW contracts, copies of press clippings about Crockett's work, a typescript copy of a position paper issued by UAW president Leonard Woodcock in 1964, and a typescript copy of a biography of Reuther written by left-wing UAW activist John W. Anderson. Materials concerning the UFW include carbon copies and photocopies of reports (1940, 1950) detailing the results of representation elections, photocopies of fliers and internal documents concerning the UFW's 1949 expulsion from the CIO on the grounds that it was Communist-dominated and its 1950 return to the CIO, and newsletters (1973-74) published by UFW Local 140 (Bronx County, New York). Documents concerning the United Mine Workers of America include carbon copies and photocopies of letters (1937, 1938) detailing President John Brophy's attitude toward Communist activists in the CIO and photocopied portions of Brophy's typescript autobiography, Twenty-five Years in the CIO. Some of the UAW and UFW materials in the collection are photocopies of documents held by the Archive of Labor History and Urban Affairs, University Archives, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. The Woodcock position paper and the biography of Reuther were given to Abramowitz by John W. Anderson.
The collection lacks information about Abramowitz's lawsuit against the U.S. Army, which culminated in the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling (Harmon v. Bruckner) that the armed forces could not downgrade soldiers' discharges on account of political activities undertaken prior to induction. Also absent are documents that would illuminate Abramowitz's personal life, furnish detailed information about his lifelong involvement in left-wing causes, or how he used his research on the CIO in his scholarly writings or classroom lectures. However, the collection does contain several typescript versions of two published articles about the Red Scare of 1919-20 Abramowitz wrote during the final years of his life.
- Biographical / Historical:
Howard David Abramowitz was born in Newark, New Jersey on June 18, 1930. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn and received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Brooklyn College.
In 1951, Abramowitz, who had been active in left-wing politics since his early teens, was drafted and sent to Korea. He won a Silver Star, was given a certificate of honorable separation and, as required by U.S. law, entered the Enlisted Reserve. Two years later, the U.S. Army concluded that he was a security risk owing to his membership in the Communist Party in 1948-49 and issued him an undesirable discharge. Abramowitz and co-defendant John Henry Harmon III filed suit, and in 1958 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that soldiers' discharges must be based solely on their military service records. As a result, the U.S. Army upgraded Abramowitz's and Harmon's discharges to honorable and reviewed the discharges of 720 other former soldiers.
Abramowitz earned a master's degree in economics from the New School of Social Research, and completed his Ph.D. at New York University. He worked for a brief time as a researcher for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and at New York University's Institute of Industrial Relations. In 1964, he began teaching sociology at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), where he remained until his death.
While at Skidmore, Abramowitz researched the Congress of Industrial Organizations and the Red Scare that followed the First World War and was working on a book on the Red Scare at the time of his death. He was also an active supporter of the peace movement, civil libertarianism, the civil rights movement, and anti-poverty initiatives. In addition, he edited a Saratoga Springs alternative newspaper, the Spa City Spectator, and planned a 1989 conference on economic diversification and employment issues.
Abramowitz died of lung cancer on April 9, 1990 at the age of fifty-nine. He was survived by his wife, Barbara Joslyn Abramowitz, his children, Karen Abramowitz Kinbar and Adam Abramowitz, and his stepchildren, Amy Joslyn and Nicholas Joslyn.
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives by Allen Kifer in 1990 September.
The collection is arranged in two series: CIO Research Files and Writings.
- Processing information:
Processed in 1999 November 3 by Bonita L. Weddle.