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AFT Office of the President Records

Identifier: LR001553

Scope and Content

The records of the AFT’s office of the President Coll ection consist of minutes, correspondence, reports, publications and other materials documenting the union’s activities in organizing and servicing affiliates, improving teaching conditions and influencing legislation affecting education and social issue d uring the presidencies of Charles Cogen and David Selden.

Important subjects in the collection: Collective Bargaining -Education -United States Education -Bilingual Educational Change Education -Curricula Educational -Finance Education -Special Education Education -Law and Legislation Education and Crime National Education Association More Effective Schools Program Oceanhill-Brownsville Professional Employees-Labor Unions-United States Public Employee -Labor Unions -United States School Children -Transportation -United States Segregation in Education -United States Sexual -Discrimination Schools -Discrimination Strikes and Lockouts -Teachers -United States Strikes and Lockouts -Newark -New Jersey Strikes and Lockouts -San Francisco -California Teachers -Job Stress Teachers -Los Angeles -California Teachers -New York City -New York Teachers -Political Activity Teachers -United States Teacher Centers Working Class -Education

Important correspondents in the collection: Joseph Alioto Israel Kugler Si Beagle Harry V. Lerner Thomas H. Bell John Mallan Andrei Braconier S.P. Marland Rondald H. Brown Emil Mazy Joseph Cascella George Meany Charlie Cogen John Otting Marcel DuVall Bayard Rustin Walter Davis Walter Reuther Paul Feldman Milton Schuebel Sandra Feldman Albert Shanker Jack Golodner Leon Skull James Hazlett Jerry Wurf Harold Howe II Belle Zeller Hubert Humphrey

Series Description: Series I, General Subject Files: General Subject files contain correspondence, memos and reports, and minutes. Subseries A: AFL-CIO general correspondence, general correspondence with AFL-CIO unions and the AFL-CIO departments. Subseries B: Colleges and Universities, general correspondence and invitations to speak at US colleges and universities. Subseries C: Boards of Education, general correspondence and reports from various state boards.

Series II, AFT Office Files: Correspondence, memos, reports, conference materials, speeches, articles. Subseries A: AFT Departments Subseries B: AFT Staff Unions, National Representatives, Directors Subseries C: Vice Presidents Subseries D: Conferences, Committees and Meetings Subseries E: AFT State Federation and AFT Councils

Series III, David Seldens’ Articles, Testimonies, Letters and Speeches Seldens’ materials, congratulation letters to his presidency Subseries A: Newark Strike and Jailing correspondence to and from Selden, memos, reports, articles.

Series IV, AFT Subject Files: General subject materials pertaining to AFT policy, mission and activities.

Series V, Locals: General correspondence and materials to and from the AFT to locals.
Part II: Part II has information about this growth internally and externally, the social issues of the day and how it effected teachers and the labor movement. There is great amount of information on organizing non-public school, especially parochial schools; the merger talks with the NEA and the teacher unity caucus; freedom of speech issues for teachers in the Pickering files. Part II also has more information about busing and desegregation, the battles between the AFT and AFSCME as well as the internal issues facing the AFT with growth, power and issues that it had to face over Vietnam and democracy within the union.

Important Subjects: Busing Collective Bargaining –Public Employees Desegregation Free Speech Parochial school unions San Antonio v Rodriguez School Finance Strikes –Public Schools Strikes –Universities and Colleges Teacher Participation Teacher Union Merger Vietnam Welfare Women’s Rights

Important Names: David Elsila Edward McElroy George Fisher Ken Miessan Marjorie Stern Nat Hentoff Raoul Teilhet

Part II: Series Description: Series I: AFT, 1963-1974: AFT records are a variety of materials related to the operation of the AFT. The series consists of correspondence, reports, memos, clippings, etc. There is a substantial amount of information on the AFT’s organizing especially with non-public schools. The CNR Miesan files is a grievance filed by Mr. Miesan against the AFT, Miesan ran for president of the AFT in 1970s violating his contract with the AFT. Pickering correspondence relate to a three and a half year old cou rt battle that ended in the US Supreme Court concerning freedom of speech by schoolteachers.

Series II: Congressional and Government Correspondence and Testimony, 1965-1974: This series contains testimony that Selden gave in front of various congressional committees about public education, labor law reform, bussing and the San Francisco State college strikes. The series consists of transcripts and some correspondence.

Series III: National Education Association, 1968-1974: NEA series contains correspondence, clippings, and reports with and about the NEA. Considerable effort was made by the AFT in researching the NEA under the files Jim Lerman Project.

Series IV: Publishers and Publications Correspondence, 1967-1974: Series contains correspondence and clippings from newspapers and journals. The correspondences are usually responses to articles about teachers unions. There is information on Selden’s pitch to publish books as well as the lawsuit against Simon and Schuster for pub lishing “Teachers and Power” by Robert Braun.

Series V: Subjects, 1967-1974: Subject series are correspondence, reports, clippings and other materials dealing with the subject file. Of note are the files that deal with AFSCME and the AFL-CIO.


  • 1960 - 1974
  • Majority of material found within 1968 - 1974


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Part I: In 1916, a handful of teachers met outside of Chicago to discuss the formation of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) . What brought them together was the belief that they needed a new national organization that would be committed to their professional interests, would benefit the people they served, and would work to create strong local unions affiliated with the American labor movement. From this foundation, the AFT has grown into a trade union representing workers in education, health care, and public service.
Part II: The American Federation of Teachers was founded in 1916 in Chicago. It represented mostly teachers who taught Kindergarten through college. In the 1960s the AFT experienced huge growth after various states allowed public employees to collective bargain and especially after President Kennedy singed an executive order granting federal workers the right as well. The AFT went from a small union of 50,000 to a membership of over 200,000 in a matter of a few years. These papers represent the presidency of David Selden, 1968-1974 during a tremendous grow as well as philosophical change in the AFT.


27 Linear Feet (27 SB)


Minutes, correspondence, reports, publications covering the president's office of Carl Megel and predominantly Charlie Cogen and David Selden. Important subjects are teacher strikes, contract negotiations, school desegregation, Oceanhill-Brownsville, education legislation, job stress, teacher centers.

The records are divided into two parts.


Part I: Arranged in 5 series – Series 1 (Boxes 1-7), Series 2 (Boxes 7-12), Series 3 (Boxes 12-13), Series 4 (Boxes 13-14), and Series 5 (Boxes 14-22). Folders are arranged alphabetically or in order by local number, depending upon the series.

Series 2 is divided into 3 subseries. Seires 2 is divided into 5 subseries.
Part II: Arranged in 5 series - Series 1 (Boxes 1-2), Series 2 (Box 2), Series 3 (Box 3), Series 4 (Boxes 3-4), and Series 5 (Boxes 4-5). Series 1, 3, 4, and 5 are arranged alphabetically while series 2 is arranged chronologically.


Part II: Culled from various shipments from the AFT.

Related Materials

AFT Inventory Records Part I and II; AFT Office of the President: Albert Shanker Records; AFT office of the President: Carl Megel Records; AFT Presidents Office 1960 -1974 Records; AFT Oral Histories


Part I: A large number of books, contracts and serials have been transferred to the Archives Library, and several photographs, audio tapes and items of memorabilia have been placed in the Archives Audiovisual Collection.

Processing History

Part I: Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Part II: Processed and finding aid updated by Dan Golodner.
Guide to the AFT Office of the President Records
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA