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AFL-CIO Region 8 records

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AFL-CIO Region 8 records

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AFL-CIO Region 8:

A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University

Georgia State University
Georgia State University
Special Collections and Archives
100 Decatur St., SE
Atlanta, GA 30303-3202
Fax: 404-413-2881

May 2001

Profile Description

Creation: Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, May 2001.
Language: English

Collection Summary

Repository: Georgia State University Library, Special Collections and Archives, Atlanta
Creator:AFL-CIO Region 8
Title:AFL-CIO Region 8 records
Dates: 1933-1969
Quantity: 61 linear ft.
Abstract: AFL-CIO Region 8 records are organized into five series: (I) United Textile Workers of America, 1934-1937; (II) Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC)/Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), 1937-1940; (III) Tennessee State Industrial Union Council (TSIUC-CIO), 1940-1953; (IV) Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Region 4 (Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina), 1953-1955; and (V) AFL-CIO Region 8, 1955-1969. The periods of Paul R. Christopher's career as a union organizer and leader correspond to the series titles of this collection.
Identification: L1974-15

Organization of the Records

Organized into 5 series:
Series I: United Textile Workers of America, 1934-1937
Series II: Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC) /- Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), 1937 - 1940
Series III: Tennessee State Industrial Union Council (TSIUC - CIO), 1940 - 1953
Series IV: Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Region 4 (Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina), 1953 - 1955
Series V: AFL-CIO Region 8, 1955-1969

Scope and Content of the Records

The Records, 1933-1969, parallel the long and distinguished career in the labor movement of Paul R. Christopher, who first went to work as a silk weaver in South Carolina in 1925 at age 14. In 1935 he was elected president of the United Textile Workers in North Carolina and a vice-president of the North Carolina Federation of Labor. Christopher allied himself with the fledgling Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC) in 1937, and when TWOC became the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) within the CIO, he was named TWUA state director in South Carolina. He moved to Tennessee in 1940 as the state CIO director, was named director of the CIO's Fourth Region in 1953; and when the AFL and CIO merged in December 1955, was named Director of the new AFL-CIO Region 8 headquartered in Knoxville and encompassing the states of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Correspondence and related material make up a large portion of the Region 8 records. Of particular importance is Christopher's correspondence with international unions; labor-related organizations; companies; people associated with the labor movement; government agencies; local, state, and national labor organizations; labor-related conferences; and individuals concerned with organized labor's political activities. Christopher also corresponded with various CIO departments, especially the CIO Political Action Committee; and as an adjunct to his interest in organized labor's political role, he corresponded regularly with Congressmen, Senators, and other governmental officials.

Christopher's work led him to be concerned with a variety of subjects important to union members. Some of the most prominent were: adult education, aid to Israel, anti-war associations, arbitration, civil rights, employment security, farm labor, foreign affairs, guaranteed annual wage, human welfare, industrial research, labor and religion, labor education, legislation, Medicare, minimum wage, political elections, political parties, poll tax, race relations, right-to-work laws, sales tax, school integration, segregation, senior citizens, Social Security, the soldier vote, Tennessee industry, Tennessee labor market, United Nations, voter registration, wage rates, welfare and pension plans, and workmen's compensation.

The periods of Paul R. Christopher's career as a union organizer and leader correspond to the series titles of this collection.

Christopher's correspondence was voluminous and detailed to mirror his far-reaching and varied activities. When feasible, within this inventory, folders are described to clearly identify union bodies and organizations associated with their contents. Any folders designated "miscellaneous correspondence" usually involve Christopher's personal activities. Also included in the collection's holdings are wax phonodiscs, one sound film, 47 photographic prints, and printed material such as newspapers and other periodicals, union proceedings, collective bargaining contracts, and pamphlets.

Biography of Paul R. Christopher

Paul Christopher was born February 14, 1910 in the Alice Mill Village in Easley, Pickens County, South Carolina. His father, Clarence Erasker Christopher, was a loom fixer and his mother Mary Jane (Hemphill) Christopher also worked in the Alice Mill. Young Christopher moved with his family to Greenville, South Carolina, was enrolled in a company grammar school (Poe Mill), and later attended Greenville's Parker District High School. At age fourteen, Christopher began work in the F.W. Poe Manufacturing Company, remaining in the mills (by his own account, at least six "cotton and rayon weaving mills" [letter from subject to George Mitchell, Executive Director, Southern Regional Council, Inc., 11/23/55, Southern Labor Archives, W.R. Pullen Library, Georgia State University]) until 1933, except for a period from 1930 to 1932 when he attended Clemson Agricultural College (now University), studying textile engineering. Shortly after leaving Clemson, Christopher met and married Mary Elizabeth Lybrand on August 13, 1932.

Upon returning to the cotton mills as a weaver, Christopher joined the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA) and quickly rose from within the ranks to the presidency of his local. In 1933 he secured employment as a full-time organizer and technical advisor for the UTWA, a post which he held until April, 1937. During these years, Christopher participated in a host of organizing campaigns, boycotts, and strikes, including the 1934 General Textile Strike. In recognition of his organizing abilities and leadership qualities, the North Carolina Federation of Textile Workers elected him president in 1934.

When the Congress of Industrial Organizations left the American Federation of Labor and began massive organizing drives among America's industrial workers, Christopher lent his support as an organizer and technical advisor to the Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC), chartered in 1937. After a two year organizing campaign, stymied by the "Roosevelt Recession," the TWOC was re-chartered as the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), and Christopher was elected a national vice-president, a position he held until 1941, while serving concurrently as TWUA South Carolina State Director.

In September 1940, Christopher moved to Tennessee with his wife and two daughters, Sara Jane and Patricia Ellen, there becoming executive secretary-treasurer of the CIO-affiliated Tennessee Industrial Union Council. Christopher was made CIO Tennessee State Director in 1942, a post he retained until being appointed CIO Region 4 (Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia) Director in 1953. Throughout the 1940s, Christopher held many concurrent administrative positions within the state and regional CIO, including Acting Southeastern Director for the CIO -Political Action Committee (1944 - 1946) and Tennessee State Southern Organizing Committee State Director during the Southern Organizing Drive, popularly known as "Operation Dixie." Following the merger of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1955, Christopher was appointed Director of AFL-CIO Region 8 (Tennessee and Kentucky) and remained in that post until his death in early 1974.

In addition to his career as a trade unionist, Christopher served in numerous social welfare agencies, educational organizations, and conferences and conventions covering a wide range of subjects. During World War II Christopher became associated with the following government agencies: Advisory Commission, Training-Within-Industry Division; War Manpower Commission, Region IX; Board of Directors, Tennessee War Fund; Tennessee War Services Council; Advisory Commission, Tennessee State Planning Commission; Knoxville (Tennessee) Area War Manpower Commission Labor Management Commission; National War Labor Board, Fourth (Southeast) Region; and Office of Price Administration Labor Advisory Committee.

Interested in labor education, Christopher was a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Summer School for Workers and the Executive Council of the Highlander Folk School. Community work evidenced itself in his membership on the Board of Directors, Knox County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Knoxville Community Chest, and he held membership in a number of civil rights organizations, including the Southern Conference for Human Welfare and the Southern Regional Council. A Democratic Party member and Unitarian, Christopher also held membership in fraternal organizations such as the Elks, Moose, and Young Men's Christian Association. While serving in many capacities in governmental, educational, community, and church organizations not directly connected with his work as a trade union leader, Christopher, revealed in his papers, pursued avocations as a stamp collector, ham radio operator, pilot, and "weekend" farmer.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the Georgia State University Library online catalog (GIL). Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

AFL-CIO. Region 8
Textile Workers Union of America
United Textile Workers of America


Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Administrative Information


[item], [folder title], [series title], AFL-CIO Region 8 records, L1974-15, Southern Labor Archives. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University, Atlanta.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Paul R. Christopher.

Processing Information

Processed by Robert Dinwiddie, May 14, 1989.

Related Material

Related materials in this repository: For further information on Paul Christopher, consult Southern Labor Archives Biography Files, Reading Room, Special Collections and Archives; and Joseph Yates Garrison's Paul Revere Christopher: Southern Labor Leader, 1910 - 1974 (Ph. D. dissertation, Georgia State University, 1976) available in the University Library.

Separated Material

Separated material: During processing, printed material and non-print material was separated to other Southern Labor Archives Collections. See List of Separated Material following Detailed Description of the Collection.

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