Special Collections & University Archives | UMass Amherst Libraries

Abstract

Union activist and leader who was the first President of the Massachusetts State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and who also served on a number of governmental agencies, civic agencies, and commissions. Includes correspondence, biographical material, writings, scrapbooks, subject files, newsclippings; and pamphlets, manuals, and other printed materials. Scrapbooks comprise the bulk of the collection and include correspondence, news clippings, photographs, postcards, and various memorabilia.

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English
SCUA: the archive of social change
J. William Belanger Papers
1932-1986
3 boxes (3 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 117
Background on J. William Belanger

J. William Belanger was born in Newmarket, New Hampshire, in 1907 and began working in textile mills at the age of fourteen. By the time he was nineteen, he had worked in organized mills in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in the early 1930's, had returned to New England to work as an organizer for the United Textile Workers of America. In 1934, he lead a 17-day general strike, acting as Assistant Director for New England.

In 1936 when the textile unions joined the CIO, Belanger served as Connecticut State Director of the Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC-CIO), and later in Boston as the Assistant New England Regional Director of TWOC-CIO. In 1941, he was elected to the Executive Board of the Massachusetts State CIO, and made Secretary the following year. When the offices of Secretary and Treasurer were combined in 1946, Belanger was elected to the post. That same year he was chosen an International Vice President of the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), and in 1948, became President of the Massachusetts State CIO Council.

Belanger worked with leaders in the Massachusetts State Federation of Labor (the state branch of the American Federation of Labor) to defeat the three anti-union referenda on the 1948 state ballot. The cooperation between the two state organizations led to their eventual merger in 1958. At the merger convention held in December of that year, Belanger was elected the first President of the Massachusetts State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. He held this post until 1964, when he was appointed Director of the Massachusetts Division of Employment Security.

In addition to his union activities, Belanger served on a number of governmental agencies, civic agencies and commissions. He died in Naples, Florida, in 1986.

Contents of Collection

Correspondence, biographical material, writings, scrapbooks, subject files, newsclippings; pamphlets, manuals, and other printed materials; and memorabilia related to Belanger's union and election activities, and his work with various government agencies and commissions. Scrapbooks comprise the bulk of the collection and include correspondence, news clippings, photographs, postcards, and various memorabilia. Correspondents include: the U.S. Conciliation Service of the U.S. Department of Labor; the National War Labor Board; the War Manpower Commission of the Office for Emergency Management; the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts; the Council for Constitutional Reform in Massachusetts, Inc.; and The White House.

Organization of the Collection
Collection inventory
Series 1. Biography
1944-1986
Biographical material
1951-1986
Box 1: 1
Writings
1944-1968
Box 1: 2
Series 2. Subject Files
1932-1964
AFL Organizer's Commission
1932
Box 1: 3
Election Activities
1948
Box 1: 4
Election Activities
1958
Box 1: 5
Election Activities
1962
Box 1: 6
General Correspondence
1937-1964
Box 1: 7
Mass. AFL-CIO COPE
n.d.
Box 1: 8
New England Textile Study
1957-1959
Box 1: 9
Politics
1963
Box 1: 10
United Textile Workers Organizing
1933
Box 1: 11
University of Massachusetts
1964
Box 1: 12
Series 3. Printed Materials
1948-1978
AFL-CIO
1957-1958
Box 1: 13
Congress of Industrial Organizations
1953
Box 1: 14
Connecticut State Labor Council
1978
Box 1: 15
Industrial Union Dept., AFL-CIO
n.d.
Box 1: 16
Northern Textile Association
1973
Box 1: 17
Textile Workers Union of America
1943, n.d.
Box 1: 18
Union Manuals
1952-1962
Box 1: 19
United Labor Committee of Massachusetts
1948
Box 1: 20
Series 4. Scrapbooks (oversize)
1934-1986
Vol. 1
1934-1954
Box 1
Vol. 2
1955-1962
Box 1
Vol. 3
1962-1963
Box 1
Vol. 4
1964-1968
Box 1
Series 5. Plaques and Memorabilia
1934-1986
(oversize)

Box 2
Photos
1934-1986
Box 3
Administrative information
Provenance

Acquired from J. William Belanger, 1986

More information about Belanger, and his roles in various labor organizations, can be found in the following related collections:

  • MS 134, Series 1 This consists of correspondence between Belanger and the Textile Worker's Union of America, New Bedford Joint Board, 1959-1964
  • MS 369, Series 1, Subseries C The correspondence, reports, and minutes in this subseries comprise the merger material between the Massachusetts State CIO and the Massachusetts State Federation of Labor, 1955-1958
  • MS 369, Series 1, Subseries D These are convention files of the Massachusetts State CIO and the Massachusetts State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. The years 1957-1964 include correspondence and speeches of Belanger.
Processing Information

Processed by Ken Fones-Wolf, December 1987.

Acknowledgments

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: J. William Belanger Papers (MS 117). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms
Subjects
  • Elections--Massachusetts--History--20th century--Sources.
  • Labor leaders--New England--Biography.
  • Massachusetts--Politics and government--1865-1950--Sources.
  • New England--Economic conditions--20th century--Sources.
  • Textile workers--Labor unions--New England--History--20th century--Sources.
Names
  • Belanger, J. William, 1907-1986--Archives.
  • Textile Workers Organizing Committee--History--Sources.
  • Textile Workers Union of America--History--Sources.
  • United Textile Workers of America--History--Sources.
Genre terms
  • Photographs.
  • Scrapbooks.