Business, Industry, and Labor
The Western Reserve Historical Society Research Library has one of the largest regional archives that document the history of manufacturing, business, and industry in the United States. Combined with approximately 200 collections that document the history of organized labor, the library has an extensive archive that illustrates the economic development, decline, and rebirth of Cleveland and northeast Ohio.
The steel, garment, banking, and automotive industries are documented extensively, as well as the history of smaller, entrepreneurial operations. Neighborhood businesses are also documented. The collections include the personal papers of small business owners, industrial leaders, individual workers, and labor leaders. Labor unions that represented the interests of steel workers, meat cutters, musicians, barbers, communications workers, and laborers are just a few of the trades represented.
The story of Cleveland’s Rust Belt economy and economies that made up its many distinct neighborhoods is only a part of what makes these collections valuable to researchers. The collections also provide access into social interaction and societal change, the role of women and minorities in the workplace, management practices and marketing strategies, as well as architecture and engineering design and innovations.
Some of the companies represented in the collection:
Leisey Brewing Company
L.N. Gross Company
Peerless Motor Car Company
Pickands, Mather & Company
White Motor Company
Work Wear Corp.
Some of the labor unions and related material in the collection:
Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America
Cleveland Printing and Graphic Communications Union
Communications Workers of America
Graphic Arts International Union
International Association of Machinists
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen, and Helpers of America
International Typographical Union
International Union of United Brewery, Flour, Cereal, Soft Drink and Distillery Workers
Lithographers and Photoengravers International Union
National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
Textile Workers Union of America
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
United Steelworkers of America
Business, labor, and industry collections are part of the WRHS Corporate and Philanthropic History Archives Program.