Skip to main content

MS 468 - Sam Pollock Papers


The Sam Pollock Collection was purchased by the Center for Archival Collections in June 1986 from Pollock's widow, Sally. A labor organizer, Pollock was associated for over fifty years with the labor movement in Ohio. In the 1930s, he organized workers during the Toledo Autolite Strike and the Hardin County Onion Pickers Strike. Pollock then served as International Union Representative of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America, AFL-CIO (1938-1952) and as president of Meat Cutters District Union 427, Cleveland (1953-1973). Additionally, Pollock was interested in prepaid health organizations and was involved with the development of the Community Health Foundation of Cleveland. The Collection reflects these interests, as well as Pollock's socialist philosophy.

Included in the Collection are approximately 10,000 books, focusing on labor history, socialism and communism, and social and economic theory. Many volumes, signed by the authors, are considered rare. Also included in the Collection are nearly 4,000 pamphlets documenting similar topics. Finally, the Pollock Collection includes 45 linear feet of manuscripts, including photographs, relating primarily to Pollock's union activities and work for improved health care.

A portion of the Collection, relating to Pollock's tenure as president of the Meat Cutters Union, is available at the Western Reserve Historical Society; interested researchers should contact Dr. John Grabowski. A small part of the Collection, concerned with the right-to-work movement in Ohio, is housed at Wayne State University. Dr. Philip Mason may be contacted there for further information. This Collection was processed by Marilyn Levinson, Manuscripts Curator, Center for Archival Collections; James Kaser, doctoral candidate in American Culture; and Pam Boehm, student assistant, Center for Archival Collections. The introduction, biographical sketch and scope and content were prepared by Alicia Browne, a graduate assistant in the Department of History. This Collection, of significant value to researchers interested in labor history, socialism, and communism, is open to the public on an unrestricted basis.

Biographical Sketch

  • 1909 Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on 21 June to Noah I. and Sonia Pollock
  • 1926 Graduated from Woodward High School, Toledo, Ohio
  • 1926-1929 Completed four semesters, University of Toledo
  • 1929-1930 Apprentice meat cutter, Kroger Co., Toledo
  • 1929-1930 Completed one semester, Bowling Green State University
  • 1930-1931 Completed two semesters, University of Toledo
  • 1931-1933 Officer Candidate Reserve Officer Corps, Quartermaster School
  • 1932 Employed by juvenile court in Toledo
  • 1933 Employed by Logan Gear, a subsidiary of Toledo Autolite
  • 1934 Married Sally Cooper on 23 April
  • 1934 Organized workers during Autolite Strike and was arrested
  • 1934 Aided strikers during Hardin County Onion Pickers Strike
  • 1934-1936 Worked as planning supervisor, Toledo Recreation Department
  • 1937 Only child, Frances, born
  • 1938-1952 Worked for the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America as international union representative
  • 1953-1973 President of Meatcutters District Union 427, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 1966-1967 Member of Ohio Civil Rights Commission
  • 1968 Daughter Frances Packard died
  • 1969-1973 Served as vice-chair of the board of directors, Kaiser Community Health Corporation
  • 1972 Retired as union president on 31 December
  • 1973 Received honorary JD from Cleveland State University
  • 1973 Became assistant professor of health sciences at California State University-Northridge
  • 1983 Died in Los Angeles while being treated for diabetes

Scope and Content

The Sam Pollock Papers, which provide biographical information about Pollock and insight into the causes in which he was interested, consist of manuscripts, photographs, pamphlets, books, and recordings. The books have been individually catalogued and access is available through either the CAC or the Jerome Library catalog system.

Researchers should note that detailed series descriptions exist for the manuscripts, which are divided into Personal and Business papers. The personal papers consist primarily of correspondence, speeches, and printed materials. The correspondence is arranged chronologically and is largely composed of letters from organizations of which Pollock was a member. The most historically significant letters relate to the National Unemployed League of the 1930s; there are also several letters from Ted Selander, with whom Pollock was active in the Toledo Autolite Strike in 1934. The subject files begin with files on Pollock and on his daughter, Frances. The files are then arranged alphabetically by topic. Of particular interest to students of socialism in America are files documenting the organization and proceedings of the National Conference of American Socialists in Cleveland (1958).

The bulk of the Business papers concentrate on Pollock's work as an organizer for the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, particularly during the years 1941-1953. Business correspondence is arranged chronologically and consists primarily of form letters from the union. Subject files include numerous files related to health care issues, but these consist primarily of printed material. Material relating to Pollock's tenure as president of Meat Cutter's District Union 427 is largely absent from this collection. Those papers are housed at the Western Reserve Historical Society as part of the collection of United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, District 427.

The pamphlets in the collection cover a vast array of topics, particularly socialism, civil rights, and labor. They are arranged alphabetically by topic. The photographs deal primarily with labor, strikes, union conventions, and trade meetings. Also in the collection are some personal photographs, including those from Pollock's 1960 trip to the Soviet Union. The photographs are arranged chronologically within each topic. There are few recordings in the collection, dealing primarily with labor.

Series Description

The manuscript portion of the Pollock Papers is divided into Personal Papers and Business Papers; within the Business Papers there are two main divisions--those related to Pollock's work for the American Meatcutters and Butcher Workmen of America (AMC & BW) and those related to his work for prepaid health organizations.

Personal Papers--Correspondence
Boxes 1-4

A large percentage of the general correspondence files are composed of letters from organizations of which Pollock was a member, or in whose activities he was interested. These are often form letters and the letters he received from individuals are often perfunctory. Folder One of Box One is one of the most important in the general correspondence since it contains letters relating to Pollock's involvement in the National Unemployed League; two of these are from Arnold Johnson. After the mid-1960s many letters deal with arrangements for lectures and class presentations that Pollock made. Other letters request information from Pollock about his involvement in the Autolite Strike and the labor union movement in the 1930s. In addition to the general correspondence files, there are a number of individual and one organizational correspondence file. From a historical standpoint the most important of these files include one containing three letters from Ted Selander, who was active with Pollock in the Autolite Strike, and another containing a series of letters from Louis Budenz. This latter file dates from 1935 and contains letters written by Budenz from New York City in which he advises Pollock on what he should be reading, and the steps he should be taking in his work with the Toledo auto workers. The bulk of the correspondence, however, constitutes Budenz' statement of what he believes the American Worker's Party should be like. He recounts the struggle he is conducting within the Party to maintain an "American approach" that echoes the activism of the American Revolution rather than an approach modeled on the Soviet Union. When it became clear that the Party was strengthening its ties to the Socialist Party, Budenz resigned from the organization. In the copy of his letter of resignation that he sent to Pollock, Budenz declaims the "Trotskyite influence" that has begun to dominate the Party.

Most of the other individual correspondence files are only biographically interesting. For instance, the correspondence with Claude Cook and Bernard Hanes show that Pollock was actively seeking a teaching position in a health care organization as long as eight years before he resigned from his presidency of AMC & BW Local 427 to accept a position at the University of California-Northridge. The Pollock Collection file, containing letters from libraries expressing interest in the collection of books, pamphlets and papers Pollock had assembled, shows the degree to which Pollock had become recognized as a collector of material related to labor history.

Personal Papers--Literary Productions
Boxes 5-6

Under this designation in the collection are works by Pollock arranged in chronological order, including articles, reports, conference papers, speeches, letters to the editor, manuscripts and outlines. Folders usually contain notes and rough drafts as well as the final draft of a work and, if published, a clipping. Also included in this series is the transcript of an interview of Pollock conducted in 1963 by Bill Miller (Cleveland Plain Dealer) which is a good source of biographical information, and a file that contains vitas and biographical questionnaires completed between 1966 and 1979. Other folders contain a series of articles Pollock wrote for AMC & BW publications, several works by people other than Pollock and articles Pollock may have written, but whose authorship is uncertain.

Personal Papers--Subject Files
Boxes 7-16

Under this designation are folders that contain information in the form of correspondence, literary production, notes and printed material about specific individuals, events, subjects, or organizations. The first box in the series (Box 7) contains information on Pollock himself; all of the folders in this box except one are concerned with the awards Pollock won. The first folder contains newspaper and magazine articles dating from 1947-1979 that are about Pollock or mention Pollock. The second box in the series (Box 8) contains information about Pollock's only child, Frances. Most of the material is concerned with Frances' divorce and death. Some material deals with Frances' two sons, Thomas Hathaway and Damon Packard.

Subject files on individuals other than Pollock and his daughter are arranged alphabetically and vary from collections of news clippings about particular persons (e.g., Father Coughlin) to series of folders containing correspondence and other significant documents from a particular person. Contents of the folders on Bernard Brommel, Milton Gerecin, and Bernard Mandel mostly deal with Pollock's efforts to get books or articles by these men published. Although there are letters from and to James McCartan in the folders on McCartan, most of the material is related to the organization of "Jim McCartan Day" in Akron and the dedication of a bust of McCartan. There are several letters in the A. J. Muste folder, but mostly it contains news clippings about Muste. The Arthur Preiss folders contain several letters to Preiss from Harry Howe, A. J. Muste, and Louis Budenz, but most of the correspondence to and from Pollock concerns the publication of Preiss' book Labor's Giant Step. Other material deals with Preiss' death, the assistance Pollock provided to Preiss' wife (Ethel Preiss), and Pollock's donation of papers relating to Preiss to the University of Oregon. The Auda Romine folder, which contains a series of correspondence, is of biographical interest since Romine was romantically involved with Pollock over a number of years. The Jean Tussey folders contain some perfunctory correspondence between Tussey and Pollock, and letters to Tussey from Tor Cedervall and A. Phillip Randolph. Other material is related to Tussey's political affiliations and his appearance before a Senate Internal Subcommittee to determine his ties to the Communist Party.

Subject files on organizations are arranged alphabetically and consist of organizations of which Pollock was a member. Of particular interest among these are those on the Labor's League, National Unemployed League, and the Toledo Workers' Party.

Subject files on particular events or subjects are arranged alphabetically and deal with a wide variety of topics. Folders 6 through 11 of Box 13 contain material related to a course Pollock took at the Cuyahoga Community College. The folders entitled The I.W.W., 1905-1917 (Philip Foner), Salt of the Earth (film) and Slaves (film) all contain material related to Pollock's promotion of these works. One folder (Box 15, Folder 11) contains printed material on the Toledo auto strikes.

Personal Papers
Boxes 16-37

These boxes of the Personal Papers contain series generated by specific activities of Pollock. Some of these are: his teaching position at the University of California-Northridge, his membership in socialist organizations, his involvement in the Debs Foundation, his interest in Canadian labor movements, and his efforts to build his personal collection of books and art prints. Boxes 23 and 24 are of particular interest since they primarily contain correspondence generated in organizing the National Conference of American Socialists in Cleveland in 1958. Several respondents to the conference call expressed their ideas about the shape socialism should take in America. Box 28 is also of special interest since it contains a variety of material concerning the Cleveland Taft-Hartley Conspiracy Case and includes correspondence Pollock conducted with the defendants in the case, Marie Haug and Eric Reinthaler (some of which Haug and Reinthaler wrote from prison) and two articles on the case by Pollock.

Business Papers--Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butcher Workmen (AMC & BW)--Correspondence
Boxes 38-40

The bulk of this collection is composed of form letters sent to Pollock from the national office of the AMC & BW usually in the form of a weekly bulletin on Union policy and issues which also contained news on issues being faced by labor unions in general. Almost all the correspondence dates from the period 1941 to 1953 when Pollock was an organizer for the AMC & BW. There are some letters in which Pollock communicates information related to specific problems he is having in his organizing efforts, but most of this sort of communication appears to have occurred by telephone (there are references throughout the series to telephone calls). As an organizer, Pollock was required to file weekly reports of his activities, but none of these are included in the collection. There also is no correspondence in the collection documenting those years during which Pollock was president of AMC & BW Local 427 (this is in the collection of the Case Western Reserve Historical Society).

Business Papers--AMC & BW--Subject Files
Boxes 41-43

Most of the folders under this heading deal with Pollock's activities at specific locals of the AMC & BW or specific meat processing plants. There are very few notes and little correspondence in these files; most of the material consists of printed flyers and bulletins distributed to further organizing efforts. In Box 41, folders 1-5, one finds material related to Pollock's involvement in the Ohio State Branch of the AMC & BW prior to his work for the national union. Some folders in Box 43 contain material generated during Pollock's presidency of Local 427.

Business Papers--AMC & BW
Boxes 44-49

These boxes contain material created through Pollock's engagement in specific activities (e.g., serving as trustee of the Meatcutter's Health and Welfare Fund of Local 427; his chairmanship of a task force on the effects of automation on meat processing plants organized by the AMC & BW; and his involvement in research studies commissioned by the AMC & BW, most of which were conducted by the Labor Education and Research Service at Ohio State University).

Business Papers
Boxes 50-61

These boxes primarily contain printed material relating to AMC & BW conventions and AFL-CIO conventions (from those years after AMC & BW affiliated with the AFL-CIO) and printed material published by the AMC & BW and AFL-CIO. There is also material relating to non-national or special topic conferences sponsored by labor organizations.

Business Papers--American Andesite
Boxes 62-63

Pollock served as a consultant and promoter for American Andesite which produced a floor preparation to be used in cleaning that was designed to prevent meat processors from slipping on soiled floors.

Business Papers--Joint Labor Management Committee
Box 64

The Joint Labor Management Committee of the Retail Food Industry (JLM) was formed to develop methods of containing operation costs in the retail food industry. Most of the material in this series concerns an unsolicited proposal dealing with health care delivery in rural areas submitted to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare's Bureau of Community Health Services in 1977. The proposal was submitted to JLM by the AMC & BW during the time in which Pollock was Coordinator of Health Care Planning for the Union.

Business Papers--Health Related
Boxes 65-101

Pollock became involved in health care issues through being a trustee of the Meatcutter's Health and Welfare Fund (Local 427). That organization founded a group prepaid health organization in Cleveland for union members called the Community Health Foundation (CHF) which began accepting patients in 1962. Later, CHF affiliated with kaiser Permanente to become Kaiser Community Heath Foundation. Pollock's role in the creation of CHF prompted organizations in the Cleveland area (Metropolitan Health Planning Corporation, and the Cleveland Community Health Network) to select him to serve on their boards of trustees. He was also called upon to participate in the health planning of unions elsewhere in the country (e.g., Middle Tennessee Labor Committee for Prepaid Group Health). Eventually, Pollock became a paid field representative and consultant for the Group Health Association of America, Inc., a trade organization established and funded by health maintenance organizations to promote prepaid health care plans. When Pollock moved to California he acted as a consultant to Family Health Care of Sacramento (later HealthCare), Valley Health Team, and eventually served as an officer for Community Health Foundation of East Los Angeles and the Northeast Valley Health Corporation.

Due to Pollock's interest in, and promotion of, prepaid health care, he was asked to participate in the HEW Advisory Committee for the National Conference on Group Practice (Box 90), the HEW Independent Practitioner Study (Boxes 91-92), the California Council for Health Plan Alternatives (Box 93), the Ohio Governor's Task Force on Health Care (Box 95) and a wide variety of conferences, seminars, and institutes on health care (Boxes 99-101), including the White House Conference on Aging in 1971 (Box 98).

Although there is occasional correspondence and notes in the health related portion section of the business papers, most of the material is printed. There are some copies of presentations made by Pollock at conferences filed with the material on individual conferences that are not to be found in the literary productions portion of the Personal Papers. There are also several articles on the Community Health Foundation with the CHF material that are not duplicated in the Personal Papers.

Printed Material
Boxes 102-105

This series includes material from the 1964-1972 United States Presidential campaigns, the Cleveland Conference on World Affairs (1957) and a variety of flyers, programs, and other ephemera from activities that were of interest to Pollock. Six boxes of U.S. government publications from the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) from the 1950s to 1960s and Congressional committees dealing with internal security and the investigation of individuals and groups suspected of communist sympathies. Publications from the Department of Labor discuss labor laws around the world and employment, wages and prices around the United States. Health care and Vietnam are subjects of other publications.

Photograph Boxes 1-30

The photographs in the Pollock Collection include negatives, slides, and prints from the 1930s through the 1970s. Depicted are strike actions throughout Ohio (1939-1957), union and trade meetings and conventions (1941-1972), a tour of Europe and the Soviet Union taken in 1960-61, picnics, vacations, and union-sponsored social events (1944-1972), miscellaneous subjects and places (1921-1978), and slides (1957-1973).

Topical Index of Pamphlets

An extensive collection of over 4000 pamphlets on topics such as civil rights, socialism, Marxism, labor, the I. W. W., and foreign relations forms an important part of the Pollock Collection. A complete listing of pamphlets is available at the Center for Archival Collections.