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|Size||24.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 17100 items)|
|Abstract||Daniel A. Powell was born on 29 July 1911 in Wilson, N.C. In the 1930s Powell worked as a salesman for the American Circulation Company, the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company, and as advertising salesman for the Memphis Press-Scimitar. He was an account executive for the O'Callaghan Advertising Agency in 1939-1940 and served in the United States Army Air Force in World War II. Powell was briefly the Assistant Information Director for the West Tennessee Office of Price Administration in 1945 and in the same year became the Southern Director of the Political Action Committee of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. When the CIO merged with the American Federation of Labor in 1955, the AFL's League for Labor Education joined with the CIO's PAC to cbecome the Committee on Political Education (COPE). Powell then became director of COPE Region 5, roughly the same territory he had covered for PAC. Powell served in that position until his death on 6 August 1983. The collection includes correspondence, subject files, audio tapes and discs, photographs, and other material of Daniel Augustus Powell (1911-1983), labor union official and civic leader of Memphis, Tennessee. The great bulk of these papers relates to the work of the AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE) for Area 5, which Powell directed from 1955-1983. There is also material on Powell's work as head of the CIO Political Action Committee (PAC) in the southeast from 1945-1955; his membership in the Newspaper Guild; and his activities with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Memphis, the West Tennessee Civil Liberties Union, the Tennessee Council on Human Relations, the United States Civil Rights Commission, and the Tennessee Committee for the Humanities.|
|Creator||Powell, Daniel Augustus, 1911-1983.|
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Daniel Augustus Powell was born on 29 July 1911, in Wilson, North Carolina, the son of Daniel A. Powell, Sr., a physician, and Lilliam L. Warren Powell. He married Rachel Ola Staples in 1945, and they had two children, Danial A. and Pamela R. Powell.
Powell graduated from Goldsboro High School in 1929 and in 1930 attended Presbyterian Junior College in Maxton, North Carolina, where he managed the college news bureau. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1930 to 1931.
In the 1930s Powell worked as a salesman for the American Circulation Company, the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company, and as advertising salesman for the Memphis Press-Scimitar. He was an account executive for the O'Callaghan Advertising Agency in 1939-1940 and served in the United States Army Air Force in World War II. Powell was briefly the Assistant Information Director for the West Tennessee Office of Price Administration in 1945 and in the same year became the Southern Director of the Political Action Committee of the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Powell had had experience as a union organizer in 1938-1939 when he helped organize a local of the Newspaper Guild at the Memphis Press-Scimitar, but in his new position Powell's work was directed toward building strong union political organizations. Disappointed by conservative political gains in th 1940s and what it perceived as increasing anti-union feeling in national and state governments, the CIO created in 1943 its Political Action Committee under the direction of Sydney Hillman. In its organizational structure PAC paralleled the structure of the CIO. National PAC operated at CIO headquarters in Washington. The national union hoped to create PACs at every level of union organization: state, city, county, and local. Regional PAC directors like Powell would coordinate the activities of the various PACs in their territory and form the connecting link with the national office in Washington. Although the national PAC could draw on general CIO funds, the plan was to make each level of PAC organization self-sufficient, meeting its budget by contributions from the appropriate union level. Many PAC staff members, particularly field workers, would also be on loan from local unions. Ideally the organizational line ran from the national PAC office to Powell. Powell in turn would be in touch with state PACs which drew staff and funds from the state CIO; city PACs, drawing staff and funds from city central labor councils; county or congressional district PACs; and finally PACs in each local of the various CIO unions.
When the CIO merged with the American Federation of Labor in 1955, the AFL's League for Labor Education joined with the CIO's PAC to become the Committee on Political Education (COPE). Powell then became director of COPE Region 5, roughly the same territory he had covered for PAC. The structure and function of COPE were much the same as that of PAC.
Much of Powell's effort from 1945 to 1983 was directed toward making a reality of the strong PAC/COPE organization that had been envisioned in 1945. His other major area of responsibility was assessing the political situation in his territory and coordinating the support of local unions for labor candidates and programs. Powell's organizational duties were complicated by the relative weakness of unions in the South, lingering friction between AFL and CIO unions, and personality and political clashes within the unions themselves. His political duties were complicated by the increasing conservatism of the region, particularly after the civil rights decisions of the mid-1950s. Increasingly, Powell found himself promoting a political agenda which, at least on the question of race, was out of step not only with most of the white citizens of his region but also with a large number of union members.
Powell was an agnostic in religion and a liberal in political and social beliefs. He had a continuing interest in the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Memphis which he helped form and in such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Tennessee Council on Human Relations, the Tennessee Committee for the Humanities, and the United States Civil Rights Commission. Powell's interest in the labor movement and politics was theoretical as well as practical. He belonged to the American Academy of Political and Social Science and the Academy of Political Science. In 1977 he contributed an article on COPE to Studies in Southern Labor History.
Powell died at Baptist Hospital, Memphis, on 6 August 1983.Back to Top
Documentation for Daniel Powell's political work with the CIO and AFL-CIO is found in two series of material: the state PAC/COPE files and the national PAC/COPE files. The state files contain Powell's correspondence with state and local leaders, reports to Powell from state field workers, and files of subject material connected with Powell's political and union activities. They vary substantially in size and in the period of time they cover, reflecting the transfer of states into and out of Powell's territory. A great deal of material relating to every stage of Powell's career with PAC/COPE exists for Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. There is somewhat less material for North Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Virginia. There is only scattered material for Texas, Indiana, and Ohio. The national files document Powell's work with the national PAC/COPE office for the entire period of his involvement in union politics. Many of the field reports and a portion of the correspondence are copies of letters and reports in the state files.
Powell's personal life is documented in correspondence and subject files reflecting his many social and intellectual interests. Although there is some material on Powell's life from 1945 to 1955, most of the personal material covers the period from 1955 to 1983. There is nothing in the papers on Powell's childhood, education, or early career in the 1930s.
The researcher should note that Powell's papers have been left for the most part in the order in which Powell kept them. This means that there is some overlapping between series and within a given series. For instance, Powell was a member of the Newspaper Guild, and some material relating to the Guild is in his personal papers. However, the Guild was Powell's bargaining agent with his employer, the AFL-CIO; and since Powell served at least once as a contract negotiator, there is Guild material in the national PAC/COPE files as well.Back to Top
State files reflect Daniel Powell's attempts to organize PAC/COPE units at all union levels, to increase the political awareness and activity of individual union leaders and the general union membership, to formulate union responses to specific political situations, to focus union resources on political candidates sympathetic to union goals, and to provide national PAC/COPE officers with assessments of political developments in Powell's district.
Correspondence in the state files includes letters to and from PAC/COPE national officers; local and state union officers; and local, state, and national politicians. Subjects of the correspondence include PAC/COPE organization, activity, and finance; divisions and problems within the AFL-CIO and various PAC/COPE organizations; organizing and funding political campaigns; directing political education projects such as labor schools for union leaders; defining and responding to various political issues including right-to-work laws, poll tax, anit-union activity, racism, and the rise of the radical right.
State files also contain field reports from Powell to national PAC/COPE officers, and from state field agents to Powell or to the national office. Some state report files also include "matching grant reports" describing the work of state field agents paid in part by grants from the national organization. In general the reports assess political activities, candidates, and campaigns. On occasion the reports also deal with problems and divisions within a state or local union or PAC/COPE organization.
The state files contain subject folders dealing with the same subjects which arise in the reports and correspondence. These include organization of PAC/COPE units; divisions in the unions; specific political campaigns and candidates; campaign financing; the radical right; the poll tax; and right-to-work laws.
National files consist of the correspondence of Powell and COPE field agents with the national COPE office, reports from Powell and field agents, and miscellaneous files.
Correspondence, 1945-1983, concerns the implementation of national COPE goals and policies in the various states under Powell's jurisdiction. Specifically, the letters deal with the mechanics of COPE organization; financing political campaigns and other COPE projects; details of meetings, conventions, and labor schools; and routine office matters.
Reports in the national files, 1946-1983, are from Powell and COPE field workers to the national COPE organization assessing political activities, candidates, and campaigns. Many, perhaps most, of these reports are duplicates of those found in the various state files. Subject files deal with such topics as office expenses, AFL-CIO Christmas lists, the Newspaper Guild, labor schools, efforts to persuade local unions to "check-off" money for COPE activities, and Powell's payroll records and dental and medical claims.
Items in this series pertain for the most part to Powell's activities and interests outside of his work with the AFL-CIO. They include correspondence dealing with personal and family matters, and some union business.
Series 3 also contains several of Powell's own subject files, which include correspondence, reports, memoranda, research notes, writings, and other types of material. Included in these files is information on Powell's activities in the Newspaper Guild; numerous clippings concerning Powell's life and additional clippings on Will Campbell and John Kraft; material on the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, of which Powell was a member; items relating to Powell's work with the Tennessee Council on Human Relations, the United States Civil Rights Commission, the Tennessee Committee for the Humanities, and the West Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union; material on the Vietnam War, including the text of a speech on the war by David Schoenbrun; and the texts of reports or notes for speeches on such subjects as the attitudes of Negroes in various American cities in 1964, the Memphis garbage strike in 1968, and the rise of the radical right in American politics.
Audio-visual materials include audio tapes and audio discs, photographs, and photographic negatives. Daniel Powell was an amateur photographer and tape recording enthusiast, and he made most of the tapes and photographs himself.
Most of these photographs and photographic negatives relate to Powell's union activities. They depict union meetings and, particularly, PAC schools.
Powell's political activities are represented by a number of autographed photographs of state and national politicians and a few photographs of political meetings.
The photographic negatives (P-4364/81-132) appear to have been made by Powell at various PAC schools in 1953. Most of the photographs appear to come from the period 1946-1964.
Group photos of Powell at Mississippi Labor Council meeting; URW District 8 school, May 1951; Highlander Folk School, May 1951; Tri-State Labor School, May 1964; Florida Industrial Union Council, Annual Convention, September 1955; parade in Memphis following assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., April 1968. #04364, Subseries: "4.1. Pictures." P-4364/26-32
Tape recordings in the collection appear to have been made by Daniel Powell from radio and television broadcasts as well as live speeches and performances. Subjects include concerns of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Memphis; union activities; and political activities.
Audio discs are recordings of various political announcements and advertisements, 1945-1960; political meetings; and union meetings.
8/31/69; Memphis, TN; "Face the Nation" CBS-TV, "Press Conference" WMPS-TV, and "Issues and Answers" ABC-TV; Sec. of Labor George F. Schultz (F the N), Dr. Silbert Ketts, and Dr. Joel Battle (P.C.) and AFL-CIO Pres. George Meany (I. and A.); (F the N) Labor Issues, (P.C.) Four Recent Memphis Murders (I. and A.) Labor Issues #04364, Subseries: "4.2. Audio Tapes and Audio Discs." T-4364/23
4/17 18/70; Memphis, TN; "The Emerging South": Symposium of the L.Q.C. Lamar Society; Richard Goodwin, Dr. Thomas H. Naylor, Pat McMullan, Jr., Dr. Ray Marshall, George Esser, Joel L. Fleishman, Maynard Jackson, Dr. Alexander Heard, Dr. Dudley Culley, Dr. Raymond Wheeler, M.D., Frank Smith, Dr. Joseph Beasley; "The End of Reconstruction," "The Southern Economy," "The Emerging Southern City," "The Black Man in Southern Politics," "Politics," "Education in the South," "Southern Ecology" #04364, Subseries: "4.2. Audio Tapes and Audio Discs." T-4364/32
Processed by: Harry McKown with processing assistance from Barbara Logsdon and John White, October 1984
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008
Most of the material in this collection remains in the binders in which it was received at the Southern Historical Collection.Back to Top