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Twenty Years of the CIO
March 19, 2010
In 1935, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was formed, substantially from unions who broke away from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Industrial unions were organized all over the country, encompassing all workers in a factory instead of by craft. After twenty years, in 1955, the two union federations merged. Before the merger, however, the CIO held its 17th and last convention.
During that convention, a presentation was staged that recounted some of the history of the organization. The narration was done by actor Melvyn Douglas and music was provided by singer Joe Glazer, with other singers and speakers, including some famous labor leaders. That presentation was recorded, and copies of that disk exist in archives. Moreover, tape copies of it exist, and a Steelworkers Union (USW) friend, International Rep. Rick Latham, loaned me his copy so I could digitize it.
I don’t know the exact history of that tape, but I know this much: The late Tony Mazzocchi, who was at the convention, had a tape of the presentation. I was told that Tony had taped it from an original disk, but whose disk, I don’t know. However, the tape that was loaned to me by Rick was a copy of Tony’s tape. Thus, it was at least two generations removed from the original. After digitizing, I cleaned up the sound a bit. When doing this, there is always a trade-off — when you remove something bad, you also remove something good, and you have to be careful not to take away more than you fix. I tried to find a good compromise. The sound is not perfect, however.
Regardless of that, it’s a real piece of history. The mp3 file, 20YearsOfTheCIO1.mp3, is big, about 73 MB, and the performance lasts about forty minutes. To download it, right-click on the link and save to your PC.
March 26, 2010
A few days ago, I received a message from Robert Korstad, Ph. D., Kevin D. Gorter Professor of Public Policy and History at Duke University. He told me that his father had an original recording. Prof. Korstad had donated the disk to the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but he had also made a digitized recording for himself. He offered to make his copy available to me, and I agreed.
Korstad’s recording has fewer pops and clicks than the Mazzocchi recording, and is a first generation recording from the original, so the overall sound quality is better. However, given the recording technology used to make the original recording and some goofs in the original performance (like people not standing close enough to the microphone when they started talking), this also needed a little fiddling. Overall, this is a cleaner recording.
I decided to leave both copies available, in case some people have different tastes than mine. This second mp3 file is available for download, and is approximately the same size and length as the first one: 20YearsOfTheCIO2.mp3. There is a little technical information about this second recording at this web site: search.lib.unc.edu/search?R=UNCb3907378.
Thanks to both Rick Latham and Robert Korstad for making these historic recordings available for Internet access. To my knowledge, these are the only copies available on the Internet.
Last Updated — April 06, 2013