Summary Information
Title: Ernest Rice McKinney Papers
Collection Number: AIS.1963.04
Creator: McKinney, Ernest Rice, 1886-1984

Collection Dates: Bulk, 1929-1935
Collection Dates: 1929-1942
Extent: 0.56 linear feet (1 box)

Language: English

Ernest McKinney was an African American journalist who played an integral role as an unemployed organizer for the National Unemployed League. This collection includes personal papers; it should be noted that McKinney sometimes wrote under the pseudonym of David Coolidge.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:


Finding aid prepared by Archives Service Center staff in 1963. Revisions occurred to the finding aid as a part of the encoding process on January 22, 2003.
Revision Description:
April 2012:
Finding aid updated with item-level information.


Born in Malden, West Virginia, in 1886, McKinney, also known under the pseudonym David Coolidge, was the son of a coal miner. At different points in his life, McKinney endeavored a variety of jobs which included becoming editor of, This Month, a columnist for the Pittsburgh Courier (1932), Executive Secretary of the Unemployed Citizens' League of Allegheny County (1933), a Social Worker, and Assistant to the Director, Kingsley House. In 1916 an oral history conducted at Columbia University resulted in McKinney writing a 116 page book of memoirs published by Harvard University, The Reminiscences of Ernest Rice McKinney. The memoir deals with the development of the National Unemployed League, depression days; organizing steel workers for CIO, membership in the Workers' Socialist Party; upgrading African Americans in industry; Working Men's Welfare Committees; Workers Party of the United States (Trotskyist Group) and its relationship to Communist and Socialist Parties; and McKinney's resignation from Workers Party.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

This collection is comprised of correspondence, newspaper clippings, a scrapbook and articles by McKinney, cartoons, and miscellaneous material ranging from publications to newsletters. Some of McKinney's papers are located at Harvard University and an oral history was conducted at Columbia University.

Subject Terms

  • African American journalists -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • African American social workers -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Journalists -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Social workers -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Social workers -- Political activity
  • Socialism
  • Socialists -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Unemployed -- United States

Corporate Names
  • Manchester Industrial Center (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • Pennsylvania Unemployed League. Allegheny County Division.
  • Socialist Workers Party.
  • Unemployed Citizens' League of Allegheny County.

Personal Names
  • McKinney, Ernest Rice, 1886-1984

  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Social conditions

  • Personal papers
  • Social action

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Hugh Cleland on October 15, 1963.

Preferred Citation:

Ernest Rice McKinney Papers, 1929-1935, 1942, AIS.1963.04, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Previous Citation:

McKinney, Ernest Rice Papers, 1929-1935, 1942, Archives of Industrial Society, University of Pittsburgh Libraries

Processing Information:

This collection was originally processed by Archives Service Center staff in 1963. Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid was provided by Tami Jacques on January 22, 2003. Finding aid was updated with additional description by Bryce R. Henry on February 7, 2012. Information about the collection title and the controlled access terms was extracted from the MARC record in the University of Pittsburgh catalog Voyager ID number: 1410030.


The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Collection Inventory

Box 1
Folder 1 Correspondence of the Unemployed Citizen’s League of Pittsburgh, March-April 1933
Folder 2 Newspaper clippings, circa 1936

Includes poetry, editorials, and several “It Is My Opinion” articles by McKinney on a variety of topics including employment, unions, and politics

Folder 3 Clipbook (unbound), 1932-1933

Newspaper clippings regarding employment, politics, President Roosevelt, and unions.

Folder 4 Miscellaneous publications and periodicals, 1935
1. Ernest Rice McKinney, “The Tactics of the Socialist Party in Pittsburgh: A Rejoinder”
2. David Coolidge, Bulletin on the Negro Question
3. Constitution and Platform of the Unemployed Citizen’s League of Allegheny County
4. “The Unemployed in Action: A Challenge to the Unemployed of Pittsburgh,” Bulletin 3 of the Pittsburgh UCL
5. Preamble to the Constitution of the Unemployed Citizen’s League of Allegheny County, March 1935
6. Untitled open letter/statement/manifesto of David Coolidge, circa 1935
Folder 5 The agenda and minutes for the July 30-31, 1934 Convention of the National Unemployed League, circa 1934

2 copies

Folder 6 Miscellaneous publications and periodicals, 1929-1942
1. Demonstrate, the Official Organ of the PA Unemployed League, nos. 1-2 October-November 1934
2. Flier for "Don't Tread On Me," the Second Annual Convention of the National Unemployed League, 1934

The convention took place on July 30, 31 and August 1, 1934 in Columbus, Ohio. 2 copies.

3. Information Bulletin: A Service for Unemployed Organizations magazine issues 1-3, 1932-1933
4. Abolish Segregation, Jim-Crowism, Discrimination, vol. 1, no. 2, November 1942
5. This Month, vol. 1, no. 2, June 1929

Includes Ernest McKinney, “Holy Men of Aframerica."

6. The Letter: Weekly News of the Center, vol 3, no. 6, February 5, 1931
Folder 7 Mass Action, vol 1, nos. 1-5, 17, 1935
Folder 8 Cartoons
1. Labor Age Cartoons

2 copies, original and copy.

2. Various cartoons assembled from unknown sources
Folder 10 Two articles by Ernest Rice McKinney, 1929 and 1933
1. “Race Solidarity: An Ideal of No Importance,” The World Tomorrow, January 1929
2. “The Negro’s Road to Freedom,” Labor Age, vol. 21, no. 9, September 1932
Folder 9 Sworn statement of Charles Lewis, March 31, 1933