Guide to the Leon H. Swimmer Collection, 1910-1960 AIS.2005.08

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Leon H. Swimmer Collection
Creator
Swimmer, Leon H., 1928-
Collection Number
AIS.2005.08
Date
1910-1960
Extent
0.42 linear feet (1 box)
Abstract
The collection contains materials relating to the life of Morris Swimmer, a baker and bakery owner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pamphlets and booklets shed light on the Jewish labor movement in Pittsburgh and the cultural life of Yiddish-speaking immigrants in the Hill District. Several of the pamphlets pertain to the defense of accused communists in the 1950s.

Preferred Citation

Leon H. Swimmer Collection, 1910-1960, AIS.2005.08, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Biography

Morris Swimmer (alt. Shwimmer) was a Jewish immigrant from Bedzin, Poland. He was born in December, 1897, and around 1910 he emigrated to Pittsburgh. Upon his arrival, drawing on an already acquired Old World skill, he went to work in several of the city’s Jewish bakeries, including Caplan’s and Tisherman’s. During this time, Swimmer was a member of Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union Local 44, the Jewish Bakery workers union. In the 1920s he became a bakeshop owner, but his business was ruined in the 1929 Stock Market Crash. During the Depression, Swimmer was badly burned in an oven explosion. Swimmer shared the politically left orientation of a number of the immigrant workers of his time and place. A Depression-era Yiddish broadside in the A.E. Forbes collection at the Archives Service Center acknowledges Swimmer for keeping the price of his bread affordable for the working people of the Hill. He died in 1979.

Leon H. Swimmer, Morris Swimmer’s son and the donor of the materials, was born on November 29, 1928, in Pittsburgh and was graduated from Schenley High School in 1946. He worked for several steel and bakery companies in Pittsburgh and served a term of duty with the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan. Swimmer was elected Business Agent (1960-1961) and Secretary (1968-1970) of the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union Local 44, which covered workers in the city’s Jewish bakeries. In 1974, he was elected President of Local 44 and brought about the merger of his local into the city’s larger bakery local, Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union Local 12.

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Scope and Content Notes

This small collection contains characteristic, although now rare, items from the world of the Jewish Hill District. These include union dues books from Local 44, the union for workers in the city’s Jewish bakeries; program books for ethnic songfests which were held in the Jewish Labor Lyceum on Miller Street; a Yiddish language constitution booklet for the International Workers Order; and several rare brochures and pamphlets from the time of the Red Scare in Pittsburgh, several of which pertaining to the defense of accused communists in the 1950s.

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Arrangement

The files in this collection are arranged chronologically.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, 2005

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Revision Description

 Zachary L. Brodt  May 1, 2007

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright

Permission for publication is given on behalf of the University of Pittsburgh as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Leon H. Swimmer on August 23, 2005.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by ASC staff in 2005.

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Related Materials

Related Material

The Records of Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union Local 44 (Pittsburgh, Pa.), AIS.1978.21, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

The A.E. Forbes Communist Collection, AIS.2000.07, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

The Hymen Schlesinger Papers, AIS.1977.33, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

Records of the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers International Union Local 12, AIS.1997.13, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Bakery and Confectionery Workers' International Union of America. Local 12 (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • Bakery and Confectionery Workers' International Union of America. Local 44 (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • Freiheits Gesang Verein.
  • Jewish Labor Lyceum (Pittsburgh, Pa.).

Genre(s)

  • Bylaws (Administrative records)
  • Constitutions

Geographic Name(s)

  • Hill District (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Swimmer, Leon H., 1928-
  • Swimmer, Morris, 1897-1979

Subject(s)

  • Bakeries -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Bakery employees -- Labor unions -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Communists -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Ethnic groups
  • Jews -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Labor
  • Labor unions -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Labor unions and communism -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Personal papers
  • Polish Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh

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Previous Citation

Leon H. Swimmer Collection, 1910-1960, AIS.2005.08, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Leon H. Swimmer Collection, 1910-1960, UE/Lab 2005:08, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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Collection Inventory

  BoxFolder
Morris Swimmer Dues Books, Local 44, 1913-1930 11

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  Folder
Constitution and By-Laws Booklet of the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union, 1924 2

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  Folder
Morris Swimmer Correspondence (Yiddish), 1929, 1936 3

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  Folder
Constitution and Statutes of the International Workers Order (Yiddish), 1930 4

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  Folder
Concert Programs, Freiheits Gesang Verein (Singing Society), Jewish Labor Lyceum, 1927-1928 5

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  Folder
Issue of Baker's Journal, November 23, 1940 6

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  Folder
Pamphlets and Brochures regarding Benjamin Careathers, Gus Santos, Joseph Mankin, and Judge Blair F.Gunther, 1950s 7

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  Folder
Printed Legal Briefs regarding Steve Nelson and Dorothy Alberts, 1952-1955 8

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  Folder
Time Book, 1948 9

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