John B. Andrews

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John B. Andrews was an American economic researcher who worked for the American Bureau of Industrial Research in the early 20th century. He played a major role in collecting radical literature from anarchists, syndicalists, socialists, and labor unionists for the Bureau's library from 1905-1908, which were later turned over to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, providing one of the key repositories in America for radical literature of the late 19th and early 20th century.

From John Calvin Colson (1983), "Academic Ambitions and Library Development"

From John Calvin Colson, "Academic Ambitions and Library Development: The American Bureau of Industrial Research and The State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1904-18." University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science Occasional Papers Number 159 (May 1983, ISSN 0276 1769). 12, 46n46.

As events turned out, the committee performed no significant function in the work of the Bureau. Neither was the Bureau's structure significant to its operations. Those were executed chiefly by Commons and the "collaborators" on the Bureau staff—John B. Andrews, Ulrich B. Phillips, Helen L. Sumner, and other faculty and graduate students at the University of Wisconsin46
46. Andrews later became secretary of the American Association for Labor Legislation; Phillips became a distinguished historian at Tulane University and Sumner became chief of the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor.

From John Calvin Colson, "Academic Ambitions and Library Development: The American Bureau of Industrial Research and The State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1904-18." University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science Occasional Papers Number 159 (May 1983, ISSN 0276 1769). 15.

For about three years (1905-1908) the Bureau was the center of a collecting effort which appears to have been unprecedented in American librarianship. It was funded almost entirely from private sources and the materials were collected by a research group which had no long-term interest in them. Those materials were turned over to another organization, the Historical Society, which was administratively unconnected with other groups involved after their immediate use at the Bureau, and the Society, in turn, appears to have had no interest in the use of the materials. In retrospect, the operation appears to have been part and parcel of the Progressive Movement, a function of the times, and an episode in American academic development. It also represented the uncritical acceptance of the concept of growth in libraries.65
In the spring of 1905 the Bureau, for all practical purposes, was composed of four people: John R. Commons, Helen L. Sumner, John B. Andrews, and Ulrich B. Phillips. ... From the record, Ely appears to have been involved only tangentially in the Bureau's work, concerned mainly about finances, and only slightly with the collection of materials or the preparation of the Documentary History.
After he returned from his eastern trip at the end of May 1905, Commons set the Bureau staff into an intensive collecting effort. Andrews, who came to the Bureau during the 1904-05 academic year, began an extensive correspondence with trade union officials and others who had been active in the labor movement—broadly construed: anarchists, syndicalists, socialists, and others.

Ibid., 16:

Soon after Commons returned from Kansas, the great collecting adventure began. Commons, Andrews and Sumner, traveling separately, set off for libraries in Detroit, Cleveland, Albany, Boston, New York, PRovidence, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and "intermediate points." Each was equipped with a "complete outfit"--whatever that might have included--in addition to the bibliographies and index cards.69 From November 1905 through January 1906 (with a break at Christmas, one assumes, since they met right after Christmas at the American Economic Association convention in Baltimore). They visited libraries, union headquarters, second-hand bookstores, and labor leaders.70 They ransacked the files of 68 labor newspapers, and files of numerous newspapers "hostile" to organized labor, concentrating on the years 1825-60.71 They were unable to see everything they wished as at least one labor paper was unavailable; being at the bottom of "the accumulated stores of fifty years."72 They made three copies of each item transcribed, "brief notices" onto four by six inch cards and "long articles" onto eight and one-half by eleven inch paper.73 The copies were verified carefully, "to retain the precise spelling, punctuation and grammar of the original." When appropriate, they visited courts to examine and transcribe the records of labor conspiracy cases prior to 1842, a particular interest of John R. Commons.74 Labor leaders and their survivors were solicited for their personal recollections and materials.
About the trip Commons wrote: "The results were much beyond my expectations in the quantity and value of research material."75 All extant files of labor papers published prior to 1837 were examined, and the important material transcribed, as well as "nearly all the files" of labor papers published during 1837-60 and unavailable by loan. The solicitation of materials by Andrews was acclaimed an outstanding success. Also, so many significant leads were uncovered that Andrews made a second collecting trip in the summer of 1906. Six previously unknown labor conspiracy cases were discovered.76 So much material was obtained that almost overnight Madison became the center for research in the American labor movement of the nineteenth century. All, Commons wrote drly, was "necessary to the preparation of the History of Industrial Democracy."77

Ibid., 17-19, 47n.

Carefully organized though they were, the collecting efforts of 1904-06 appear, in retrospect, to have been a matter of opportunistic response to events. ... It was a "crash program," rather than a systematic development of policy and process. The collecting program executed during 1906-10 has a far more modern appearance. It had five principal facets: travel (chiefly by Andrews), solicitation of materials by correspondence, purchase of materials from dealers' lists, exchange and interlibrary loan, and hired copying of materials which could not be obtained otherwise.
Viewed solely from a technical perspective, the travel by Andrews (and, occasionally, by Commons and Ely) no longer was a necessary element of the collecting process, and Ely was given to complain about the expense of it. However, technical perspectives may be misleading, and the travel remained essential because it was the best way to humanize the project so as to give the donors of materials some sense of worthy participation in the project. Doubtless, also, the face-to-face contacts made in the travel did much to forestall the effects of developing competition for labor materials. In any event, it is evident that Andrews enjoyed the travel, the meeting with "old war horses" of the labor movement, yarning with them ("their glorious reminiscences"), and the "rummage through barrels and boxes of forgotten lore." It was, he wrote, "no small privilege."83 Beyond the privilege, of course, was the fact that personal visits to former labor activists often were the only way to establish the existence of other manuscripts and fugitive printed materials. The labor newspapers, constitutions, convention proceedings, and other formal materials suggested only the likelihood of primary sources. As with tales of buried treasure, or the Grail, reality could be found only by exhaustive search. There were as yet no "routine channels" of acquisitions in this field. They were begun in the comings and goings of Andrews.84
Often, one visit by Andrews or Commons was enough to secure donations of materials, even to establish a practice of continuing donation. Andrews, for example, visited the headquarters of the Socialist Labor Party in New York City during the summer of 1906. In September, the Party Executive Committee voted to give to either the University or the Historical Society "all printed materials" which might be desired by the Bureau, and to start an archival program by sending "all letters, journals, manuscripts, documents, etc. which may not be required for reference in this office."85 In many cases the visit was but the start of a lengthy correspondence. The Commons Papers at the Society contain several hundred letters, many of them concerned with the Bureau's collecting program. ...
The correspondence files also reveal a wealth of incidental information including rewarind and not-so-rewarding experiences. On at least one occasion, Andrews was the instrument for reconnecting old comrades who had drifted apart.88 On the other hand, John MacIntyre, secretary, United Typothetae of America, found in the Bureau's letterhead display of the union label a cause for excoriation of both Commons (for "moral cowardice...turpitude") and the Bureau.89 Other correspondents saw opportunities in the Bureau to promote causes not necessarily relevant to its object, but dearer to their own interests. The Reverend E. H. Rogers (1824-1910), Chelsea, Massachusetts, contributed to the Bureau a significant amount of material (some of which Andrews thought to be especially valuable) on the life of Ira Steward (1831-1883).90 HE also began to send, first to Ely and then to Andrews when rebuffed, manuscripts and printed copies of his own works in theology—works he called "boldly original,... even to audacity," in their refutation of the "old, total depravity theologies."91 As gently as he could, Andrews finally had to tell Rogers to stop, pleading the press of his own work and his incompetence to "express critical judgment" about Rogers's works.92
A similarly extensive correspondence occurred with C. L. James, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, resulting in the contribution of a number of unsolicited manuscripts and more in accord with the program of the Bureau. James, a noted Midwestern "anarchist," contributed such works as "The Industrial History of the Chippewa Valley" (20 pages, 1907), "Anarchism" (30 pages, 1907), and "Who Killed McKinley?" (51 pages, 1907).93
Finally, in a classical bit of graduate student opportunism, Andrews was able to use his position with the Bureau to his own benefit as a scholar. In the fall or early winter of 1907, he wrote to a number of prominent "anarchists," and asked them to submit their opinions on the subject of "economic competition." Replies were received from at least a dozen of those, including C. L. James, Emma Goldman, William Baillie (Boston), Joseph Labadie, and E. H. Rogers. Andrews used the replies as a basis for a paper submitted to Ely's seminar in economics, and presented subsequently to the American Economic Association at its meeting in Madison in 1908.94
[...]
83. Andrews, John B. "Labor Leaders and Labor Literature." American Bureau of Industrial Research Leaflet No. 3. Madison, Wis.: ABIR, 1907, p. 7.
88. Thomas Phillips to John B. Andrews, 9 April 1906, John R. Commons Papers, Manuscripts Dept., State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison.
90. John B. Andrews to E. H. Rogers, 14 Jan. 1907, John R. Commons Papers, Manuscripts Dept., State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison.
91. E. H. Rogers's letters, Commons Papers.
92. Andrews to Rogers, 17 Jan. 1907, Commons Papers.
93. They were closely written on five by eight inch paper in a clear, strong hand. An earlier work by C. L. James, "A Vindication of Anarchism," was published serially in the newspaper Free Society. (James, C. L., "A Vindication of Anarchism." Free Society, March to Sept. 1903, pp. 6-7.)
94. Andrews to C. L. James, 13 Feb. 1908, John R. Commons Papers, Manuscripts Dept., State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison.


Ibid., 21-23:

It is not apparent in the records of the Bureau that the purchase of materials was a routine part of their collecting effort, despite the following statement in Bureau Leaflet number four: "Second-hand bookstores have been carefully searched in every city visited by the Bureau staff..., and auction catalogues are carefully and continually watched. Many rare and interesting books and pamphlets have thus been secured."105 For one example to the contrary, Edwin C. Walker, a New York City rare book dealer, offered four volumes of Liberty, for $2.50 each. The letter of offer bears a note in Andrews's hand: "Too expensive for us."106 Andrews was willing to purchase individual issues to fill gaps at six and eight cents an issue.107 The Bureau does not appear to have had an acquisitions budget. Rather, it appears to have been the policy of Ely and Commons to buy materials only if necessary, and to consider each proposed purchase ad hoc.
[...]
Borrowing, however, was not as much in the Bureau style as was acquisition and interlibrary exchange was intended to be a significant factor in developing the collections at Madison. Commons and Ely appeared to believe the duplicates they were acquiring would facilitate exchanges.115 Their desires do not appear to have been achieved, although the records are unclear on this point. Andrews once suggested to Commons that the Lenox Library in New York City might be willing to exchange its file of the rare labor paper, The Man (New York, 1834), as it was available also in the Astor Library (soon to be merged with the Lenox, and enhanced through the Tilden Trust, to form the New York Public Library) and the New York Historical Society. The Lenox was not willing to exchange the paper, and subsequently the Society obtained another file through donation.116 It was Andrews's suggestion also that the Philadelphia Mercantile Library might be amenable to an exchange for its file of the Mechanic's Free Press (published in Philadelphia, 1828-31), because it was available in two other libraries in Philadelphia. The Mercantile Library was not interested in the proposed exchange so the "essential material..." in the Mechanic's Free Press had to be copied.117 The workings of exchange never did come up to the hopes expressed for it. Materials long unused in the owning libraries were suddenly acquiring a new value to them, if not a new usefulness.

Ibid. 24:

In 1906, Andrews was greatly concerned when some of the collection created by F. A. Sorge in New York City had gone to the New York Public Library. He wanted very much to make sure the rest would come to the Bureau, "the most important collection of labor literature in the country," he told Herman Schleuter, Sorge's executor.122 Andrews was also much concerned that Schleuter's own collection would eventually come to Madison.123 Ely was involved in a long-term campaign to acquire the collection of Joseph Labadie, pursuing it for twenty years. By November 1906 Ely was aware that Labadie wanted the University of Michigan to have the collection, and began a flurry of correspondence with him. A letter of 7 November 1906 reflects the intensity of Ely's desire to have the collection at Madison and his sense of competition with Michigan:
I have been talking with Mr. Andrews about your collection. Would you not be willing to let us have it for $500.00? We should be glad to identify it with you and to give you recognition by putting in a plate inscribed "The Joseph Labadie Collection."
I know that you have in mind to give the collection to Michigan. I must say very frankly that I respect you for your state loyalty. I want to say also that I have a great admiration for Michigan and would be only too glad to improve an opportunity to render a service to that Institution. It would, however, in my opinion, be a mistake to let your collection go there, where it would be comparatively isolated, not forming a part of any large collection. So little has been done in the way of collecting material at Michigan that now it is absolutely impossible that they should get a collection covering the entire field. If a student making a thorough historical research should go to Michigan to use your collection, he would still be obliged to come to Wisconsin. It is far better to have the collection centralized, and especially to have it centralized in a place where more work along the line of social movements is being done than anywhere else in the country.
Of course I cannot say that my own position is one of impartiality. I am therefore writing to Professor E. W. Bemis and to Professor Graham Taylor, asking them to express to you their frank opinion....124
The pleading was to no avail. The matter hung for five more years, until Labadie offered the collection to the Regents of the University of Michigan, and his friends collected funds to buy the collection for the regents.125

Ibid. 27-28:

Thwaites was more generous, perhaps, to the Bureau than may appear to have been prudent. In addition to free quarters in the Society, he permitted the Bureau a liberal use of "express collect" Society shipping labels. Andrews carried quantities of them on his collecting trips, and it also appears that one was inserted in the back of each copy of Leaflet number three, "Labor Leaders and Labor Literature," which was used as a promotional borchure. In any event, the Society began to receive unsolicited express packages without prior notice from anyone.144 Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, was one who sent such a package—and in this case also had the Society billed for the shipping charges.145 The repetition of such incidents became an irritant to Thwaites, who in June 1908 complained to Commons....

Ibid. 29:

In December 1905, or early January 1906, Thwaites borrowed for the Bureau a volume of the Mechanics' Press printed in Utica, New York, 1829-30, from the Oneida Historical Society. It arrived on 16 January, and as neither John Commons nor Helen Sumner were in Madison the volume was placed in the Society's vault to await their return. Its presence must have been forgotten, for on 25 August 1906, Thwaites sent a reminder to Commons. Sometime between September and December the borrowed volume was used and returned. Then, someone from the Bureau notified Thwaites that the Oneida Historical Society had several duplicates of various issues of the Mechanics' Press, and asked that he try to obtain them by exchange. Obligingly, Thwaites wrote to the Oneida Historical Society a perfunctory request. Their secretary replied that their holdings included one year of the Mechanics' Press and the Cooperator, and "no duplicates."151 Thwaites consulted Andrews, who told him that he had borrowed the Oneida Historical Society file of the Cooperator, finding that there was one duplicate of the issue of 22 September 1832 in it, and also that there were several duplicate numbers in the Mechanics' Press volume which might be overlooked. Whatever Thwaites might have thought about contradicting the Oneida Historical Society secretary, this time he made an elaborate plea for an exchange, and stressed the "great gratification" which would be felt at both the Bureau and the Society.152 The Oneida Historical Society did not appear to have been eager to gain that gratification, for no reply is in the file, and the Bureau had to rely on transcriptions made from the borrowed volume.153