Solidarity Records, 1986-1997

Scope and Content Note

The Solidarity records (1986-1997) consist of the founding documents of the organization; the minutes of the policymaking National Committee; records of various organizational meetings; subject files on special focus issues; and diverse organizational writings. The records primarily document the years 1986-1992, starting with the formative years of Solidarity, its organizational development, the issues and activities of interest to the membership, and writings the organization produced to promote those issues and activities. In their totality the records provide an understanding of the scope of Solidarity as an organization, its development, activities, and also insight into the socialist regroupment efforts in the U.S. during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The majority of the records were brought together by Roger Horowitz during his tenure (1986-1992) on the National Committee, Political Committee and Nominations Commission. Since he was a Wisconsin member of the leadership, there is an emphasis within the collection on issues pertaining to the state. The records provide a decade-long look at the administration and functions of the organization from the perspective of the Solidarity leadership. The collection does lack a substantive membership perspective, with few records documenting membership participation in Fractions, Caucuses and Work Groups, although there are isolated glimpses within branch reports found in the minutes of the National Committee, Political Committee, and Discussion Bulletins.

The FOUNDING DOCUMENTS (1986-1987) of Solidarity contain materials relating to the formation and implementation of policy, specifically the organization's founding statement and structural principles drafted at the 1986 Founding Convention and approved at the 1987 Solidarity National Convention (SNC). These records document the early development of the organization, its views on membership, leadership, and the duties of each in the structure and order of the organization. Some of the structural principles were amended in the 1989 constitution, passed at the 1989 SNC.

The MINUTES (1989-1997) of the National Committee contain organizational, financial, and leadership reports, and motions on discussion issues with supporting articles. The minutes are a synopsis of the issues before the organization, and the actions and activities decided upon by this highest ranking, policy making committee of Solidarity leadership. The minutes are arranged chronologically, and are missing the formative years, 1986-88.

The ORGANIZATIONAL MEETINGS files (1986-1996) consist of the documentation of the meetings of the National Committee, Coordinating Committee, Political Committee, Commissions, and Conventions. Although this is the largest portion of the collection and the most informative regarding the organization's internal and external activities and concerns, the series lacks breadth, in that the representative leadership Committees and Commissions are only a fraction of those within Solidarity. There is also a gap in the record between 1992 and 1996.

The National Committee subseries (1986-1992) documents issues before the Committee, consisting of both internal politics and external activities. Each file contains an agenda for the meeting, update mailings from the national office or members of the Committee along with supporting articles and materials, and handwritten notes by Roger Horowitz in his capacity as a committee member. Early issues of particular interest are those dealing with the staffing of the national office, dual membership, political action via endorsement of political candidates, and the issue of the Wisconsin Labor-Farm Party campaign. By the 1990s, the external focus was on reproductive rights, anti-racism, East Europe/Soviet Union socialism, and the Gulf Crisis and anti-war movement. Internally, the organization was attempting to expand while dealing with financial hardship. The files are arranged chronologically.

The Coordinating Committee subseries (1986-1987) documents the two-year existence of this committee, whose duties were incorporated into the Political Committee upon its establishment in 1987. The files consist of minutes, memoranda from the national staff, and update mailings with supporting reports, articles and flyers, mostly concerned with establishing branches nationwide, appointing commission members and national office staff. Of particular interest is the Committee's role in preparing for the 1987 SNC, with discussion of budget and agenda and collection of dues from membership. The two files are arranged chronologically, each covering a single year.

The Political Committee subseries (1987-1992) documents the activities of this politically authoritative leadership body. The files consist of agendas, minutes (both handwritten by Mr. Horowitz and typed by the national staff), correspondence among Committee members, NC members and staff, update mailings with supporting documentation, and handwritten notes of the meetings by Mr. Horowitz. The focus of each meeting varied as subjects of interest changed, but branch, Commission and student reports, preparation for upcoming SNCs, and internal organizational issues were always on the agenda. Of particular interest is the beginning of Solidarity's work with environmental movements, specifically the Left Greens, and internal issues centered around editorial decisions for the growing publications of Solidarity, concern over the cohesion of the organization, and the continuing financial hardship of the organization impacting the national office. The files are arranged chronologically by year and month.

The Commissions subseries (1986-1992) documents the Labor, Youth/Student, and Nominations Commissions. These records are a scant representation of the many Commissions within Solidarity and only document a year or so of a Commission's work. The Labor Commission file documents only the first year, 1986, of this long standing Commission. It contains information about labor issues and how the Commission coordinated this high priority work, planned labor retreats and prepared for labor workshops at the SNC. The Youth/Student Commission file documents the Commission's formative years, 1988-1989, coordinating the work of the Youth/Student Fraction. The records include some of the coordinating committee and steering committee minutes of the Fraction and correspondence between these committee members and the members of the Commission. The Nominations Commission file consists of only the 1992 records; the year Roger Horowitz was the chair. It contains reports, correspondence between Commission members, and Mr. Horowitz's handwritten notes on the compilation of the proposed slate for the NC and PC.

The Conventions files (1986-1996) document the workshops, panel discussions, caucus and fraction meetings, plenaries, motions and resolutions of this annual Solidarity meeting. The records include preconvention announcements and mailings, memoranda from the PC and NC with preparatory materials, and numerous handwritten motions and minutes of convention plenaries. Major issues to be voted on are published in the Discussion Bulletin preconvention series, and are echoed throughout the PC and NC meeting files. Highlights of this file are the 1989 SNC at which the Solidarity constitution was amended and Summer Schools were established following each SNC. The files are arranged chronologically with the years 1991, 1993 and 1995 missing from the record.

The SPECIAL FOCUS ISSUES files (1986-1991) consist of subject files on issues that were intensely discussed and debated by both the membership and leadership bodies of Solidarity. The documents consist of articles and reports dealing with the subject matter, and correspondence among leadership and membership debating and discussing the issues. The four special focus issues are representative of the work of the organization; from the macro view of the Fourth International Caucus, which dealt with the global view of socialism, to the micro view of the Milwaukee Revolutionary Socialist Group, which was part of the loosely based coalition between Solidarity and other national socialist groups. The subject file of the Oakland School Board Debate reveals the internal national political development of Solidarity, while the Anti-Racism file demonstrates one of the consistent external issues before the organization.

The ORGANIZATIONAL WRITINGS (1986-1997) consist of Discussion Papers, Pamphlets, Working Papers, and Discussion Bulletins. This is the second largest series in the collection, complementing the series preceding it. The organizational writings echo the discussions, debates, actions, and activities of the organization from its formative years in the late 1980s through the 1990s. Solidarity put much of its effort into the production and publication of these writings; to keep the diverse membership informed of both external and internal issues and happenings of the organization.

The Discussion Papers (1990-1991), Pamphlets (1992-1997), and Working Papers (1995-1997) contain select examples of writings by various members of Solidarity specifically tailored to issues that would engage dialogue and debate leading to a revitalization of U.S. socialism. They were produced for impact in promoting response internally and externally on these high priority topics and are a wealth of information on the issues that occupied Solidarity during the 1990s. All the writings were modifications of articles either presented at the SNC or from “Against The Current,” a socialist bimonthly publication of news, analysis and dialogue sponsored by Solidarity.

Discussion Bulletins (1986-1997) are yet another vehicle for discussion by the membership and interested parties, containing minutes of various leadership bodies and information on topics of interest. They were also used as newsletters reporting on the activities of Solidarity, particularly reports on the SNC and branch activities. These writings consist of General Topic editions which mirror the discussions and debates of the NC and PC, the Preconvention editions reflect issues before the SNC, and the Special Issue editions echo the subject files on issues of special focus. The Youth/Student Discussion Bulletins and Youth/Student Preconvention Discussion Bulletins are the product of the Y/S movement within Solidarity, intended to expand youth membership in the organization. They contain minutes of the Y/S Fraction, reports from branches with a youth concentration, and articles and papers to promote discussion on issues of concern to youth. The Discussion Bulletins are arranged chronologically within each subset.