American Federation of Labor Records, 1888-1955

Contents List

Scope and Content Note


Rogin was Education Director for TWUA from 1941 through 1957. Prior to that he was Education Director of the AFHW for four years. Hence, his association with TWUA's first President, Emil Rieve, pre-dates the founding of TWUA. Rogin's association with TWUA was much broader than the title “Education Director” might imply. His intent from the beginning was to have the Education Department provide the Union with functional services, not just “circuses.” As a result, he was very involved in many aspects of the Union's work, particularly organizing. Indeed, during the last several years of his tenure with the TWUA, while still maintaining the title of Education Director, Rogin's activities would have been more fittingly described by the title “Assistant to the President in Charge of Organizing.” At the time he left the Union, he was directing the Union's drive to organize Burlington Industries.

I [interviewer James Cavanaugh] interviewed Rogin for seven hours in a Washington, D.C., hotel room on May 2, 1978. Two days later I conducted a joint interview with him and his close friend Ken Fiester, a former Editor of Textile Labor (see separate abstract to that joint interview]. Rogin is a slightly-built man with a keen mind and an unswerving dedication to the cause of the working man. He has given considerable thought to the American labor movement and to the history of the TWUA. As a result, his comments in this interview were often insightful and generally analytical; he is more comfortable interpreting and explaining events than relating them.

For the early history of the TWUA, Rogin is the best source amongst the various people interviewed for the TWUA Oral History Project. He is also quite good on the history of the AFHW. Rogin spoke at length on the problem of Communists in the CIO and presented a reasoned argument for their ouster. His interpretation of the 1952 internal dispute in the TWUA was broader than most. He presented clearly the economic reasons why the textile industry became almost exclusively a southern industry in the 1950s; the mills were not simply running away from the Union. The organizing philosophy he brought to the Burlington drive should provide food for thought for people who are trying to organize the South today. In this interview Rogin was always able to place the isolated events of TWUA's history in the broader context of that history, and to place TWUA history into the broader context of American labor history and American industrialism.


The tapes for this interview have two tracks: a voice track containing the discussion and a time track containing time announcements at intervals of approximately five seconds. The abstract lists, in order of discussion, the topics covered on each tape, and indicates the time-marking at which point the beginning of the particular discussion appears.

Thus, the researcher by using a tape recorder's fast-forward button may find expeditiously and listen to discrete segments without listening to all of the taped discussion. For instance, the user who wishes to listen to the topic on “College Education and Early Political Affiliations” should locate the place on the second track of side one, tape one, where the voice announces the 02:15 time-marking (the voice says at this point, “Two minutes, fifteen seconds”), and at this point switch to the first track to hear the discussion. The discussion on “College Education and Early Political Affiliations” continues until approximately 05:40 at which point discussion of the next topic (“In 1929 Rogin Went on to Columbia Graduate School”) begins.

Notice that in most cases sentences beneath each headline explain more about the contents of the topic. For example, the sentences underneath “College Education and Early Political Affiliations” give further details on what appears on the tape between 02:15 and 05:40.

The abstract is designed to provide only a brief outline of the content of the tapes and cannot serve as a substitute for listening to them. However, the abstract when used with the index will help the researcher easily locate distinct topics and discussions among the many minutes of commentary.


There is a master index for most of the TWUA Oral History Project interviews in the collection-level finding aid.