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  • Collection ID WLA1994.03
  • Creator Names West, Mollie Lieber, 1916-2015.
  • Title Mollie Lieber West papers, 1916-2008.
  • Physical description 21.75 linear feet.
  • Collection arrangement Series 1: Biographical and Family Information, 1916-2000, n.d. Series 2: Correspondence, 1947-1986, n.d. Series 3: FBI, 1940-1958, n.d. Series 4: Mundelein College, 1976-1985, n.d. Series 5: Subject Files, 1956-1995, n.d. Subseries 5A: Labor, 1962-1995, n.d. Series 6: Women in the Workforce, 1974-2002, n.d. Subseries 6A: Coalition of Labor Union Women, 1975-1987, n.d. Series 7: Photographs, 1959-1993, n.d. Series 8: Audio-Visual, 1990-2005. Addendum 1, 1916-2006, n.d. Series 1: Biographical and Family Information, 1916-2004, n.d. Subseries 1A: Carl Lieber, 1916-1944, n.d. Subseries 1B: Labor and Communist Activities, 1941-1943, n.d. Series 2: Correspondence, 1941-1944, n.d. Series 3: Photographs, n.d. Series 4: Objects and Artifacts, Oversized, n.d. Addendum 2, 1963-2005, n.d. Series 1: Biographical, 1969-2005, n.d. Series 2: Correspondence, 1963-2001, n.d. Series 3: Secondary Materials, 1974-2005, n.d. Series 4: Miscellaneous, 1972, n.d. Series 5: Audio-Visual, n.d. Addendum 3, 1926-2008, n.d. Series 1: Biographical and Family Information, 1932-2008, n.d. Series 2: FBI File, 1941-1960, n.d. Series 3: Political Activities, 1926-1951, n.d. Series 4: Professional, 1958-2007, n.d. Series 5: Photographs, 1937-2006, n.d. Subseries 5A: Photo albums, [1920s]-1985, n.d. Series 6: AV, 1977-2002, n.d. Series 7: Objects and Artifacts, Oversized, 1945-1973, n.d. Arranged thematically, and then chronologically within each series.
  • Biographical or Historical Note Born February 2, 1916, Soklov, Poland. Labor activist. Mollie West immigrated to the United States in 1929 at the age of thirteen. In 1934, in the midst of the Great Depression, her high school threatened to cut the extracurricular activities. West, who enrolled in music lessons through the school, responded by organizing a student strike. She and several others were arrested and placed in a juvenile home. Claiming that this was the radicalizing moment in her life, after graduation she went on to work for the Farm Equipment Workers of America, an early CIO union. A member of the Communist Party from 1935 until 1962, she initially joined the Young Communist League working as a labor organizer and later served as the secretary of the Illinois Community Party. Married on June 30, 1940, her first husband, Karl Lieber, also a Communist sympathizer, was killed during World War II in 1945. Forced into underground hiding from 1953 until 1955 with her second husband, James West, and their adopted son, Steven, she finally broke ties with the Party in 1962. Afterwards, she sought out temporary employment as a proofreader while going to night school to learn the printing trade. From 1960-1987, as a member of the Typographical Union, West broke gender barriers. In 1973, she was the first woman elected to a union office in the Chicago Typographical Union, Local 16 (CTU) as a delegate to the International Typographical Union (ITU) Convention held in San Diego, California. She was only one of six women among the 350 attending delegates. That same year, West was the first woman to address the International Convention Union Council, the first female elected to the Executive Committee of CTU, and the first female appointed delegate to the Illinois state AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor-Coalition of Industrial Organizations). For over thirty years she served as a delegate to the Chicago Federation of Labor as well as to the Illinois State AFL-CIO. As a founding member of the Chicago chapter of CLUW (Coalition of Labor Union Women), West served on the national executive board. At the age of sixty she entered Mundelein's Weekend College earning a bachelor's degree in labor education. In 1980, she organized an annual award for women labor leaders in the Chicago Federation of Labor-Industrial Union Council. After her retirement from the printing trade in 1987, she continued to promote education and recognition for labor leaders through her work at the Illinois Labor History Society as the administrative secretary and volunteer.
  • Collection summary The papers of Mollie Sheiman Lieber West span from 1916 to 2008. They are organized into thematic topics, and chronologically within each series. They document West's activities as a labor activist and women's rights advocate. Most of the materials are secondary sources she saved and closely reflect her work and political ideologies. The West papers include subject files, correspondence, and pamphlets. The collection only loosely refers to West's involvement with the Illinois Communist Party and the years she spent living underground during the McCarthy era through correspondence with her first and second husbands. It focuses primarily on her work in the labor movement and the various issues and organizations she was involved in such as CLUW, CTU, ITU, AFL-CIO, ERA, and the Illinois Labor History Society. Addendum 1. The papers found in this addendum primarily concern West's life during her time as a Communist Party member. While very few direct reference are made to this political affiliation, much of the correspondence directly reflect her activities with the Party. West's first husband, Carl Lieber, is a strong presence in this collection. Many of the correspondences are letters sent between West and Lieber. He offers social commentaries/critiques of both the United states and Europe during World War II. Many of the photographs and artifacts in this collection reflect his military experience. Also included in this collection is correspondence between West and her second husband, James West, and information concerning West's induction into the Illinois Senior Hall of Fame. Addendum 2. This addendum spans the years 1963-2005. The majority of the papers focus on West's activities from age sixty onward: her travel, personal correspondence with friends and family, and awards commemorating her work as a labor movement and women's movement activist. Addendum 3. This addendum spans from 1926 to 2008. The collection includes papers, correspondences, photographs, photo albums, and objects from her personal, political, and professional life. The papers for the most part are secondary sources related to the Communist Party and the labor movements she was later involved with during her career. The personal papers in the collection pertain to her family. The collection is organized into thematic series and within each series the folders are organized alphabetically by folder subject.
  • Access and usage restrictions Some restrictions may apply.
  • Finding Aids Note Finding aid available in repository; folder level.
  • Location of Other Archival Materials Note See also: The James West Papers at Rutgers University.
  • Names
    • West, Mollie Lieber, 1916-2015 Archives.
    • AFL-CIO.
    • United States. Office of Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services.
    • Gold Star Wives of America.
    • Illinois Women's Agenda (Organization)
    • Illinois Labor History Society.
    • United States. Army. Infantry Division, 65th.
    • Communist Party of the United States of America.
    • Loyola University Chicago. Women and Leadership Archives.
  • Subjects
    • Labor leaders Illinois.
    • Labor unions United States.
    • Women employees United States.
    • Memorial Day Massacre, Chicago, Ill., 1937.
    • Communists.
  • Finding aid URL Finding aid to Mollie Lieber West papers http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/wla/pdfs/West,%20Mollie.pdf