• Identification00145616
  • TitleDescriptive inventory for the Frank and Beatrice Lumpkin papers, 1940-2013, bulk 1974-1986
  • PublisherChicago Historical Society
  • Language
    • English.
    • English
    • Spanish
  • RepositoryChicago History Museum Research Center 1601 North Clark Street Chicago, IL 60614-6038
  • OriginationFrank Lumpkin Beatrice Lumpkin Wisconsin Steelworkers Save Our Jobs Committee (Chicago, Ill.) Wisconsin Steel Co. (Chicago, Ill.) International Harvester Company Navistar International Corporation Progressive Steel Workers Union (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Date
    • 1940-2013
    • 1974-1986
  • Physical Description
    • 6 linear feet (16 boxes)
    • 1 oversize folder
    • 1 sound disc: CD
  • Location
    • MSS Lot L
    • MSS Oversize L
    • 0MM-0077

Partially processed with funding by the Council on Library and Information Resources-funded Black Metropolis Research Consortium "Color Curtain Processing Project."

Box 13 is closed to researchers until 2063. For listening purposes, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a listening copy made if one is not available).

Copyright may be retained by the creators of items, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law, unless otherwise noted.

Gift of Frank and Beatrice Lumpkin received in 2000 and later (accession#: 2000.0195, 2003.0254.7, 2009.0074.1, 2013.0011.1).

Frank and Beatrice Lumpkin papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Documents created or collected by Frank Lumpkin, leader of the Save Our Jobs Committee (SOJ), and his wife Beatrice Lumpkin while writing on a book about the struggles of union workers of Wisconsin Steel Works in Chicago and its abrupt shutdown in 1980. The book was published as "Always Bring a Crowd!" The Story of Frank Lumpkin, Steel Worker. Topics in the collection include activities of the SOJ Committee, its lawsuits and its assistance with living expenses and morale for workers and their families; union organizing and working conditions in the steel industry in the Chicago area from the 1950s-1970s; steel industry problems of the late 20th century; and local politics in Gary, Ind., in the 1950s and later in Chicago.

Materials in the collection include newspaper clippings, SOJ publicity and press releases, correspondence, Frank Lumpkin speeches, photographs, International Harvester correspondence and publications, Wisconsin Steel correspondence and publications, political campaign brochures and flyers, Progressive Steel Workers Union correspondence and publications, 6 scrapbooks, publications of organizations allied with the SOJ Committee, and items ca. 1957-1960 from the Wooded Highlands Democratic Club of Gary, Indiana. Also present are materials about reunions of SOJ Committee participants, the death of Frank Lumpkin, and Bea Lumpkin's book Joy in the Struggle.

Collection primarily written in English with some materials in Spanish.

Frank Lumpkin (1916-2010), a long-time employee of Chicago's Wisconsin Steel Works, co-founded the Wisconsin Steel Save Our Jobs Committee (SOJ) with his wife Beatrice (b.1918), also known as Bea.

Frank Lumpkin had begun working for the Wisconsin Steel Company in the 1950s at 107th Street and Torrence Avenue in the South Deering community area of Chicago. Over the years, he and his wife were active in union organizing and politics. When Wisconsin Steel closed abruptly on March 28, 1980, many employees, including Lumpkin, lost not only their jobs and health benefits but also their back pay and pensions.

The Save Our Jobs Committee became a coalition of African American, Mexican American, and other steelworkers and their families to seek legal redress from Wisconsin Steel's parent companies, International Harvester/Navistar and Envirodyne Industries. The SOJ Committee also ran "programs around food, medical and utility issues" for former Wisconsin Steel-employee families, who suddenly were without an income. During the 1980s and 1990s, Frank as chairperson and Bea as a board member performed much day to day work for the committee.

The committee engaged Chicago lawyer Thomas Geoghegan, who eventually helped win a $14.5 million class-action settlement in 1988 against International Harvester/Navistar. Bea Lumpkin wrote a book about the Lumpkins' experiences that was published in 1999 as: "Always Bring a Crowd!" The Story of Frank Lumpkin, Steel Worker.

In the 1950s and 1960s, while the Lumpkin family resided in Gary, Indiana, they were active in the Wooded Highlands Democratic Club. Later, they moved to Chicago's South Shore community area, and their son Dr. John R. Lumpkin ran for alderman of Chicago's 7th Ward. Frank Lumpkin died in 2010.

Accession number 2009.0074.1 was processed as Series 9. Accession number 2013.0011.1 was processed as Series 10. Series 1-8 are a combination of the remaining accession numbers processed together.

  • Subject
    • Lumpkin, Frank, 1916-2010--Archives
    • Lumpkin, Beatrice--Archives
    • Iron and steel workers--Labor unions--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Labor leaders--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Plant shutdowns--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Political activists--Illinois--Chicago Metropolitan Area--20th century
    • Steel industry and trade--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • African Americans--Illinois--Chicago--20th century.
    • Mexican Americans--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Working class--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
    • Minority labor union members--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
  • Names
    • Lumpkin, John R.
    • Geoghegan, Thomas, 1949-
    • Roque, Tony-
    • Vrdolyak, Ed, 1937-
    • Wisconsin Steelworkers Save Our Jobs Committee (Chicago, Ill.)--Archives
    • Wisconsin Steel Co. (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Envirodyne Industries
    • International Harvester Company
    • Navistar International Corporation
    • Progressive Steel Workers Union (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Geographic Coverage
    • Chicago (Ill.)--Economic conditions--20th century
    • South Deering (Chicago, Ill.)--Economic conditions--20th century.
    • Gary (Ind.)--Economic conditions--20th century
    • Southeast Side (Chicago, Ill.)

The collection is arranged into ten series.

Series 1. Wisconsin Steel Works, 1962-1987 (box 1)

Series 1 contains publications, newsletters, lists, financial information, and other materials related to Wisconsin Steel and its employee pensions.

Series 2. Progressive Steel Workers Union, 1962-1988 (box 1-2)

Series 2 consists of collective bargaining agreements between and publications about the Progressive Steel Workers Union and Wisconsin Steel. Also present are other materials related to Leonard Roque, known as Tony Roque, union president, and Ed Vrdolyak, union attorney and 10th Ward alderman.

Series 3. Closing of Wisconsin Steel, 1974-2003 (box 2-7)

Series 3 includes newspaper clippings, speeches, newsletters, press releases, and draft legislation related to the closing of Wisconsin Steel in 1980 and the subsequent creation of the Wisconsin Steel Save Our Jobs Committee. Also present is Save Our Jobs Committee membership information and the music compact disc, just got laid off… by the Dead Steel Mill band.

Series 4. Lawsuits, 1977-1999 (box 7-8)

Series 4 holds legal documents related to the various cases around the closing of Wisconsin Steel Works in 1980.

Series 5. Lumpkin family political activism, 1949-1999 (box 8-9)

Series 5 has materials from Frank Lumpkin's unsuccessful runs for the Illinois state legislature. Also present are items documenting Frank and Bea's son's unsuccessful run for alderman of Chicago's 7th Ward and the Wooded Highlands Democratic Club of Gary, Indiana.

Series 6. Studies of the steel industry in southeast Chicago, 1975-1999 (box 9-10)

Series 6 contains reports and other information related to the present and future of the Southeast Side's steel industry and the health and employment status of former Wisconsin Steel steelworkers.

Series 7. Scrapbooks, 1975-1999 (box 10-12)

Series 7 consists of six scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings and other items about Wisconsin Steel and the Save Our Jobs Committee.

Series 8. Pension materials, 1980-1993 (box 13) Restriction: Closed to researchers until 2063.

Series 8 consists of pension materials closed to researchers until 2063.

Series 9. Sound recording, 1996 (box 16)

Series 9 consists of 1 CD.

Series 10. Miscellaneous materials, 1940-2013 (box 14-15, 1 oversize folder)

Series 10 consists of photos, publications, news clippings, awards, and documents representing various aspects of the Lumpkins' lives, including merchant marine service and work with the Save Our Jobs Committee. Also present are research materials for Bea's 2013 autobiography, Joy in the Struggle: My Life and Love and her 1999 biography of Frank "Always Bring a Crowd!" The Story of Frank Lumpkin, Steel Worker.