Edwin Emil Witte Papers

Collection Number: 5236

Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library


Edwin Emil Witte Papers, 1910-1960
Collection Number:
Witte, Edwin Emil
1 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Articles, first drafts, records (documents) .
Kheel Center for Labor- Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
This is a collection of duplicate material which was given to us by his wife. Professor Witte's papers have been given to the University of Wisconsin.
Collection material in English


Serving during World War II as an active member of the National War Labor Board, "trouble shooter" Edwin E. Witte had been studying labor disputes for the past thirty-two years. Professor of economics at the University, of Wisconsin from 1933, Witte was frequently called upon to leave the classroom to solve practical problems, such as steering the formulation of the Social Security Act of 1935, and later, serving as chairman of the fact-finding board appointed to settle the packing-house workers' strike in 1946.
A native of Jefferson County, Wisconsin, Edwin Emil Witte was born January 4, 1887, the son of Emil and Anna (Yaeck) Witte. The farm boy "early formed the ambition to become a distinguished scholar," and upon his graduation from the Watertown High School entered the University of Wisconsin in 1905. He received the B.A. degree in 1909, winning as well membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Sigma Rho, and Artus (an honorary scholastic ecomonics fraternity), and immediately began his graduate work. In June 1912 he interrupted his studies to assume the position of senior statistician to the Wisconsin Industrial Commission. Shortly afterward young Witte became secretary to Congressman John M. Nelson, and in 1914 special investigator of the United States Commission on Industrial Relations. The following year he returned to the university as instructor, and completed the work toward his doctorate in 1916. The Wisconsin Industrial Commission again called for his . Services, and from 1917 to 1922 he served on its staff as secretary. It was in 1920 that he began part-time lecturing on economics and related social sciences at the alma mater.
Although lacking the technical training of the librarian, in 1922 Witte was placed in charge of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Library, the pioneer in the field of legislative reference. He remained there for eleven years. During this period he served as secretary of the Wisconsin Committee on a Retirement System for State Employees (1929-31); and he began the writing of his numerous articles for legal and other periodicals, mainly on the subjects of trade union law,
social insurance, and labor legislation. In 1932 his treatise The Government in Labor Disputes appeared; said to be the first book which covered the entire field, it dealt with every aspect of Governmental intervention in labor disputes and the social economic, and legal phases of industrial troubles. It was during his librarian ship, too, that Witte made an intensive study of the use and effect of injunctions in labor disputes. This report was in part responsible for the passage of the Norris-La Guardia Anti-Injunction Act in 1932, which ruled that "yellow-dog" contracts were not enforceable in the Federal courts and limited the power of those courts to issue injunctions in labor disputes.
Then, while a member of the Wisconsin Interim Commission on Taxation (1933-34), the economist was appointed full professor at the university to teach courses not only in economics, but in political science, sociology, and lav. His favorite subject was the relations of Government to business. Although Witte preferred to teach, he liked to feel, that he had a "part in solving practical problems and shaping practical developments." Thus time and again he had left the university and served the Government as mediator and arbitrator, administrator, and member of a considerable number of advisory and policy-making boards. "In finding workable solutions of labor difficulties and in advising and assisting public officials with concrete problems in my field of competence," Witte had written, "I am interested above all else in trying to help employers and employees to get along with each other in this day and age of organization and collective bargaining and to minimize the conflicts between Government and business."
Witte considered his most important work his part in the formulation of the Federal Social Security Act of 1935, of which he is often called the author. After more than . Twenty years had elapsed since the first proposal for compulsory unemployment insurance had been made, on June 29, 1934, President Roosevelt created the Committee on Economic Security to study and report to him on methods of carrying out the Administration's plans for "the security of the men, women and children of the nation." Witte was named secretary and executive director of the committee, of which other members were Secretary of Labor Perkins, Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau, Attorney-General Cummings, Secretary of Agriculture Wallace, and Federal Emergency Belief Administrator Hopkins. The following January, President Roosevelt forwarded the
committee's full report to Congress, which on August 14,
1935, finally passed a bill known as the Social Security
Act of 1935, to provide for old-age insurance and unemployment compensation, as well as health, welfare, and rehabilitation service to the States.
The economist's next Washington posts were as staff member of the President's Committee on Administration Management (1936-37), and then as member of the United States Social Security Advisory Council (1937-38). Witte was meanwhile serving in his home state on the Wisconsin State Planning Board (1935-38), the Wisconsin Citizens' Committee on Public Welfare (1936-37), and on the Wisconsin labor Relations Board (1937-39). In addition to these activities and his teaching duties, Witte completed the writing of The Preparation of Proposed Legislative Measures by Administrative Department, (1937).
In 1941 Witte accepted membership on the Federal Advisory Council for Unemployment Security and also became special agent of the National Defence Mediation Board. The National War Labor Board named the Professor chairman of the Regional War Labor Board for Detroit in January 1943. The knotty problems of the biggest war plants in the nation came under Witte's jurisdiction here, until his appointment as public member of the National War Labor Board (1944-45). In January 1946 Witte was appointed by Labor Secretary Schwellenback to head a three-man fact-finding panel to hasten settlement of the dispute of the two hundred and fifty thousand striking employees of the meat- packing companies, during which the nation's output was reduced about 75 per cent. Calling the industry "a low-wage industry in which the straight-time hourly wage rates are substantially below the average for all manufacturing industries," the Board on February 7 recommended a l6-cent hourly increase for the workers. Back at the Wisconsin University, after devoting the war years to the adjustment of labor disputes, Witte in 1946 was working on a comprehensive history of social security in the United States, as well as on textbooks on social insurance and on the relations of Government and business.
The specialist in labor relation was a member of the Council of the American Economics Association, the Council of the American Association
for Labor Legislation, and of the American Association for Social Security. In September 19l6 Witte was married to Florence E. Rimsnider; the couple had a son and two daughters. He listed his religion as Methodist, and his favorite hobby as gardening. Witte gave the credit for his concepts in the labor field to his college teachers and to the contacts and experiences of his government assignments. He belonged to no political party and seldom cast a straight party vote: "I have had appointments from politicians of all political faiths and have gotten along well with them," he said of himself. "In my entire life I have never been an applicant for any Job and have turned down most of the Jobs offered me. I am a hard-working man, but not a flashy or brilliant fellow."


This collection is arranged in three series: Series I. Reports to United States Commission on Industrial Relations, 1914-1915; Series II. Articles, Reports, and Addresses, 1922-1959; and Series III. Book Reviews, 1927-1960.
Consist chiefly of drafts and manuscript notes of reports and articles by Edwin E. Witte pertaining to collective bargaining, social and economic insurance, use of injunctions in labor disputes, wage stabilization, and government's role in labor relations.
Consists of manuscript notes and typed drafts of reports written by Witte for the U.S. Commission on Industrial and Labor Relations on congressional action on trade union law, anti-labor injunctions, strikes, boycotts, blacklisting, anti-trust laws, Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and union law in Great Britain (1914-1915).
Also include manuscript and typed drafts of articles, reports and addresses of Witte regarding use of injunctions in labor disputes; strikes; economic security, social security laws and programs in the United States; government and business; health and security; unemployment compensation; old age security; workers' education; industry-wide bargaining; Sherman anti-trust legislation; wartime adjustment of labor disputes; international labor organizations; Taft-Hartley Act; collective bargaining; wage stabilization; government's role in labor relations; government ownership and competition in the United States; welfare economics; social welfare; and public corporations (1922-1959).

Witte, Edwin E. (Edwin Emil), 1887-1960
United States. Commission on Industrial Relations.
United States. Labor Management Relations Act, 1947.
United States. Sherman Antitrust Act, 1890.

Antitrust law--United States.
Blacklisting, Labor -- United States.
Boycott -- United States.
Economic security -- United States.
Government competition-- United States.
Unemployment insurance--United States.
International labor activities.
Labor injunctions-- United States.
Labor laws and legislation -- Great Britain.
Labor laws and legislation -- United States.
Strikes and lockouts -- United States.
Wage-price policy -- United States.
Welfare economics.
College teachers.
Industrial relations. United States. State supervision.
Social security. Law and legislation. United States.
Workers' education. United States.

Geographic Subjects:
United States. Social policy.

Form and Genre Terms:
First drafts.
Records (documents)


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Restrictions on Use:
This collection must be used in keeping with the Kheel Center Information Sheet and Procedures for Document Use.
Cite As:
Edwin Emil Witte Papers #5236. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

Series I: Reports to United States Commission on Industrial Relations, 1914-1915
Series II: Articles, Reports, and Addresses, 1922-1959
Series III: Book Reviews, 1927-1960


Box 1 Folder 1 1910
June, 1910
Box 1 Folder 2 1915
February, 1915.
Box 1 Folder 3 1914
Oct, 1914.
Box 1 Folder 4 1915
January, 1915.
Box 1 Folder 5 1915
January, 1915.
Box 1 Folder 6 1915
January, 1915.
Box 1 Folder 7 1915
March, 1915.
Box 1 Folder 8 1914-1915
Box 1 Folder 9 1914
September, 1914.
Box 1 Folder 10 1914
December, 1914.
Box 1 Folder 11 1914
December, 1914.
Box 1 Folder 12 1915
Box 1 Folder 13 1914
Box 1 Folder 14 1914
Box 1 Folder 15 1914
Box 1 Folder 16 1914-1916
Box 1 Folder 17 1922
Results of injunctions in labor disputes. (December, 1922.)
Box 1 Folder 18 1923
Results of injunctions in labor disputes. (February, 1923.)
Box 1 Folder 19 1924
Value of injunctions in labor disputes. (June. 1924.)
Box 1 Folder 20 1926
Early American labor cases. (May. 1926.)
Box 1 Folder 21 1927
Increased Compensation In Cases Involving Violations of Law. (January, 1927.); The Journeymen Stonecutters and Other Recent Decisions Against Organized Labor (1927)
Box 1 Folder 22 1928
The labor injunction - the red flag. (September, 1928.)
Box 1 Folder 23 1930
Labor's resort to injunctions. (January, 1930.); Social consequences of injunctions on labor disputes. (March. 1930.)
Box 1 Folder 24 1932
Law enforcement and strikes. (February, 1932.); The probable settlement of the labor injunction question, (July. 1932.)
Box 1 Folder 25 1935
Features of the economic security program (March. 1935.); The government and unemployment. (March. 1935.); Old age security. (July. 1935.); The relation of relief to social security. (November, 1935.); Social insurance in Europe during the depression. (December, 1935.)
Box 1 Folder 26 1936
Social security legislation. (February, 1936.); Comment on the campaign dodger distributed by the Republican State Committee entitled "A direct tax on wages." (November 2, 1936.); The economic basis of unemployment compensation. Notes on the development of foreign old age insurance laws. (1936)
Box 1 Folder 27 1937
Government and business: Recent and impending changes in their relationships. (July 6. 1937.); Financing social security: Reserves versus current taxation. Social security as a major purpose of government. The preparation of proposed legislative measures by administrative departments. (1937)
Box 1 Folder 28 1938
Technical services for state legislators. (January, 1938.); Thoughts relating to the old-age insurance titles of the social security act and proposed changes therein. (February, 1938.); American's next steps on social security. More security for old age (March, 1938.)
Box 1 Folder 29 1939
Social security - 1940 model. (September, 1939.); Labor reactions as a community problem. (October 4, 1939.); Increase of unemployment insurance benefits. (December 27, 1939.); Extension of coverage - the vitally necessary next step in old age insurance. (December 27, 1939.); Health security progress. (December 29, 1939.)
Box 1 Folder 30 1940
Health security progress. Health security: Needs, progress, and prospects. (March, 1940.); The economic side of the American way of life. (July 9, 1940.); Free enterprise in a collectivist world. (July 8, 1940.); Labor policies in relation to national defence. (July 23. 1940.); Whither unemployment compensation. (September, 1940.); Next step in Social Security. (September 28, 1940.)
Box 1 Folder 31 1941
How the government seeks to prevent monopoly. (January 9, 1941.); The American concept of government. (April 11, 1941.); Remarks on the present day role of administrative agencies in the initiation of legislation. (December 30, 1941.); Proposals for changes in the present provisions for old age security. (1941)
Box 1 Folder 32 1942
Current problems in financing public services. (April 3, 1942.); Administrative agencies and statute lawmaking. (Spring, 1942.); Strikes in wartime: Experience with controls. (November, 1942.); A Critique of Mr. Arnold's Proposed Antilabor Amendments to the Antitrust Laws. (March, 1942.)
Box 1 Folder 33 1943
American post-war Social Security proposal. (December, 1943.); What The War Is Doing To Us. (January, 1943.)
Box 1 Folder 34 1944
Educating college students for intelligent behavior on the labor-industry problems of the war and post-war world. (March 24. 1944.); labor problems in military government. Wartime machinery for the adjustment of labor disputes. (June, 1944.); What to expect of Social Security. (1944)
Box 1 Folder 35 1945
Annual wages, guaranteed (September 19, 1945.)
Box 1 Folder 36 1946
Do we need new labor relations legislations. (March 4, 1946.); Steadying the worker's income. (Spring, 1946.); Data on the operation of the Sherman Anti- Trust Act. (September 5, 1946.); The future of state labor legislation. (October 1, 1946.); Industrial labor relations. (November 8, 1946.); Development of unemployment compensation. (December, 1946.); The current labor relations situation. (December 1, 1946.); Industry-wide bargaining. (December 20, 1946.)
Box 1 Folder 37 1947
Prospects for industrial peace. (February 7, 1947.); Comments on the proposals to include labor unions within the scope of the Anti-Trust Laws. (March 7, 1947.); Observations on proposed legislation to outlaw the closed shop. (March 7, 1947.); The closed shop and industry-wide bargaining. (May 22, 1947.); Labor-management problems in 1947. (March, 1947.); The university and labor education. Labor management relations under the Taft-Hartley Act. (Autumn, 1947.); Wartime prevention and adjustment of labor disputes. (Winter, 1947.); Industrial Relations and the Taft-Hartley Act. (April 30, 1947.)
Box 1 Folder 38 1948
Some aspects of the Taft-Hartley Act. (February 5, 1948.); The social objectives of worker's education today. (May 4, 1948.); Opportunities for the professionally trained. (October 8, 1948.); Where we are in industrial relations. (December 30, 1948.); Recent Labor Legislation of Interest to Labor. (July 9, 1948.); History of Labor Arbitration. (January, 1948.); The Future of Labor Arbitration. (January, 1948.)
Box 1 Folder 39 1949
The importance of the international labor organization to the states. (November 7, 1949.); Labor and Social Legislation. (1949); The Taft-Hartley Act in Operation: A Brief Appraisal (1949)
Box 1 Folder 40 1950
Role of union in contemporary society. (February 2, 1950.); Employee security. (March 28, 1950.); Mediation, conciliation, and arbitration. (March. 1950.); How much improvement in social security. (August, 1950.); Prevention and settlement of labor disputes In the event of all-out war. (August, 1950.); Problems of aging. (August 13, 1950.); Social security and the small businessman. (August 28, 1950.); The teaching of collective bargaining: (September 7, 1950.); John R. Commons as a teacher, economist, and public servant. (October 10, 1950.); The Taft-Hartley Act after three years. (1950)
Box 1 Folder 41 1951
Remarks concerning "State Court Injunctions" published by the sub-committee on Labor-Management Relations of the committee on Labor and Public Welfare of the United States Senate. (1951); Differing concepts of economic planning. (February, 1951.); Wartime and long-range issues in collective bargaining for pensions. (February 16, 1951.); Collective bargaining and the Democratic process. (March, 1951.); The present governmental labor-relations policy. (April 13, 1951.); Social security needs and opportunities. (June, 1951.); Government and business in the United States: The American Way of Life. (July 10, 1951.); Wage stabilization in World War II - and now. (November 27, 1951.); American objectives in war. (1951); Five lectures on social security. (The nature purposes and history of social security; Social assistance and social services; Old age and survivors' insurance Other forms of social insurance; The future of social security. 1951); Organized Labor Confronting Wages, Prices, and Accelerated Rearmament (March 22, 1951.)
Box 1 Folder 42 1952
Needs for economic security in old age. (February, 1952.); Labor in the Garrison State. (February 15, 1952.); The role of government in industrial relations. (March 13, 1952.); American experience with wage stabilization. (May, 1952.); Five years of the Taft-Hartley Act. (May, 1952.); Industrial conflict in periods of national emergencies. (June, 1952.); Relationship between schools and other government agencies. (September 25, 1952.)
Box 1 Folder 43 1953
The evolution of managerial ideas in industrial relations. (); The government's role in labor relations. March 16) What's ahead in labor- management relations. (March 17, 1953.); Past and Present in Industrial Relations (October 1, 1953.)
Box 1 Folder 44 1954
Objectives in social security. (March, 1954.); What the anti-trust laws do and do not provide. (October, 1954.); Government aids, subsidies, and loans to private business. (October, 1954.); Old age security - The National Picture. (October 2, 1954.); The development of labor legislation and its effect upon the welfare of the American work- * man. (October 31, 1954.); Extent of government ownership and competition in the United States. (November, 1954.); Honesty and efficiency in the administration of welfare, and retirement funds. (November 12, 1954.); A Balanced Program in Employment Security (October 8, 1954.); Trends Likely to Affect Labor Arbitrations. (January 22, 1954.)
Box 1 Folder 45 1955
Recent developments and issues in industrial relations and the governments role there in. (February, 1955.); The overall effect of governmental fiscal operation on business. (March. 1955.); Some unsolved problems in the economics of welfare. (July 28, 1955.); The merger and labor in politics. (December, 1955.); Facts on aging. (December 12, 1955.); The relation of labor standards in the United States. (1955); Manpower aspects of an aging population. (1955); The Impending Merger of the AFL and CIO (April 29, 1955; revised May 6, 1955); The Guaranteed Annual Wage. (March 26, 1955.); The Changing Role of Labor, Management, and Government in the Quest for Security (1955)
Box 1 Folder 46 1956
Governmental and industrial research. (February, 1956.); Social welfare legislation of the nineteen thirties. (February, 16. 1956.); Government finance statistics. (April . 1956.); Security and economic change. (April 16, 1956.); Factors affecting the economic development of the United States. (May 3, 1956.); Some data on the over-all need for social security. (August, 1956.); Recent information on the old age security programs of the United States. (August, 1956.); The growth of the protective functions of government. (September, 1956.); Post-war social security in Great Britain. (October, 1956.); Some major changes in the economy and in the economic ideas in the United States. (November, 1956.); The changing and enduring American government. (December, 1956.); Relations between government and business in countries other than the United States in recent years. (December, 1956.)
Box 1 Folder 47 1957
The future of social security. (January 25, 1957.); The responsibilities of labor and management (May 14, 1957.); The professor and the governments. (May 17, 1957); Historical background of employment security. (October 22, 1957.)
Box 1 Folder 48 1958
The current labor situation as seen by a man in between. (February 14, 1958.); The growing role of employment security. (June, 1958.)
Box 1 Folder 49 1959
Conference on Education for public responsibility. (November 17-20, 1959.); Labor education and the changing labor movement. (November 21, 1959.)
Box 1 Folder 50
Undated: Public and quasi-public corporations as instrumentalities for carrying on business enterprises. (1946-1947?); Statements on the American way of life and its future. (1955- 1956?)
Box 1 Folder 51 1947
Factory legislation and its administration, 1891-1924. by H.A. Mess (1927); Industrial progress and regulatory legislation in New York. by the National Industrial Conference Board (1928); The labor injunction. by Felix Frankfurter and Nathan Greene (1930); Labor and the Sherman Act. by Edward Berman. 2 separate reviews. (1931); The United States employment service, by Ruth M. Kellog (1933); Shorter hours: A study of the movement since the Civil War. by Marian Cotter Cahill (1934); Administrative labor legislation: A study of American experience in the delegation of legislative power. by John B. Andrews (1936); Insecurity: A challenge to America: A study of social insurance in the United States and abroad. by Abraham Epstein (1936); The commonwealth of industry: The separation of industry and the state. by Benjamin A. Javits (1937); Labor problems and labor law. by A. G. Taylor (1939); Old age security: Social and financial trends. By Margaret Grant (1940); Public policy: A yearbook of the graduate school of public administration, Harvard University. Ed. by C. J. Friedrich and Edward S. Mason (1940); Government and economic life: Development and current issues of American public policy. By L. S. Lyon, M. W. Watkins, V. A. Abramson, and associates (1940); Rival unionism in the United States. By Walter Galenson (1940); The federal role in unemployment compensation administration. By Raymond C. Atkinson (1941); British unemployment programs, 1920 - 1938. By Eveline M. Burns (1941); Economics of social security. By Seymour E. Harris (1942); Old age pensions: An historical and critical study. By Sir Arnold Wilson and G. S. MacKay (1942); Old age in Sweden: A program of social security. By Helen Fisher Hohman (1942); The judicial function in federal administrative agencies. By J. P. Chamberlain, N. T. Dowling, P. R. Hays (1943); How to tell progress from reaction: Roads to industrial democracy. By Manya Gordin (1944); Earnings and social security in the United States: A report prepared for the committee on social security. By W. S. Woytinsky (1945); Wage determination under trade unions. By John T. Dunlop (1945); Relief and social security. By Lewis Meriam (1946); Collective bargaining - How to make it more effective. By the C. E. D. Committee on Collective Bargaining (1947); The challenge of industrial relations By Sumner H. Slichter (1947); Industrial peace and the Wagner Act. By Theodore Iserman (1947); A national labor policy. By Harold W. Metz and Meyer Jacobson (1947)
Box 1 Folder 52 1960
Labor unions in action, a study of the mainsprings of unionism. By Jack Barbash (1948); The issue of compulsory health insurance. By George W, Bachman and Lewis Meriam (1949); Collective bargaining in the steel industry. By Robert Tilove (1949); The San Francisco employers' council. By George D. Bahrs (1949); The Taft-Hartley Act and multi-employer bargaining. By Jesse Freidin (1949); Social implications of industry-wide bargaining. . By Otto Pollak (1949); Reports of joint committee on labor management relations. By the Congress of the United States. (1949); The American social security system. By Eveline M. Burns (1950); The right to organize and its limits. By Kurt Braun (1950); The hew society: The anatomy of the industrial order. By Peter F. Drucker (1951); Government and collective bargaining. By Fred Witney (1951); Defense without inflation. By Albert G. Hart (1951); Life of an American workman. By Walter P. Chrysler (1952); Interpreting the labor movement. Ed. by G.W. Brooks, M. Berber, D.A.McCabe, and P. Taft (1953); Social security financing. By Ida C. Merriam (1953); Employment and wages in the United States. By W. S. Woytinsky and Associates (1953); Review and reflections: A half century of labor relations. By Cyrus S. Ching (1954); labor disputes and their settlement. By Kurt Braun (1955); Economic needs of older people. By the committee on economic needs of older people. (1956); Social security and public policy. By Eveline M. Burns (1957); Contemporary collective bargaining in seven countries. By Adolph Sturmthal, ed. (1957); The economic status of the aged. By Peter O. Steiner and Robert Dorfman (1957); The A.F. of L. in the time of Gompers. By Philip Taft. (1957); Retirement policies under social security. By Wilber J. Cohen (1958); The maritime story: A study in labor-management relations. By Joseph P. Goldberg (1958); Labor union and public policy. By E. H. Chamberlain, P. D. Bradley, G. D. Reilly, and Roscoe Pound. (1960)