The Frank R. Crosswaith Papers document aspects of his involvement as a labor leader and socialist and consist primarily of Crosswaith's speeches; scrapbooks containing papers regarding his activities, particularly the Socialist Party and the Negro Labor Committee; and news clippings. Biographical information and papers documenting dinners held in his honor are included.
The Labor and Politics series includes two scrapbooks which relate to Crosswaith's invovement with the Harlem Labor Committee and its Harlem Labor Center. This material includes by-lawas, anniversary journals and related correspondence, and minutes of meetings. There is also a program for the First Negro Labor Conference which established the Negro Labor Committee, as well as articles written by Crosswaith and printed matter about the unionization of specific trades. There is a small amount of material representing two unions for which Crosswaith was involved as a labor organizer: the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. His political campaigns as a socialist candidate are represented by news clippings, flyers and correspondence. Crosswaith's tenure with the New York City Housing Authority is represented only by two bulletins. There are a large number of new clippings about labor; many of these articles discuss Crosswaith.
Crosswaith's writings primarily focus on two major topics: socialism and organized labor as they relate to blacks. The writings appear in the form of speeches, articles and essays, press releases, editorials, poems, and news clippings. The series also contains printed announcements.
Frank R. Crosswaith was a lifelong socialist, a labor union organizer, editor, and socialist candidate for several New York State offices. During the 1920's and 1930's, he was one of the most effective organizers of black workers in New York City.
Born in St. Croix, Crosswaith immigrated to this country at age thirteen. He attended the Rand School of Social Science, a labor and socialist school, and later became a lecturer there. In 1922 he was secretary of the People's Educational Forum in New York City where liberals of national importance addressed black audiences. He was known as the Socialist Party's foremost black orator.
In 1925 Crosswaith founded and served as executive secretary of the American Federation of Labor Trade Union Committee for Organizing Negro Workers. He worked with most of the unions that had blacks in their industries, including elevator operators, barbers, mechanics, laundry workers, and motion picture operators. This committee was succeeded in 1934 by an independent orgainization, the Harlem Labor Committee, of which he served as chairman for many years. This organization, which appealed to black and white workers, was active in seeking higher wages, better working conditions, and improved fringe benefits. Crosswaith was also chairman of the Negro Labor Committee in 1935, which sought to organize unorganized black workers and to lend its support to unions engaged in organizing and strike activities among black workers. The Committee maintained the Harlem Labor Center, established in 1935, which served as a headquarters for trade unions in Harlem.
Crosswaith was also well-known for his work as a special organizer for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (1925-1928). Additionally, for over thirty years, he was on the staff of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. He was also one of the organizers of the original March on Washington Movement (1941) under A. Philip Randolph. As a socialist organizer and lecturer for the League for Industrial Democracy and later as a national organizer for the ILGWU in the 1930's, Crosswaith travelled across the United States addressing multiracial labor groups, college students, and other groups, discussing labor and socialist issues.