Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives staff, 1980: Robert Schaeffer, Debra Bernhardt, Larry Cary, Jeff Eichler, Nancy Perlman, Ethel Lobman, Dorothy Swanson, Peter Filardo.

Bernhardt worked at the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives for twenty years. As head of the archives she built an extensive network of supporters, and an extraordinary collection of documents, photographs, oral histories and artifacts documenting the history of working people and organized labor in New York City. The collections are used by researchers—scholars and activists alike—from around the world.

The Wagner collections overlap with the Tamiment Library’s holdings, which focus on the history of radical movements around the world, and both are located on the same floor in New York University’s Bobst Library.

Tamiment/Wagner website

Larry Cary, “The 35 Year History of the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives,” in American Communist 12, 2013.

Below are a few gems from select collections Bernhardt brought in to the Archives. Click on each image for more information from LaborArts about the image, click on each collection for information about that entire collection at the Tamiment Library.

Union label advertisement, early 1900s. Union Label Trades Collection.
“A typical condition in the business sections of the city,” 1918. Civil Service Technical Guild Collection.
Unemployed demonstration in front of Communist Party building on Union Square, New York City, 1934. Charles Rivers Collection.

May Day Parade in Union Square, 1937. John Albok Collection.
Anti-Nazi World Labor program cover, 1936. Jewish Labor Committee Collection.
A culture of solidarity: warehouse workers union baseball team members carry signs reading “Admit Negroes to Big League Baseball,” circa 1948. District 65 Collection.