Philip Taft was one of the nation's foremost historians of the
American labor movement, especially the American Federation of Labor. He wrote
14 books and more than 82 articles and was recognized by scholars and trade
union leaders as a chief source on the growth of American labor.
Born March 22, 1902 in Syracuse, NY, Taft dropped out of school in the
sixth grade and worked as an errand boy, a field and factory worker, a coal
passer on ore boats in the Great Lakes and a pipe liner in the oil fields of
Kansas. He completed high school at night and entered the University of
Wisconsin at the age of 26 in 1928. He was co-author with his teacher, Selig
Perlman, of the fourth volume of "History of Labor in the United States," which
appeared in 1935 when he received his doctorate. He worked for the Wisconsin
Industrial Commission, the Resettlement Administration and the Social Security
Administration before joining the Brown faculty in 1937. He was chairman of the
economics department in 1949-1953 while writing such volumes as "Economics and
Problems of Labor" (1942), the chapter on the growth of union membership under
the New Deal in the Twentieth Century Fund's "How Collective Bargaining Works"
and "Movements for Economic Reform" (1950). A member of the Brown University
faculty for 31 years, Dr. Taft retired in 1968. He did not give up his research
and in 1975 was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship to continue studying the
history of the labor movement in Alabama.
Among many renowned works, Philip Taft is the author of "The A.F. Of
L. in the Time of Gompers" (New York, Harper ); "Corruption and
Racketeering in the Labor Movement" (Ithaca [New York State School of
Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, 1970]); "Economics and
Problems of Labor" (Harrisburg, Pa., Stackpole sons [c1942]); "History of
Labour in the United States" (New York, Macmillan, 1918-35), with John Commons
and others; and "United They Teach; The Story of the United Federation of
Teachers" (Los Angeles, Nash Pub. ).
Philip Taft died in Providence, RI on November 17, 1976 at the age of