Hagley Museum and Library
PO Box 3630
Wilmington, DE 19807-0630
Mss. 1,150 linear ft. Microfilm 11 reels.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) was organized in January of 1895 when approximately 600 manufacturers met in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the depression on the 1890s in order to formulate a prograp for economic recovery. The aim was to develop a strategy to protect American goods from foreign competition and promote trade expansion. During its early years NAM was largely controlled by representatives of small and medium sized firms in the Middle West and South. In its first decade, NAM focused on lobbying for a high protective tariff, government support for a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, and a federal Department of Commerce. During the 1910s and 1920s, NAM was at the center of the Open Shop movement that was being organized in order to counter the successes of organized labor. In these years it played a leading role in lobbying state legislatures for uniform workmen’s compensation laws that would limit employer liability for industrial accidents. In the 1930s, NAM became the focal point for the business community’s opposition to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and it organized sophisticated public relations campaigns to build support for the free enterprise system and defend an American business system that thought of itself as under attack. The National Industrial Information Council (NICC) was organized in 1934 for this purpose. During the late 1930s and 1940s, NAM worked for the repeal of the Wagner Act that had guaranteed labor the right to organize. This effort culminated in the 1948 passage of the Taft-Hartley Act. With the Marshall Plan providing an opportunity, NAM played an important role in European postwar reconstruction. Working through the Anglo-American Council on Productivity, it helped to train thousands of British, French and Italian managers in American business practices. In the 1950s, NAM adapted its public relations efforts to the new medium of television when it launched its "Industry on Parade" series in 1953. During the next two decades, NAM continued its efforts to roll back the New Deal Order and later Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. With the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980, NAM saww many of the positions it had long advocated become enacted into law. The National Associatoin of Manufacturers records span the period between 1895 and 1990 and decribe the entire span of its programs and activities. NAM’s first quarter century is documented through the published proceedings of the Congress of American Industry and its pamphlet file. These materials describe NAM’s origins, its positions on tariff protection, workmen’s compensation, the Panama Canal, and the organization of the Department of Commerce. The records of the Industrial Relations and Law Departments document the central role that NAM played in the open shop movement, its opposition to the New Deal and the Wagner Act, and its support for the Taft-Hartley Act and state right-to-work laws outlawing the closed shop. The records of the National Industrial Information Committee document NAM’s public relations campaigns that were aimed at promoting a free enterprise alternative to the New Deal Order. NIIC records and publications document efforts to counter the successes of organized labor and the CIO organizing drives. The NIIC records demonstrate the way NAM used the print and motion picture media in its economic education programs. Records and publicity relating to "Industry on Parade" document its early efforts at television programming. Committee records describe lobbying and public relations campaigns from the 1930s through the 1990s. Of particular interest are records of the Committees on International Economic Affairs, Natural Resources, Government Opertions & Expenditures, Science & Technology, Patent, Education, National Defense, Technology, and Telecommunications. Records relating to NAM’s involvement with the International Labour Organisation describe efforts to align the ILO with the conservative and non-Communist labor unions. Similarly, files relating to post-World War II reconstruction document NAM’s work with the Anglo-American Council on Productivity. The archive also includes board of directors meeting minutes (1906-1976) and the papers of NAM’s chairmen and presidents (1967-1976), particularly R. Heath Larry and Alexander B. Trowbridge.