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James Myers Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DMB
Date: Dec 1978

Biographical History

James Myers (1882-1967) was an American Presbyterian minister, author, and labor relations activist. Born in Owasco, New York on April 2, 1882, he received his A.B. degree from Columbia University in 1904, attended Auburn Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1915. From 1915 to 1918, he held pastorships in Conklin, New York and Clark's Summit, New York. A lifelong pacifist, Myers lost his pastorship in Clark's Summit in 1918 when he assisted conscientious objectors during World War I.

From 1918 to 1925 Myers was the Personnel Director for the Dutchess Bleachery at Wappingers Falls, New York, which was at the time engaged in experiments in labor relations, profit-sharing, housing, workers' education and recreation, and unemployment insurance. As Industrial Relations Secretary of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America (FCC), 1925-1947, he expanded its labor and industrial program and organized conferences to bring together business leaders, union officials, workers and ministers in cities across the country. During the Depression he was active in investigating working conditions, including abuses of striking workers, and in encouraging the role of the church as mediator. Much of his work was with the textile industry but he also was involved in other industries including coal and steel. In the late 1930s he became a firm supporter of the cooperative business model, working to promote and develop consumer and producer cooperatives; he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Cooperative League of the USA and helped start an FCC committee on cooperatives.

Myers was also active politically, pushing for the federal government to investigate and legislate against employer abuse of workers, and lobbying for passage of the National Labor Relations Act (1935). He drafted a statement, signed by 250 ministers, calling for a congressional investigation of violations of workers' civil rights which resulted in the formation of the LaFollette Committee in 1936 and a two-year investigation. His active support for labor was not entirely supported by the FCC, some of whose members accused him of communism.

Myers retired from the FCC in 1947. He then served as assistant secretary for membership for the National Child Labor Committee.

Myers was the author of Representative Government in Industry (1924), Do You Know Labor (1940), and several other books, pamphlets and magazine articles. For his work he received the Clendenin Award (1945) and the Social Justice Award (1960).

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from "Lending a Hand to Labor: James Myers and the Federal Council of Churches, 1926-1947," by Elizabeth and Ken Fones-Wolf, published in Church History, Vol. 68, No. 1 (March 1999), pp. 62-86.]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The James Myers Papers consist of biographical material, general files, writings, and memorabilia.

General files relate primarily to various organizations with which Myers was involved, including the Church Emergency Relief Committee, the Federal Council of Churches (FCC), and the National Child Labor Committee.

Writings contains articles, books, pamphlets, notes, speeches, and a small amount of miscellaneous material.

Memorabilia includes, among other things, two scrapbooks which cover Myers' college days and his early career as General Secretary of the Columbia University Christian Association.

Arrangement of the Collection

All series are arranged alphabetically. Writings are subdivided by type.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has the papers of many social activists, both lay and religious. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Myers, James, 1882-

Corporate Bodies

Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America.
Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. -- Clergy.


Authors, American.
Christian sociology.
Christianity and politics.
Clergy -- United States.
Labor -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Presbyterians -- United States.
Religion and politics.
Socialism -- Religious aspects.

Genres and Forms

Drafts (documents)
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

James Myers Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. James Myers.

Table of Contents

Biographical material

General files