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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Leonard, Kevin Allen, 1964-

Second Advisor

Kennedy, Kathleen, 1963-

Third Advisor

Danysk, Cecilia


In examining the attack on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the late 1930s, historians have devoted substantially more attention to the role played by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) than that played by congressional conservatives. Historians have noted that congressional conservatives portrayed NLRB officials as biased against business and in favor of unions, but they have overlooked the fundamental basis of the disagreement between these conservatives and the NLRB and its supporters. This thesis examines the attack on the NLRB by the congressional committee headed by Congressman Howard Smith of Virginia from December 1939 to December 1940. The fundamental dispute between the conservative majority on the Smith Committee on the one hand and NLRB officials and the pro-NLRB minority on the committee on the other hand centered on the role of class as a factor in NLRB policy. Smith Committee conservatives objected to NLRB officials' belief that the NLRB existed to help unions reduce the inequality in power inherent in relations between workers and employers. This thesis also discusses how beliefs about gender, and occasionally sexuality, colored Smith Committee conservatives' claims about the role of class in NLRB policy. Smith Committee conservatives attacked the passion of NLRB officials to help labor unions empower working-class Americans with language suggesting that such passion was motivated by an excess of un-masculine emotion.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

United States. National Labor Relations Board; United States. Congress. House. Special Committee to Investigate the National Labor Relations Board

Subject – LCSH

Social classes--United States; Labor laws and legislation--United States

Geographic Coverage

United States




masters theses




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