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Seeking Academic Help

by Jerry Barrett
Jerry Barrett

As young mediator intern at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) in 1964, I began saving materials about FMCS in my eagerness to become a well-informed member of that organization. Six years later as I moved to a new location, I noticed my practice of saving FMCS materials had resulted in a surprising number of boxes. In 1992 when my wife and I moved from our last house to a condo, it became clear that our condo could not accommodate what my wife called “Jerry’s stuff.” So I rented a 20 by 20 foot space in a building near our condo, formed a non-profit foundation, and tried to raise funds. This arrangement allowed me to gather information much more intentionally. I found information at the US Department of Labor Library on the United States Conciliation Service, the predecessor of FMCS, and I gathered materials from FMCS office closings and the shrinking national office.  

In 2000, I started a twice-yearly newsletter called the Caucus to raise funds, provide an outlet for papers I had been writing, and to gain attention for the current and historic FMCS-USCS. In the 1980s,while working on a doctorate at George Washington University, I had started conducting oral history interviews, which, in addition to providing rich personal recollections of FMCS history, it provided materials that interviewees/retirees had brought home at retirement but in which they had no further interest.

By 2011, a tripling of rental costs and my inadequate fund raising made it clear that I needed to accept the offer of archive space at one of several universities that expressed interest in my collection. So in 2011-12, my collection moved to George Washington University, a 20-minute Metro ride from my condo. Over 125  boxes were trucked to GWU, and after archivists processed the collection, it covered 135 shelf-feet, including over 200 oral history interviews, budgets, annual reports, speeches, congressional submissions, mediator bios, papers, published articles, planning documents, newsletters, news releases, photos etc.

Beginning with my first published article in 1967, I’ve written over 150 papers and articles on USCS/FMCS history and conflict resolution. I’ve written several books: a major one on the history of ADR, three on interest-based bargaining, and two short ones. Plus I helped the author of 1972 book (Techniques of Mediation in Labor Disputes) expand and update his 1985 edition.

As I move into my mid 80s, I’ve been thinking more urgently about getting scholars and others interested in using my collection, and in finding someone to continue what I’ve been doing. With those goals in mind last year, I presented and or exhibited at four national conferences: LERA, CIRRA, ACR and the FMCS L-M conference. In 2006, I created a website (mediationhistory.org). During 2016, I enhancing and expanded it with oral history interviews and a blog. On the blog,  I’ve posted a dozen short (250 words) papers, and I have several new posts in draft. In writing those posts, I hope to inform and interest others in this important 100 year-old labor- management ADR provider, which preceded the ADR title by 60 years. But even more importantly, I hope that some academic in need of a research topic would read one or more of my posts and realize that I’ve written a short story on a topic that deserves a full-length treatment. Then armed with that thought, that academic or willing writer will check out my Collection’s Finding Aid at GWU (https://library.gwu.edu/ead/lac0007.xml) and realized that a gathering of a rich source has already been done.  

 

Biography


Jerome Barrett is the author of a History of ADR (Jossybass 2004), a history of SPIDR, and many papers and articles on USCS and FMCS as historian of FMCS. He is one of the 34 signers of the SPIDR Charter. Prior to the signing, he had been, on leave from FMCS, working with NCDS on community, racial and campus disputes, and had written two published article urging new area disputants to use the labor-management model to resolve their disputes.



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