Biographical Sketch of the Creator of the Collection
Andrew John Biemiller was born in Sandusky, Ohio, on July 23, 1906. After he received an A.B. from Cornell University in 1926, he worked briefly as an instructor and joined the socialist and labor movements. Among his early positions were Milwaukee Leader reporter (starting in 1932), Milwaukee Federated Trades Council executive board member (1935-1936), Wisconsin state legislator (1937-1941, as Progressive Party member), Wisconsin State Federation of Labor organizer (1937-1941), and War Production Board vice chair Joseph Keenan's assistant.
Biemiller's congressional career commenced with his election to Wisconsin's Fifth District seat in 1944 (on the Democratic ticket). During the Seventy-ninth Congress (1945-1946) he served on the Naval Affairs Committee. Losing the 1946 election, he won in 1948, and during his second term was a member of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee. Between the terms, he had been director of political education for the Upholsters' union and member of the 1948 Democratic National Convention platform committee, in which he was credited with drafting the civil rights plank introduced by Hubert Humphrey.
Upon losing the 1950 election, Biemiller worked at the Department of the Interior through the remainder of the Truman administration. He then combined his special talents as legislator and trade unionist to become legislative representative for the AFL (1953-1955) and director of the AFL-CIO Department of Legislation (1956-1978). As congressman and labor spokesman, Biemiller played a role in nearly every piece of social legislation of the postwar era. He died in Bethesda, Maryland, on April 3, 1982.
Scope and Content of the Collection
The Biemiller Collection contains 6.8 cubic feet of documents from Biemiller's congressional office. Almost all cover his second term (1949-1950), but a few date from 1946-1948. Over 90 percent of the collection is legislative correspondence. Correspondents are primarily constituents but also include labor officials, business leaders, congressional colleagues, and Wisconsin government officials. The most prominent topics represented are housing, physical disabilities, and taxation. Information can be found on public housing and the Housing Act of 1949, the postwar housing shortage, rent control, and government disposal of the Greenbelt towns (including Greendale just outside of Milwaukee). There are also materials on legislation concerning epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. Additionally, a large amount of materials can be found on the repeal of World War II excise taxes, pay and benefits of federal employees (particularly postal workers), and the Hoover Commission on Government Reorganization. Also found in the collection are materials on the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation Act as well as an attempted repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act. Discussion of anti-communism appears under the title "subversives" and includes materials on the Wood-McCarran and Mundt-Nixon bills, as well as correspondence about a speech in which Biemiller exposed the Committee for Constitutional Government as communistic. The collection also has a series of bills from the 81st Congress (including national health insurance legislation), Biemiller's newsletters to constituents, and his remarks, speeches, and statements. The University of Oklahoma acquired the collection from Biemiller in December 1950.