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Johnston, George -Operation Dixie-Collection (MC 272)

Biographical Note

George Johnston was originally from Pittsburgh, a Harvard Business School graduate and former Navy lieutenant. In 1946 he was part of Operation Dixie, a Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) effort to organize the unorganized South. He was sent to Columbus, Georgia which was a “classic anti-union cotton mill town with a history of violent opposition to unions.” His assignment was to organize the Swift Manufacturing Company in 1946/47.

Scope and Contents

The George Johnston Collection consists of articles, notes, photos, news clippings and letters about his effort to establish a labor union at the Swift Manufacturing Company in Columbus in 1946-47. The collection also includes both a formal memoir and an informal one. It offers detailed accounts not only of his union organizing activities, but an unvarnished, humane, clear picture of what life was like in Columbus,Georgia among mill workers, the Afro-American community, and other groups not traditionally well-documented during a time of great social change. The collection, although small, provides a wealth of primary source information for researchers on labor history in the South. The personal narrative and the photographs illustrating it cover less than a year, from May 16, 1946 to March 15, 1947.

1940s-2009 1 box (.3 l.f.)

Permission to Publish

Permission to publish materials from the George Johnston collection must be obtained from the Columbus State University Archives. Use of the following credit line for publication or exhibit is required:

George Johnston-Operation Dixie-Collection, MC 272
Columbus State University Archives
Columbus, Georgia


Gift of Frances Tucker in January 2011

Box 1

Folder 1: Draft of an article on the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and its organizers in Columbus, Georgia. 1940s

Folder 2: Email from Dorothy Dierks. October 8, 2008

Folder 3: Letters from Emil Luter and notes about him. 1947-1949

Folder 4: Letters to Frances Tucker from George and Nora Johnston. September 30, 2009-October 10, 2009

Folder 5: Letters to George Johnston. 1987-1988

Folder 6: “More Labor Union Days” by George Johnston and cartoons drawn by Helene Johnston. 1949

Folder 7: Operation Dixie :Union organizing for the CIO in the American South in 1946

Folder 8: Stetson Kennedy. December 4, 2009

Folder 9: Union Organizing by George Johnston of his CIO efforts in Operation Dixie. Written from his 1940's daybooks. October 3, 2009