The Ozarks Labor Union Archives (OLUA) is the largest repository of records documenting labor’s heritage in the Ozarks. With over 1,500 linear feet of records, photographs, oral histories, and ephemeral items, the collection documents important activities of labor unions in Southwest Missouri.
In 1983, Neal W. Moore, a retired union printer, publisher, and editor, established the collection with a few files and borrowed closet space on the campus of Missouri State University. Mr. Moore’s passion for labor history and working class issues and his acquaintance with MSU Economics professor, J. David Lages, led to the establishment of the Ozarks Labor Union Archives. His dedication to the preservation of labor’s history drove him to create a labor archives in a region considered to have few, if any, unions.
Today OLUA is a major repository in the Ozarks for labor and working class records that help document the history of the labor movement in this region. Materials originate from nearly 100 local unions, labor leaders, and other organizations. In addition, there is a significant book collection and a growing vertical file with a wide array of material on labor relations and history.
In the decades since it was established, OLUA has received support from a wide range of groups. OLUA initially received financial support from local unions. This grassroots effort led to a successful endowment program which provides funding for ongoing projects. In 1998, OLUA was awarded a $58,000 grant from the National Archives that allowed a project archivist to process over a dozen important trade union collections.
As founder of the Ozarks Labor Union Archives, Neal Moore was honored by the Midwest Archives Conference, while Meyer Library was the 2001 recipient of the AFL-CIO/ American Library Association’s John Sessions Memorial Award for outstanding service to the labor community. Mr. Moore passed away in November 2005, but his legacy continues as additional records are deposited in the Archives. Here those records are available for future use by the local unions and their officers, as well as students and patrons researching labor history.