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John L. Lewis

Samuel Johnson Woolf, 12 Feb 1880 - 1948
John Llewellyn Lewis, 12 Feb 1880 - 12 Jun 1969
Charcoal and chalk on paper
Sight: 54.3 x 38.7cm (21 3/8 x 15 1/4")
Mat: 55.9 x 40.6cm (22 x 16")
Frame: 61.6 x 46.5 x 4.8cm (24 1/4 x 18 5/16 x 1 7/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Estate of S.J. Woolf
Object number
Exhibition Label
High on the agenda of the New Deal's response to the Depression were measures designed to strengthen industrial unions. Among the most visible labor organizers taking advantage of those measures was John L. Lewis, president of the United Mine Workers. The burly Lewis was as fiercely combative as he looked. In 1936, when the American Federation of Labor was cool to his push to organize workers according to industry rather than craft, he went ahead with the idea anyway, forming what became the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Over the next several years, he led the CIO's bitter, but successful, struggles to unionize the nation's steel, rubber, and auto industries.
This portrait, done for Time magazine, marked Lewis's success in 1933 in unionizing 95 percent of the nation's coal industry. Time called it the "biggest" worker victory in the "history of U.S. labor."
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection