A Hebrew Home of Greater Washington Resident Portrait
"Go home and start writing your memoirs." That's advice Hebrew Home resident Murray, now 96, sought to impress upon his students of labor history at universities here and abroad. Owing to his own late start in chronicling personal experience, challenges, and insight derived from a remarkable life, he could vouch for the value of recording details before they recede from memory.
Born in 1914, the youngest of seven children, and the only one to be born in America to immigrant parents from Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Murray grew up on East 114th Street in New York City. He studied engineering in the early '30s at City College of New York, then dubbed by observers as the "Harvard of the Proletariat." An active member of its politically radical Student Forum, Murray's early inspiration and life-long associate became the outspoken socialist Norman Thomas, whose signed portrait Murray holds in the photo above.
With job opportunities in engineering scarce due to corporate anti-Semitism at the time of his graduation, Murray, newly married to Yetta, changed course and secured employment at the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. From there he went to work as a labor economist at the National Labor Relations Board and the War Production Board. When President Truman in 1948 appointed Maurice J. Tobin, former Boston Mayor and Massachusetts Governor, to be the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Tobin promptly hired Murray to be his speechwriter. At this point, not only was Murray working full-time and immersed in graduate studies in statistics, economics and constitutional and administrative law, he was also studying Catholicism, sparked by the need to prepare speeches for Tobin, who as a Catholic, often addressed Catholic organizations.
In 1952, at the career recommendation of David J. Saposs, an economic advisor to the Marshall Plan, Murray relocated to Paris, his wife and children in tow, to assist with the U.S. Mission to NATO and the OEEC in the aftermath of the Marshall Plan. Not only did he enjoy an office at the Hôtel de Talleyrand on Rue de Rivoli, he also appreciated the chance to experience the scenery and treasures of Europe.
By 1965, Murray, now an expert in foreign labor relations, joined the State Department as Counselor of Labor Affairs attached to the American Embassy in India. He later served as director of the Industrial Relations Division of the OECD in the early 1970s. In subsequent years he served as speech writer for long-time senator, former Vice President, and presidential hopeful Hubert H. Humphrey. Following his 1979 retirement, Murray continued to lecture and teach courses on U.S. labor history and the international labor movement at home and abroad.
Reflecting on his career years, Murray identifies his two most satisfying endeavors: establishing the Labor Diplomacy Oral History Project and developing an understanding of Catholicism and its influence upon the labor movement.
Individuals interested in the writings of Murray Weisz, including interviews John L. Lewis, Norman Thomas, Max Kempelman, and Hubert Humphrey (pictured below with Murray), may contact the reference archivist at the Walther P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, William LeFevre, to obtain copies of material available to the public. Reach Mr. LeFevre at 313.577.2789 or email@example.com.