Abstract: Executives, Experts, and Activists: The Entrepreneurial Community of Workplace Integration, 1945–1964

Jennifer Delton


This paper argues that CEOs, fair employment activists, and management experts constituted a kind of entrepreneurial community that began the work of integrating American workplaces during the 1940s and 1950s. Together, these disparate actors developed policies to overcome patterns of discrimination and a language to explain and justify these policies to shareholders, the public, and white workers. The paper challenges current explanations of workplace integration that privilege grassroots activism after 1964. The paper is based on documents from the McCormick-International Harvester Company Collection (Wisconsin Historical Society), FEPC materials, and trade journals.