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Edwin E. Witte

Edwin Witte


McCarthy’s protégé and successor, Edwin E. Witte, was born on a farm near Watertown, Wisconsin, on January 4, 1887. In 1905, he entered the University of Wisconsin, where he majored in history and earned a Ph.D. in economics in 1927. After working as an aide to Congressman John M. Nelson and serving five years as secretary of the Wisconsin Industrial Commission, Witte served as chief of the Legislative Reference Library from 1922 to 1933, when he returned to the University of Wisconsin as a professor of economics.

In 1934, Witte was named executive director and research synthesizer for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Committee on Economic Security. While working in this capacity, he drafted the federal Social Security Act of 1935. Previously, he had published a book in 1932, entitled The Government in Labor Disputes, and he made significant contributions to the drafting of the Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act of 1932. In succeeding years, Witte served as a member of the President’s Committee on Administrative Management, the War Labor Board, the Advisory Council for Employment Security, and the Atomic Energy Labor Relations Panel. In 1948, he organized and became the first president of the Industrial Relations Research Association and, in 1955, he was elected president of the American Economic Association.

Witte chaired the Department of Economics at the University of Wisconsin from 1936 to 1941 and again from 1946 to 1957, and Witte Hall, a residence hall at the UW-Madison, was named in his honor. He died on May 20, 1960.