Skip to main content

The Jack Bigel Collection

Identifier: BIG

Scope and Contents

The Jack Bigel Collection, part of Baruch College's Archive on Municipal Finance and Leadership, contains a wide range of published and unpublished documents that include policy papers, reports of committees, agencies and think tanks, budget analyses, bond offerings, press releases, and newspaper clippings. The key to accessing the collection is the finding aid that Jack Bigel prepared over the years when the holdings were developed.


  • Creation: 1966 - 1997
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1971-1980

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Use

The Newman Library of Baruch College is not aware of any United States copyright or any other restrictions on the original material in this collection. However, some of the content may be protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 USC). Also, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions rests with persons desiring to reproduce or use the items. We encourage the use of these materials under the Fair Use provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act. For the purposes of research, teaching, and private study, you may reproduce items from the collection without prior permission on the condition that proper attribution of the source is provided in all copies.

Biographical / Historical

Jack Bigel will always be remembered as a skillful financial and bargaining adviser to labor unions and a leader in resolving the city's financial crisis of the mid 1970's. He had a dream of preserving the record of that crisis so that it could serve as an opportunity to learn about the working of government and the distinct roles that various institutions and sectors in the city's economic life played in preventing the city from declaring bankruptcy. He wanted the materials he assembled over 30 years to inform future generations of students, civic leaders, government officials and career service personnel on ways to improve government.

Jack Bigel was born Jacob Bernard Bigel in Brooklyn on April 22, 1913, but later became known as Jack. He attended Boys High School and earned a degree from City College in 1934. Among his fondest memories were the years he competed as a member of the City College wrestling team.

Jack Bigel's reputation as a labor leader began when he organized the United Public Workers,which represented the Sanitation Department, city hospitals and the Welfare Department and was New York City's first powerful union.

In the late 1950's Bigel established Professional Plan Associates, a consulting firm that eventually specialized in providing services to the municipal unions and the health care industry. In 1966, he changed the firm's name to Program Planners. With a staff of more than fifty statisticians and economists, he was able to collect, analyze and store data from New York and other cities that he used to craft negotiating strategies for the unions he represented on such issues as pay and benefits. He is probably best known for his work as an advisor to John J. DeLury, head of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association, for whose members he helped win increases in pay and benefits during the 1960's.

In addition to providing advice to the unions regarding bargaining priorities with the city government, he negotiated personally with city officials on behalf of many of his clients. At the same time, he was the confidante of successive mayors and New York governors.

In the depths of the financial crisis in 1976 Mr. Bigel was able to convince union leaders to apply billions of dollars from their pension funds to purchase city bonds and help prevent New York City from defaulting on its debts and progressing toward bankruptcy.

In 1999, while reflecting on the role of the unions during the city's fiscal crisis, Jack Bigel pointed out that in 1976 the assets of the city's municipal union pension funds totaled $8 billion. Twenty-two percent of that amount, or $1.8 billion, was invested in city bonds. By 1978, the investments of the union pension funds in city bonds reached almost $3.4 billion.

Mr. Bigel credited the trustees of the union plans with enabling New York City to recover from its desperate financial situation.

He was active on a number of boards, including the School of Public Affairs' Advisory Board.

Adapted from an article by Paul Lewis (New York Times, November 30, 2002)


63.75 Linear Feet


The collection is organized into Series and Subseries based on Bigel's original key. Each Series and Subseries has been formed by grouping materials with similar content according to Bigel's labeling. The collection is grouped into five series: Series I: New York City Materials, Series II: New York State Materials, Series III: United States Materials, Series IV: General Collection, Series V: Miscellaneous and Unlabeled.

The Jack Bigel Collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Baruch College Archives, William and Anita Newman Library Repository

Digital Initiatives Librarian, Baruch College
1 Bernard Baruch Way
New York NY 10010 USA