Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express, and Station Employees Records
Scope and Content
The records date from 1910 to 1931, and include the union's business files, documentation of its internal functions, publications and correspondence to its members, and information on government regulation of railroads and railroad employees.
Many of records have been wrinkled, torn, or have portions missing. The entire collection was fumigated in 1991.
- undated, 1910-1931, 1948
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open and available for research, with the exception of Grievance materials. Access to the Grievance records is only with the written permission of the Archivist.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.
The Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express, and Station Employees was organized in 1899, and was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Union name variants were the Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees, AFL-CIO; the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks; and the Railway Clerks of America, Order. It was the largest single railroad organization for employees who devoted a majority of their time to clerical work of any description including chief clerks, foremen, train announcers, gatemen, checkers; parcel, baggage, and storeroom employees; dock and pier workers; train and engine crew callers; timekeepers; paymasters; freight inspectors; rate and tariff compilers; weigh masters; ticket clerks and sellers; operators of all office and station equipment devices; telephone and switchboard operators; and all employees occupying or performing duties similar to those mentioned. Males and females of good moral character with at least three months of experience in clerical work were eligible for membership. During the period of government control of the railroads, the union secured increases in wages and better working conditions.
The Grand Lodge was the legislative and judicial head of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. It had jurisdiction in the United States, Central America, and Canada. No lodge, system, division, board of adjustment, or federation could be formed or continue to exist without the Grand Lodge's sanction. It had the sole right and power of granting and suspending charters, of receiving appeals, and of addressing grievances. The Grand Lodge executive officers included one grand president, seven vice grand presidents, and a grand secretary-treasurer. These officials also comprised the Grand Council. The grand president exercises general supervision over all lodges, system divisions, boards of adjustment, and federations of the Brotherhood, and over the Benefit Association. The grand vice presidents assisted the president in the discharge of his duties, performed others assigned to them, and provided a full written report at each regular convention. The grand secretary-treasurer was responsible for keeping a record of the proceedings of all conventions and furnishing a printed report of it to all lodges and system divisions in good standing, and to their members upon request. Other duties included making a report of all monetary and other transactions of his office to each convention, keeping records of all members, issues, notices of dues and assessments, and preparing and making available a semiannual report of the condition of the Brotherhood to all lodges and system divisions in good standing. Every lodge and subordinate organization had to report to the grand secretary-treasurer quarterly.
Union guidelines and regulations were described in the constitution, bylaws, statutes, and protective laws of the Grand Lodge. Subordinate lodges, divisions, and systems within the organization had similar documents stating their purpose and operations. To ensure uniformity in the union's administration, the Grand Lodge furnished charters, rituals, membership cards, and other forms throughout the United States> and abroad. It also made the constitution d pertinent documents available in French, Spanish, and other languages in addition to English. By 1919, each lodge was to have one hundred members or less and systems divisions were supposed to hold meetings at least once a month. In contrast, the Grand Lodge convened once annually in a regular session on the first Monday in May. Fees and dues of the Lodges or system divisions were not to be less than three dollars for initiation. The amount of dues was determined by each lodge and subdivision and was not to be under six dollars per year.
In addition to the lodges, systems, and divisions, the union provided its members with other benefits. For example, all union members contributed to the Protective Fund. It helped to defray the expenses of conducting authorized strikes and of rendering financial assistance to those dismissed from service. There were also a General Fund and a Convention Fund. Another benefit was The Railway Clerk, the official publication of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. It was intended to be published at least monthly to promote the general welfare of the union and the moral and intellectual character of its members. Notices, instructions, and information of interest to the membership were included. The annual subscription rate was fifty cents.
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Language of Materials
The Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express, and Station Employees was organized in 1899, and was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Union name variants were the Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees, AFL-CIO; the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks; and the Railway Clerks of America, Order. It was the largest single railroad organization for employees who devoted a majority of their time to clerical work of any description.
Series I: Governance (1910-1931) consists of five subseries, the first four are arranged chronologically, the last alphabetically:
Grand Lodge (1912-1931) includes the constitution, bylaws, statutes, and protective laws of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. An application for membership, an obligation, and a ritual pamphlet are also in these files.
System Divisions (circa 1919-1922) contains the bylaws of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Systems Board of Adjustment and of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford and Central New England Systems Board of Adjustment.
Hartford Lodge Number 186 (1910-1922) includes bylaws, minutes, and a list of minutes, proceedings and correspondence for that lodge.
Conventions (1919-1925) consist of delegate identification forms, convention information, minutes, proceedings, and reports.
Forms (1919-1924) include such items as a strike ballot, benefit forms, a stock application, and salary statements.
Series II: Circulars and Weekly Letters (1919-1923) contains published circulars and correspondence for the Grand President of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks and from chairmen of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Board of Adjustment. They are addressed to officers, representatives, chairmen, and members. These files cover the rates of pay, overtime, benefits, duties, positions, working conditions, an illegal strike, and the Clerks' National Agreement. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series III: Correspondence (1916-1931) contains general correspondence, notes, and notices from division and lodge presidents, chairmen, and agents. The files provide information on such topics as positions, duties, wages, hours, benefits, working conditions, seniority, and Brotherhood conventions. Also included are materials on the Hartford and New Haven Lodges, an illegal strike of the Nashville, Chattanooga, and Sedition Bill, and the Plumb Plan League. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series IV: Agreements and Resolutions (1913-1922) includes printed and typed agreements and resolutions between the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks and its lodges and stem boards of adjustment, as well as between the union and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Company, and the General New England Railway Company. Subjects covered include government control of the railroads during World War I, position vacancies, seniority, promotions, hours of service, overtime, Sunday and holiday work, and working conditions. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series V: Decisions (1918-1923) consists of memoranda covering decisions on promotion and seniority, rates of pay for male and female employees, hours of service and working conditions, vacation, sick leave, discipline, and grievances. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series VI: New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company (1912-1924) includes a list of freight stations, an agreement with clerks outlining their duties and working conditions, ticket stubs, freight reports, pay rates and regulations, and a Hartford station clerk's roster. The material is arranged chronologically.
Series VII: United States Railroad Administration (1918-1919) includes publications from the Government Printing Office written by W.G. McAdoo, Director General of Railroads, and by his successor, Walker D. Hines. Among these materials are circulars, general orders, and interpretations and supplements to general orders. The series is arranged chronologically.
Series VIII: Alphabetical Files (1917-1922) consists of circulars and other publications, a Government Printing Office publications list, news clippings, a weight agreement, and similar related materials. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series IX: Grievances (1916-1924) [RESTRICTED] consists mainly of typed and handwritten correspondence from union members to the grand president and other officials of Brotherhood lodges and divisions. Many of the documents are wrinkled or torn and a few have portions missing. Some decisions on grievances are included. The series is arranged chronologically, and, within individual files, the records are often grouped by topic.
The records may have belonged to R.G. Stearns, chairman of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Board of Adjustment>, or to an official from Hartford Lodge Number 186.
The collection was acquired by exchange from a dealer in 1989.
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- Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express, and Station Employees Records
- Archives & Special Collections staff
- 1993 February
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