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Philadelphia Musical Society Records

Collection ID

Acc. 545

Related Subject(s)

Collecting Area(s)

Description

Collection Summary

Title
Philadelphia Musical Society Records

Dates
1885-1982

Collection ID
Acc. 545

Creator
Philadelphia Musical Society

Quantity
21.5 linear feet (43 boxes)     

Repository
Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

Language
Materials in English         

Detailed Collection Information

Historical Note

The Philadelphia Musical Society, Local 77 of the American Federation of Musicians is one of the oldest continuing union affiliates of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Local 77 was one of the original 26 local unions that made up the American Federation of Musicians when it was chartered by the AFL on November 6, 1896. However, attempts to create a musical union in Philadelphia actually pre-dated the creation of the AFL in 1886. A series of meetings that began in the homes of a small group of string ensemble members in 1816 led to the founding of the Musical Fund Society in 1820. The Musical Fund Society remained the primary organization of Philadelphia musicians until it was disbanded during the Civil War. In 1871, as part of the wave of craft unions that were being created in urban centers around the country, the National Musical Association was founded in Philadelphia. Essentially, it was a loose-knit support system of professional musicians from various cities and not a well-organized national labor rights movement.

The Philadelphia Musical Society grew out of the Musical Association. From the time of its inception, it developed the structure of a modern labor union. An executive committee served as the primary means of communicating with the national organization. A trial board oversaw grievances between union members, and also served a policy-making role in terms of judging complaints against club owners and other employers. Finally, there was a general membership assembly, which was largely autonomous in handling the day-to-day matters of securing employment and fair pay scales for its members. This basic structure has remained intact throughout the union's existence.

Even in the early years of the local, the union was characterized by a multi-ethnic membership base. This developed out of a battle to prevent the contracting of the many non-union immigrant musicians who had come to the area during the late 1800s. Union pressure soon compelled many of them to pay the dues to join the local and to refuse jobs that paid below the union scale. The union's early history was also marked by strife with the Philadelphia chapter of the National League of Musicians, an independent union that resisted membership in the AFL. By 1904, the National League of Musicians was forced to disband.

The next major controversy involving members of Local 77 began to unfold on December 7, 1928. Police raided the Musicians' Club on 120 N 18th Street, a popular night spot, after being tipped off that the downstairs area of the club functioned as a speakeasy and gambling room for the members of Local 77. They were also told that several Philadelphia Musical Society officers were responsible for procuring and selling bootlegged liquor to Ole Oleson, the owner of the Musicians' Club. Police discovered dozens of area musicians at the bar and at the gaming tables, playing poker. The police officers then proceeded to Local 77 headquarters on 18th and Arch Street, where union elections were taking place. They discovered that several union members were, in fact, conducting bootlegging operations. In all, thirty-two members of Local 77 were arrested for violation of the Eighteenth Amendment. The tipster turned out to be a disgruntled union member who was unhappy with the early selection process of nominees on the ballot and got revenge by telling the police about the arrangement with the Musicians' Club.

Local 77 was also embroiled by the 1930s in a national feud between the American Federation of Musicians and the American Guild of Musicians. Both were affiliates of the AFL. Nevertheless, the two unions were engaged in a heated power struggle. In this city, the Philadelphia Musical Association arose to challenge Local 77 and its sister local (274) in the Philadelphia Musical Society. By 1940, the A.F. of M. had taken a decided advantage in the battle. The two entities established an uneasy truce with one another, with the Guild being relegated to subordinate status. The Philadelphia Musical Society and the Musical Association remained separate, but periodically combined their efforts.

Despite the fact that the Philadelphia Musical Society has had a long time affiliation with the American Federation of Musicians, relations have sometimes been strained between the national and the local. This was particularly true during the time that James C. Petrillo was the President of the A.F.M., which began in 1939 and continued through 1958. The local sought relative autonomy while Petrillo attempted to exercise broad control of all of his affiliates. For example, Local 77 and the A.F. of M. disagreed over the split of recording royalties that each would receive from musicians in Local 77. There was also argument over the procedure for eliminating "radical" elements from the ranks; from the post-World War I era until the decline of HUAC in the late 1950s, people engaged in the arts were among the groups that were most frequently suspected of having communist (or at least leftist) sympathies. The Lea Act of 1946 attempted to severely restrict the legal strike organization rights of unions because of the fear of their leaders encouraging radicalism. In recognition of the fervent anti-communist wave in the country, Petrillo issued a unilateral ban on all communists and potential communist sympathizers within the union. He assumed disbarment rights that could bypass the trial boards and executive committees of the locals. Local 77 angrily protested the usurpation of its authority, but eventually was forced to give in. Finally, after Petrillo's resignation in 1958, the rift between Local 77 and the American Federation of Musicians began to be repaired.

To this day, Local 77 has remained a viable force in the A.F.M. They organized a strike against the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1966 and secured a re-definition of "work time" to include travel to engagements. Ten years later, however, only 10% of the 5,000 Local 77 members had full time employment, a tremendous drop-off from the union's former placement rate. Today, the headquarters of Local 77 are located on the 1200 block of Locust Street. The future promises to bring challenges that will add to a long, colorful, and stormy history of professional music and the cultural arts in Philadelphia.

Description of Collection

This collections contains official records of the Board of Governors, the Executive Committee, and the Trial Board; meeting minutes; ledgers, correspondence; records belonging to affiliates of Philadelphia Musical Society and other related organizations; and other materials.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 5 series as follows:

Series 1:  Administration, 1909-1956
Series 2:  General Membership Meeting Minutes (Ledgers), 1904-1952
Series 3:  Financial, 1899-1932
Series 4:  Correspondence, 1929-1970
Series 5:  Miscellaneous, 1885-1982

Series 1: Administration, contains the official records of the Board of Governors, the Executive Committee, and the Trial Board. Minutes of meetings comprise the majority of this series. Also included are rolls of officers on standing and special committees, officers' attendance rolls and the Executive Committee's Record of Fines. Microfilm copies of meeting minutes are available.

Series 2: General Membership Meeting Minutes, contains the minutes of General Membership Meetings. Microfilm copies are also available.

Series 3: Financial, consists of account ledgers detailing transactions pertaining to the Working Funds and the Building Fund (1917) and membership lists showing the payment of dues, assessments and fines.

Series 4: Correspondence, contains correspondence to and from the Local. Correspondence from 1929-1930 is arranged chronologically. Correspondence from 1947-1970 is first arranged alphabetically by name of addressor or addressee, and then chronologically.

Series 5: Miscellaneous, includes the engraving plate certifying Local 77 and issues of Arpeggio, its official journal. The 1948 Arpeggio is a predecessor officially unconnected to the Local. This series also contains records belonging to affiliates of the Local and other organizations of interest to it. These papers include the minutes and dues books of the Musicians' Club of Philadelphia, which included AFM Local 591, a "colored subsidiary", and preceded AFM Local 274. Also included here are administrative and financial records of the Philadelphia Musical Association (dissolved 1952), the Musicians Protective Association Directory (1915), and a Franz Schubert Bund dues book.

Patron Information

Research Access

Collection is open for research.

Collections Stored Off-Site

This collection may be housed off-site at the Library Depository, and require up to two business days to retrieve. Please review the finding aid and be prepared to identify specific materials to be retrieved. Contact the Special Collections Research Center in advance of your visit, so that materials may be relocated to the reading room for research.

Publication and Copyright Information

The Philadelphia Musical Society Records are the physical property of the Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries. Intellectual property rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for determining the identity of rights holders and obtaining their permission for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Preferred Citation

[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Philadelphia Musical Society Records, Acc. 545, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Accession 545 was received from the organization in December of 1982.

Processing Information

The inventory was prepared in April, 1994, by Charles Greifenstein, Laura Guelle, Frances Inslee, and Bill Meltzer, students in an Archives course at Temple University. Finding aid revised according to contemporary archival standards in June 2015.                  

Index Terms

The following headings have been used to index the description of this collection in Temple University’s electronic catalog:

Corporate names:
American Federation of Musicians
Philadelphia Musical Society

Subjects:
Labor -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Labor Unions -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Musicians -- Labor unions -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia

Places:
Philadelphia (Pa.)

Material Types:
Correspondence
Financial records
Minutes

Inventory

Series 1:  Administration, 1904-1956

The administrative material contains the official records of the Board of Governors, the Executive Committee, and the Trial Board. Minutes of meetings comprise the majority of this series. Also included are rolls of officers on standing and special committees, officers' attendance rolls and the Executive Committee's Record of Fines. Microfilm copies of meeting minutes are available.

1                    Board of Governors Meetings          1928-1929 (1 folder)

1                    Roll of Officers of Standing and Special Committees          1898-1903 (1 ledger)

1                    Executive Committee Minutes, ledger          Undated

1                    Volume 1          1904-1907

2                    Volume 2          1907-1910

3                    Volume 3          1910-1912

4                    Volume 4          1912-1914 (+1 folder of index Volume 4)

5                    Volume 5          1914-1917

6                    Volume 6          1917-1919

7                    Volume 7          1919-1920

8                    Volume 8          1920-1922

9                    Volume 9          1922-1924

10                    Volume 10          1924-1926

11                    Volume 11          1926-1928 (includes Officer Attendance Rolls, 1923-1928)

12                    Volume 12          1928-1934

13                    [untitled]          1939-1945

13                    [untitled]          1939-1945

13                    [untitled]          1939-1945

13                    [untitled]          1939-1945

13                    [untitled]          1939-1945

13                    [untitled]          1939-1945

13                    [untitled]          1939-1945

14                    [untitled]          1946-1949

14                    [untitled]          1946-1949

14                    [untitled]          1946-1949

14                    [untitled]          1946-1949

15                    [untitled]          1950-1953

15                    [untitled]          1950-1953

15                    [untitled]          1950-1953

15                    [untitled]          1950-1953

15                    [untitled]          1950-1953

16                    [untitled]          1954

16                    [untitled]          1954

16                    [untitled]          1954

16                    [untitled]          1954

16                    [untitled]          1954

17                    [untitled]          1955

17                    [untitled]          1955

17                    [untitled]          1955

18                    Executive Committee Record of Fines          1921-1936 (1 ledger)

18                    Trial Board Minutes          1912, 1928, 1927-1935

18                    Trial Board Minutes          1912, 1928, 1927-1935

18                    Trial Board Minutes          1912, 1928, 1927-1935

18                    Trial Board Minutes          1912, 1928, 1927-1935

18                    Trial Board Minutes          1912, 1928, 1927-1935

18                    Trial Board Minutes          1912, 1928, 1927-1935

18                    Trial Board Minutes          1912, 1928, 1927-1935

19                    [untitled]           1935-1952 (1 ledger & 1 folder)

20                    [untitled]           1954-1956

20                    [untitled]           1954-1956

20                    [untitled]           1954-1956

20                    [untitled]           1954-1956

20                    [untitled]           1954-1956

Series 2:  General Membership Meeting Minutes (Ledgers), 1904-1952

This series contains the minutes of General Membership Meetings. Microfilm copies are also available.

21                      Volume 1           1904-1909

22                      Volume 2           1909-1914 (+1 folder)

23                      Volume 3           1914-1919

24                      Volume 4           1919-1923

25                      Volume 5           1923-1929 (+1 folder)

26                      Volume 6           1929-1930

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

27                      [untitled]           1930-1952

Series 3:  Financial, 1899-1932

The financial material consists of account ledgers detailing transactions pertaining to the Working Funds and the Building Fund (1917) and membership lists showing the payment of dues, assessments and fines.

28                      Admission Fee Book           1912-1921 (1 ledger)

28                      Cash Books           1917-1923 (2 ledgers)

29                      Dues Books           1899-1904 (3 ledgers)

30                      [Dues Books?]           1905-1910 (2 ledgers)

31                      Dues and Assessments Books           1899-1903 (2 ledgers)

32                      Fines Books           1910-1932 (2 ledgers)

32                      Uniform Books           1912-1916 (1 ledger)

Series 4:  Correspondence, 1929-1970

This series contains correspondence to and from the Local. Correspondence from 1929-1930 is arranged chronologically. Correspondence from 1947 to 1970 is first arranged alphabetically by name of addressor or addressee, and then chronologically.

33                      Correspondence A-J           1929-1930

33                      Correspondence A-J           1929-1930

33                      Correspondence A-J           1929-1930

33                      Correspondence A-J           1929-1930

33                      Correspondence A-J           1929-1930

33                      Correspondence A-J           1929-1930

33                      Correspondence A-J           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

34                      Correspondence K-Z           1929-1930

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

35                      Correspondence A-O           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

36                      Correspondence P-Z           1947-1970

Series 5:  Miscellaneous, 1885-1982

The material in this series includes the engraving plate certifying Local 77 and issues of Arpeggio, its official journal. The 1948 Arpeggio is a predecessor officially unconnected to the Local. This series also contains records belonging to affiliates of the Local and other organizations of interest to it. These papers include the minutes and dues books of the Musicians' Club of Philadelphia, which included AFM Local 591, a "colored subsidiary", and preceded AFM Local 274. Also included here are administrative and financial records of the Philadelphia Musical Association (dissolved 1952), the Musicians Protective Association Directory (1915), and a Franz Schubert Bund dues book.

37                      Arpeggio           1948, 1953-1955, 1975-1982

38                      Franz Schubert Fund Dues           1906-1916 (1 folder)

38                      Musicians' Protective Association Directory           1915 (includes decisions of the local) (1 folder)

38                      Engraving Block           Undated

39                      Local 591 Dues Book           1932 (1 ledger)

39                      Musicians Club of Philadelphia, Minutes           1917-1923 (including local 591) (1 ledger)

40                      Philadelphia Musical Association           Undated

40                      Executive Committee Minutes           1938-1952 (1 ledger)

41                      General Minutes           1907-1952 (1 ledger)

42                      Dues and Assessment Book           1885-1893 (1 ledger)

43                      Dues Books           1904-1912 (2 ledgers)

43                      Financial Papers           1943-1945? (1 folder)