Material Cataloged Separately
Scope and Contents
Title: Bookbinders and Bindery Women's Union, Local 31-125 records
Date (bulk): 1902-1970
Date (inclusive): 1879-1970
International Brotherhood of Bookbinders. Bindery Women's Local Union 125 (San Francisco, Calif.).
6.25 cubic ft.
Collection number: larc.ms.0008
Accession number: 1986/086
Labor Archives and Research Center
J. Paul Leonard Library, Room 460
San Francisco State University
1630 Holloway Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132-1722
Languages represented in the collection:
The collection consists of records, primarily minutes, of the Bookbinders and Bindery Women's Union, Local 31-125 and its
predecessors. The collection also includes bank records, dance cards and banquet programs, arbitration agreements, and constitutions
and by- laws. The records date primarily from 1902 to 1970. This was originally two unions, one for men and one for women,
which joined in 1917. The records, especially those that deal with the merger, give valuable information on gender-related
labor issues such as the lives of working women, and the relative power of women in consolidated unions.
Collection available onsite.
Collection is open for research.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives & Research Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from
materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the
Labor Archives & Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of
the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], Bookbinders and Bindery Women's Union, Local 31-125 Records, larc.ms.0008, Labor Archives and Research
Center, San Francisco State University.
Material Cataloged Separately
Photograph negatives found in the collection have been transferred to the Archives' photograph subject collection and may
be located in the folder titled Bookbinders and Binderywomen.
The collection was donated by Graphic Communications, Local 583 in 1986, accession number 1986/086.
The collection was originally processed in 1987 by Helen Austin Duell, and reprocessed in 1989 by Leon Sompolinsky.
Prior to 1917, two separate unions existed. The Bindery Women's Union Local 125 organized in 1902. The International Brotherhood
of Bookbinders Local 31 traces its genesis back to the Journeymen Bookbinders' Association of the Pacific Coast adopting its
first Constition and By-laws in 1875. In July 1917 their merger formed one union, the Bookbinders and Bindery Women's Union,
Local 31-125. The men's local included these skills: book binders, paper rulers, paper cutters, and folding machine operators.
Women did only bookbinding except for bronze work. The Bindery Workers Union Local 21, of Palo Alto, CA, organized in 1947
representing Stanford University Press employees. Local 21 voted to merge with Local 31-125 in 1969.
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of records, primarily minutes and a membership ledger, of the Bookbinders and Bindery Women's Union,
Local 31-125 and its predecessors, dating primarily from 1902 to 1970. The agenda of the minutes typically include interaction
with other unions, new business, and finances, including membership dues and expenses. Beginning with 1927, membership ledgers
and the minutes were bound in the same volumes. Early membership ledgers show that many of the members had Irish names. The
collection also includes bank records, dance cards and banquet programs, arbitration agreements, and constitutions and by-laws.
The records, especially those that deal with the merger, give valuable information on gender-related labor issues such as
the lives of working women, and the relative power of women in consolidated unions. Originally two unions, one for men and
one for women, the two unions joined in 1917; Volumes 3 (1910-1918) and 6 (1906-1917) include the merger negotiations of the
two locals. At first the women were reluctant to consolidate and demanded that they be allowed to retain their particular
line of work, that men not be allowed to go on their machines, that women not be allowed to bronze, that they be taken in
with equal voting rights, that they retain their regular holidays, and that they "retain a self supporting woman in the office."
A joint committee was established and it was decided that the vice president was to be a woman, that two out of four elected
executive committee members were to be women, and that an equal number of men and women would be sent as delegates to the
Allied Printing Trades Council and the Labor Council. The Joint Committee granted most of the women's demands except that
women were not given an equal vote on the election of officers, finances and strikes. On these issues they were given half
a vote. The women's local agreed to merge but protested that they wanted equal votes on strikes because they felt that the
issue of strikes was of "equal interest to all." They did not succeed in this demand. Women who lived far away were excused
from attending regular meetings at night. Minimum wages and hours were set for both with men earning more. Loose pages in
volume 6 relate to the merger and include letters from the Labor Council relating to the restriction of the immigration of
Many of the women felt that the merger put them at a disadvantage for they gave away the control of their union and they were
restricted to less skilled labor. The later volumes include some discussion of health issues and maximum hours of work a day.
Other volumes also give information on wage and hours negotiation and relations with local and national labor movements.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Bindery Women's Union. Local 125 (San Francisco, Calif.).
Bindery Worker's Union. Local 21 (Palo Alto, Calif.).
International Brotherhood of Bookbinders. Local 31 (San Francisco, Calif.).
Bookbinders--Labor unions--California--San Francisco.