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Brotherhood of Railway, Airline, and Steamship Clerks, System Board 96 records

Identifier: L1989-18

Scope and Content of the Records

These records, spanning 1918-1978, contain correspondence, reference material, minutes and proceedings, agreements and union constitutions, legal documents, and financial documents. They reflect Edgar McDonald Broom's service to the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline and Steamship Clerks, as System Board 96's Assistant General Chairman, General Chairman, General Chairman Emeritus and as a student at Harvard's Trade Union Program. Most of the records relate to Southern Railway workers and the enforcement of protective laws. The records include some of Broom's personal effects, such as correspondence, notes, cards, letters with friends and family, reference books, publications, and BRAC memorabilia. The collection also contains photographs and Southern Railway and BRAC artifacts.


  • Creation: 1918-1978


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use. Playback and transcriptions of Dictabelts are unavailable.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.

History of The Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks, System Board 96

The Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express, and Station Employees was organized in Sedalia, Missouri in 1899, as the Order of Railroad Clerks of America. Soon after, it renamed itself The Brotherhood of Railway Clerks, to be more in keeping with other railway "brotherhoods" of that time. In 1919, the organization took the name Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees (BRAC), and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. BRAC was the largest single organization for railroad 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 and telephone and switchboard operators. Over time, the union welcomed into its ranks the members of half a dozen labor organizations, among them the Transportation Communication Employees Union (once known as the Order of Railroad Telegraphers), the United Transport Service Employees Union, the Railway Patrolmen's International Union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the American Railway and Airway Supervisors Association, the Western Railway Supervisors Association, and the Brotherhood of Railway Carmen. Finally, in 1987, the organization adopted its current name, the Transportation Communication International Union (TCU). In 2005, TCU affiliated with the International Association of Machinists (IAM).

The Grand Lodge was the legislative and judicial body 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. Its executive officers, or the Grand Council, included the Grand President, seven Vice Grand Presidents, and a Grand Secretary-Treasurer. The Grand President exercised 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 on the condition of the Brotherhood to all lodges and system divisions in good standing. Every lodge and subordinate organization reported quarterly to the Grand Secretary-Treasurer.

BRAC members belonged to local lodges and could bring grievances arising out of application or interpretation of agreements to their local protective committees, above that to the district level, and finally to the System Board of Adjustment of which their local was an affiliate. Organized along the same lines as the Grand Lodge, System Boards of Adjustment were empowered by the BRAC to negotiate, maintain, revise, modify and adjust agreements applying to BRAC members working for a particular railroad system, as well as to receive and consider grievances. Regional Associations within BRAC coordinated the boards in their jurisdictions. System Boards operated in the framework established by the Railway Labor Act of 1926, intended to keep the American economy flowing without disruption by railway labor disputes. The act was intended to protect employees' right to join a union while avoiding any interruptions to commerce and operations, a goal strengthened by the 1934 amendment that created a National Railroad Adjustment Board as a compulsory mechanism to resolve labor disputes. Cases the System Boards could not resolve went to the National Board of Adjustment.

BRAC System Board 96 served members who were employees of the Southern Railway System. Founded in the 19th century, Southern eventually absorbed over 100 railroads, and the system had about 8000 miles of routes in 13 states by 1916. Among the roads and subsidiaries that made up the system were the Alabama Great Southern Railroad; Central of Georgia Railroad (after 1963); the Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Texas Pacific Railway; the Georgia Southern and Florida Railway; and the St. Johns River Terminal Company. Southern merged with the Norfolk & Western Railway in 1982 to form the Norfolk Southern Railway System.

Biography of E. M. Broom

Edgar McDonald Broom was born August 23, 1910 in Atlanta, Georgia. He started his career working in Atlanta for the Southern Railway Company on September 3, 1928 in the office of Auditor of Passenger Accounts. A member of the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employes, Broom eventually resigned Southern to work as the Assistant to BRAC's General Chairman of System Board 96 (Southern Railway), later becoming a Vice-Chairman. He was a member of System Board 96's Negotiating Committee and was on the Board of Directors for the Southern Railway Clerks mountain home in Saluda, North Carolina.

On November 1, 1955, Broom transferred to Charlotte, North Carolina. He was nominated to attend Harvard University's Trade Union Program on a scholarship made possible by the BRAC Grand Lodge and System Board 96 in 1959. During the year long program, Broom learned to negotiate better conditions and benefits for union employees. The Trade Union Program at Harvard University has been providing training for select union officers since its inception in 1942. Vice-Chairman Broom ran for System Board 96 General Chairman in 1963, but was chastised because the office was still occupied by his boss General Chairman Avery Link, who did not wish to relinquish the position. Broom rallied support and at the August 1 meeting of the Southern Railway System Board of Adjustment held in Washington, D.C., and was elected General Chairman. He served in this capacity for twelve years until his retirement.

In Charlotte, Broom was a member of the Providence Baptist Church, serving as a Sunday School teacher, Church Clerk, and Church Deacon. He was honorary Chaplin for BRAC's 1975 convention in Washington, D.C. After retirement, Broom moved back to the Atlanta area and continued to hold the title General Chairman Emeritus for System Board 96, BRAC until his death in 1978.


24.31 Linear Feet (in 53 boxes)

Language of Materials


Organization of the Records

Organized into ten series:

  • Series I. General Chairman
  • Series II. By-laws/Constitutions
  • Series III. Agreements
  • Series IV. Meetings/ Minutes
  • Series V. Conferences
  • Series VI. Grievances/Claims and Disputes
  • Series VII. Financial Documents
  • Series VIII. Committees
  • Series IX. E.M. Broom Papers
  • Series X. Oversize Materials, Photographs and Artifacts

Acquisition Information

Donated by Ms. Sonnie Price, June 5, 1989.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Ms. Sonnie Price, June 1989.

Separated Materials

During processing, materials were separated to other Southern Labor Archives Collections. For periodicals, see the Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection finding aid or catalog. For pamphlets, see the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection finding aid (note that this collection has been weeded over time).

Separated books that pertain directly to BRAC are Nixson Denton, History of the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks (1965) and Harry Henig, The Brotherhood of Railway Clerks (1937). Consult Georgia State University Library's on-line catalog.

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection

  1. AFL-CIO News, January 21, 1967-November 15, 1975
  2. Airline News BRAC, August, 1967
  3. American Labor, July-August 1970-June 1971
  4. Bulletin (Brotherhood of Railway Clerks), October 1954-July 1968
  5. Bulletin (The Travelers Protective Association of America), March, 1961
  6. Canadian Interchange (Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees), April-May 1975
  7. The Enginemen Press (Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen), February 17, 1967
  8. Grand President's Monthly Bulletin, Topical index of articles, 1965-1967
  9. International President's Bulletin, August 1968-March 1975
  10. International Teamster, Dedicated to service, December 1959
  11. Labor, An International Weekly Newspaper, November 14, 1959-July 27, 1977
  12. Locomotive Engineer, Official Weekly, February 17, 1967
  13. Railroader (Official Journal Employees Mutual Benefit Association), January-March 1971
  14. Railway Digest, Developments and Comments, January 1958
  15. Railway Clerk (Official Journal of the Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees), 1920-1973
  16. Railway Clerk Interchange (Brotherhood of Railway Clerks, Airline, and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express, and Station Employees), 1970-1978
  17. Ties, Southern Railway System Magazine, 1952-1978
  18. Ups and Downs, American Association of Passenger Rate Men, May 1959

Separated to Southern Labor Archives Pamphlets Collection

  1. Pamphlets added to or duplicated in the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection in the following subject areas: American Arbitration Association, Arbitration, American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organization (AFL-CIO) Labor Studies Center, Benefits, Consumers, Legal Aid Services, Minimum Wage Standards

Processing Information

Processed by Hilary Morrish at the file level, November 2008.

Brotherhood of Railway, Airline and Steamship Clerks, System Board 96:
A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
December 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)