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International Association of Siderographers records

 Collection 0103-LBR

The siderographers, first organized in 1899, are printing plate engravers employed primarily in the printing of paper money, securities, bonds, and other similar documents. The union's archives consist of membership records; correspondence; minutes; constitutions; bylaws; programs; financial records; certificates; and newspaper clippings. The collection also includes audio tapes, photographs, and memorabilia.


  • 1899-1991
  • Majority of material found within 1899-1991

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


6.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Archives of the International Association of Siderographers consist of correspondence, convention reports, membership and financial records, minutes of business meetings, audio-visual materials, and memorabilia that span the entire history of the union and its precursor organizations. Also included are booklets containing the constitution and by-laws of the association, files and scrapbooks of historical notes and newspaper clippings, records generated by the AFL that contain information relevant to the Siderographers, and blank forms, certificates, and stationery used for a variety of purposes by the union. Materials in the collection date between 1899 and 1991.

The records of the International Association comprise the largest component of the collection, which also include the records of the National Association before the group achieved international status. The remainder of the collection consists of the records of the New York and Washington, D.C. locals.

The International Association of Siderographers was primarily concerned with job security for its members and maintenance of parity in wages between the public and private sectors where siderographers were employed. These topics are discussed at length in the correspondence in the collection. Other records document the day-to-day operation of the union, particularly the various procedures governing membership, business meetings, and other events held at the biennial conventions. The collection also documents the relations between the union and management at the institutions where siderographers were employed, as well as several disputes between the union and individual members.

Perhaps due to its small size, the Siderographers Association appears to have functioned as something of a social club for the membership. Many of the records in the collection, particularly correspondence, record significant events in members' personal lives. The procedures for obligating members conventions and other siderographer's events reflect the dual nature of the association as well.

Administrative History

The International Association of Siderographers was organized as the Association of Steel Plate Transferrers on January 11, 1899, in Washington, D.C. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) granted the organization a national charter in March 1901. At that time, the organization's membership was limited to transferrers working for the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing, but individuals associated with private firms in Philadelphia and New York were soon recruited, and a New York local was established on February 21, 1902. Four years later, union officers requested a new national charter, which the AFL issued on June 22, 1906.

The Association achieved international status in 1915 with the organization of the Ottawa, Canada local. In the summer of 1922, the organization applied to the AFL for a change in title. The request was approved by the AFL executive committee on June 25, 1922, and on July 20, a new charter was issued to the union under the name "International Association of Siderographers."

Siderography refers to a process for producing engraved steel plates for printing currency that was invented by Jacob Perkins in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. The members of the Siderographers made the steel plates from which currency, stamps, stock certificates, and other securities were printed. The application for the national charter filed with the AFL in 1906 stated that the jurisdiction of the union covered:

"all steel plate transferrers, those that can practically operate a transfer press and apprentices thereto accepted by our association as members. Alos the cleaning or burnishing of dies and plates or the dressing of rolls or the hardening of same."

The International Association of Siderographers was the smallest union in the AFL-CIO for many years. Membership reached a peak of approximately sixty-five members in the 1950s. Retirement and advances in technology eroded union membership through the years, and total membership declined to eleven by 1987. By 1991, membership was reduced to a total of eight, and the International Association was dissolved shortly thereafter. Remaining members of the union who were still active transferred to machinists' or engravers' locals.


The collection is organized as 8 (eight) series.

Series 1
International Association of Siderographers
Series 2
New York Local
Series 3
Washington, D.C. Local
Series 4
Series 5
Audio Tapes
Series 6
Series 7
Series 8
Printing Samples

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers donated the archives of the International Association of Siderographers to the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries in June 1993.

Processing Information

Initially housed in six cardboard boxes, the collection contained significant evidence of its original arrangement, although there was some mixing of file types.

Following initial assessment, the collection was divided into series. The original order of the collection, where discernible, was retained. Non-reactive padded fastners were used to replace metal staples and paper clips that originally grouped the documents.

Many of the individual membership records associated with the locals had been folded and placed in envelopes or larger file folders. These documents were unfolded, flattened, and placed into acid-free file folders.

The collection also included newspaper clippings, photographs, audio tapes, and printed certificates. Newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper, and the originals were discarded. Photographs were separated from the collection, placed into acid-free envelopes, and filed with the photograph collection. The audio tapes were repacked onto new reels, and the printed certificates were flattened and placed into an oversized flat storage box.

The collection also contained several steel siderographic plates and the official seal of the Washington, D.C. local. These items were separated from the collection and placed in the memorabilia collection.

Following arrangement, all items were placed in acid-free folders and acid-free storage boxes, and the guide was prepared.

Guide to the International Association of Siderographers records
Processed by James M. Harmon
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742