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Inventory of the Sign, Display and Allied Crafts Union - Local 510 Records, 1901-1969 (bulk 1956-1968)
1986/008 & 1986/082  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Abstract
  • Historical Highlights
  • Scope and Content
  • Important Subjects and Personalities

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sign, Display and Allied Crafts Union - Local 510 Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1901-1969
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1956-1968)
    Accession number: 1986/008 & 1986/082
    Creator: Display and Allied Crafts Union - Local 510
    Extent: 1.0 cubic feet
    Repository: San Francisco State University. Labor Archives & Research Center
    San Francisco, California 94132
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Center's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Sign, Display and Allied Crafts Union - Local 510 Records, 1986/008 & 1986/082, Labor Archives & Research Center, San Francisco State University.


    This collection of records and miscellaneous materials from the Sign, Display and Allied Crafts Union, Local 510 was donated to the Labor Archives and Research Center through the courtesy of Michael Harderman of Local 510 in February 1986 and made available for research in June 1987. The collection was processed and arranged by Loren C. Pigniolo, archives intern, Spring 1987.

    Historical Highlights

    Organization of this union began in the winter of 1899-1900 when tradesman Peter J. Doyle became "greatly perturbed" over issues such as non-standard hours, shops working 9 or 10 hours days without formal overtime, and low wages which averaged $3.00 per day for sign painters, and $2.00 for helpers on a six day week basis. Doyle gathered "a dozen or so men who were willing to form a union and applied for a charter" which was granted March 10, 1900 by the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America.
    Upon arrival of the Charter, the first formal meeting was held in a rented hall on City Hall Avenue, San Francisco, March 27, 1900. The obligation was given and temporary officers were appointed. It was known as Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America, Local 132. (When first chartered, the parent Brotherhood was having difficulty with an Eastern faction which had seceded. That group later asked to rejoin on condition that their old charter numbers be returned, so the original charter was returned and Local Union Charter 510 was given in its place.)
    1900, Tuesday, April 10: this marked the third meeting which set about to enforce the 8 hour day, and set a minimum wage for the various classes of painters and helpers. These proposals were all accepted by employers. The union continued to add members during 1900 to close with 54 members in good standing their first year.
    Some further highlights of the early years of Local 510:
    • 1902, March: the Union doubled dues and initiation fees, and a new higher scale of wages went into effect.
    • 1902, March 10: Local Union 510 "had the distinction of being the first union in the Brotherhood to initiate a woman--Miss May Longest, a sign and pictorial artist who later opened a studio in San Jose."
    • 1903: moved to Building Trades Temple, 927 Mission Street, San Francisco.
    • 1904 saw the rise of the Citizens' Alliance which launched an open shop campaign, with no lasting success.
    • 1906: the earthquake and fire managed to injure only one member. All the records of Local Union 510 remained intact except the books of 1900-1901 and the union seal.
    • 1910: J.M. Mahaffey unsuccessfully attempted to have Local 510 secede from the Brotherhood (as they had in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City) to join his Sign and Pictorial Painters of America.
    • 1915 proved a good year for Local Union 510 as many painters came from around the country to work in San Francisco during the Fair.
    • 1930: the seven hour day was instituted with wages of $12.00 per day.
    • 1932: during the depression, a wage reduction of 10% was instituted. Several months later wages were lowered an additional 15%, provoking a 14 week long strike in 1933--Local 510's first.
    • 1939: The scenic Artists of Northern California & Nevada (formerly Local 621) affiliated with Local 510. Show Card Writers and Displaymen, Local 319 were also absorbed into the membership of Local 510 the same year.
    • Since World War II, "notable changes" have occurred under the guidance of Richard Wendelt, Business Representative for Local 510.
    The current name of this union is Sign, Display and Allied Crafts Union, Local 510.

    Scope and Content

    Except for the minutebook, Pension Trust records, printed price lists and misc. papers, the physical bulk of the material included in this collection concerns the technical training, methods, materials and styles studied and used by the members of Local 510. The formal training received by union members was regarded as being of high quality and gave Union membership an increased value as it also implied card carriers were skilled, thoroughly trained craftspeople.
    In cases where they were more relevant to other organizations, subjects, or for proper storage, certain materials have been removed from the collection. These are listed at the end of the inventory section. In the collection proper will also be found sheets listing removed materials.

    Important Subjects and Personalities

    • Minutes excerpts regarding San Francisco General Strike
    • Information regarding Pension Trust and amendments
    • Original Charter, Local 510
    • Photographs
    • Constitutions and By-Laws
    • Price lists for sign work, working rules, agreements, etc.
    • Technical material pertaining to training of sign painters, art and sign techniques
    • Roster of Painting & Decorating Contractors of SF operating under joint labor agreement of June 10, 1938
    • Dave Russ Painting Company
    • Richard Wendelt
    • May Longest