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Burlington Railroad Strike Collection (Aurora)

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Burlington Railroad Strike Collection (Aurora), 1916-1982 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: Burlington Railroad Strike Collection (Aurora), 1916-1982

ID: RHC/RC/217

Extent: 3.75 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 11/08/1993

Subjects: Aurora (Ill.), Burlington Railroad, Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, Labor, Labor unions, Railroads, Strikes and lockouts

Forms of Material: Oral history

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Burlington Railroad Strike records were collected by the donor in the course of his Ph.D. dissertation research.  The records from the Burlington Railroad were donated to Mr. Flynn by a company official.  These records include special agent reports, legal documents, and correspondence.  The Burlington Railroad Strike records also consist of oral history interview transcriptions that the donor conducted during his research.

James R. Flynn completed his dissertation entitled, "The Railroad Shopmen's Strike of 1922 on the Industry, Company, and Community Levels" in July 1993.  Copies of the dissertation may be found in Founders Memorial Library, the History Department, and the Regional History Center.

Collection Historical Note

During World War I the railroads were placed under federal rule.  On March 1, 1920 they were returned to private operation but had changed greatly.  Unionization was now widespread.  Unions demanded increased wages, changes in rules and working conditions, and a continuation of existing national agreements and various innovations introduced during federal operations. 

Unwilling to meet the demands, the railroad shopmen strike began at 10:00a.m. July 1, 1922 which threatened to bring the nation's railroads to a halt.  Over 400,000 members of six shopcraft unions walked off their jobs, shutting down facilities for the construction, maintenance, and repair of rolling stock on virtually every major railroad in the country.  In Aurora, Illinois 1700 shopmen struck the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy. 

In Aurora, to accommodate the strikebreakers or "new men", the large paint shop was converted into a dormitory with complete kitchen facilities and a dining room where meals were prepared and served three times a day.  The company also provided a convenience store which sold tobacco and sundries so the "new men" did not have to leave the area unless they wanted to. 

The strike did turn violent.  By the end of July, 2,200 deputy United States marshals had been appointed and National Guard troops were on duty in seven states amid reports of violence from Fresno, California, to Worcester, Massachusetts.  Almost daily throughout July and August, newspapers reported the bombing of railroad property and workers' homes, the burning of bridges, and the attempted wrecking of trains, as well as, riots, assaults, and similar disturbances designed to intimidate strikebreakers. 

The strike was ended by the Railway Employes' Department on February 1, 1925 but for most strikers in Aurora it just dwindled away.

Subject/Index Terms

Aurora (Ill.)
Burlington Railroad
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company
Labor
Labor unions
Railroads
Strikes and lockouts

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection belong to the Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Acquisition Source: James R. Flynn

Acquisition Method: James R. Flynn donated the Burlington Railroad Strike Collection to the Northern Illinois Regional History Center on November 8, 1993.

Related Materials: For further information regarding railroads the researcher should consult the W.W. Embree Collection (RC 2); the Chicago and North Western Railway Historical Society Records (RC 51); and the Finch-Marshall Railway Collection (RC 54).

Related Publications: James R. Flynn completed his dissertation entitled, "The Railroad Shopmen's Strike of 1922 on the Industry, Company, and Community Levels" in July 1993.  Copies of the dissertation may be found in Founders Memorial Library, the History Department, and the Regional History Center.


Box and Folder Listing


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Box 1
Folder 1: Document Description, Box 12, July 20, 1920
Folder 2: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB), Decision Number
Folder 3: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB), Decision Number 119, April 14, 1921
Folder 4: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB), Decision Number 147, June 1, 1921
Folder 5: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB), Addendum Number 1 to Decision Number 147, June 25, 1921
Folder 6: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB), Decision Number 222, August 11, 1921
Folder 7: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB), Decision Number 222, October 8, 1921
Folder 8: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB), Addendum Number 6 to Decision 222, November 29, 1921
Folder 9: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB) vs Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Equity Number 3139, April 1922
Folder 10: United States Railroad Labor Board (USRLB), Decision Number 1036, June 5, 1922
Folder 11: Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) vs International Association of Machinists, Bill of Complaint, July 8, 1922
Folder 12: Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) vs International Association of Machinist, Temporary Restraining Order, July 8, 1922
Folder 13: Telegraphic correspondence (copies), August 10, 1922-August 19, 1922
Folder 14: Can the Continuance of the Shopmen's Strike Be Enjoined?, August 31, 1922
Folder 15: USA vs Railway Employes' Department of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equity Number 2943, Bill of Complaint, September 1, 1922
Folder 16: USA vs Railway Employees' Department of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equity Number 2943, September 1, 1922
Folder 17: USA vs Railway Employees' Department of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equity Number 2943, Statement and Opinion of the Court, September 23, 1922
Folder 18: USA vs Railway Employees' Department of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equity Number 2943, Hearing on Application for Temporary Injunction: Closing Argument in Behalf of Government, September 21, 1922
Folder 19: USA vs Railway Employees' Department of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equity Number 2943, Preliminary Injunction Order, September 25, 1922
Folder 20: Railway Employes' Department, Special Bulletin, Reference Government Injunction, September 30, 1922
Folder 21: USA vs Railway Employees' Department of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equity Number 2943, Abstract of the Evidence Offered by the USA on Final Hearing, July 12, 1923
Folder 22: USA vs Railway Employees Department of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equity Number 2943, Opinion of the Court on Final Hearing, July 12, 1923
Folder 23: USA vs Railway Employees Department of the AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equality Number 2943, Final Decree, July 12, 1923
Folder 24: Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) vs International Association of Machinists, Restraining Order, July 8, 1922
Folder 25: C&NW vs International Association of Machinists, Restraining Order, July 14, 1922
Folder 26: Chicago Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) vs International Association of Machinists, Civil Number 1293, Restraining Order, July 24, 1922
Folder 27: USA vs Railway Employees' Department of AFL (American Federation of Labor), Equity Number 2943, Temporary Restraining Order, September 1, 1922
Folder 28: Newspaper Articles, 1922
Folder 29: Contents of Mr. Bruce Scott's Cabinet, 1916-1926

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