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Look for the Union Label

Friday, 3 Apr 2009 | by Mark Tucker

Yesterday I was transcribing a document for the current ProGen Study Group assignment. The document I chose was an automobile operator’s license for my paternal grandmother, Hannah Riley Tucker.

My grandfather, Andrew Charles Tucker, was a carpenter by trade and was called to serve a labor mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His task was to help build the dormitories for the Church College of Hawaii (later renamed to  BYU-Hawaii). So my grandparents and their youngest daughter moved from Utah to Hawaii in the early 1960s.

Now back to the driver’s license. In my effort to transcribe every last word on the document, I noticed a logo at the bottom of the page. The last line was “PD-70″, the logo, and then “14″. On the logo, I could make out the words “Union Label” and “Honolulu”. By scanning the logo at 9600 dpi, I could begin to read the final word on the logo:

Union Label - Typographical Honolulu

The word “Typographical” is partially obscured by the sweeping signature of the Examiner of Chauffeurs.

As soon as I read “Union Label”, then a jingle emerged from my pre-teen memories:

“Look for the Union Label when you are buying …”

A few quick searches on the internet turned up the complete words to the song as well as this 1981 TV commercial:

Another search lead me to the Honolulu Typographical Union contact information.

This made me wonder what unions might my ancestors have belonged.

Then I remembered that included in the artifacts I inherited from my grandfather’s estate were two small books he used to keep tract of his union dues.  These books contain some good information including his birth date, union number and location, member initiation date (28 Aug 1942), social security number, and home address. What follows are pages for each year with a line for each month to record paid dues.  Written or stamped is the amount paid, payment date, and secretary’s name.  Interestingly, in 1961 dues were $3.00 per month and by 1972 then had increased to $14.00 per month.

Inside the book, you will find the label for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America:

Union Label - United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America

What other records were kept by unions or their members? What occupations had unions and when?

These might be some questions to consider when researching your ancestors.

And just maybe you will sing slightly different words to the familiar tune:

Look for the union label
when you are researching your family tree.

Remember somewhere a source is waiting,
To be discovered that will help us, solve a mystery.

The work is hard, but who’s complaining?
Thanks to our ancestors, we’re living today!

So always look for the union label,
It might surprise you all that you’ll learn today!

Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what “PD-70″ and  “14″ might mean at the bottom of the Hawaii driver’s license.

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