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Baltimore City Teachers Association records

Identifier: MS 3060


The records of the Baltimore City Teachers Association span the years 1849-2001.


  • 1849-2001

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The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Organizational History

Organizational History

1849: Public School Teachers Association (PSTA) founded

1910: PSTA formally incorporated

1917: PSTA opened membership to African-American teachers 1925: In the wake of the election of its first female president, Margarietta Collins, the PSTA began to expand its activities, with an increasing emphasis on teacher welfare. The organization was democratized through the establishment of a representative assembly, comprised of one member from each city school. Also in this year, the PSTA exhibited union-ish behavior for the first time, initiating a campaign to pressure the school board to adhere to a salary schedule that had been passed three years earlier but subsequently ignored.

1932: With numerous organizations advocating for the teachers of Baltimore, the PSTA called for a vote to establish an official representative organization. The association won handily, garnering over six thousand votes of less than seven thousand cast. This arrangement did not entail formal bargaining rights, but affirmed the Association’s role as the voice of teachers before the city school board.

1935: Continued efforts of rival associations, most notably the Baltimore Teachers’ Union (affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, and by extension, the AFL), prompted another vote by teachers to select a quasi-official representative organization, which again the PSTA won easily.

1951: The Maryland State Teachers Association (MSTA) opened membership to African-American teachers, paving the way for the PSTA to join a single organizational structure under the auspices of the National Education Association.

1963: The PSTA moved its headquarters to 106 E. Chase Street and hired its first full-time executive secretary, who was joined by a staff of part-time organizers. Although these organizers were paid by the MSTA, most were drawn from the ranks of city teachers and were PSTA men and women in all but name.

1967: After a brief strike by the BTU, which the PSTA opposed, collective bargaining was instituted for city teachers. The BTU prevailed in the ensuing representation election despite substantially lower membership than the PSTA.

1973: After failing to oust the BTU in representation elections in 1969 and 1971, the PSTA was elected for the first time to be the formal bargaining agent for the city’s teachers.

1974: In February, the PSTA called for a strike after negotiations with the school board broke down. A negotiated settlement was reached early in March, but sentiment among teachers held that the PSTA had lost the strike.

1975: While the PSTA’s agreement with the School Board the previous year had included a no retribution clause, a minor teachers’ union brought suit against the PSTA, claiming its strike had been illegal. After protracted legal wrangling, the PSTA lost this case and was decertified as the teachers’ bargaining agent.

1978: The United Teachers of Baltimore City, a coalition of the BTU and a minor rival union won the first representation election since 1974.

1979: The MSTA notified PSTA of its intention to withdraw “extraordinary” support, but continued to fund PSTA’s executive secretary

1980: Citing mismanagement, unpaid dues, accounting irregularities, and failure to maintain adequate records, the MSTA suspended its affiliation with the PSTA. Ties were re-established later that year after a slate of newcomers swept the PSTA’s internal elections.

1981: PSTA was directed by the NEA to abandon its “montage of programs and activities which cast us as a ‘quasi-representative’” and instead focus all of its efforts on organizing to eventually oust the BTU.

1983: PSTA changed its name to the Baltimore City Teacher’s Associatio 1984: The BCTA, with funding from MSTA and NEA, hired a new executive director and undertook its first challenge to the BTU in a representation election since 1980. After failing in this effort, the BCTA leadership remained game for further challenges in subsequent years, but neither the MSTA nor the NEA considered the prospects of victory sufficiently promising to dedicate staff or funds to the cause. Lacking the resources to mount a serious campaign on its own, the BCTA was resigned to continue its efforts to build its membership while chipping away at the reputation of the BTU.

1991: The NEA and AFT reached a “no-raid” agreement, pledging not to attempt to recruit each others’ members in districts where one organization or the other had established itself as the teachers’ bargaining agent.

2004: The executive board of the BCTA voted to disband the organization.


43.0 Linear Feet (103 boxes)

Language of Materials



Part 1: 1849-1971 (Bulk 1849-1959)

Series I: Minutes of General/Annual Meetings, 1849-1948 (Boxes 1-3)

Through 1926, this series consists of minutes of biweekly or monthly meetings of the entire membership of the association. These meetings generally featured lectures and discussions related to various aspects of the teaching profession in addition to matters relating to the association’s day-to-day operations. After 1926, meetings of the general membership were held annually and dealt with a more limited range of issues: elections to the Executive Committee and Representative Assembly, changes to the PSTA constitution, and reports from the officers and committees of the association.

Series II: Executive Committee Papers, 1925-1959 (Boxes 3-4)

Beginning in 1925 the PSTA’s Executive Committee kept records distinct from those of the general meetings. These records consist of formal minutes with occasional correspondence, circulars, and committee reports interfiled.

Series III: Representative Assembly Papers, 1925-1958 (Boxes 4-10)

Consisting of one representative from each school where the PSTA was active (which, during this period, was pretty much all of them), the Representative Assembly became the chief liaison between the association’s leadership and its rank and file. This series encompasses the formal agendas and minutes of assembly meetings as well as various correspondence and reports to and from the members of the assembly.

Series IV: Constitution Committee, 1926-1949 (Boxes 10-11)

Minutes and correspondence of the committee charged with overseeing proposed revisions to the PSTA constitution. Also contains instructions, ballots, and results regarding amendments put to a vote of the general membership.

Series V: Salary Committee and Associated Papers, 1925-1955 (Boxes 11-18)

The Salary Committee was established in 1925 in the midst of a campaign by the PSTA to pressure the school board to adhere to a salary schedule that the board had adopted in 1922 but failed to implement. Interfiled with minutes and correspondence of the committee are numerous materials (some predating the actual formation of the committee) generated by the association’s officers or general membership in relation to the salary question. This series also includes a petition to the school board signed by several thousand teachers, questionnaires submitted to teachers’ associations in other cities, and surveys of Baltimore teachers. The papers of several related sub-committees are also represented here: the publicity committee, which worked to mobilize public support for the teachers; the coalition committee, which cooperated with other municipal employees to address compensation issues; and the courses and credits sub-committee, which sought to formalize salary incentives for continuing education. Series VI: Pension Committee and Associated Papers, 1926-1955 (Boxes 19-21)

Content of this series is similar to the Salary committee, though in this case, the officers of the association, along with representatives of the association elected to the city’s Board of Pension Trustees, have an even higher profile relative to the formal Pension Committee itself. In addition to regular activities of the association represented in files of intermixed correspondence, minutes, and miscellaneous papers (including minutes of the Board of Pension Trustees), several subject files detail issues related to the PSTA’s advocacy in this area (see container list for details).

Series VII: Other Committees, 1914-1957 (Boxes 22-27)

Correspondence, minutes, and miscellaneous papers of the PSTA’s standing committees. Tuberculosis [and] Relief Committee (1914-1949) and Emergency Fund Committee (1914-1949) collected donations from the PSTA membership to be distributed to teachers in need; papers include some case files and financial records. Papers of the Public Relations Committee (1943-1954) relate mostly to establishing the committee’s membership and objectives, with some materials related to community outreach and data collection for projects related to teachers’ wartime activities, education legislation, and inter-union rivalry in the press. The Liaison Committee (1945-1953) represented teachers’ interests to the school board in such matters as sick leave and class size. The Legislative Committee (1945-1953) collected information on and lobbied on behalf of educational policies considered by state and municipal government. The American Education Week Committee (1945-1955) worked with the NEA, MSTA, and various civic groups in planning and publicizing this annual event. The Membership Committee (1948-1957) oversaw dues collection, recruitment drives, and membership analysis. The Teachers’ Council Committee (1949-1950) considered a proposal to create a more formal body to represent teachers’ interests before the city school board (which apparently did not come to fruition). The Professional Development Committee (1950-1953) stated its goal as “to promote the status of the teaching profession.” It focused on continuing education for teachers and working conditions that most directly affected the educational mission., The Library Committee (1952) and Handbook Committee (1952-1953) were two short-lived affairs dedicated to the establishment of a PSTA library and development of a Teacher’s Handbook, respectively. The Nominating Committee (1953-1957) oversaw nominations for the PSTA’s internal elections.

Series VIII: Subject Files, 1926-1958 (Boxes 28-32)

This series is composed mostly of correspondence of the association’s officers and circulars distributed to the general membership. Socials, Teas, and Trips files (1926-1952) relate to various fun and games orchestrated by the association. School Board files (1926-1938) consist primarily of correspondence between the association’s presidents and the city’s superintendent of schools and other board members. Candidates (1931-1950, 1955) contains correspondence between the association and various candidates for public office (mostly municipal), including questionnaires regarding candidates’ positions on education policy. Agency Vote (1935) contains returns, organized by school, showing how individual teachers voted on the question, “Shall the PSTA continue to act as your representative agency?” Colored Schools (1932-1948) contains a few items of correspondence between the association’s presidents and representatives of its African-American membership, but is comprised mostly of circulars from the association’s leadership to its members which have been marked “Colored Schools Also” or “Colored Schools Only” for distribution purposes. Paul B. Stevens files (1946-1950) contain the correspondence, notes, and circulars of the only PSTA president prior to 1960 who kept his papers filed separately. PSTA Newsletters (1949-1959) contains the PSTA’s newsletter, published monthly during the school year. Interspersed with these are several miscellaneous files: “Acknowledgments of Sympathy” (to the PSTA from teachers, 1928-1938); Letters of Thanks (1929-1940); Special Meetings (1931-1935); Sabbatical (1937-1940); Lizette Woodward Reese Memorial (1942); Juvenile Delinquency (1943-1944); Superintendent Correspondence (1945-1947); Circulars to Principals (1948-1950); and Other Newsletters (containing two Baltimore City Public Schools Newsletters, 1950, 1958, and one from the advocacy group National Citizens Committee for Public Schools, 1955).

Series IX: Affiliated Organizations, 1920-1967 (Boxes 33-36)

Includes the records of six organizations with various relationships to the PSTA. The Club House Fund (1927-1953) and the PSTA Chorus (1933-1937) each had an independent executive committee, but otherwise fell under the umbrella of the larger organization. The Association of Junior High School Teachers (1920-1944) began as an independent organization but ultimately merged into the PSTA. The Retired Public School Teachers (1949-1967) was an independent organization with close ties to the PSTA. Each of these sub-series consists of more-or-less complete executive minutes and some scattered correspondence and financial records. The National Education Association (1925-1950) and Maryland State Teachers Association (1942-1955) were the national and state professional organizations with which the PSTA was formally affiliated. The materials here consist mainly of correspondence between the officers and executive boards of the PSTA and these organizations.

Series X: Scrapbooks, 1932-1944 (Boxes 37-39)

Four books of newspaper clippings dealing with educational issues, probably collected by PSTA presidents.

Series XI: Financial Records, 1899-1959 (Boxes 40-43)

Various records of the association’s income and expenditures. The treasury fund accounts for the general business of the association. Transactions of the Tuberculosis Relief, Emergency, and Clubhouse funds were maintained in separate accounts.

Part 2: 1927-1980 (Bulk 1959-1980)

Series XII: Executive Committee, 1959-1980 (Boxes 44-46)

The bulk of these records consist of formal minutes (1959-1980) continuing in more or less the same fashion as their earlier counterparts. For some of this period, a distinct set of draft minutes (1963-1970) has also been preserved. Also included here are papers relating to financial agreements between the executive committee and its counterparts in the MSTA and NEA (1976-1980).

Series XIII: Representative Assembly, 1959-1978 (Boxes 46-47)

Formal minutes for this period pick up where their earlier counterparts left off. An eight-year gap in the formal minutes (1959-1964, 1972-1978) is mostly covered by a set of draft minutes (1964-1970), but no minutes exist for the 1971-72 school year. Also included here is a decent-sized pile of correspondence, reports, and circulars (1962-1966) collected by a single, apparently random member of the assembly.

Series XIV: Committee Papers, 1964-1979 (Boxes 47-48)

This series contains papers of the few committees that maintained distinct records past the late 1950s: Pension/Retirement (1964-1968), Constitution and By-laws (1965-1975), Legislative (1968-1979), Travel (1969), and Internal Elections (1979). Also filed here are papers documenting the association’s short-lived quarterly journal, “Aquarius,” as well as a copy of the single issue that was produced (1969).

Series XV: Presidents’ Papers, 1965-1980 (Boxes 48-49)

Most of the PSTA’s officers during the 1960s and 1970s left little paper trail outside of newsletters and records of the executive committee. Among the five association presidents represented here, Rene Freund (1965-67), James Wall (1967-68) and Karl Boone (1975) left only a handful of scattered correspondence. William Adams (1969) and especially Russell Stewart (1976-1980) were more ambitious with their personal files. These remain somewhat random and chaotic, and include correspondence, circulars, memoranda, and annotated notes of executive committee and representative assembly meetings.

Series XVI: Executive Secretary Files, 1955-1978 (bulk 1963-1967) (Boxes 50-55)

This series consists mostly of the papers of the association’s first executive secretary, H. Orville Berwick, who served 1963-1969. Includes Berwick’s annotated copies of minutes of the executive board (1963-1968) and representative assembly (1963-1968), and various reports and correspondence arranged by subject. Among the more thrilling of these are files related to teacher grievances (1960-1968), the PSTA’s call for national sanctions against the city of Baltimore in response to chronic under-funding of public education (1967), and an investigation of conditions at Dunbar High School triggered by allegations leveled by CORE of unsatisfactory conditions arising from de facto segregation (1965-1966). A few items pre-date Berwick’s tenure with the PSTA: papers related to the Future Teachers of America (1961) came from his earlier gig with that organization; MSTA convention papers (1960-1968) – mostly correspondence relating to PSTA delegates and initiatives – were initially the province of the association’s president, but later came under the supervision of the executive director.

Series XVII: Field Staff Files, 1963-1978 (Boxes 55-61)

The PSTA began hiring teachers as part-time field organizers shortly after the arrival of the executive director. This series includes materials directly generated by these organizers, as well as various materials from inside and outside the association that settled into their drawers. Much of the material here appears to have been created or kept by Nathaniel Hoff, who served the PSTA through most of the 1960s, became a full-time organizer in 1966 , and later returned as an employee of the MSTA in the 1980s. His presence is most evident in Membership/Organizing and Contracts/Bargaining files (1964-1975), and in Outgoing Phone Messages (1971-1974) and Building Representative Newsletters (1974), which document the PSTA’s activities during its most intense period of organizing and bargaining. Two additional organizers, Joe Parlett (officially, the “Professional Assistant for the Baltimore Area Cooperative Services Program,” a joint venture of NEA, MSTA, and PSTA) and Jack Nolan, maintained some separate records during their tenures with the association (1964-1967 and 1977, respectively). The remainder of this series consists mostly of printed materials originating with the PSTA’s affiliates and with numerous organizations, projects, and agencies involved in education and youth advocacy.

Series XVIII: Newsletters and Bulletins, 1960-1977 (Boxes 61-62)

This series includes the association’s formal newsletter, picking up where the earlier (pre-1960s) series left off, as well as single-page bulletins dealing more specifically with organizing and contract issues.

Series XIX: Scrapbooks and Newspaper Clippings, 1960-1974 (Boxes 62-66)

Ten albums documenting the strike of 1974; mostly newspaper clippings, with a few PSTA bulletins thrown in for good measure. One box of miscellaneous clippings (1968-1974) documents the years culminating in the strike.

Series XX: Membership Records, 1960-1963, 1977 (Boxes 67-71)

This series contains records of enrollment, arranged by school, recording membership for the years 1960-1963; carbon copies of enrollment cards for the 1963-64 school year; and commitment cards (1963), collected in anticipation of the adoption of collective bargaining by the city, on which teachers expressed their preference to be represented by the PSTA.

Series XXI: Insurance Records, 1949-1972 (bulk 1957-1972) (Boxes 72-74)

Records of two insurance programs administered by the association. The PSTA insurance trust was a group insurance plan instituted in 1957 and operational through 1968; includes correspondence relating to establishing the trust, claims, and financial records. Income protection insurance was offered from 1968 through 1972, and is represented here by correspondence, claims adjustment records, and payroll deduction records.

Series XXII: Financial Records, 1929-1980 (bulk 1960-1979) (Boxes 75-83)

This series of financial records is somewhat more varied and complex than its pre-1960s counterpart. Journals (1957-1974), Treasurer’s Reports (1961-1979), and Vouchers and Receipts (1963-1977) were maintained consistently through much of this period, other materials in this series consist of various sporadically produced (or preserved) reports and accounting records. See container list for details.

Part 3: 1978-2001 (bulk 1980-2001)

Series XXII: Executive Board, 1980-1996 (Boxes 86-87)

Minutes of the Executive Board with numerous interfiled materials – correspondence, reports, etc. – related to business taken up by the board. Additionally, the following subject files were assembled from the executive board papers of this period: Robert Sherman vs. Russell Stewart Succession Suit (1980-1981), Dues Transmittal to MSTA, 1980-1982; Financial Agreements with MSTA (1980-1984), PSTA Trips (1982-1988), Representation Campaign (1983-1984), Strothers v. Baltimore Teachers Union Agency Fee Suit (1986-1988), George v. Baltimore City Public Schools Agency Fee Suit (1986-1989), Salary Schedules (probably 1989), Textbook Shortage (circa 1990), PSTA Dinners (1991-1992), Los Angeles Riots (1992), School Privitization (1992), Vouchers and School Choice (1993), and Miscellaneous Papers (undated).

Series XXIII: Officers’ Papers, 1978-2001 (Boxes 88-90)

As in the previous twenty years, the records generated and kept by the association’s officers varied greatly. Many of officers represented here left only scattered correspondence. The files of Robert Sherman (1980-1982) also contain copies of legal records related to the disputed PSTA election of 1980. The files of John Brown (1985-1987) include extensive correspondence, memoranda, annotated minutes, and personal and professional papers. The few papers left by the association’s final, brief-tenured executive director are also housed here.

Series XXIV: Organizing and Membership Committees, 1980-1993 (Box 91)

The minutes, correspondence, and miscellany of this/these committee(s) reflect its somewhat amorphous existence. It/they appear(s) variously as independent committees, arms of the executive committee, or the executive committee itself. An organizing handbook, contract analysis papers, and files related to specific membership drives are somewhat more cohesive, though the exact originators of these projects remain vague.

Series XXV: Newsletters, 1980-1992 (Box 91) The association’s newsletter appears to have been discontinued after 1977. When resumed at various points in the 1980s and 90s under the titles “Stride,” “Hit,” and “UpFront,” their frequency, format, and content varied considerably. Series XXVI: Minor Committees and Miscellaneous Papers, 1980-1995 (Box 92)

This series includes the roughly organized files of the Publicity Committee (1981-1993), and papers of the Representative Assembly (1980-1981) and a few transient committees: Elections (1982-1994), Constitution and By-laws (1982-1990), Steering (1984), Strategic Planning (1990), Union Chapter (1995), and Staff Development (1995).

Series XXVII: Political Action Committee, 1981-1995 (Boxes 93-94)

Five folders of Miscellaneous Papers (1981-1995 and undated), including memoranda, correspondence, circulars, rosters, and reports. Questionnaires and Interviews (1986-1991 and undated), received from or conducted with mayoral, city council, and state legislature candidates; Campaign Literature (circa 1983-1993) from various state and municipal candidates; Voter Registration Forms collected by the BCTA in a 1992 drive.

Series XXIX: Membership Records, 1979-1992 (Boxes 94-95)

This series is comprised of Membership lists, (1979-1983, 1987, and 1992), Membership Applications (1980); and Dues Billing and Remittance records (1980-1981).

Series XXX: Financial Records, 1980-2001 (Boxes 95-97)

Records and reports of income and expenditures, tax records, and facilities records. A binder prepared in conjunction with a 1992 IRS audit details the association’s activities during 1991, and includes a somewhat tidier version of executive board and committee minutes than can be found in the respective series for these records.

Series XXIV: MSTA Papers, 1980-1997 (Boxes 98-102)

The MSTA’s expanded role in PSTA affairs after 1980 is reflected in this series. Although field staff had acted as joint agents of the PSTA, MSTA, and NEA since the 1970s, their papers here indicate much closer ties to the state organization than they had previously. Field Staff Files (1980-1994), document the activities of MSTA staff working in the PSTA’s Baltimore headquarters and consist of correspondence, outgoing phone messages, personnel records, focus group reports, salary data, one grievance case file, and Nathaniel Hoff’s statement to Governor’s Commission on Teachers’ Salaries and Incentives. The remainder of the series consists of MSTA materials not explicitly created for or about the PSTA: circulars to local associations (1980-1996); minutes of the board of directors (1980-1988, 1996); committee records (1980-1997); and materials related to various conventions, programs, and reports (1981-1996).

Series XXVII: Baltimore Teachers Union Materials, 1980-1995 (Box 103)

Collected newsletters, pamphlets, and flyers created by the PSTA’s least-favorite AFL-CIO affiliate.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Baltimore City Teachers Association, 2005.

Scope and Contents

The collection is divided into three chronological parts that reflect major changes in the way the PSTA operated and kept its records. The first period covers the association’s founding in 1849 to about 1960, and may be characterized as the age of committees. In the early part of this period, the association’s records consisted of a single series of minute books, “Proceedings of the PSTA.” A few committees appeared in the 1910s, but the association’s expansion began in 1925 for real. Papers of the Association’s two main policy-making bodies, the Executive Board and Representative Assembly appear at this point, followed soon after by the Constitution, Salary, and Pension committees. Numerous other committees appeared and disappeared through the mid-fifties. The records from this period survive largely intact, and the association’s original filing structure is duplicated virtually folder for folder in this part of the collection. Items within each folder are usually organized chronologically – frequently roughly, sometimes barely. By the end of the 1950s, records of most of the PSTA’s committees had all but disappeared. A few sets of records extending into the sixties and, in one case, early seventies, are housed here with their earlier counterparts.

The records of the 1960s and 1970s reflect the prominent role of professional staff in the PSTA. Hired in 1963, the executive director and field staff became the association’s chief paper generators. This period includes numerous materials generated outside of the association, especially by the NEA, most of which are collected in the field staff files. Correspondence and other papers of the Association’s presidents, which earlier tended to be scattered through various committee and subject files, are here collected into one relatively small series. Minutes of the executive board and representative assembly continue more-or-less unchanged from the previous era, but they are joined by various draft minutes and miscellaneous papers. While the association’s records indicate that most of the earlier committees continued to exist in this period, there is very little evidence of their activities. In the mid- to late seventies, the association’s records begin to fray a bit at the edges. Some minutes of the executive board are missing, and executive secretary and field staff files dwindle to almost nothing. Presidents’ papers become more numerous in this period, but the extent to which they fully and accurately reflect the association’s activities at this point is unclear. The difficulties suffered by the association in this period are evident in its records: the PSTA’s suspension from the MSTA was due in part to faulty record keeping; PSTA leadership countered that MSTA agents had removed records from its office; finally, in 1980, the outgoing PSTA president absconded with the association’s records. The records were returned under court order, but their order and completeness is questionable.

The records of the 1980s and 90s reflect the PSTA’s increasing difficulties and dwindling membership during this period. Records of the representative assembly cease to exist after 1980, and the records of the Executive Board become inconsistent in frequency and content. The field staff remained, but at this point functioned very much as an arm of the MSTA, which enjoys quite a substantial presence in the records of this period. Fairly numerous, if chaotic, records survive for several newly constituted committees of the PSTA, most notably the Organizing/Membership Committee(s) and Political Action Committee. With most committees, as well as the executive board and offices, staffed by more-or-less the same handful of dedicated volunteers, the divisions between the records of one body and the next are not always clearly delineated.

Guide to the Baltimore City Teachers Association records
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  • 2020-03-25: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States