The Alaska Fishermen's Union was operational by 1919 and their headquarters were located in downtown Seattle. Their initial records consist of shipping lists, which name the vessel, the cannery, the fishing company, the captain, and the union members on each voyage in a particular fishing season. Over the years their records grow to include not only minutes and financial statements but also correspondence and reports related to significant issues in the fishing industry, including the First, Second and Third United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) conferences. Issues at the UNCLOS conferences included the breadth of the territorial sea, international fishing rights, and protection of marine resources.
The Alaska Fishermen's Union had branches in Oregon (Portland, Astoria), Washington (Bellingham), California (Monterey, San Francisco) and Alaska (Anchorage, Ketchikan) and represented shore-side workers including deckhands, cooks, pile drivers, dock workers, beach gangs, waiters and waitresses. Their headquarters were at 2505 1st Ave., Rm. 3, in Seattle for many years until they merged with the Seafarers International Union in 1997 or 1998. The SIU is headquartered in Piney Point, Maryland, and has a local union hall in Tacoma.
The collection consists of both bound materials kept in binders, and loose papers filed and foldered in boxes. The bound materials include shipping lists on Alaska Fishermen's Union forms, which noted the names and membership numbers of men who signed on for different fishing companies, canneries and vessels; delegate lists, which were similar to the shipping lists except that they were written on fishing company forms; and typed minutes and correspondence from the local union halls. The minutes and correspondence include records of the weekly union hall meetings, election rosters, telegrams, lists of new, retired and deceased members, documents indicating political involvement in terms of issues relevant to the union, resolutions, and articles related to conservation and the fishing industry. The bound materials are in leather-bound or cloth-bound binders, measuring 38cm x 25cm, with two metal posts and gummed labels for the insertion of documents. In a few cases documents are bound in brown board binders with a clip mechanism for binding.
Documents pertaining to the First, Second, and Third Law of the Sea conferences are included in the boxed materials. Materials here range from loose papers to stenographer notebooks and brown board binders. There are also two maps in the collection.
Restrictions on Access :
The collection is open to the public by appointment.Restrictions on Use :
The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.Preferred Citation :
The Alaska Fishermen's Union Records, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle
Acquisition Information :
Donated by Harold M. Holten in 1989.Separated Materials :
These materials are part of a donation that also included items of special interest to the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. These documents are cataloged and stored separately by the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society at MOHAI.Related Materials :
Accession PS1042.1-.5 in the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society's collection contains five publications transferred from the Alaska Fishermen's Union Records. These include four publications of the International North Pacific Fisheries Commission (1954-1977) and one Coast Guard publication on safe construction of fishing vessels.
Detailed Description of the Collection
Shipping lists contained information on the dates of sailing, the name of the company, cannery and vessel and a list of the names and membership numbers of the union members on each particular voyage. Lists were compiled on official Alaska Fishermen's Union forms.
The roll book contains lists of members (arranged in loosely alphabetical order), their member numbers, and members in bad standing, retired or deceased.
Delegate reports are similar to shipping lists but more detailed. Each page lists the cannery, the company, the season, the superintendent and the delegate. Each worker's work position, and home city are noted. Additional information includes cases of specific kinds of salmon packed, number of traps and seines used, inside-outside fishermen, overtime paid, etc. These volumes also contain numerous shipping lists. The lists are mostly typed, and are organized in alphabetical order by the name of the cannery or the fishing company.
These binders contain the minutes of weekly meetings and correspondence of the AFU headquarters in Seattle, as well as union hall branches in Portland, Astoria, Bellingham, San Francisco, Ketchikan and Monterey. Correspondence includes election rosters, telegrams, lists of new, retired and deceased members, and documents concerning political involvement in terms of issues relevant to the union.
This pocket-sized volume, detailing the constitution, procedures and bylaws of the Alaska Fishermen's Union, was published for the use of the union's members.