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James Shores Griffith papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Griffith

Scope and Content of the Collection

Union materials collected by James Shores Griffith during his membership in Local Union No. 147, Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers, as well as other miscellaneous materials relating to the painting and decorating skilled trade.

The majority of the collection relates to Local Union No. 147, including notices to members, dues and assessments receipts, election flyers and results, and newsletters, from 1912 until 1971. Also included are two souvenir programs for the Local Union No. 147 50th and 75th anniversary celebrations, and two reports issued by the Painters' District Council No. 14, entitled "Historical Data of Painters District Council #14, Chicago, IL," detailing the history of the district central body over the chartered local Chicago painter unions, and "Survey of Working Conditions in the Painting Trade in Chicago, 1929-1934," on the working conditions of local painters union members.

The collection includes two photocopies of wage records for Griffith's maternal grandfather from 1882, as well as Griffith's apprentice contract and union painters apprentice school attendance records. It also includes workman admission passes and souvenir admission tickets to the 1933 "A Century of Progress" exposition in Chicago. Also included are two pieces of correspondence: a brief letter from Charles W. Toomey, thanking Griffith for completing a job; and a letter from the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America to the financial secretary of Local Union No. 147, verifying Griffith as a life member of the union. There are two photographs in the collection: one of the 1959 funeral for Local Union No. 147 long time business representative, Charles Youngblood; and one of members of the Local Union No. 147 in 1967, volunteering their services at a camp for children with cerebral palsy. The latter photograph includes James Griffith, four years before his death.

Additions to the collection include two albums compiled by James Shores Griffith. The first, entitled "WWI, 1918-1919. American Expeditionary Forces, France. 3nd Regiment Engineers, U.S. Army by James Shores Griffith, Chicago, Illinois," features newspaper articles, government documents, military orders, published notices and pamphlets, letters, telegrams, and photographs pertaining to Griffith's service in World War I. The second album, entitled "Genealogy. The Ancestry of the Griffith Family, 1720-1971, United States of America," includes genealogical information regarding the Griffith family, beginning with Caldwalider Griffith, born in 1720, and ending with James Shores Griffith, who died in 1971.


  • Creation: 1882-1971
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1912 - 1969



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The James Shores Griffith papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The James Shores Griffith papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of James Shores Griffith

Chicago painter and decorator, and life member of Local Union No. 147, Brotherhood of Painter, Decorators and Paperhangers of America.

James Shores Griffith was born October 6, 1891, in Chatham, New Jersey. His maternal grandfather, George W. Hull, his father, Charles Henry Griffith, and his older brother, Charles H. Griffith, Jr., were all employed as painters and decorators. In 1909, at age 18, Griffith became a painter's apprentice as part of the Painter's District Council No. 14 of Chicago, working under his father for three years. On December 17, 1912, Griffith was initiated as a journeyman member of Local Union No. 147, Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America, in which he would serve for fifty-seven years, becoming a life member.

In 1918, Griffith enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I. He married Thora M. Carlson on May 20, 1918, and lived on the north side of Chicago with her and their three children. Griffith died on December 1, 1971 in Chicago.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Materials from four binders about Griffith and his family. Two binders containing records of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America, Local No. 147, 1882-1971, including records of wages of Mr. Griffith's grandfather, Griffith's own 1909 apprentice contract, records of union dues payments, notices of periodic wage and by-law changes, union assessments, elections, and other union activities. Also contains fiftieth and seventy-fifth anniversary souvenir booklets, and a pamphlet entitled "Survey of Working Conditions in the Painting Trade in Chicago, 1929-1934," by J.A. Runnberg, a typescript history of the Painters District Council #14 (1950), and Griffith's tickets from the 1933 Century of Progress. Collection also includes genealogical records pertaining to the Griffith family, and photographs and documents relating to James Shores Griffith's service in World War I.


Papers arranged chronologically.

Collection Stack Location

1 20 6


Gift, Wallace H. Griffith, 2006, 2013.

Processed by

Colleen Barbus, 2010.

Inventory of the James Shores Griffith papers, 1882-1971, bulk 1912-1969
Colleen Barbus
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States