About NALC

Our history

Our history

NALC

The NALC maintains an Information Center in its headquarters in Washington, DC. Assets include Postal Records and other union publications, along with vertical files on union history and letter carrier–related topics. While its primary purpose is to support union officers and staff, it is open to interested members of the public by appointment.

Contact the Information Center with questions or to make an appointment by writing to Information Center, NALC, 100 Indiana Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20001-2144.

For more information on the history of the union, you can read Carriers in a Common Cause, the NALC’s official history. The book tells the story of the struggle by letter carriers, from the birth of the Postal Service in 1775 to today.

The union’s official archives have been housed in the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University in Detroit since 2001 and are open to the public. Visitors to Reuther can consult the papers of past presidents Rademacher, Vacca, Sombrotto and Young, along with records of other national officers and headquarters staff. Videos and photographic images are also available. 

The Reuther archives are open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Reuther website explains the procedure for conducting research at the library, and includes abstracts and finding aids for the various NALC collections. Some photographic images can be retrieved directly from the website. As NALC historical records are not available in a digital format, interested researchers must visit Reuther in person to access the collection.

Walter P. Reuther Library | Wayne State University | 5401 Cass Ave. | Detroit, MI 48202

Genealogy

The NALC does not maintain records of individuals who may have belonged to the union or worked as a letter carrier in the past, so it generally cannot assist in genealogical research. The same limitations apply to the union’s archival holdings at the Reuther in Detroit.

Pay and personnel records of individual letter carriers beginning in 1901 can sometimes be obtained from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. For those interested in letter carriers who worked in the 19th century, the National Archives has produced Record Cards of Letter Carriers Separated from the Postal Service, 1863-1899 (Microfilm Publication M1846).

U.S. Postal Service

Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general in what is now the United States, appointed by the Continental Congress in 1775. Since then, the history of the Postal Service has been interwoven with that of the country it serves. Persons wishing to explore what is available through official government records about the Postal Service and its history should consult Sources of Historical Information on Post Offices, Postal Employees, Mail Routes and Mail Contractors (Publication 119).

This USPS publication provides an excellent overview of what historical information is available and how and where specific items can be accessed.

The Beginning

Find out how letter carriers worked together to form the NALC.

Branch Charters

Information on branch charters and the order in which branches were added to the NALC.


Timeline

1794 First letter carriers appointed by Congress

1863 Free city delivery instituted in large cities

1888 Eight-hour day law for carriers, championed by Congressman “Sunset Cox, enacted

1889 NALC founded in Milwaukee

1890 Carriers from large cities and NALC hold consolidation meeting in New York City; first NALC Convention held in Boston, Massachusetts

1893 Supreme Court upholds NALC interpretation of Eight Hour Law in two decisions; carriers eventually awarded $3.5 million in overtime claims

1894 Mutual Benefit Association established at NALC Convention in Detroit

1905 National Ladies Auxiliary founded at NALC Convention in Portland, Oregon

1912 Lloyd-LaFollette Act rescinds Gag rules, and gives postal and federal workers right to organize

1917 NALC affiliates with American Federation of Labor; women hired as temporary letter carriers as men went to war

1921 Postmaster General Will B. Hays announces “humanization” policy and officially recognizes postal organizations

1939 Golden Jubilee Convention marks NALC’s first 50 years–gold card for 50-year members established

1960 NALC Health Benefit Plan began operation

1962 Executive Order 10988 issued; NALC wins right to represent city delivery carriers in nationwide representation elections

1964 NALCREST retirement community for letter carriers dedicated

1970 National wildcat strike; Postal Reorganization Act passed

1972 Membership gains power to elect national officers directly

1982 Fair Labor Standards Act litigation settled; Joint NALCUSPS Employee Involvement Process established

1984 Arbitration panel determines terms of a National Agreement for the first time

1989 Union celebrates its 100th anniversary in Milwaukee where it was founded

1992 NALC, USPS and other organizations sign Joint Statement on Violence and Behavior in the Workplace

1993 Hatch Act Reform expands political rights for carriers, other postal and federal employees.

1999 Arbitrators elevate letter carriers to Grade 6, breaking historic link with postal clerks

2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act signed into law

2007 Restrictions on subcontracting letter carrier work contained in new National Agreement

2013 Arbitration panel resolves 2011-2016 contract, creating city carrier assistant position with a path to a career position

NALC Presidents

From its inception, the NALC has been fortunate to be headed by dedicated men, totally committed to improving the lot of the letter carriers they serve. The NALC has had 17 presidents since its founding in 1889. Click below to launch the portrait gallery.