Milk Dealers’ Association Ledger and Minute Book

Dates: 1889-1895
Size: 1 linear foot in 1 box
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: Archives_MDA
Immediate source of acquisition: The collection was transferred to Harold Washington Library Center from Chicago Public Library’s Pullman Branch and processed as part of a Dr. Scholl Foundation grant in the fall of 1982.
Custodial history: The account book of the Milk Dealers Association was received as part of the Calumet Pioneer Historical Society collections. These materials were gathered by early members of the Calumet Pioneer Historical Society and deposited in the Pullman Branch Library.
Conditions governing access: Materials are open without restrictions
Conditions governing use: Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection
Preferred citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Milk Dealers Association Ledger and Minute Book [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.
Finding aid author: Galen R. Wilson, July 1992. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Morag Walsh, 2022.


Account book from the Milk Dealers Association [which may also have been known as the "Milkman Association"] in the Roseland neighborhood. While most of the entries are minutes from the Association meetings, the value of the book is its documentation of a grass-roots union movement in Chicago.


It is not known precisely when the Milk Dealers Association was founded. The earliest meeting in this volume is April 15, 1891 but references are made to events as early as November 1889. The name of the Association is not entirely certain: “Milk Dealers Association: appears on page 127 in the minutes, but the name is given as “Milkman Association” on page 192. The organization disbanded on August 6, 1895.

The location of the Milk Dealers Association is identified only by the location of its meetings: Roseland neighborhood’s Kensington Avenue, which in the 1890s ran from Michigan Avenue east to Lake Calumet, between 115th and 116th Streets. Of the six secretaries who kept the minutes of the Association, three are listed in the 1893 Lakeside Business Directory of Chicago, all with Roseland addresses: T. Ibbotson, 230 111th Street; Frederick H. Niemeyer, Jr., State Street near 116th Street; and Williams J. Powers, 2551 [now circa 125] Kensington Avenue. The volume was assumed to be the account book of Jessen and Turner, milk dealers. The last secretary of the Association was George T. Turner, and it is probable that he kept the book after the Association disbanded.

It is probable that minutes began to be kept in this book when William J. Powers became secretary as Powers’ name appears on the inside of the back cover. The first ten pages of the book, which are missing could have contained unrelated material which was removed when the book was devoted to the Association’s records.

Scope and Contents

The bulk of this volume is taken up with the minutes of the Association’s meetings. These began at a place called “Tucks Hall” but were later moved to a location not specified but rather given simply as “Kensington Avenue.” It is possible that the meetings were held at the home of William J. Powers. The meetings were primarily concerned with the importance of making the union effective. For instance, the minutes of April 24, 1891, contain the motion “that milk men are not allowed to sell milk to any milk man outside the association and that any milk man that takes a customer away from another in the association below the prices agreed upon is to be fined $5.00 for every offense.” The volume provides documentation of a grassroots union movement in Chicago and coordination to fix prices.


Bound volume is in original order.

Subject headings

  • Labor unions — Illinois — Chicago — Records and correspondence — Sources.
  • Milk trade — Illinois — Chicago — Sources.
  • Dairy workers — Labor unions — Illinois — Chicago — Sources.

Collection Inventory

Box 1 Pages 1-10 Missing undated
Box 1 Pages 11-30 Accounts, member by member, of dues and assessments 1891 April-1892 September
Box 1 Pages 31-55 Monthly household expenses, no name given 1912 January-1914 January
Box 1 Pages 57-99 Blank undated
Box 1 Pages 100-135 Meeting minutes 1891 April 15-1895 August 6
Box 1 Pages 140 Income accounts 1889 November
Box 1 Pages 146 Scab list 1889 November 23
Box 1 Pages 181 Meeting minutes (in pencil) undated
Box 1 Pages 184-185 Household accounts undated
Box 1 Pages 186-187 Roll call 1895 January-June 21
Box 1 Pages 188 Receipts and expenditures 1891 April 15-December 31
Box 1 Pages 189 Money deposited by members of the Milk Association as a guarantee 1893 March 7-May 31
Box 1 Pages 190-191 Receipts and expenditures 1892-1895
Box 1 Pages 192-[193] Roll call undated
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