University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Galveston, Texas, Screwmen's Benevolent Association Records, 1866-1922

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Screwmen's Benevolent Association (Galveston, Tex.)
Title: Galveston, Texas, Screwmen's Benevolent Association records
Dates: 1866-1922
Abstract: Records of the Galveston Screwmen's Benevolent Association, a trade union of specialized longshoremen who, with the aid of screwjacks, stowed and packed the bulky cotton bales into the holds of ships before the use of the power cotton compress.
Identification: urn:taro:utexas.cah.01517
Extent: 3 linear feet
Language: English .
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Historical Note

The Screwmen's Benevolent Association formed on the night of September 11, 1866, modeled after a similar group in New Orleans. These specialized longshoremen known as screwmen used screwjacks to stow and pack cotton bales into ships. The association set high standards for membership, considering an applicant's physical fitness level, skill, character and health; they denied applications from black longshoremen and would not allow their members to work for anyone who employed them on their ship.

The association had become the largest, strongest union in the Galveston area by 1875. They continually worked to improve their image and prestige in the Galveston community, hosting events such as picnics, parades and balls.

Black longshoremen began to organize their own association starting in 1879, the Cotton Jammer's Association. Norris Wright Cuney, a powerful and prominent black Galveston businessman and politician, was one of the primary movers of this organization, which he pushed into competition with the Screwmen's Benevolent Association. In 1883, Cuney brought black longshoremen in from New Orleans and obtained a contract with the Morgan Lines, which broke the white longshoremen's monopoly. That same year, the black longshoremen, further striking at the white monopoly, formed the Screwmen's Benevolent Association No. 2.

The original Screwmen's Association worked to cement its white workers' monopoly by implementing an apprentice system in 1885. As the use of steel ships with larger holds increased, however, the association's limits on work for its union members began to work against it, allowing black workers to take over more and more of the workload. The Association joined the national longshoremen's union, Longshoremen's Benevolent Union, in 1902 as Local 307. By World War I, machinery had completely eliminated the need for screwmen.


Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Cuney, Norris Wright," (accessed June 2, 2010).

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Screwmen's Benevolent Association," (accessed June 2, 2010).

Scope and Contents

The Galveston Screwmen's Benevolent Association Records, 1866-1922, contain the organization's constitution, bylaws, minutes, financial records, membership rolls, legal documents, as well as documents detailing the organization's structure, members, officials, committees and activities, and related organizations.


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Index Terms

Personal Names
Akerson, Gus
Anderson, Albert E.
Barb, J. M.
Black, J. H.
Boles, Walter G.
Brooks, J. W.
Bruce, A. W.
Casselly, B. P.
Cowan, William
Cox, James D.
Frickle, J. W.
Gomez, Alex
Gray, H. G.
Green, John J.
Hartman, Frank
Hughes, B. J.
Kidney, Henry
Leech, Thomas
MacGill, D. K.
Marlow, F.
Meyeres, Ed
Michetich, Frank
Michlonski, H.
Millard, Tom
Monoghan, Owen
Moore, James
Mupeyere, P. L.
Murney, Joe
Murray, James
Nisse, Conrad
Oliver, A. J.
Pentony, John
Rigney, Thomas
Riley, J. V.
Seymour, Matt
Wagstaff, F. M.
Walker, C. W.
Watson, William
Wilson, Charles
Corporate Names
Dock and Marine Council (Galveston, Tex.)
International Longshoreman's Association. Local 307 (Galveseton, Tex.)
Screwmen's Benevolent Association (Galveston, Tex.)
Manners and customs
Politics and government
Port of Galveston

Related Materials

Taylor, Allen Clayton. A history of the screwmen's Benevolent Association from 1866 to 1924. Austin, Texas: University of Texas, 1968. Call number THESIS 1968 T212

Labor Movement in Texas Collection, 1845-1943

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Galveston, Texas, Screwmen's Benevolent Association Records, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center's "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.

Detailed Description of the Collection


2D193 [SRH1230005690] Minutes of meetings
August 1906-November 1910
October 1915-1917
December 1917-1918
November 1916-April 1918
2D194 [SRH1230005691] Minutes of meetings
November 1910-April 1913
May 1913-September 1915
Report of Special Relief Committee, September 14, 1915
Records of 21 Executive Committee
2D194 [SRH1230005691] 1899-1910
4N24h Record number 26, volume I, 1866-1889
4N24i Record number 27, volume II, 1890-1900
4N24j Record number 28, volume III, 1900-1909
4N32a Record number 29, volume IV, 1910-1922
4K547 Constitution and by-laws of Screwmen's Benevolent Association written in longhand, 1872, and lists of members from, 1866-1906
4K548 Ledger, number 2
4K549 Records, number 30, Committee of 21 (Executive Committee), 1893-1900
4K550 Records, number 33, Dock and Marine Council, 1913-1917
4K551 Records, number 34, Dock and Marine Council, 1917-1920
4K552 Records, number 35, Screwmen's Benevolent Association (later called ILA Local 307), volume I, 1887-1896
4K553 Records, number 36, Screwmen's Benevolent Association (later called ILA Local 307), volume II, 1905-1906
4K554 Records, number 37, Screwmen's Benevolent Association (later called ILA Local 307), volume III, 1906-1907
4K555 Records, number 28, Scewmen's Benevolent Association (later called ILA Local 307), volume IV, 1908-1909
4K556 Records, number 29, Scrwemen's Benevolent Association (later called ILA Local 307), volume V, 1909-1911
4K579 Records, number 40, Screwmen's Benevolent Association (later called ILA Local 307), volume VI, 1911-1913