• Share:
  • Download/Print:
  • PDF
Search

Broussais C. Beck papers, 1919-1961

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Beck, Broussais C
Title
Broussais C. Beck papers
Dates
1919-1961 (inclusive)
Quantity
2.93 cubic feet including microfilm (5 boxes)
Collection Number
0155
Summary
Seattle rowing enthusiast and businessman who played a role in infiltrating Seattle labor union activities in 1919-1920
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

Open to all users.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Broussais Coman Beck, Seattle businessman and rowing enthusiast, was born in Walla Walla, Wash., on Aug. 29, 1886. He attended the University of Washington and was active in both football and rowing, winning outstanding honors as an oarsman. He left the UW in 1910, and finished his education at Yale, graduating in electrical engineering in 1911. Despite this degree, he went into merchandising, taking department-store jobs in Boston and Portland before a position as the Bon Marche's store manager brought him back to Seattle. He remained a staunch supporter of rowing, and became chairman of the Board of Rowing Stewards at the UW shortly after its inception. He advocated the Washington style of rowing developed by his UW coach, Hiram Conibear, and played an important role in its adoption at Yale and at the University of California. His support for and interest in UW rowing culminated in his 1923 book, Rowing at Washington . In 1929, he turned his attention to the development of "day-light tube" lighting, establishing the Luminous Tube Corporation and serving as its first president. He had suffered from fragile health for much of his life, and after a prolonged illness, he died in Seattle on Aug. 7, 1936.

As the Bon Marche's store manager during the Seattle general strike of 1919, Beck had spies planted into the ranks of the labor movement. The use of agents to infiltrate the labor movement was a common practice at the time, employed not only by the Bon Marche but by police, the federal government, and other employers. The Bon Marche played a central role in galvanizing an uncompromising employer reaction to the labor crisis. In response to the strike, employers formed an alliance called the Associated Industries, presided over by Frank Waterhouse, whose business interests included the department store. After the strike failed, labor leaders called for a boycott of the Bon Marche as part of the strategy against the Associated Industries. The Bon Marche's labor policy required accurate advance information, so in order to insure precise reports Beck tried to keep strict control over his agents, but wasn't always successful. One of Beck's agents gained enough access into the Industrial Workers of the World organization to audit the financial reports of its Northwest Committee for political prisoners.

Though the agents are often referred to by code numbers or initials in the papers, it appears that Agent 107 was probably Edward W. Graham (1890-1956). Broussais C. Beck Papers (Accession 0155-001). The minutes of the IWW's Northwest District Defense Committee for September 28, 1919 (Acc# 0155-001 Box 2, Folder 12) state that "E.W. Graham" was elected committee chairman at that meeting. Agent No. 17's report for the same day in (Acc# 0155-001 Box 1, Folder 28) states that Agent 17 was elected to the same position.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The papers encompass three accessions, the first one very different from the other two. Accession no. 0155-001, measuring 1.73 cubic feet, contains material Beck collected during his monitoring of labor activity, including, most notably, spy reports, but also newspaper articles, broadsides and other material. These documents, dating from 1919 to 1920, include ephemera relating to the Industrial Workers of the World and local labor union and cooperative movement activities.

The other two accessions, nos. 0155-002 and 0155-003, each measuring 0.21 cubic feet, document Beck's interest in rowing; neither has an inventory. No. 0155-002 contains the manuscript to Rowing at Washington , and correspondence from 1922 to 1934 regarding rowing. Major correspondents include Frederic W. Allen, Andrew J. Balliet, Carroll (Ky) M. Ebright, Darwin Meisnest and Dean Witter. Accession no. 0155-003 contains additional documents on UW rowing (bulk 1923), with some materials touching upon the early history of UW sports in general. Included are correspondence (1922-1924, with one telegram of condolence from Eleanor Beck to Mrs. Russell S. Calloway, 1961), notes (one by Broussais Beck from 1928), newspaper clippings ( Seattle Times articles from 1960 about the Lake Washington Rowing Club), and memoirs. Major correspondents in this accession include Grace Conibear, Dean Witter, and Andrew J. Balliet.

None of the three accessions deal in any significant degree with the internal functioning of the Bon Marche, the Luminous Tube Corporation, or Beck's personal life unrelated to athletics.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

Restrictions on Use

Consult the restrictions governing publication for each of the accessions listed below.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Accession No. 0155-001: Broussais C. Beck papers, circa 1919-1920Return to Top

2.51 cubic feet (3 boxes originals)
2 microfilm reels : positive ; 35 mm.

Scope and Content: Reports, ephemera, minutes, newspaper articles, broadside. Microfilm of entire accession is included in this accession.

Concerns activities of labor organizers and Wobblies in Seattle, as reported by Beck's agents. Includes papers relating to industrial espionage, copies of newspapers such as "The Industrial Worker," the "Lumber Workers Bulletin," and material relating to Eugene Debs, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Seattle Cooperative movement.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users. This heavily used accession has been microfilmed for preservation purposes. Researchers are required to use the microfilm unless there is a very specific reason that the originals must be consulted. Originals may be used if the microfilm is out on loan.

Container(s) Description Dates
Reports
Box/Folder
1/1-23 0155-001
By Agent No. 106  
1919-1920
1/24-30, 2/1-8 0155-001
By Agent No. 17 [Edward W. Graham (1890-1956)]  
1919-1920
2/9 0155-001
By E.W.G. [Edward W. Graham (1890-1956)]  
1919
2/10 0155-001
By [Wahke?]  
undated
2/11 0155-001
Unidentified
1919
Minutes
Box/Folder
2/12 0155-001
Northwest District Defense Committee
1919
Bulletins
Box/Folder
2/13 0155-001
Construction Workers Industrial Union No. 573, I.W.W.  
1919
box-folder:oversize
3/1 0155-001
Metal Mine Workers Industrial Union No. 800, I.W.W.
1919
Box/Folder
2/13 0155-001
Shipbuilders Industrial Union No. 325, I.W.W.
1919
2/13 0155-001
Strike Bulletin
General Notes: Concerning lumberjacks.
1919
Clippings
Box/Folder
2/14 0155-001
Seattle Union Record
1919-1920, undated
Newspapers
box-folder:oversize
3/4 0155-001
Industrial Worker
1919-1920
Ephemera
Box/Folder
2/15 0155-001
Associated Industries of Seattle
1919, undated
2/16 0155-001
Central Labor Council of Seattle  
1919-1920, undated
2/16 0155-001
Construction Workers Industrial Union No. 573, I.W.W.  
1919, undated
2/16 0155-001
Co-operative Food Products Association  
1919, undated
2/17 0155-001
Eugene Debs  
1919, undated
2/18 0155-001
Hotel, Restaurant and Domestic Workers Industrial Union No. 1100, I.W.W.  
1919, undated
2/19 0155-001
Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.)  
1919, undated
box-folder:oversize
3/2-3 0155-001
Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.)
1919, undated
Box/Folder
2/20 0155-001
National Co-operative Association. Northwest Branch  
1919
2/20 0155-001
Northwest District Defense Committee
1919
box-folder:oversize
3/2 0155-001
Northwest District Defense Committee
1919
Box/Folder
2/20 0155-001
Northwest Information Bureau
1919
2/21 0155-001
Shipbuilders Industrial Union, I.W.W.  
1919, undated
2/21 0155-001
Soldiers and Sailors Union  
1919, undated
2/22 0155-001
Triple Alliance of King County  
1919, undated
2/23 0155-001
Washington State Federation of Labor  
1919
2/23 0155-001
Miscellaneous
1919, undated
box-folder:oversize
3/3 0155-001
Miscellaneous
Box/Folder
2/24 0155-001
Miscellaneous labels  
1919, undated

Accession No. 0155-002: Broussais C. Beck papers, 1922-1934 (bulk 1922-1931)Return to Top

.21 cubic feet (1 box)

Scope and Content: Correspondence, 1922-1934 (bulk 1922-1931), and manuscript "Rowing at Washington", ca. 1924.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Separated Material: Segregated from Eleanor N Beck (widow) papers in 1981.

Accession No. 0155-003: Broussais C. Beck papers, 1922-1924, 1928-1960 (bulk 1922-1924)Return to Top

.21 cubic feet (1 box)

Scope and Content: Correspondence, notes, clippings, memoirs.

In 1923 Broussais Beck began to write a history of rowing at the University. This accession contains letters sent and received from individuals who played a role in the early development of rowing.

Restrictions on Access: Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use: Creator's literary rights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Acquisition Info: Broussais C. Beck, Jr., Feb. 24, 1993.