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Brice P. Disque papers, 1906-1960

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Disque, Brice P., 1879-1960
Title
Brice P. Disque papers
Dates
1906-1960 (inclusive)
Quantity
1.89 cubic feet, (6 boxes)
Location of Collection
Materials are located in Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries. For more information about this collection including links to additional digital content, please connect to the finding aid on the University of Washington website.
Collection Number
0316 (mss), 0316-001 (accession)
Summary
Papers of a public official and businessman who commanded the U.S. Army's Spruce Products Division during the First World War.
Repository
University of Washington Librarires, 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
The papers are open to all users.
Additional Reference Guides
This finding aid can also be viewed on the University of Washington website.
Languages
English

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Brice P. Disque commanded the U.S. Army's Spruce Production Division and founded the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen during the First World War. Born in Ohio in 1879, Disque entered the United States Army as a private at the start of the Spanish-American War. By that war's end, he was a lieutenant. After a series of various administrative assignments in the army and a brief stint as head warden of the Michigan State Prison, Disque volunteered for combat in France when the United States entered the First World War. His superiors instead sent him to the Pacific Northwest and charged him with accelerating the cutting of spruce and other trees which the Allies needed to build aircraft. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) had dramatically slowed logging throughout the region with a series of strikes and slowdowns primarily aimed at forcing employers to improve conditions in the logging camps and to institute an eight-hour day. After consulting with employers, the American Federation of Labor (AFL), and members of the Washington Defense Council, Disque decided to use a mixture of force and concessions to fight the IWW. He dispatched a number of soldiers to work as loggers and to harass IWW organizers. He also convinced the War Department to add an eight-hour day requirement to all of its contracts with logging companies in the region.

Disque then founded the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen, an organization which was headed by army officers and which acted as part labor union and part patriotic society. Legion organizers enrolled all of the roughly 20,000 soldiers working as loggers and about 100,000 civilian loggers during the war. All enrollees had to sign a loyalty oath and agree not to strike. Enrollees could be members of the IWW or AFL, but they had to promise not to organize workers into any union other than the legion. Disque's measures substantially increased spruce production in late 1917 and early 1918. After the war, timber executives assumed leadership of the legion and turned it into a conservative, industry-wide company union.

Immediately following the war, the United States Congress investigated charges that Disque and the legion had treated AFL members unfairly and spent too much money to accomplish limited results. Although the hearings tarnished Disque's reputation, Congress nevertheless approved his promotion to brigadier general. Disque drifted in and out of active duty in the 1920s and 1930s, alternating between performing training missions for the army and serving on the board of trustees of various private firms. Disque also served as president of the United States Spruce Production Corporation and as president of the Anthracite Institute, a large trade association, 1929-1933. He served in the Solid Fuels Administration for War during the Second World War. Disque died in 1960.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The largest part of the Bryce P. Disque papers is the United States War Department, Spruce Production Division series. The series includes the correspondence of Disque, his advisors, and other Spruce Division officials from 1917 to 1921. They primarily corresponded with one another and with logging companies, unions, and high-level federal officials. The letters are arranged chronologically, regardless of author and recipient. A partial list of major correspondents is included in the inventory. This series also contains over 200 telegrams between Disque and Major Leadbetter (Disque's liaison to the U.S. Army's top brass and to the Aircraft Production Board), dating from May 1918 to the end of 1920. A few Spruce Division reports and Disque's draft of a history of the division are also in this series.

A smaller series is devoted to materials relating to the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen. This includes correspondence between Disque and the legion's secretaries, minutes of the legion's 1918 and 1919 conventions, and copies of the legion's monthly bulletins from 1917 to 1919.

The collection also includes a small number of personal papers. The bulk of the correspondence in this series dates from 1919 to 1960 and relates to the post-war congressional investigation of the Spruce Division and to Disque's later business ventures. The series also contains drafts of Disque's writings and speeches delivered after 1920.

Major correspondents include J. Cheever Cowdin, Clarence F. Lea, Henry Martyn Leland, George Meany, Alton T. Roberts, the American Federation of Labor, American Lumberman, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Employers Association of the Inland Empire, the International Shingle Weavers Union of America, and the West Virginia Timber Company.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The creator's literary rights have not been transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Preferred Citation

Brice P. Disque Papers. Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Washington.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Personal papersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1-12
Biographical
28 items
General correspondence
Names of major correspondents, where applicable, appear in the folder titles.
Box/Folder
1/13
Michaels, Stern & Company; Michigan State Prison Industries
4 items
1906-1918
1/14
Cuthbert P. Stearns; J.H. Regal; Shaw (A. W.) Company
10 items
1919 January-June
1/15
1919 July-December
7 items
1919 July-December
1/16
Henry M. Leland
10 items
1920 January-March
1/17
Leonard Wood
5 items
1920 April-October
1/18
Clarence F. Lea
7 items
1921
1/19-20
1922-1923
11 items
1922-1923
1/21
Meier & Frank Company; MacDougal & Southwick Company
12 items
1924
1/22-24
1925-1927
26 items
1925-1927
1/25
1931-1935
11 items
1931-1935
1/26
Regarding Cutbert Stearns, Jr.
1 item
1922-1936
1/27
1936-1937
5 items
1936-1937
1/28
Cyrus S. Eaton
8 items
1941
1/29
1944
1 item
1944
1/30
George Meany; Martin F. Shea
7 items
1951-1952
1/31
1954-1955
8 items
1954-1955
1/32-34
1956-1958
26 items
1956-1958
1/35
1959-1969
3 items
1959-1969
2/1-2
Miscellaneous
33 items
undated
2/3-9
Speeches and writings
19 items
1919-1952

Loyal Legion of Loggers and LumbermenReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
3/1
Constitution and by-laws
1 item
undated
3/2-4
General correspondence
23 items
undated
Speeches and writings
Box/Folder
3/5
Notes
7 items
undated
3/6
Business Chronicle
1 item
1918 December 14
3/7
Address to the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen
1 item
1918 December
Reports
Box/Folder
3/8
Willard S. Hotchkiss, "Memo with Regard to Labor"
1 item
1917 December
Bulletins
Box/Folder
3/9
1917-1918
3 items
1917-1918
3/10
Monthly Bulletin
8 items
undated
3/11-12
Minutes of Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen conventions
12 items
1918-1919
3/13
Resolutions- U. S. Aircraft Board
2 items
1918 February
3/14-l5
Ephemera
7 items
Miscellaneous articles on the Loyal Legion of Loggers and Lumbermen.

United States War Department, Spruce Production DivisionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
3/16-4/12
General correspondence
320 items
The following list provides the names of major correspondents and the corresponding box and folder numbers:
American Federation of Labor 3/20, 3/24
American Lumberman 3/71, 4/10
Blodgett Company, Ltd. 3/30, 3/33
J. Cheever Cowdin 4/7
Employers Association of the Inland Empire 3/27
Everett, Clarke & Benedict 4/1
International Shingle Weavers Union of America 3/17
Clarence F. Lea 4/1-3, 4/6-7, 4/10
Alton T. Roberts 4/10
Smith Powers Logging Company 3/46
United States Department of Labor 3/21
West Virginia Timber Company 4/5

^ Return to Top

1917-1921
Box/Folder
4/13-26
Telegrams between Disque and Major Leadbetter
226 items
1918-1919
4/27
Histories concerning Spruce Production Division logging railroads
4 items
4/28
Writings
1 item
A history of the Spruce Production Division by Disque.
4/29
Minutes and articles of incorporation
1 item
4/30-31
Reports
13 items
5/1-6
Congressional hearings on aircraft expenditures
7 items
6/1
Audits
6 items
6/2
Publications
2 items
6/3
Ephemera
3 items
Articles on the Spruce Development Company in periodicals.
6/4
Photographs
6 items

Harold Hyman correspondence regarding Soldiers and Spruce: Origins of the Loyal Legion of Loggers and LumbermenReturn to Top

Container(s): Box-folder 6/5

6 items