Even more often undocumented than unions themselves are the countless workers who make up their "rank and file" membership. Frequently, unless an individual was an officer of a local, a shop foreman, or held some other leadership position, not much is known about him or her. What little information is available about a union's individual members is often found in that union's membership records.
For example, Hugh John Monthie, Sr. was an apprentice with the Columbia County Typographical Union No. 896 from April 1955 to April 1960. That local's Apprentice Record Book, pictured on the left, records his date of birth, where he was employed, when his apprenticeship began, and when it ended.
This information about apprentices in the Columbia County Typographical Union might be extremely useful to descendants engaged in genealogical research. From a scholarly perspective, many trends can be studied regarding the individuals who were employed as apprentices in the typographical trade, such as the average number of apprentices assigned to an employer, the average age of apprentices, and whether apprentices were more likely to be men or women.
Similar comments can be made about the membership records of locals in other trades. The membership ledger for the Hudson Valley District Council of Carpenters Local 251 collected information on the member's date of birth, date admitted to the union, initiation fee, place of residence, monthly dues, when those dues were paid, and, in the Remarks section, any times when the membership was suspended or reinstated. The membership ledger for the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades' Painters Local 12 recorded the number of the membership card, the initiation dues, the member's age when initiated into the local, the date on which the member was initiated, and the member's monthly dues.