Reflections of our Founding

An Investment in History

Since 2016, IBEW members have been able to walk the halls and draw inspiration from the place where Henry Miller and nine other delegates gathered in 1891 to lay the foundations for the great union we are so proud to be a part of today. 
Ken Cooper, International PresidentKen Cooper

Because of the generosity of our members and local unions, we were able to restore and reopen the St. Louis building where those 10 great men undertook the challenge of their lives and left a legacy that changed millions more lives in the more than 130 years since.

Those founders probably wouldn’t recognize much today – even the building has changed significantly from when they gathered there – but chances are they’d still recognized the same struggles working people face. The fight for fair wages, safe working conditions and respect on the job are no more unique to stringing telegraph wires in the 19th century than they are to wiring complex modern systems in the 21st.

The Henry Miller Museum is there to connect us to our roots, to remind us how far we’ve come, but also how far we have to go in the fight for workers’ rights and justice. By visiting and learning from the history of this great union, we can move forward with the knowledge and strength to fuel our current battles. Our tool chest may have grown since our formation, but the principles remain the same.

The Electrical Workers Historical Society, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, has faithfully restored and managed the humble boarding house so important to the IBEW’s history since 2016, but it still relies on the support and generosity of our members and local unions to preserve that history for future generations. While ensuring that the physical space remains in solid condition, it is also tasked with fulfilling the museum’s mission: to educate and enlighten the work of the Brotherhood and the broader labor movement. 

While the IBEW’s organization may be scattered across the U.S. and Canada in local unions, district offices and in Washington, D.C. at the International Office, St. Louis is our spiritual home, and to be able to visit the building where it all began is so fulfilling.

If you haven’t visited, I encourage you to put it on your list. It’s an unbelievable experience to stand in those rooms and feel the power of the IBEW and that connection to our 10 founders. To be reminded of the challenges they faced and overcame is a source of constant inspiration for me as your international president.

And if you or your local union are able, we hope you’ll continue to include the Electrical Workers Historical Society and the Henry Miller Museum in your charitable giving. Preserving such an important piece of our history is a massive undertaking, and keeping its doors open to our members comes at a substantial cost.

Thank you for doing your part to make the Henry Miller Museum accessible for future generations of electrical workers.