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George Ernest Barnett report

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MS-0157

Scope and Contents

The report which forms this collection is a carbon copy typescript entitled, "The Relief Department of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company," prepared for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The report was written by Johns Hopkins economist, George Ernest Barnett, and is dated August 31,1916. It is possible the report was a personal copy of Professor Barnett's, as there is no evidence that it was ever published. Barnett was often sought for reports of this kind because of his background in economics and his knowledge of labor relations.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was the first company in the United State to establish an organized relief fund, the purpose of which was to relieve the company and the workers from contributing to the maintenance of employees in need. Barnett's report gives an objective analysis of the organization of this railroad employees' relief fund devised to deal with sickness, accidental injury, old age, and death. A detailed comparison is given of an original plan of 1882 with a revised plan of 1888. The plan was known as the "Relief Feature" and was formed by three separate components: relief, savings, and pension. Barnett included statistics and charts, 1883-1915, to substantiate the operating expenses and deficiencies within the relief fund. Statistical information of this kind could have served as a model for other company plans since this was an original scheme.

Barnett concluded the report with a thorough summary of the social and industrial influences of the "Relief Feature." His understanding of Federal labor legislation was useful in discussions of employers' liability and the overall fairness to employees. He cites specific laws to clarify points within the design of the relief plan. Barnett noted in his summary that the administration of the "Relief Feature" was controlled by a company-appointed operating committee thereby denying active participation to the workers. His final observation was that the Company could not expect total satisfaction with the plan until the question of employee participation was resolved.


  • Creation: 1916 August 31


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

George Ernest Barnett, economist, was born in Cambridge, Maryland in 1873. In 1901, he received his Ph.D. in economics from The Johns Hopkins University. Barnett spent his entire academic career at Johns Hopkins in the Department of Political Economy. In his work with graduate students, Barnett was closely associated with Professor Jacob H. Hollander. Together they taught the graduate Economic Seminary. Beginning in 1902, the Seminary studied trade-unionism and the students collected internal literature of the trade unions. A bibliography listing these publications was edited by Barnett. It was entitled A Trial Bibliography of American Trade-Union Publications. Barnett was also co-editor with Jacob H. Hollander of Studies in American Trade Unionism, 1907. Barnett viewed unions as a necessary part of industrial society, and he came to believe that legal enactment (rather than collective bargaining) was the preferred means of solving many of labor's problems.

Occasionally, Barnett undertook tasks outside his ordinary academic activities. In 1909, he was in charge of a study for the National Monetary Commission, and in 1913, he directed an investigation for the United States Commission on Industrial Relations. He served on the Advisory Committee of the United States Census, and in 1932, Barnett became president of the American Economic Association. In 1937, he was selected by the Carnegie Corporation to investigate labor arbitration courts in Australia. George Ernest Barnett died in 1938.


0.167 Cubic Feet (1 volume)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of a report titled, "The Relief Department of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company," prepared for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The report was written by Johns Hopkins economist, George Ernest Barnett, and is dated August 31,1916.

Custodial History

The provenance of the report is unknown. It has been part of the collections of the Manuscripts Department since 1960.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

There is no known acquisition information for this collection.

Related Materials

For related material see the Jacob H. Hollander Papers MS.0051 in Special Collections.


Barnett, George Ernest. A Trial Bibliography of American Trade- Union Publications, Prepared by the Economic Seminary of the Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1904.

Hollander, Jacob Harry and George Ernest Barnett. Studies in American Trade Unionism. New York: H. Holt and Co., 1906.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan in 1989.

Guide to the George Ernest Barnett report
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA