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Fred Telford-Charles Polk Messick papers

Identifier: MSS 0108

Scope and Content Note

The Fred Telford - Charles Polk Messick papers includes material generated during the careers of the two men and spans the dates 1913-1972. The 12 linear feet of material includes correspondence, reports, manuscripts, and printed material. The materials of this collection are from the personal papers of Fred Telford. Telford was encouraged by Charles Messick in the late 1960s to donate the papers to the University and the acquisition was completed in 1971.

The collection surveys the history of public personnel administration through the personal writings and professional work of Telford and Messick. This collection provides valuable information about the evolution of public personnel administration. It features manuscripts on an assortment of personnel topics; correspondence with important figures in the field such as William Brownrigg, F.A. Moss, and William Gorham Rice; and recommendations on personnel problems in various areas of the country. Since both men began their careers during the founding of the civil service program, their thoughts chronicle the evolution of personnel administration. From the early writings of the 1920s, which attempted to define the field and the relationship of its actors, to the theoretical debates captured in Telford's exchange with William Brownrigg, to Telford's late publications on the science and art of personnel management, this collection provides a significant source for research on the history of public administration.

Specific topics discussed include classification systems and job definitions, pay scales, efficiency rating reports, and examinations for employment. Finally, the printed material adds insight into the other professional interests of Telford and Messick.

The collection is arranged into five series. Series I, Telford Correspondence, is highlighted by an ongoing dialog with William Brownrigg regarding Telford's public administration theories. The series also includes correspondence between Telford and various municipalities seeking both advice and his services.

The second series contains the product of Telford's many professional projects. Included are public administration proposals for many large cities and as well as several states.

Series III, Manuscripts, displays the formal writings of Telford, Messick, and others. The fourth series consists of material regarding job classification. It includes the various tests and evaluation methods used through the years in various regions with respect to many different jobs. Finally, series V is comprised of printed material collected by Telford throughout his lifetime.


  • Creation: 1913-1972


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Fred Telford

The relationship between Fred Telford and Charles Polk Messick began in 1917. The pair, relatively new to public administration, met while working for separate firms on a project in Canada. For the next 50 years, Telford and Messick collaborated on numerous occasions to help advance the theory and practice of public personnel administration.

Fred Telford, born in 1881, received a philosophy degree from the University of Chicago in 1918 and a Master of Arts from George Washington University in psychology and political science in 1925. While in school, Telford was beginning a distinguished career in the personnel profession. In 1913 he began a position with the Illinois State Civil Service Commission and, four years later, joined the staff of Griffenhagen and Associates, Ltd., where he met Charles Polk Messick. The meeting eventually led to a full-time position for Telford as a senior staff member with the Bureau of Public Personnel Administration.

Beginning with the Bureau in 1922, Telford encountered many opportunities to further his knowledge of the personnel field. He performed research work, advised both public and private organizations on how to improve their personnel systems, and edited the monthly magazine Public Personnel Studies. His work was well received and he was promoted to Director of the Bureau in 1924. Through this position, Telford continued his work with Messick, and became associated with William Gorham Rice and F. A. Moss. These men proved to be valuable colleagues and friends for the duration of Telford's career. The Bureau of Public Personnel Administration closed in 1932, a casualty of the Depression.

In May 1935, Telford received a job with the Works Progress Administration as a member of the headquarters staff. While there, his particular interests led him to focus on those procedures for personnel projects which were used to provide employment for white collar workers. He also focused on writing manuals for use in personnel records, classification, salary plans, some phases of recruiting, the collection and analysis of leave of absence data, and service ratings.

In 1936, Telford left the Works Progress Administration and began working as a consultant for public and private organizations. Telford provided consultation for the United States and Canadian governments and for the Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and California state governments. In addition he worked for the following municipalities: Cleveland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Toledo, Portland, Los Angeles, Columbus, and Minneapolis. Telford's consulting involved position classification, salary levels, recruiting in all its phases, employee ratings, and most other personnel operations, including personnel legislation and personnel regulations. As a consultant, Telford met another important connection, William Brownrigg, the executive officer of the State of California State Personnel Board. The two corresponded regularly throughout the rest of their careers.

In 1949, Telford took a position as Senior Associate on the staff of Charles P. Messick and Associates. Messick and Associates participated in consulting and advisory work for national, state, and municipal governments as well as private organizations. These included the state of Massachusetts, the cities of Newark and Cincinnati, the Delaware Commission for the Feeble Minded, the Masonic Home of Burlington, the Chrysler Corporation, Delaware Power and Light Company, and New Castle County Water Company, among others. The firm also enjoyed a close working relationship with McDowell-Mitchell Associates, management consultants in the area of public relations. The two organizations used their affiliate status in order to provide a new, more extensive and integrated service through the utilization of their experienced and competent personnel.

Charles P. Messick

Charles P. Messick was born in Sussex County Delaware on June 1, 1882. He received his master's degree in 1909 at Delaware College (University of Delaware). In 1910 he earned another master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania. That same year he moved to New Jersey and began teaching.

Messick began work with the New Jersey State Civil Service Commission as a special examiner in 1910 and served as assistant chief examiner of the Commission from 1915–1917. From 1917–1949, Messick served as the Commission's chief examiner and supervised some 75,000 positions in New Jersey's state and local government services. This position enabled Messick to influence the creation of many civil service administrations in the United States and Canada. His work encouraged many state and local governments to set up some form of a civil service system. Messick believed that public personnel systems should be used for reasons other than curbing the control of politicians over public offices. He thought that the public service offices could be professionalized and thus better serve the public.

While serving as the New Jersey Commission's chief examiner, Messick also organized and presided over the Board of Trustees of the Bureau of Public Personnel Administration that served as the headquarters staff of the Civil Service Assembly of the United States and Canada. He also held almost every office in the Assembly, including the offices of vice president, president, and member and chairman of the executive council. In addition, he served on every important committee created by the Civil Service Assembly. It was after his retirement from the New Jersey State Civil Service Commission that Messick began Charles P. Messick and Associations.

Telford remained with Messick and Associates until the 1960s. While working for Messick, Telford began to revise his old classification and pay manuals and wrote new treatises on personnel management during the 1950s and 1960s. He relied on the expertise of Charles Messick and William Brownrigg to help edit his works. Included in his published works are The Telford Classification Manual, published posthumously, Personnel Principles and Practices, The Principles of Public Personnel Administration, and various magazine articles.


12 linear foot (12 boxes)


The Fred Telford - Charles Polk Messick papers includes material generated during the careers of the two men and spans the dates 1913-1972. The collection surveys the history of public personnel administration through the personal writings and professional work of Telford and Messick, providing valuable information about the evolution of public personnel administration.


Gift of Charles Polk Messick, 1971.

Shelving Summary

  1. Boxes 1-13: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
  2. Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (24 inches)


Processed by Kim Sebold, 1990. Revised by Paul Dziewisz, June 1993. Encoded by Thomas Pulhamus, March 2010. Further encoding by Lauren Connolly and Tiffany Saulter, May 2016.

Finding aid for Fred Telford-Charles Polk Messick papers
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2010 March 2
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA