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(Central Payroll Division)

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The payroll function of the city government was centralized in one bureau in 1924 on the recommendation of Mayor Jackson's commission on efficiency and economy. Previously city departments handled their own payroll matters. This central payroll bureau began operation in February 1924 and by January 1926 it was responsible for preparing all payrolls for municipal employees. This agency was part of the comptroller's office from 1924 until 1964 when it became part of the newly created department of finance. There have been only two Directors of Payroll, Elmer Bernhardt (1924-62) and Harry Deitchman (1962-present).

For more information see Frederick R. Stieff, The Government of a Great American City (Baltimore: H.G. Roebuck & Son, 1935), p. 352, and the final report of the commission on efficiency and economy found in the mayor's published message for 1927. A brief history of the bureau up to 1947 is in F610 (Bernhardt's personal files) for September 1947.

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DateSeries NameDescriptionMSA Citation
  Details1930-1978Administrative Files

Records concerning the preparation, distribution and correction of the city payroll. The earliest records date from 1930, but these are almost entirely the personal records of Director Elmer Bernhardt. The more complete payroll records begin in 1954.

The bulk of the payroll records concern individual cases such as requests to alter pay records due to incorrect attendance marking, material which is kept five years and then discarded. The records retained permanently are those that delineate general payroll policy. The payroll bureau devised its own filing system assigning each city department a number and this arrangement has been retained. A complete listing of these files is available at the Baltimore City Archives.

Elmer Bernhardt was the first director of the bureau and remained in that position until his retirement in 1962. His personal files (1936-52) reveal a dedicated city employee active in a variety of city projects. He was the first president of the Classified Municipal Employees Association (CMEA) and served four subsequent terms. Bernhardt also served as president of the Municipal Employees Credit Union, 1936-62. Through his work with the CMEA Bernhardt was active in the management of the employees retirement system and material on the 1949 election campaign for retirement system trustees can be found in his personal files for November 1949.  The bureau in the early years was responsible for disability compensation leading Bernhardt to an interest in safety engineering. There is material on this in his files, 1946-52. A copy of Bernhardt's speech, "Centralization of Workmen's Compensation Procedure," is in the files for 1961. Other activities reflected by Bernhardt's files were a commission on governmental efficiency and economy (see RG 52). He was an early member of this and continued to receive its newsletter, Your Tax Dollar, in the 1940s and 1950s. Bernhardt also headed numerous city employee fund raising campaigns and was a member of several political, social, and musical organlzations.

A file folder listing is available at the Baltimore City Archives.

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