The Civil Service Commission was created in 1939 and activated by the Civil Service Act of 1941 to promote greater efficiency and economy in government by applying merit system methods and principles to state personnel management. Civil Service had come into existence in Pennsylvania with the passage of the Liquor Control Act of 1933 that required the Liquor Control Board to select personnel under a merit system administered by the Department of Public Instruction. By 1937, two additional personnel agencies were created to administer merit systems: the Employment Board for the Department of Public Assistance and the Board of Review for the Division of Unemployment Compensation and Employment Service in the Department of Labor and Industry. The boards operated independently until the Civil Service Commission was given the authority to operate a unified program in 1941.

The Civil Service commission is a regulatory and investigative and enforcement body charged with carrying out the provisions of the Civil Service Act as amended. The commission recruits and examines job applicants, certifies employment and promotion lists, and hears appeals against actions of appointing authorities.


Records Relating to the Administration of Merit Systems of the Civil Service Commission and the Departments of Public Assistance and Labor and Industry, 1926-1966. (1 box) Unarranged. These records include a classification system for positions held by civil service employees of the Commonwealth, administrative records of the Department of Labor and Industry, the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, and the Employment Board of the Department of Public Assistance. Items related to African Americans include a booklet entitled A Classification of the Positions Held by Employees in the Service of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in State-Owned Institutions, 1936, which deals with requirements imposed upon state teachers colleges and the Cheyney Training School for Teachers. This booklet contains several photographs of African Americans. Among the records are photographs of the following Civil Service Commission employees at a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conference: Agnes Peterson, Arlene Richardson, Rhona Ross, William "Mike" Leftwich, Linda Ashby, Louise Williams, Joyce Finley, Karen Sellers, Mel Robinson, Valeria Borrow, George "Toby" Young, and Mary Jiggetts. There is also is a photograph of a reception for Chairman Ethel S. Barrett, June 15, 1978. Ethel S. Barrett was the first African American to hold the position of chairman of the Civil Service Commission. Other photographic subjects in the files include Nancy Carter, Wilma Jones, Charles Lewis, Maude Penn, William D. Johnson, and Betty Anderson.

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