Messick, Charles P.

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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 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.

From the guide to the Fred Telford–Charles Polk Messick Papers, 1913–1972, (University of Delaware Library - Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Delaware Miscellany collection, 1825–1958, 1920–1958 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
creatorOf Fred Telford–Charles Polk Messick Papers, 1913–1972 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
creatorOf Messick, Charles P. Fred Telford-Charles Polk Messick Papers, 1913-1972. University of Delaware Library, Hugh M Morris Library
referencedIn Delaware Miscellany collection, 1825-1958, 1920-1958. University of Delaware Library, Hugh M Morris Library
referencedIn Spelman Fund of New York. Archives, 1930-1939. Rockefeller Archive Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Spelman Fund of New York. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1882-06-01

Death 1978-03-22





Ark ID: w6222x59

SNAC ID: 20562009