Order of United Commercial Travelers of America
The Order of United Commercial Travelers was formed on January 16, 1888 by six men in a meeting at the Neil House in Columbus, Ohio to provide a society for traveling salesmen, or commercial travelers.
The original objectives of the order were to aid its members and their dependents in financial and material matters, establish funds to indemnify members in case of disability or accidental death, establish a widows and orphans reserve fund and obtain just and equitable favors for traveling salesmen. The organization also wished to operate as a secret society, whose aim was to unite and raise the moral and social caliber of its members. In fact, in at one time referred to itself as "travelers masonry".
The new organization’s officers adopted titles similar to those of other organizations of the day. Levi Pease was the first Supreme Counselor, John Fenimore was the first Supreme Junior Counselor, and Charles Flagg was the first Supreme Secretary.
The sample case, a vital tool in the life of a commercial traveler, became the symbol of UCT. The original emblem of the organization consisted of a gold crescent with a sample case suspended within the points of the crescent.
The Sample Case Magazine
The Sample Case, the “acknowledged mouthpiece and official organ of UCT” as stated on page one, made its debut May 15, 1891. The first issues were published on the first and 15th of the month. Subscription price was $1 and single issues 5 cents. Today, members receive a subscription to the quarterly magazine, which highlights community projects, volunteer opportunities, benefits and products, and local and regional council news.
UCT Expands to Canada
With the development of transcontinental rail in the late 1800s markets for many products expanded west and into Canada. Commercial travelers headed west and north to take advantage of these new markets.
As they did, they took with them information about UCT and its membership benefits. Winnipeg Council 154 became the first UCT Canadian council in 1899.
Over the years, membership in UCT has expanded beyond traveling salesmen. Membership is open to both men and women age 18 and above who have an interest in good citizenship and volunteering to improve their local communities. Members of local councils have the ability to direct volunteer efforts based on the needs of the local community.
Local councils are the foundation of UCT. Through volunteer service each local council works to support the needs of its community. Local council members plan and conduct meetings, organize events and enjoy social activities. Volunteers also serve as leaders. Councils nominate officers who are elected annually for a one-year term. They also nominate the executive committee, whose members are elected for two-year terms. Prospective members wishing to join UCT will be connected with a council closest to them.
Providing leadership and direction to local councils are 29 regional and state councils in the U.S. and Canada. Regional councils help with local council operations, provide direction and form new councils. Officers are elected at the regional level and serve one-year terms.
Senior Management and Home Office Staff
The board hires the CEO who is responsible for the operations of UCT's home office. The CEO and the rest of the Senior Management team oversee insurance operations and Frateral operations in the home office in Columbus and the Canadian office in Calgary.
Agents are members and active within local councils. They provide products based on the financial needs of individuals and families in their areas.
- From the hearts of men 1960
- Quick facts about the U.C.T. 1978
- Travelers Protective Association of America
- Fraternal Benefit Society
- List of North American fraternal benefit orders
- Alvin J. Schmidt Fraternal Orders (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press), 1980, pp. 341