Louis E. Mcllvian

Louis E. Mcllvain


After having worked as a boiler maker apprentice and truck driver, Mr. Mcllvain suffered a serious injury that left him unable to perform heavy work. He then went back to Indiana and became an apprentice barber, working in his brother's barber shop. He later returned to Chicago as a journeyman barber, and opened his own shop. At that time there were no standards or regulations for barber shops in regard to sanitation, and barbers were grossly underpaid.

Mcllvain became active in the almost - defunct Chicago Barbers' Protective Association, and in 1906 he was elected secretary-treasurer of the local branch. Within a year, he and a few others had organized his district almost 100%, and established a 25¢ haircut and a 10¢ shave as the minimum. They also reduced working hours and launched a movement to clean up the shops and practice sanitation.

The shop owners and the union clashed, and Mcllvain proved to be a master diplomat, drafting an agreement between the barbers' association and the union that was ratified by both sides in 1919, after a lengthy, bitter strike. The contract became a model for barbers' union/shop owner contracts across the country. Mcllvain went on to launch and publish a new publication, Master for Barber Magazine, which gained national circulation and was instrumental in the establishment of the Associated Master Barbers of America.

Mcllvain went on to become general secretary-treasurer of what became the Associated Master Barbers and Beauticians of America, and retired December 31, 1953. Mr. Mcllvain was inducted (posthumously) into the Barber Hall of Fame in 1968. 

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