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A Guide to the Peninsular Telephone Company Records

Finding aid created by Raquell Russell

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections
November 2011

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Peninsular Telephone Company (Tampa, Fla.)
Title: Peninsular Telephone Company Records
Dates: 1915-1963
Abstract: The Peninsular Telephone Company was founded in 1901 by William G. Brorein. The independent company began in Tampa but eventually covered six counties in central and south Florida. It was renamed General Telephone and grew to become a service provider for more than 500,000 telephone lines.
Extent: 0.4 Linear feet. 1 box.
Identification: MS 293
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

The Peninsular Telephone Company was an independent company initially stationed in Tampa and operating just 100 telephone lines in 1901. The company eventually expanded to occupy six counties in Florida and to operate more than 500,000 lines in 1963. This collection covers the company's initiation in 1901 through its name change to General Telephone in 1957 and a violent strike in 1963. Company founder William G. Brorein (1861-1936), a politician from Ohio who arrived in Tampa in 1901, noticed the boom in the South, but specifically in Florida and was convinced by friends to get involved in the telephone business. A charter for the Peninsular Telephone Company was approved in March of 1901. Four years later, in 1905, the company bought out the interests of Bell Telephone Company in the Tampa Bay area, drastically increasing the size of its machinery and clientele.

The company grew quickly, opening a new twelve-story office building in 1927 that housed enough machinery for 3,000 telephones. In 1936, upon the death of the company founder, his nephew, Carl D. Brorein, stepped in as president. The Peninsular Telephone Company survived the Great Depression, boomed in the 1940s, and by 1956 had a new general office building equipped to serve 30,000 phone lines. The following year, through an exchange of stock, the company was renamed the General Telephone Company of Florida. In 1963 General Telephone served six counties. It was eventually purchased by Verizon Communications.

Sources: Steve Rajtar, A Guide to Historic Tampa, Florida (Charleston, S.C.: The History Press, 2007); "Carl D. Brorein" at TampaPix (

Scope and Content

This is a small collection of files pertaining to the Peninsular Telephone Company. It includes a company history and timeline (1901-1961) and a commemorative magazine issued on its 50th anniversary (1901-1951). A 1960 employee chart, a company directory, company phonebook, annual reports, and photographs of employees and management are also included.

Approximately fifty percent of the materials are related to a violent general strike against the company by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The strike began on July 11, 1963 and continued for more than two months. During the strike, workers picketed at various locations and cut phone cables affecting more than 50,000 lines. Picketers assaulted workers who continued on the job and attempted bombings and shootings. After much deliberation, General Telephone settled the strike by increasing wages, lengthening their leave policy for union workers, and providing priority to those employees who maintained seniority in the company for jobs subject to overtime hours. Files include publications produced by the strikers ("The Picket Line Post" and "The Strikers News"); company correspondence and bulletins about the strike; and clippings from the Tampa Tribune outlining the details of the strike over the 61-day period.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Alternative Format Available

Sample material online at:

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Peninsular Telephone Company Records, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Alan Bliss, September 2011.

Contents List

1 Company History (1901-1961).
1 Winter Haven Herald, company history provided by employee Osborne Craig Stanley. 1958
1 Employee Chart. 1960
1 Company Directory. 1946, 1948, 1955, 1958
1 Photos, Christmas Party photos of employees, photos of William G. Brorein.
1 Company Christmas Cards. 1939-1957
1 Correspondence.
1 Annual Reports. 1915-1924
1 Annual Reports. 1925-1939
1 Annual Reports. 1940-1947
1 Telephone Book. 1954
1 Company Bulletin, Strike News. July 10-September 10, 1963
1 Management Correspondence, Strike. 1963
1 "The Strikers News". 1963
1 "The Picket Line Post". 1963
1 "To Hell with General Tel," strike chant. 1963
1 Newspaper Clippings, Dated. 1963
1 Newspaper Clippings, Undated. 1963

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

General Telephone Company of Florida
Labor disputes -- Florida -- History
Strikes and lockouts -- Florida -- History
Telephone -- Florida -- History
Telephone companies -- Florida -- History

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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