TPA has always been alive to the issues of the day, successfully securing enactment of laws in various states regulating safe travel accommodations, fair commerce laws, child protection and safety, and more.
A small group of traveling men happened to meet in a Chicago hotel and strike up a conversation about the issues that confronted the travelling salesmen. Recognizing the importance of cooperation to solve these issues, these men go on to invite 24 other salesmen to a meeting at the Lima House, Lima, Ohio, on February 12, 1882. At that meeting, a temporary organization known as “The Traveling Men’s Club” was formed.
The group holds another meeting in Bellefontaine, Ohio on June 24, 1882. At this meeting a permanent organization is founded, with a Constitution and Bylaws, and the first officers are elected. The organization is officially dubbed “The Travelers Protective Association of the United States." Membership dues increased for the first time, from $1.00 a year to $2.00. Still, most of the budget came from voluntary contributions rather than dues.
At the Annual Meeting in Atlantic City, the organization’s deficit was of such amount that the members realized another year would see the end of this group. Even the most dedicated members conceded that they could not take up the necessary funds.
To fill the widening budget gap, George S. McGrew of St. Louis and several other men, decided to add accident insurance to their offerings. At the 1890 meeting, this group offers to take over the deficit (approximately $2,200) in return for moving the association’s headquarters from Chicago to St. Louis and accepting the plan to offer insurance.
The new officers are successful in re-launching the organization, growing membership to 1,138 by the time of the 1891 convention.
Due to wise management of funds, the association is able to raise the death benefit to $5000. Soon after in 1911, partial disability benefits are added.
Eligibility for membership is broadened to include all persons who qualified as preferred risks, not just salesmen and managers.
The Association adds an airplane death benefit to their contracts.
The Association inaugurates an annual Child Accident Prevention Week Program on a national scale. This program proves highly successful and today enjoys the cooperation of many police and fire departments, civic clubs, and parent-teacher associations.
After a four-year trial period, The Association adds 28 days’ hospitalization benefits.
A non-disabling medical benefit is added, allowing a member payment for a minor injury.
At the National Convention, the role of Community Services Chairmen is formed at the Post, State, and National levels in order to more closely align the Association with Community Service opportunities in all areas.
The Scholarship Trust for the Deaf and Near Deaf is created (today this is known as the Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired).
Women are granted TPA membership for the first time. Women now hold a variety of leadership positions at all levels of the organization.
The Association is licensed in twenty-nine states with 151 Posts in the principal cities of these states. Over 17,000 people have been members for 25 years or longer, and over 1,500 are 50 year members.
Original TPA Crest
1890's Saint Louis, Missouri
1966 TPA Traveler's Magazine