General Papers and Correspondence.
1944-1949 and undated
Collection VII: Agnes Nestor Papers; The material of this reel touches occasionally upon affairs of the Glove Workers and of the WTUL. In the latter category are a number of letters from Elisabeth Christman, the script of a 1944 pageant dramatizing the history of the Chicago WTUL, the report of the Interstate Conference of 1947, and typed minutes of the monthly meeting of the Chicago WTUL for October 1948. There is also considerable correspondence about Agnes Nestor's autobiography, which she was writing at this time, and some details about her final hospitalization, death, and burial. Other correspondents include Margaret Bondfield, Mary Dreier, and Raymond Robins.
Collection V: Leonora O'Reilly Papers; The volume of correspondence increases substantially in 1910, the first of the two years on this reel, and doubles again in 1911. These years mark the high point of O'Reilly's work for the New York Women's Trade Union League, of which she was now vice president. The letters also record her increasing participation in the suffrage movement, particularly in 1911, and the start of her active membership in the Socialist party, which continues for the next two years. Calls upon her to speak before labor and middle-class audiences continue to grow, with suffrage groups now added.O'Reilly's work for the WTUL in 1910 is only partially documented here, since most of it was local and did not require correspondence. There are, however, references to several of the strikes she aided: those of cordage (jute) workers in Brooklyn, cloak makers and corset workers in Manhattan, and the famous citywide strike of shirtwaist makers.The Triangle Fire of March 1911 leads to O'Reilly's appointment as head of the New York WTUL's Fire Committee. This involves her in testimony before legislative committees, field work for the state Factory Investigating Commission (see letters from Abram I. Elkus), and considerable correspondence with city and state agencies in which she relays complaints sent to the WTUL about fire and other safety violations in factories. The original complaints can be found on Reel 13; the correspondence here includes copies of O'Reilly's outgoing letters, thanks to stenographic help financed by Mary Ritter Beard and others. There are O'Reilly letters also about an offshoot of the fire work, the effort in 1911 to organize a WTUL committee in each of the city's assembly districts.Among WTUL correspondents, there are a number of letters from Melinda Scott, particularly in 1910 (one touches upon internal tensions in the New York League), and several in 1911 from Laura Elliot. Others are from Helen Marot, Mary Dreier, Margaret Dreier Robins (1910), Stella Franklin (1911), and Pauline Newman (1911). O'Reilly's suffrage correspondents include Mary Beard, Harriot Stanton Blatch, and Mary Ware Dennett (all in 1911). Louise Perkins continues her correspondence with O'Reilly during these two years. So does Arthur Brisbane, who aids the jute workers' strike and encourages O'Reilly to write articles for his New York Journal. His sister Alice Thursby also assists O'Reilly's work, particularly a summer "baby colony" on Long Island that O'Reilly organized in 1911 after the death of her adopted daughter, Alice. Letters from Suzanne Haskell (1910) keep her in touch with the Manhattan Trade School for Girls. There are a few routine letters from officers of the new National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Other correspondents, represented by one to three letters each, include: for 1910, Edward A. Filene, Mary W. Ovington, Bertha Rembaugh, Dr. Jane E. Robbins, Elizabeth Thomas, Alexander Trachtenberg, and Elizabeth Williams; and for 1911, John Haynes Holmes, James O.S. Huntington, Mary Boyle O'Reilly, Frances Perkins, Dr. George M. Price, Lina Gutherz Straus, and Louise Waterman Wise.
Records of the New York Women's Trade Union League.
Minutes and Reports, 1948-1955, and Undated and Ephemeral Material.
Collection IV: Records of the New York Women's Trade Union League; The records for the first two years on this reel, 1948 and 1949, suggest a slight revival in the New York League's activities as compared to the preceding five years. A legislative committee is once more holding meetings, and continues into 1951, and the education director files annual reports. But as early as 1950 two membership meetings fail to turn out a quorum, and the records thereafter become increasingly haphazard in substance and form. The minutes of a special committee to discuss the League's future, in February 1954, raise the possibility of giving up the League's clubhouse, now a drain on the organization's dwindling finances. By the beginning of 1955 this question has become uppermost, and with it the question of whether the League has any remaining function. The executive board minutes for Jan. 26 record at length the anguished discussion between those favoring dissolving (led by Rose Schneiderman) and those reluctant to give up. Succeeding minutes trace the steps toward the ultimate membership vote of 20-15, on June 27, to disband.A final group of miscellaneous items is small and of minor consequence. Only two are clearly related to the regular records: an undated organizer's report and a stray last page of the minutes of a meeting (c. 1942?) at which a special committee on the presidency reports that it has persuaded Rose Schneiderman "during this critical war period" to reconsider her request to be relieved of that office and to accept renomination.
Robins, Margaret Dreier.
Biographical and Personal Material -- Robins Family, Raymond Robins.
Collection I: Margaret Dreier Robins Papers, University of Florida Libraries; The reel begins with a few miscellaneous items pertaining to the Robins genealogy, to Raymond Robins' sister Elizabeth, author and actress, and to his brothers Saxton and Vernon (frames 1-72). All other material is about Robins himself: a group of general and miscellaneous items (frames 73-108), including a 14-page typed sketch of his life that also covers MDR's (1937); material on particular aspects of his career (frames 109-417); brochures, programs, etc., on his lecture engagements (frames 418-545); several speeches (frames 546-662); other writings and notes (frames 663-780); a few miscellaneous business records (frames 781-788); correspondence and court records of the case of Robins vs. Lee et al. (1942), concerning local taxes on the Robins estate, Chinsegut Hill (frames 789-964); and a group of miscellany (frames 965-1019).The material on particular aspects of Robins' career is probably the most useful. Arranged chronologically, it begins with handwritten documents and local newspaper clippings pertaining to his campaign for municipal reform in Nome, Alaska, in 1900 and ends with items on his two-month disappearance in 1932. Intervening sections help to document his political stands in presidential campaigns from 1908 to 1924, and his speaking tours for the Men and Religion Forward Movement (1912-13), the College Evangelistic Campaign (1915-16), and the Allied Forces for Prohibition (1931-32). A brief section on World War I includes a typed statement, presumably by Robins, on the Russian situation after the Bolshevik revolution, dated Petrograd, Nov. 7/20, 1917.The material on this reel was evidently overlooked when family members sorted out the vast quantity of intermingled papers of Robins and MDR, stored over the years at Chinsegut, and sent the Raymond Robins Papers to the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
Women's Trade Union League.
Life and Labor.
Collection IX: Women's Trade Union League Publications; When in 1911 the National Women's Trade Union League began its monthly magazine, Life and Labor, it entrusted the editorial reins to the two women who had had charge of its predecessor, the Woman's Department of the Union Labor Advocate. As it happened, both women were Australians. Alice Henry (1857-1943), the editor, was a veteran journalist. Stella Miles Franklin (1879-1954), her younger assistant, had left Australia after a hoped-for literary career, launched with a successful first novel (My Brilliant Career, 1901), had reached a seeming impasse. Arriving in Chicago in 1906, she secured through Henry a job as private secretary to Margaret Dreier Robins and advanced to secretary of the National WTUL. Franklin left the League in 1915 and moved on to England and eventually back to Australia, where in the 1930's she finally achieved the literary renown that had eluded her earlier. Throughout her later life she kept in touch with her friends of the WTUL.1 Biographical account of Alice Henry by Frederick D. Kershner, Jr., in Notable American Women, 1607-1950; Bruce Sutherland, "Stella Miles Franklin's American Years," Meanjin Quarterly (University of Melbourne), XXIV (Summer 1965), 439-54; scattered Franklin letters in the Margaret Dreier Robins and other microfilmed collections.Alice Henry had a wide-ranging curiosity and was good at gathering facts, which she put together in readable prose. But she had no head for practical and business matters. Thus much of the day-to-day management of Life and Labor fell to Stella Franklin, who in January 1913 was elevated from assistant editor to co-editor.At best, Life and Labor was a financial drain on the WTUL. Margaret Dreier Robins, who believed strongly in the League's educational mission, for a time subsidized the magazine to the extent of $2500 a year. But her growing dissatisfaction with both the management and the content of Life and Labor led her to take more and more of a hand in its direction. As early as January 1912 her name appeared on the masthead as associate editor. In 1915 she led the League's national executive board in a reorganization that cut in half the number of pages per issue, persuaded Henry to step down as editor for other WTUL duties, and impelled Franklin to leave. Thereafter Robins herself ran Life and Labor, at first in association with Amy Walker Field, a WTUL member and wife of a University of Chicago economist, and then with a professional editor, Sarah Cory Rippey.Rising costs and the League's declining income during the postwar depression brought the magazine to an end with the issue of October 1921. It was succeeded in August 1922 by a monthly newsletter, Life and Labor Bulletin.The files of Life and Labor reproduced on these reels are part of the holdings of the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College.
Reel: 5; 6
Collection VII: Agnes Nestor Papers; Included here are three clusters of papers on particular activities of Agnes Nestor: the Co-operative Glove Association of 1921-25 (frames 1-321); her campaign for the state legislature in 1928 (frames 323-1045); and her service on the board of trustees of the Century of Progress Exposition, Chicago's world's fair of 1933-34 (frames 1048-1182). The material on the exposition is mostly routine, but the first two sections of the reel have considerable strength and coherence. The records of the Co-operative Glove Association document its background, its incorporation, the sources of its funds, its sales, and the financial difficulties -- a chronic shortage of working capital -- that led to its failure. They also illustrate the extent of Agnes Nestor's personal connections in the early 1920's as seen in her ability to raise money and marshal trust for the project from both business and professional figures and from unions. (See also Reel 3, frames 106, 186, 189, 217, and 456-462, for other items pertaining to the Co-operative Glove Association.) The material on her campaign for the legislature is valuable for similar reasons. It contains information on who supported her, who contributed money, and how she conducted her campaign. Prominent supporters represented here by letters or telegrams include Charles R. Crane, Paul H. Douglas, Katharine Dummer Fisher, and Julia Lathrop.
Collection V: Leonora O'Reilly Papers; Although O'Reilly remained active in the Women's Trade Union League during these two years, her correspondence indicates that she devoted almost as much time to the suffrage movement. She viewed the two at this point as interdependent, and much of her suffrage work of 1912-13 was labor-oriented. She had organized in 1911 the Wage Earners' Suffrage League, affiliating it at first with the Woman Suffrage Party of New York City. That party in January 1912 appoints her the chairman of its Labor Committee. By the end of the year, however, she has transferred her suffrage league's affiliation to the New York WTUL. Meanwhile, as her correspondence records, she testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington and helps line up speakers for a special "suffrage week" at Hammerstein's vaudeville theater in New York. She organizes the labor contingents for the city's spring suffrage parades in both 1912 and 1913. In the fall of 1913 she persuades the Woman Suffrage Party to hire a working woman, Margaret Hinchey, as speaker. The reel includes several letters from Hinchey, one (December 1913) giving her impressions of a national suffrage convention. O'Reilly's suffrage correspondents on this reel include Mary Beard (1912), Harriet Stanton Blatch (1912), Mary Ware Dennett, Mary G. Hay (1913), Harriet B. Laidlaw, and Harriet May Mills (1913), with single letters in 1913 from Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Paul, and Anna Howard Shaw.In the WTUL, an assignment as national organizer takes O'Reilly to Kansas City early in 1912 for a month or more, and then to Pittsburgh (see correspondence with Margaret Dreier Robins, Stella Franklin, and Agnes Johnson, January-March). That summer she attends a convention of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union in Toronto. Mary Dreier's long convalescence from kidney trouble in the first part of 1913 makes O'Reilly acting president of the New York WTUL, but her papers provide little documentation of her League activities of this year. A few brief references to the white goods workers' strike indicate that both she and a visiting friend from Kansas City, Peake Faxon, were arrested for picketing. O'Reilly continues to receive regular letters from Dreier, Margaret Dreier Robins, and Stella Franklin, national secretary of the WTUL and co-editor of Life and Labor. One Robins letter (September 1912) describes her current League and suffrage work; one from Dreier (March 1913) comments on the resignation of Helen Marot as secretary of the New York WTUL; a letter from Pauline Newman (July 1912) concerns her work with striking corset workers at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Other WTUL correspondents of these years include Helen Marot (one letter in 1913), Rose Schneiderman, and Melinda Scott. Three letters in 1912 from Dora W. Davis describe the New York League's work in the 17th Assembly District.Old friends of O'Reilly represented by letters on this reel include Arthur Brisbane and his stepmother, Redelia Brisbane, Margaret Finn, an early state factory inspector in New York, Harriette Hifton, Louise Perkins, Elizabeth Robins, and, in single letters, Annie Winsor Allen and Grace Dodge (both 1912). Another old friend, Mary Ryshpan Cohen, wife of a young philosophy professor, Morris R. Cohen, expresses warm appreciation for O'Reilly's help when hospital bills left them short of funds (Sept. 7, 1913). There are also letters from a recent Kansas City friend, Peake Faxon, a WTUL ally, and her husband Henry, and from a new friend in Rochester, Laura Griesheimer, a labor and suffrage sympathizer who forms a strong attachment to O'Reilly. Two letters from Katherine Dreier in 1912 reflect her participation in the suffrage movement. A letter from Mary W. Ovington (January 1912) appoints O'Reilly to the Advisory Committee of the NAACP.
Records of the New York Women's Trade Union League.
Collection IV: Records of the New York Women's Trade Union League; This first reel of the New York Women's Trade Union League correspondence begins with a small group of scattered letters and other items dating from the years 1908-1918 (frames 1-52). Included are single letters from Agnes Nestor, Leonora O'Reilly, Ethel M. Smith, and Maud Younger (who reports passage of an eight-hour law for women in California in 1911). There are copies of outgoing letters by Helen Marot, Ida Rauh, and Alice Bean.The balance of the reel (frames 53-838) consists of office files for the year 1919. These include occasional letters to or by Rose Schneiderman, the president of the New York WTUL, but most of the correspondence is by the League's secretary, Maud Swartz, and much of it is routine in nature. Among the topics touched upon are League membership, fund-raising, and state and national legislation. There is material on the Women's Joint Legislative Conference of New York State, chaired by Mary Dreier, in which the New York WTUL participated, including a copy of its printed report, The Story of a Legislative Fight; on a Congressional threat to discontinue the federal Labor Department's Women in Industry Service (reported in letters by Mary Anderson and Ethel M. Smith); and on the new American Labor party, of which Swartz was an enthusiastic member. There are periodic letters to Swartz from the League's national secretary, Emma Steghagen, and three telegrams from Margaret Dreier Robins, the national president. Other correspondents of 1919 include Pauline Newman, Mary Van Kleeck, and, in single letters, the author Mary Austin (a League supporter), Margaret Bondfield, Mary Dreier, Samuel Gompers, Belle Moskowitz, Agnes Nestor, Cornelia Bryce Pinchot, and Lillian Wald.
Robins, Margaret Dreier.
Biographical and Personal Material -- Chinsegut Hill.
Collection I: Margaret Dreier Robins Papers, University of Florida Libraries; This entire reel is devoted to material on Chinsegut Hill, the Robins estate near Brooksville in west central Florida. The first section (frames 1-183) begins with a survey map of the estate, followed by a variety of other items or groups of items, in approximate chronological order, pertaining to the house, grounds, and especially the gift of the property in 1932 to the federal government. Included also are reports by government agencies of work at Chinsegut in 1936 and 1949 and a 38-page typed account (frames 64-101) by E.W. Sheets, a Department of Agriculture scientist and friend of the Robinses, of his drought relief work and of his demotion by Under Secretary Rexford Tugwell in 1934; despite strong pressure by the Robinses, Sheets was ultimately forced out of the Department. A long list of books and magazines placed in storage in 1949 (frames 128-142) gives some measure of the Robinses' reading.The second section of the reel (frames 184-531) is made up of correspondence, 1906-31, concerning Chinsegut Hill. Material in the early years is scant, although it includes letters dictated by Fielder Harris, the black caretaker and childhood friend of Raymond Robins, with whom Robins always felt a special bond. Beginning in 1922 the correspondence becomes much more extensive, as MDR sets about remodeling Chinsegut for their year-round home. This body of correspondence concerns buildings, grounds, agricultural operations on the estate, and especially the extensive plantings in which MDR took delight. Material on other aspects of Chinsegut, such as the purchase of adjoining pine tracts and the transfer of the estate to the federal government, is to be found in Series 3, both in the general MDR correspondence and in the correspondence between MDR and Raymond Robins.A section of business correspondence on this reel (frames 533-604) concerns mostly routine matters of ordering fertilizer, cattle dip, and other supplies for the farming and domestic operations of the estate, including the growing and marketing of citrus fruit. (Included in the collection but not filmed are seven folders of invoices and receipts, 1930-35.) A group of accounts and other miscellany, some relating to Bimini's Isle, the Robins retreat on the Gulf Coast near Bayport, Florida, complete the reel, which ends with frame 833.
Collection VII: Agnes Nestor Papers; This reel is divided into five sections. The first, Sympathy Messages Received after Agnes Nestor's Death (frames 1-135), includes also a few related items bearing on her death and funeral. The section ends with a typescript of the memorial services held by the Chicago Women's Trade Union League. The second section, Personal Miscellany (frames 137-395), includes two grade-school class notebooks, passports, membership cards, income tax records, and correspondence (1949-54) of Agnes's sister Mary with the Chicago WTUL, the Glove Workers Union, and others, mostly about details of Agnes Nestor's estate. The third section, Family Background (frames 397-418), is a small group of miscellaneous items pertaining to Mary and Owen Nestor and the family's Irish antecedents. The fourth section, Autobiography -- Correspondence (frames 420-506), consists of the correspondence of Mary and Owen Nestor with editors and potential publishers of their sister's autobiography, including the publication contract of 1953 with Bellevue Books of Rockford, III., under which the family paid production costs of $8,700. The fifth and final section consists of a typescript of the autobiography (frames 508-928), probably in the form completed by Agnes Nestor before her death. Although comparison with the published text reveals considerable tightening and rearranging, most of the material remains essentially as she wrote it. Following the typescript are two chapters (frames 933-953), prepared by an enthusiastic editor but wisely discarded, which give a much more "literary" account of Nestor's family background. They include, however, material about her father and mother not found in the published work. An appendix to the reel reproduces Agnes Nestor's Brief History of the International Glove Workers Union of America (1942).
Collection V: Leonora O'Reilly Papers; Illness in early 1914, presumably heart trouble, forces O'Reilly to take six months' leave from the Women's Trade Union League and from speaking engagements. Her health and strength thereafter seem never fully to recover. She is further preoccupied during the fall and winter of 1917-18 by caring for a member of the O'Reilly household, Victor Drury, during his final illness. The curtailment of her activities during the six years covered by this reel is reflected in the reduced volume of correspondence and its increasingly personal nature.The correspondence also records a shift of O'Reilly's interests. For reasons that she does not wholly make clear, she resigns from the WTUL in September 1915 (see her interchange with Mary Dreier, Aug. 31 and Sept. 6, and a letter from Alice Bean, Oct. 2). She does, however, keep in touch with League friends and contributes articles to Life and Labor, especially during 1919 (see correspondence with Sarah Cory Rippey). Her suffrage activity wanes, although she takes some part in the New York state referendum campaigns of 1915 and 1917. In March 1917 she resigns from the New York City Woman Suffrage Party. Her appointment in October 1915 to the Advisory Board on Vocational Education of the New York City Board of Education results in considerable correspondence (see also related material on Reel 10, frames 794-805) and enhances her interest in that field; it leads also to her support of a fledgling city teachers' union (1916-17). The cause of Irish independence enlists her support, beginning in 1918. But her deepest concern, at least during 1915-16, is a new one: the peace movement.That concern begins in 1915 and intensifies during 1916. It takes her to Holland in April 1915 as a delegate from the WTUL to the International Congress of Women at The Hague, presided over by Jane Addams. The experience meant much to O'Reilly, as seen in her letters to her mother on Reel 3. In 1916 she has some dealings with a group of German and Irish Americans called the Friends of Peace and attends two meetings of the Woman's Peace Party. For further evidence of the depth of O'Reilly's interest, see the extensive materials on these and other aspects of the peace movement that she retained in her papers (Reel 11, frames 256-685).On suffrage matters, letters from Jeannette Rankin (Jan. 27, 1914) and others refer to the participation of the New York laundry worker Margaret Hinchey in a suffrage campaign in Montana. Hinchey also aids the successful campaign in New York in 1917; O'Reilly tries unsuccessfully to have local leaders get up a "purse" for Hinchey in gratitude. (The reel includes two Hinchey letters in 1918.) O'Reilly in June 1914 turns down an invitation from Alice Paul to join the advisory council of the Congressional Union. There are a number of letters, 1914-17, from the suffrage leader Mary Garrett Hay.Among O'Reilly's WTUL friends, there are letters each year from Mary Dreier and, in 1914-16, from Margaret Dreier Robins and Stella Franklin. A long letter from Robins (July 19, 1914) describes her plan to have the League's executive board meet in Philadelphia during the AF of L convention there to "force upon their attention that there is a woman's cause" and to publicize working women's support for suffrage. Mary Dreier (July 30, 1914) voices her concern over the AF of L's opposition to a state minimum wage law in New York, and in September 1916 gives her reasons for supporting the Republican presidential candidate, Charles Evans Hughes. There are references to the fiscal crisis of 1915 in the management of the League's monthly, Life and Labor. The resolution of that crisis displaces Stella Franklin, who, considerably embittered, travels to England with the aid of a loan from O'Reilly. Letters in 1917-18 from Frieda S. Miller and Florence Sanville concern the Philadelphia WTUL. Other WTUL correspondents include Alice Henry (1914-15), Pauline Newman (1916, 1919), and, in single letters, Agnes Nestor (1914), Rose Schneiderman (1916), and Melinda Scott (1919).Among personal friends, O'Reilly continues to hear regularly from Louise Perkins, Arthur Brisbane, and Harriette Hifton (who in 1915 marries Edward King) and occasionally from Laura Griesheimer (1915) and Mary Wolfe (1918-19). There are frequent letters from a new friend of 1915 who also becomes warmly attached to O'Reilly, Agnes O'Brien, a Kansas City settlement worker. Equally admiring but more detached are other Kansas City friends with letters on this reel: Henry and Peake Faxon, Dante Barton, and Frank P. Walsh (whose aid O'Reilly enlists in the New York suffrage campaign of 1915). There are several letters (1915-16) from an older friend, Margaret Finn. The Chicago labor leader John Fitzpatrick writes in 1918 of his proposed independent labor party. Other correspondents, represented by single letters, are Annie Winsor Allen, Jessie Ashley, Maud Nathan, and Harriet Taylor Upton (all 1914).