Publications of the Chicago Women's Trade Union League and Other Local Branches.
Collection IX: Women's Trade Union League Publications; The only local League besides the New York WTUL for which a substantial quantity of serial publications survives is the Chicago League. Like its New York counterpart, the Chicago WTUL published Annual or, for a time, Biennial Reports and a monthly Bulletin. The Reports give some account of League activities; the Bulletins, by contrast, particularly in the earlier years, consist largely of announcements of League functions interspersed with hortatory messages.The reel begins with a partial file of Chicago WTUL Reports; except for one issue from the U.S. Department of Labor Library, it was assembled from the holdings of the Schlesinger Library. Both title and coverage vary during the initial years. The first issue, dated 1907-08, is called a Report and Year-Book and bears the original name of the Chicago branch, the Women's Trade Union League of Illinois; it covers League activities from January through June 1907. The next, an untitled booklet dated 1908-09, includes a report of activities for July 1907 through August 1908. The other issues filmed here are:Biennial Report, 1911-13Annual Report, 1915-16Biennial Report, 1922-24Biennial Report, 1924-26Triennial Report, 1926-29A Brief Report of the Work...during 1937Two additional Reports may be found in other parts of the present microfilm edition: 1917-19 in the Margaret Dreier Robins Papers (Reel 12, frames 332-341), and 1929-36 in the Agnes Nestor Papers (Reel 4, frames 131-144). No other issues have been located.Following the Reports comes what is apparently the only issue, dated 1927, of the Chicago WTUL Magazine.Next comes a composite file, again incomplete, of the Chicago League's Bulletin. The main sources are the Schlesinger Library and the Chicago Historical Society; files for 1914-15 and a few other issues were supplied by the U.S. Department of Labor Library, and scattered issues by the University of Florida Libraries. Begun in April 1912, the Bulletin continued until 1954, the year before the Chicago League disbanded. Theoretically a monthly, it frequently consolidated two or more months into a single issue. Some issues simply were not published (see, e.g., Agnes Nestor to Maud Swartz, Jan. 7, 1920, New York WTUL Records, Reel 7, frame 4). The researcher should be cautioned that volume and issue numbers for the Bulletin are erratic and unreliable.The next section of the reel contains a miscellaneous group of pamphlets and leaflets (c. 1908-39) issued by the Chicago WTUL. (All but one are from the Schlesinger Library.) Among them are an early report (1907-08) of the League's Immigration Committee; an account of the League's successful lobbying in 1909 for a state law limiting the hours of women's work (it is entitled The Eight Hour Law Fight in Illinois, although the law as passed set a ten-hour rather than the sought-for eight-hour limit); and two pamphlets concerning the Chicago garment workers' strike of 1910-11: a Statement on the Strike of the 35,000 Unorganized Garment Workers of Chicago (1910?), which includes 14 pages of testimony by individual strikers, and the Official Report of the Strike Committee (1911).Serial publications of other branches of the WTUL complete the reel. Most are Bulletins, and most groups consist only of scattered items; with one exception, they are from the holdings of the Schlesinger Library and came to the library from the National WTUL in 1950. A listing, with inclusive dates, follows:Illinois State Committee (1917?)Illinois State WTUL (1931-49)Madison (Wisconsin) Committee (1927)New Jersey WTUL (1935-39)Philadelphia WTUL (1920-33)St. Louis WTUL (1910-11)Washington (D.C.) Committee (later the District of Columbia WTUL) (1937-39)A group of serial and other publications of the Boston WTUL can be found in the manuscript and printed material pertaining to that League that has been assembled on the Smaller Collections reel of the present microfilm edition.
Reel: 9 Robins, Margaret Dreier.
National Women's Trade Union League.
Collection I: Margaret Dreier Robins Papers, University of Florida Libraries; These two reels are the fullest in their coverage of the National WTUL. Among items regularly included are: minutes of executive board meetings; letters to the board by the national secretary, Elisabeth Christman -- frequent and comprehensive, though often lacking the enclosures that are mentioned; occasional letters or reports from other officers or committees, particularly the Legislative Committee in Washington; mimeographed press releases; and financial records -- usually an annual audit and monthly financial statements, although files of the latter are seldom complete. Material for each year is arranged in a single chronological sequence except for the financial records, which are grouped separately at the end of the year. A few out-of-the-ordinary items may be noted. Several in 1924 pertain to new negotiations with the AF of L looking toward the organization of women workers. In the same year is a lengthy set of data analyzing the League's finances, including lists of recent contributors and the amounts they gave. Several documents in 1929 pertain to the League's campaign to organize women in the South, including two issues of a mimeographed News Letter issued by the League's temporary Southern Headquarters. Also in 1929 are two letters from Agnes Nestor reporting on the Canadian Labor Congress which she was attending as a fraternal delegate.
Reel: 9; 10 O'Reilly, Leonora.
Speeches and Writings, undated; Organizational and Topical Material -- Asacog House through Labor Legislation for Women.
Collection V: Leonora O'Reilly Papers; The first segment of this reel, through frame 478, consists of the undated portion of Series 5, on O'Reilly's speeches and writings. The material is similar in character to that on Reel 9. Outlines or skeletal notes for speeches predominate, many in typed form. The items in this section are arranged alphabetically by title or subject. Two may date back to the 1890's: a handwritten speech or essay, "How Can Working Girls Clubs Co-operate with Trade Unions?" and "Talks on Books," given before a working girls' group, the Irene Club. Another address, "Loyalty among Working Women," strikes a strong note of sister-hood. There is a brief article or speech on the "Negro Question" and one giving "The Story of the Manhattan Trade School for Girls."At frame 479 begins the final division of the O'Reilly Papers, Series 6: Organizational and Topical Material. Material in this series is grouped under the names of specific organizations or under subject headings, both within a single alphabetical sequence. Within each group (or, in some cases, within subgroups) items are arranged chronologically. Some groups are largely or wholly made up of relatively routine printed matter. Brief or unusual items, or those with marginal notes by O'Reilly, have been microfilmed in full. In other cases only the first page or title page has been filmed, with a typed target above or below the page to note the omission of the rest.Some printed matter provides significant documentation for activities in which O'Reilly was involved. This is true, for example, of the first group in the series (frames 480-515), on Asacog House, the Brooklyn settlement of which she was for a time head resident.Its printed Year-Book for 1899-1900 includes a statement by her. (For a more informal, personal account, see her undated talk on Asacog House in the earlier portion of this reel, frames 225-229.) Similarly with several subgroups under the general heading of Education. The first, on Industrial and Vocational Education (frames 597-649), includes a printed report of O'Reilly's testimony, as a representative of the National WTUL, before the federal Commission on Vocational Education (1914). The second (frames 650-785), on the Manhattan Trade School for Girls, contains a number of printed leaflets, annual reports, and newspaper feature articles pertaining to this institution during the period of O'Reilly's association with it. (For a good account by O'Reilly of the purpose and procedures of the school, see Reel 1, Volume 12, O'Reilly Diary for Nov. 18, 1904 - Mar. 3, 1905, letter inserted at the end.) A briefer subgroup (frames 794-805) contains O'Reilly's handwritten notes as secretary of a meeting of the Advisory Board on Vocational Education of the New York City Board of Education (1915).A group on Civil Service Reform (frames 560-596) reflects the strong interest in this topic, during the first few years of the 20th century, of O'Reilly's Massachusetts friend Louise Perkins. It includes a reprint of O'Reilly's own paper, "Women's Opportunities in the Civil Service," read before the National Society of Women Workers (1901). A section on the Humanity Society (frames 814-884) consists mostly of printed announcements of this Positivist group's annual Festival of Humanity meetings on New Year's Day (1908-25), which featured tributes to benefactors of humanity who had died during the preceding year. Included are notes by O'Reilly.Under India, two subgroups (frames 901-995) contain considerable printed matter on the work of the two organizations for which O'Reilly's protégée of 1919-21, Parvatibai Athavale, was seeking American aid: the Hindu Widows' Home Association and the Indian Women's University. The last group on the reel, Labor Legislation for Women (frames 1039-1079), includes a pamphlet published by the Chicago WTUL, The Eight Hour Fight in Illinois (1909), describing its successful campaign for a shorter-hour law for women, and two leaflets published in the early 1920's by the Women's Joint Legislative Conference of New York State (a combined effort of the WTUL, Consumers' League, YWCA, and League of Women Voters) in support of pending eight-hour and minimum-wage bills for women.
Reel: 10 Records of the New York Women's Trade Union League.
April - December 1923
Collection IV: Records of the New York Women's Trade Union League; Correspondence of Maud Swartz as president of the National WTUL continues on this reel, although relatively few copies of her outgoing letters are present. There are long and frequent letters to her from Elisabeth Christman and a number from Alice Henry, editor of Life and Labor Bulletin and head of the League training school, and from Ethel M. Smith, legislative representative in Washington. Topics include: fund-raising and budget matters; continuing concern about the training school and its enrollment, and about the state of the Boston and Philadelphia Leagues; the defense of protective legislation against the Woman's Party and other proponents of federal and state "equal rights" measures (with the support, in November, of Samuel Gompers of the AF of L); a League-sponsored conference to discuss the impact of the Supreme Court's decision against state minimum-wage laws; support of the current outlawry of war movement; and affairs of the International Federation of Working Women.At the local level, there is some correspondence of Rose Schneiderman and a larger quantity by Mabel Leslie, the New York League's secretary. A number of letters concern the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers (some from its director, Hilda W. Smith). A few touch briefly upon the New York League's strike support of this year. Additional correspondents on the reel include Mary Anderson, Irene Osgood Andrews, and, in single letters, Roger Baldwin, Margaret Bondfield, Florence Kelley, and Melinda Scott.
Reel: 10 O'Reilly, Leonora.
Organizational and Topical Material -- Labor Organizations through Strikes.
Collection V: Leonora O'Reilly Papers; This next portion of Series 6 begins with fairly routine printed matter issued by or pertaining to a variety of labor organizations (frames 1-139): national federations, New York state and city federations, and national and local unions of particular trades. Present here are scattered constitutions, proceedings, pamphlets, and the like, evidently gathered by O'Reilly. (As in other parts of the series, only title pages of constitutions and other pamphlet material have been filmed unless the contents have special interest or have been annotated by O'Reilly.) O'Reilly's presence as a speaker at the 1910 convention of the Workingmen's Federation of the State of New York is noted in its proceedings. The proceedings of several sessions of the Central Federated Union of Greater New York in 1909-10 are here in news-sheet form. The subgroup on local unions includes a magazine article by Dorothy Richardson (1904) giving details about women active as trade unionists in Chicago before the formation of the WTUL.A section on the National Negro Committee and its successor, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (frames 176-227), includes mimeographed minutes of the Committee's meetings, 1909-10, which record O'Reilly's membership, and printed matter of the NAACP, 1910-13, in which she is listed as a member of the General or Advisory Committee. A brief section on the New York State Factory Investigating Commission (frames 245-255) contains her notes on its meeting of Nov. 10, 1911.The extensive material in the next section, on the peace movement (frames 256-685), reflects the intensity of O'Reilly's interest in this cause during the two years prior to America's entry into World War I. The section begins with a collection of pamphlets and other printed matter (frames 256-387) dating mostly from 1907 to the early months of 1915. It continues with material on the International Congress of Women (frames 388-616) which met at The Hague, Holland, in April 1915 to seek a mediated end to the war; O'Reilly attended as a delegate of the National Women's Trade Union League. The material is arranged in four subgroups: official working papers of the Congress; O'Reilly's personal papers, including a bon voyage letter signed by students and teachers at the Manhattan Trade School for Girls and diary-style notes she kept on shipboard and at the Congress; a brief group of newspaper and magazine articles; and a section on O'Reilly's report of the Congress to the 1915 convention of the National WTUL. This last includes preliminary notes; a stenographic transcript of the report as delivered, its rambling quality suggesting a state of near exhaustion; a condensed and rewritten typescript; and the final printed version from the convention proceedings. The next group of material (frames 617-673) contains clippings and other items on various peace-related organizations and projects during the period from May 1915 to the summer of 1917, including the Woman's Peace Party, the Conference of Oppressed or Dependent Nationalities, and the American Conference for Democracy and Terms of Peace; O'Reilly was a participant in the last. A small group of undated items concludes the section.A section on the Socialist party (frames 700-848) contains mostly miscellaneous items. A general group of leaflets and other printed matter includes half a dozen pertaining to the role of women in the party, one by Eugene Debs, another by May Wood Simons. Partially obscured by uneven darkening of the paper is a notebook of newspaper clippings on the Milwaukee Socialist party, May-October 1905, compiled by Elizabeth H. Thomas.A section on the Social Reform Club of New York City (frames 849-944) supplies some documentation for the early years of this attempt by middle-class reformers to work in concert with leaders of labor. Included are several printed items: two early constitutions (1894?-95), an announcement of a series of women's conferences, and the Annual Report for 1897. There is also a set of MS. minutes, December 1897 - June 1898, kept by O'Reilly as secretary of a committee seeking to draw up a state employers' liability law. (Darkening of the paper around the edges has reduced legibility.)The final section on this reel (frames 945-1203) contains material on particular strikes, arranged in chronological sequence. Some are represented by only a few clippings or a handbill. Others, in which O'Reilly participated on behalf of the WTUL, include hand-written notes by her and occasional drafts of trade agreements. The most extensive material is on the shirtwaist makers' strikes in New York City and Philadelphia (1909-10), the jute workers' strike in Brooklyn (1910), and the white goods workers' strike in New York (1913). For additional material on the jute workers' strike and a corset workers' strike of 1910, see O'Reilly's two notebook diaries at the start of Reel 2.
Reel: 11 Records of the New York Women's Trade Union League.
January - June 1924
Collection IV: Records of the New York Women's Trade Union League; A considerable portion of the correspondence on this reel, as on the previous two, is of Maud Swartz as national president of the WTUL. Incoming letters are present -- particularly from Elisabeth Christman, Ethel M. Smith, and Matilda Lindsay, the League's national organizer -- but almost no copies of Swartz's replies. Topics of the letters include plans for the League's 1924 national convention, with some discussion of a change of president; conferences between League representatives and Samuel Gompers and his executive council about an AF of L proposal to take over the work of organizing women workers (see also Reel 16, frames 1108-09); vigilant opposition to the Woman's Party's proposed Equal Rights Amendment and to similar moves at the state level; continued weakness in the Philadelphia and Boston Leagues; and, more briefly, the National WTUL training school and a national Committee on Cooperation of Local Leagues.The New York WTUL is represented by correspondence of Rose Schneiderman, president, and Mabel Leslie, secretary. (Some letters to and from Schneiderman are missing.) Concern with state legislation is more evident on this reel than on the last two; in addition to its support of the Joint Legislative Conference, the League organizes a state committee, based in Albany, for this purpose. Other topics include the League's Naturalization Committee and a drive to organize hand laundry workers (mostly black). Eleanor Roosevelt, a member since December 1922, plays an increasingly active role in the League. As before, there is a fair amount of correspondence about the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers and about other labor education matters.WTUL correspondents on the reel include Alice Henry, Agnes Nestor, Margaret Dreier Robins (two minor letters), Miriam G. Shepherd, Gladys Boone of Philadelphia, and Pearl Katz of Boston. Other correspondents include Samuel Gompers, A.J. Muste, Mary Van Kleeck, and, in one or two letters each, Florence E. Allen, Mary Anderson, Margaret Bondfield, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Mary N. Winslow.
Reel: 11 Robins, Margaret Dreier.
National Women's Trade Union League.
Collection I: Margaret Dreier Robins Papers, University of Florida Libraries; The relatively full coverage of National League activities continues during 1936-39. These years include material on the Women's Charter Group, a joint attempt by a number of women's groups to respond more than negatively to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment by endorsing both equality of rights and protective legislation. A typed report in 1939 by Elisabeth Christman on her visits to local Leagues gives fuller and franker comments than the summary contained in the minutes of the executive board meeting in May. From 1940 onward, the files become brief and fragmentary. In 1950 are several pages of statistics on the membership, activities, and finances of the national and local Leagues, obviously prepared for the meeting of the executive board at which the decision to disband was made, but there are no records here of that session itself. The miscellaneous and undated material that follows is of minor significance. The reel ends with a small Addenda consisting of items pertaining to the National League that turned up after the original portions had been filmed.
Reel: 11 O'Reilly, Leonora.
Organizational and Topical Material -- Suffrage, Women's Trade Union League.
Collection V: Leonora O'Reilly Papers; Two topics, the suffrage movement and the Women's Trade Union League, make up this portion of Series 6. The main part of the suffrage section (frames 1-161) is arranged chronologically. It begins with a small group of programs and handbills, 1907-11, mostly for meetings at which O'Reilly spoke. Then follows a group of items pertaining to her Wage Earners' Suffrage League, 1911-12: her notes recording its activities, a few clippings and handbills, and a set of printed leaflets in which Rose Schneiderman, Clara Lemlich, Melinda Scott, Margaret Hinchey, and other working women reply cogently to standard antisuffrage arguments. The next group of items, on New York and Ohio suffrage activities of 1912-15, is more miscellaneous but includes a folder announcing the program of "suffrage week" at Hammerstein's Victoria vaudeville theater in New York; O'Reilly and her Wage Earners' League were in charge of one day's program. Then comes a group of records of the New York WTUL's Suffrage Committee during the campaign year of 1915, including typed minutes of its meeting of Sept. 29 and plans for the Labor Rally it co-sponsored with the Woman Suffrage Party. The remainder of the suffrage section (frames 162-334) contains general pamphlets, leaflets, and other printed matter, arranged by the issuing organizations; a group of antisuffrage pamphlets; and a group of suffrage songs and verses.The material pertaining to the Women's Trade Union League falls into three segments: on the National League, on the New York League, and on other local branches. The segment on the National League (frames 335-641) begins with a small group of constitutions (1903-11). All other items are in chronological sequence, ranging from 1905 to 1918. Those of the early years throw some light on the League's tentative national program before it settled into the pattern of biennial conventions. The initial item is a printed announcement of the "First National Conference," held in New York in March 1905, at which Samuel Gompers, Jane Addams, Mary McDowell, and Mary Kenney O'Sullivan spoke. (See Margaret Dreier Robins Papers, Reel 1, frame 458, and Reel 8, frames 258-266, for a newspaper report of the conference and the text of O'Sullivan's speech.) In 1907 and 1908 the NWTUL held Interstate Conferences simultaneously in New York, Chicago, and Boston. Present here are Mary McDowell's account of the 1907 conferences, written for the American Federationist; a printed program of the Chicago conference in 1908; and stenographic proceedings of the New York one, together with a considerably abridged printed version in pamphlet form.NWTUL material for later years is mostly routine: scattered minutes of executive board meetings, form letters to board members, occasional typed resolutions and other papers pertaining to national conventions, and miscellaneous printed matter. Of greater interest are a full-page account of the League's convention of 1909 from the New York Call and various items pertaining to O'Reilly. These include the notes she kept during her organizing mission in Kansas City (February-March 1912), her expense accounts for this and a later assignment of that year, typed reports of the Life and Labor Committee, of which she was chairman (June 1915), and the printed report (1918) of the Committee on Social and Industrial Reconstruction, of which she was a member. Also of interest are typed minutes and reports (1913-14) of the Committee on Training Women Organizers, headed by Mary Anderson, which brought into being the League's National Training School.The material in the next segment, on the New York Women's Trade Union League (frames 642-802), is scattered but sometimes useful. It begins with typed minutes of the executive committee meeting of Feb. 24, 1905, and a newspaper account of the League in May 1905, and continues through 1919. Included are notices and other mailings to members, announcements and newspaper reports of public programs (among them two editorial boosts by Arthur Brisbane in the New York Journal and a long report in the Call of a benefit debate between Anna Howard Shaw and Charlotte Perkins Gilman on the economic status of married women), and miscellaneous printed matter. Material by O'Reilly includes notes on her speaking and other activities in the spring of 1909 and notes for her report to the League on the 1910 convention of the Workingmen's Federation of the State of New York. A subgroup within the chronological sequence (frames 742-767) concerns the New York WTUL's District Committees of 1911-13, organized within the city's assembly districts, originally to work for better fire protection. (For further reports of one such committee, see the letters of Dora W. Davis on Reel 6.) For other work of the New York WTUL, see the records of its Suffrage Committee earlier on this reel (frames 132-161) and the material on its Fire Committee on Reel 13.A small segment of printed and duplicated items from other League branches (frames 803-837) completes the reel. The largest number, including a mimeographed report for 1911-12, come from the Kansas City branch, about which little other documentation survives.