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Title: Making Both Ends Meet - The income and outlay of New York working girls
Author: Clark, Sue Ainslie, Wyatt, Edith, 1873-1958
Language: English
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The Income and Outlay of New York Working Girls



New York
The Macmillan Company


[Illustration: Photograph by Lewis Hine]



This book is composed of the economic records of self-supporting women
living away from home in New York. Their chronicles were given to the
National Consumers' League simply as a testimony to truth; and it is
simply as a testimony to truth that these narratives are reprinted here.

The League's inquiry was initiated because, three years ago in the study
of the establishment of a minimum wage, only very little information was
obtainable as to the relation between the income and the outlay of
self-supporting women workers. The inquiry was conducted for a year and a
half by Mrs. Sue Ainslie Clark, who obtained the workers' budgets as they
were available from young women interviewed in their rooms, boarding
places, and hotels, and at night schools and clubs. After Mrs. Clark had
collected and written these accounts, I supplemented them further in the
same manner; and rearranged them in a series of articles for Mr. S.S.
McClure. The budgets fell naturally into certain industrial divisions;
but, as will be seen from the nature of the inquiry, the records were not
exhaustive trade-studies of the several trades in which the workers were
engaged. They constituted rather an accurate kinetoscope view of the
yearly lives of chance passing workers in those trades. Wherever the
facts ascertained seemed to warrant it, however, they were so focussed as
to express definitely and clearly the wisdom of some industrial change.

In two instances in the course of the serial publication of the budgets
such industrial changes were undertaken and are now in progress. The firm
of Macy & Co. in New York has inaugurated a monthly day of rest, with
pay, for all permanent women-employees who wish this privilege. The
change was made first in one department and then extended through a plan
supplied by the National Civic Federation to all the departments of the

The Manhattan Laundrymen's Association, the Brooklyn Laundrymen's
Association, and the Laundrymen's Association of New York State held a
conference with the Consumers' League after the publication of the
Laundry report, and asked to cooperate with the League in obtaining the
establishment of a ten-hour day in the trade, additional factory
inspection, and the placing of hotels and hospital laundries under the
jurisdiction of the Department of Labor. Largely through the efforts of
the Laundrymen's Association of New York State, a bill defining as a
factory any place where laundry work is done by mechanical power passed
both houses of the last legislature at Albany. A standard for a fair
house was discussed and agreed upon at the conference. It is the
intention of the League to publish within the year a white list of the
New York steam laundries conforming to this standard in wages, hours, and

The New York of the workers is not the New York best known to the country
at large. The New York of Broadway, the New York of Fifth Avenue, of
Central Park, of Wall Street, of Tammany Hall,--these are by-words of
common reference; and when two years ago the daily press printed the news
of the strike of thirty thousand shirt-waist makers in the metropolis,
many persons realized, perhaps for the first time, the presence of a new
and different New York--the New York of the city's great working
population. The scene of these budgets is a corner of this New York.

The authors of the book are many more than its writers whose names appear
upon the title-page. The second chapter is chiefly the word-of-mouth tale
of Natalya Perovskaya, one of the shirt-waist workers, a household tale
of adventure repeated just as it was told to the present writer and to
her hostess' family and other visitors during a call on the East Side on
a warm summer evening. The sixth chapter is almost entirely the
contribution of Miss Carola Woerishofer, Miss Elizabeth Howard Westwood,
and Miss Mary Alden Hopkins, three young college-bred women from Bryn
Mawr, Smith, and Wellesley, respectively, who made an inquiry for the
National Consumers' League in the hospital, hotel, and commercial steam
laundries of New York. The fifth chapter is composed largely from a
chronicle of the New York cloak makers' strike written by Dr. Henry
Moskowitz, one of the most efficient leaders in attaining the final
settlement last fall between the employers and the seventy thousand
members of the Cloak Makers' Union. Mr. Frederick Winston Taylor gave the
definition of "Scientific Management" which prefaces the last chapter. It
is a pleasure to acknowledge help of several kinds received from Mrs.
Florence Kelley, Miss Perkins, and Miss Johnson of the Consumers' League;
from Miss Neumann, of the Woman's Trade-Union League; from Miss Pauline
and Josephine Goldmark, and Mr. Louis p. Brandeis; from Miss Willa
Siebert Cather of _McClure's Magazine_; and from Mr. S.S. McClure.

To record rightly any little corner of contemporary history is a communal
rather than an individual piece of work. While no title so pompous as
that of a cathedral could possibly be applied except with great absurdity
to any magazine article, least of all to these quiet, journalistic
records, yet the writing of any sincere journalistic article is more
comparable, perhaps, to cathedral work than to any sort of craft in
expression. If the account is to have any genuine social value as a
narrative of contemporary truth, it will be evolved as the product of
numerous human intelligences and responsibilities. Especially is this
true of any synthesis of facts which must be derived, so to speak, from
many authors, from many authentic sources.

Unstandardized conditions in women's work are so frequently mentioned in
the first six chapters that their connection with the last chapter will
be sufficiently clear. What is the way out of the unstandardized and
unsatisfactory conditions obtaining for multitudes of women workers?
Legislation is undoubtedly one way out. Trade organization is undoubtedly
one way out. But legislation is ineffectual unless it is strongly backed
by conscientious inspection and powerful enforcement. In the great
garment-trade strikes in New York, in spite of their victories, the trade
orders have gone in such numbers to other cities that neither the spirit
of the shirt-waist makers' strike nor the wisdom of the Cloak Makers'
Preferential Union Agreement have since availed to provide sufficient
employment for the workers. Further, neither legislation nor trade
organization are permanently valuable unless they are informed by justice
and understanding. In the same manner, unless it is informed by these
qualities, the new plan of management outlined in the last chapter is
incapable of any lasting and far-reaching industrial deliverance. But it
provides a way out, hitherto untried. With an account of this way as it
appears to-day our book ends, as a testimony to living facts can only
end, not with the hard-and-fast wall of dogma, but with an open door.


     CHICAGO, March 19, 1911.












One of the most significant features of the common history of this
generation is the fact that nearly six million women are now gainfully
employed in this country. From time immemorial, women have, indeed,
worked, so that it is not quite as if an entire sex, living at ease at
home heretofore, had suddenly been thrown into an unwonted activity, as
many quoters of the census seem to believe. For the domestic labor in
which women have always engaged may be as severe and prolonged as
commercial labor. But not until recently have women been employed in
multitudes for wages, under many of the same conditions as men,
irrespective of the fact that their powers are different by nature from
those of men, and should, in reason, for themselves, for their children,
and for every one, indeed, be conserved by different industrial

What, then, are the fortunes of some of these multitudes of women
gainfully employed? What do they give in their work? What do they get
from it? Clearly ascertained information on those points has been meagre.

About two years ago the National Consumers' League, through the
initiative of its Secretary, Mrs. Florence Kelley, started an inquiry on
the subject of the standard of living among self-supporting women workers
in many fields, away from home in New York. Among these workers were
saleswomen, waist-makers, hat makers, cloak finishers, textile workers in
silk, hosiery, and carpets, tobacco workers, machine tenders, packers of
candy, drugs, biscuits, and olives, laundry workers, hand embroiderers,
milliners, and dressmakers.

The Consumers' League had printed for this purpose a series of questions
arranged in two parts. The first part covered the character of each
girl's work--the nature of her occupation, wages, hours, overtime work,
overtime compensation, fines, and idleness. The second part of the
questions dealt with the worker's expenses--her outlay for shelter, food,
clothing, rest and recreation, and her effort to maintain her strength
and energy. In this way the League's inquiry on income and outlay was so
arranged as to ascertain, not only the worker's gain and expense in
money, but, as far as possible, her gain and expense in health and
vitality. The inquiry was conducted for a year and a half by Mrs. Sue
Ainslie Clark.[1]

The account of the income and outlay of self-supporting women away from
home in New York may be divided, for purposes of record, into the
chronicles of saleswomen, shirt-waist makers, women workers whose
industry involves tension, such as machine operatives, and women workers
whose industry involves a considerable outlay of muscular strength, such
as laundry workers.

Among these the narrative of the trade fortunes of some New York
saleswomen is placed first. Mrs. Clark's inquiry concerning the income
and outlay of saleswomen has been supplemented by portions of the
records of another investigator for the League, Miss Marjorie Johnson,
who worked in one of the department stores during the Christmas rush of

Further informal reports made by the shop-girls in the early summer of
1910 proved that the income and expenditures of women workers in the
stores had remained practically unchanged since the winter of Mrs.
Clark's report.

So that it would seem that the budgets, records of the investigator, and
statements given by the young women interviewed last June may be
reasonably regarded as the most truthful composite photograph obtainable
of the trade fortunes of the army of the New York department-store girls

The limitations of such an inquiry are clear. The thousands of women
employed in the New York department stores are of many kinds. From the
point of view of describing personality and character, one might as
intelligently make an inquiry among wives, with the intent of
ascertaining typical wives. The trade and living conditions accurately
stated in the industrial records obtained have undoubtedly, however,
certain common features.

Among the fifty saleswomen's histories collected at random in stores of
various grades, those that follow, with the statements modifying them,
seem to express most clearly and fairly, in the order followed, these
common features--low wages, casual employment, heavy required expense in
laundry and dress, semidependence, uneven promotion, lack of training,
absence of normal pleasure, long hours of standing, and an excess of
seasonal work.

One of the first saleswomen who told the League her experience in her
work was Lucy Cleaver, a young American woman of twenty-five, who had
entered one of the New York department stores at the age of twenty, at a
salary of $4.50 a week.


In the course of the five years of her employment her salary had been
raised one dollar. She stood for nine hours every day. If, in dull
moments of trade, when no customers were near, she made use of the seats
lawfully provided for employees, she was at once ordered by a
floor-walker to do something that required standing.

During the week before Christmas, she worked standing over fourteen hours
every day, from eight to twelve-fifteen in the morning, one to six in
the afternoon, and half past six in the evening till half past eleven at
night. So painful to the feet becomes the act of standing for these long
periods that some of the girls forego eating at noon in order to give
themselves the temporary relief of a foot-bath. For this overtime the
store gave her $20, presented to her, not as payment, but as a Christmas

The management also allowed a week's vacation with pay in the summer-time
and presented a gift of $10.

After five years in this position she had a disagreement with the
floor-walker and was summarily dismissed.

She then spent over a month in futile searching for employment, and
finally obtained a position as a stock girl in a Sixth Avenue suit store
at $4 a week, a sum less than the wage for which she had begun work five
years before. Within a few weeks, dullness of trade had caused her
dismissal. She was again facing indefinite unemployment.

Her income for the year had been $281. She lived in a large, pleasant
home for girls, where she paid only $2.50 a week for board and a room
shared with her sister. Without the philanthropy of the home, she could
not have made both ends meet. It was fifteen minutes' walk from the
store, and by taking this walk twice a day she saved carfare and the
price of luncheon. She did her own washing, and as she could not spend
any further energy in sewing, she bought cheap ready-made clothes. This
she found a great expense. Cheap waists wear out very rapidly. In the
year she had bought 24 at 98 cents each. Here is her account, as nearly
as she had kept it and recalled it for a year: a coat, $10; 4 hats, $17;
2 pairs of shoes, $5; 24 waists at 98 cents, $23.52; 2 skirts, $4.98;
underwear, $2; board, $130; doctor, $2; total, $194.50. This leaves a
balance of $86.50. This money had paid for necessaries not
itemized,--stockings, heavy winter underwear, petticoats, carfare,
vacation expenses, every little gift she had made, and all recreation.

She belonged to no benefit societies, and she had not been able to save
money in any way, even with the assistance given by the home. So much for
her financial income and outlay.

After giving practically all her time and force to her work, she had not
received a return sufficient to conserve her health in the future, or
even to support her in the present without the help of philanthropy. She
was ill, anæmic, nervous, and broken in health.

Before adding the next budget, two points in Lucy Cleaver's outlay
should, perhaps, be emphasized in the interest of common sense. The first
is the remarkable folly of purchasing 24 waists at 98 cents each. In an
estimate of the cost of clothing, made by one of the working girls' clubs
of St. George's last year,[3] the girls agreed that comfort and a
presentable appearance could be maintained, so far as expenditure for
waists was concerned, on $8.50 a year. This amount allowed for five
shirt-waists at $1.20 apiece, and one net waist at $2.50.

In extenuation of Lucy Cleaver's weak judgment as a waist purchaser, and
the poor child's one absurd excess, it must, however, be said that the
habit of buying many articles of poor quality, instead of fewer articles
of better quality, is frequently a matter, not of choice, but of
necessity. The cheap, hand-to-mouth buying which proves paradoxically so
expensive in the end is no doubt often caused by the simple fact that
the purchaser has not, at the time the purchase is made, any more money
to offer. Whatever your wisdom, you cannot buy a waist for $1.20 if you
possess at the moment only 98 cents. The St. George's girls made their
accounts on a basis of an income of $8 a week. Lucy Cleaver never had an
income of more than $5.50 a week, and sometimes had less. The fact that
she spent nearly three times as much as they did on this one item of
expenditure, and yet never could have "one net waist at $2.50" for festal
occasions, is worthy of notice.

The other point that should be emphasized is the fact that she did her
own washing. The more accurate statement would be that she did her own
laundry, including the processes, not only of rubbing the clothes clean,
but of boiling, starching, bluing, and ironing. This, after a day of
standing in other employment, is a vital strain more severe than may
perhaps be readily realized. Saleswomen and shop-girls have not the
powerful wrists and muscular waists of accustomed washerwomen, and are in
most instances no better fitted to perform laundry work than washerwomen
would be to make sales and invoice stock. But custom requires exactly the
same freshness in a saleswoman's shirt-waist, ties, and collars as in
those of women of the largest income. The amount the girls of the St.
George's Working Club found it absolutely necessary to spend in a year
for laundering clothes was almost half as much as the amount spent for
lodging and nearly two-thirds as much as the amount originally spent for

Where this large expense of laundry cannot be met financially by
saleswomen, it has to be met by sheer personal strength. One
department-store girl, who needed to be especially neat because her
position was in the shirt-waist department, told us that sometimes, after
a day's standing in the store, she worked over tubs and ironing-boards at
home till twelve at night.

It is worth noting, as one cause of the numerous helpless shifts of the
younger salesgirls, that, living, as most of them do, in a
semidependence, on either relatives or charitable homes, it is almost
impossible for them to learn any domestic economy, or the value of money
for living purposes. It seems significant that quite the most practical
spender encountered among the saleswomen was a widow, Mrs. Green, whose
accounts will be given below, who was for years the manager of her own
household and resources, and not a wage-earner until fairly late in life.

This helplessness of a semidependent and uneducated girl may be further
illustrated by the chronicle of Alice Anderson, a girl of seventeen, who
had been working in the department stores for three years and a half.

She was at first employed as a check girl in a Fourteenth Street store,
at a wage of $2.62-1/2 a week; that is to say, she was paid $5.25 twice a
month. Her working day was nine and a half hours long through most of the
year. But during two weeks before Christmas it was lengthened to from
twelve to thirteen and a half hours, without any extra payment in any
form. She was promoted to the position of saleswoman, but her wages still
remained $2.62-1/2 a week. She lived with her grandmother of eighty,
working occasionally as a seamstress, and to her Alice gave all her
earnings for three years.

It was then considered better that she should go to live with an aunt, to
whom she paid the nominal board of $1.15 a week. As her home was in West
Hoboken, she spent two and a half hours every day on the journey in the
cars and on the ferry. During the weeks of overtime Alice could not reach
home until nearly half past eleven o'clock; and she would be obliged to
rise while it was still dark, at six o'clock, after five hours and a half
of sleep, in order to be at her counter punctually at eight. By walking
from the store to the ferry she saved 30 cents a week. Still, fares cost
her $1.26 a week. This $1.26 a week carfare (which was still not enough
to convey her the whole distance from her aunt's to the store) and the
$1.15 a week for board (which still did not really pay the aunt for her
niece's food and lodging) consumed all her earnings except 20 cents a

Alice was eager to become more genuinely self-dependent. She left the
establishment of her first employment and entered another store on
Fourteenth Street, as cash girl, at $4 a week. The hours in the second
store were very long, from eight to twelve in the morning and from a
quarter to one till a quarter past six in the afternoon on all days
except Saturday, when the closing hour was half past nine.

After she had $4 a week instead of $2.62-1/2, Alice abandoned her daily
trip to West Hoboken and came to live in New York.

Here she paid 6 cents a night in a dormitory of a charitably supported
home for girls. She ate no breakfast. Her luncheon consisted of coffee
and rolls for 10 cents. Her dinner at night was a repetition of coffee
and rolls for 10 cents. As she had no convenient place for doing her own
laundry, she paid 21 cents a week to have it done. Her regular weekly
expenditure was as follows: lodging, 42 cents; board, $1.40; washing, 21
cents; clothing and all other expenses, $1.97; total, $4.

Of course, living in this manner was quite beyond her strength. She was
pale, ill, and making the severest inroads upon her present and future
health. Her experience illustrates the narrow prospect of promotion in
some of the department stores.


It is significant in this point to compare the annals of this growing
girl with those of a saleswoman of thirty-five, Grace Carr, who had been
at work for twelve years. In her first employment in a knitting mill she
had remained for five years, and had been promoted rapidly to a weekly
wage of $12. The hours, however, were very long, from ten to thirteen
hours a day. The lint in the air she breathed so filled her lungs that
she was unable, in her short daily leisure, to counteract its effect. At
the end of five years, as she was coughing and raising particles of lint,
she was obliged to rest for a year.

Not strong enough to undertake factory work again, she obtained a
position in the shoe department in one of the large stores, where she was
not "speeded up," and her daily working time of nine hours was less
severe than that of the knitting mill. In summer she had a Saturday
half-holiday. There was a system of fines for lateness; but on the rare
occasions of her own tardiness it had not been enforced. The company was
also generous in grafting five-o'clock passes, which permitted a girl to
leave at five in the afternoon, with no deduction from her wage for the
free hour. She had been with this establishment for six years, earning $6
a week; and she had given up hope of advancing.

Miss Carr said that her work in the shoe department was exhausting,
because of the stooping, the frequent sitting down and rising, and the
effort of pulling shoes on and off. In the summer preceding the fall when
she told of her experience in the store, she had, in reaching for a box
of shoes, strained her heart in some way, so that she lost consciousness
immediately, and was ill for seven weeks. She failed to recuperate as
rapidly as she should have done, because she was so completely
devitalized by overwork.

The firm was very good to her at this time, sending a doctor daily until
she was in condition to go to the country. It then paid her expenses for
two weeks in a country home of the Young Women's Christian Association,
and during the three remaining weeks of her stay paid her full wage. Miss
Carr praised this company's general care of the employees. A doctor and
nurse were available without charge if a girl were ill in the store. A
social secretary was employed.

Miss Carr lived in a furnished room with two other women, each paying a
dollar a week rent. She cared nothing for her fellow-lodgers; her only
reason for spending her time with them in such close quarters was her
need of living cheaply. She cooked her breakfast and supper in the
crowded room, at an expense of $1.95 a week. She said that her "hearty"
meal was a noon dinner, for which she paid in a restaurant 15 cents a

After her experience in the summer, she realized that she should assure
herself of income in case of illness. She joined a benefit society, to
which she paid 50 cents a month. This promised a weekly benefit of $4 a
week for thirteen weeks, and $200 at death. She paid also 10 cents a week
for insurance in another company.

The room was within walking distance of the store, so that she spent
nothing for carfare. The services and social life of a church were her
chief happiness. Besides her contributions to its support, she had spent
only $1 a year on "good times." She did her own washing.

Her outlay in health in these years had been extreme. She was very worn,
thin, and wrinkled with hard work, severe economies, and anxiety,
although she was still in what should have been the prime of life.

Her weekly budget was: lodging, $1; board, $1.95; luncheons, $1.05;
insurance, 21 cents; clothing, contributions to church, occasional
carfare, and other expenses, $1.79; total, $6.

Miss Carr said that her firm was generous in many of its policies, but
she felt it profoundly discouraging not to advance to a wage that would
permit decent living.

In connection with Miss Carr's budget the benefit system of New York
stores should be mentioned. In many of the large department stores,
monthly dues, varying with the wage of the employee, are deducted from
the pay of each, although in many cases she does not know what the return
for the dues is to be. These dues assure to her, while she remains in the
store's employ, a weekly benefit in case of illness, and a death benefit.
But if she leaves the store, or is discharged, the management retains the
amount she has been forced to pay to it, and gives no return whatever in
case of her subsequent sickness or death. While she is in the store's
employ, the sick benefit varies from one-half the girl's wage to a
regular payment of $5 a week for from five to thirteen weeks, according
to the particular rules in each store. The employee must be ill five days
or a week in order to draw it. Otherwise she is docked for absence.

The Mutual Benefit Fund of the New York Association of Working Girls'
Societies has in this respect a better policy than the stores. Members of
the clubs pay 55 cents a month for a benefit of $5 for six weeks in any
one year, and 20 cents a month for a benefit of $3. Cessation of
membership in a club does not terminate connection with the benefit fund,
unless the reason for leaving is unsatisfactory to the board. Women not
members of clubs may, under certain conditions, join the benefit fund as
associate members, and pay 50 cents a month for a benefit of $5 a week,
30 cents for a benefit of $3 a week, or 80 cents for a benefit of $8 a
week. These amounts are severally payable for six weeks in any one year.

A number of the stores have trained nurses and doctors in their employ,
to whom the girls may go if they are ill. Several of the stores have
recreation rooms; several have summer homes; several have employees'
restaurants, where a really nourishing meal can be obtained for 15 cents.

Miss Carr, struggling against overwhelming odds, lived within $6 without
charitable aid. With her experience may be compared those of two other
older saleswomen, who were wholly self-supporting.

Mrs. Green, a shrewd-appearing woman of thirty-five, had been
wage-earning only two years. She began work in Philadelphia in a
commission house as a saleswoman and corset fitter. Here she was able to
save from her salary. She also saved very carefully the wardrobe she had
before she entered business. With these reserves, she came to New York to
work in department stores for the purpose of gaining experience in
salesmanship and a more thorough knowledge of corsets. She expected to be
able to command a high salary as soon as she had thus increased her
competence. She went at first to a new and attractive Sixth Avenue
store, where, working eight hours and a quarter a day, she earned $10 a
week. Laid off at the end of five months, she was idle a month before
finding employment at another Sixth Avenue store.

In applying here she told the employer that she would not work for less
than $12 a week. He offered her $9, and a commission on all sales beyond
$400 a week. She refused, and the firm finally gave her what she asked.

It proved that her choice was wise, for she found that in her very
busiest week, when she was exhausted from the day's rush, her sales never
reached $400 a week, so that she would have received no income at all
from the proffered commission.

She had a small room alone in an attractive hotel for working girls. For
this and breakfasts and dinners she paid $5.10 a week. Luncheons cost, in
addition, about $1.50 a week. She paid 50 cents a week for washing,
besides doing some herself. Riding to and from work nearly every day
increased her weekly expense 50 cents. This left her $4.40 a week for
clothing and sundries.

Mrs. Green seemed extravagantly dressed; she said, however, that she
contrived to have effective waists and hats by making and trimming them
herself, and by purchasing materials with care at sales. In dressing
economically without sacrificing effect she was aided palpably by skill
and deftness.

She was in good health; and, though she did not save, she had not spent,
even in her idle month, any of the reserve fund she had accumulated
before she began to work.

Another self-supporting saleswoman aided by her experience in domestic
economy was Zetta Weyman, a young woman of twenty-eight, who had begun to
work for wages at the age of eleven; at this time she still attended
school, but did housework out of school hours. When she was older, she
was employed as a maid in the house of a very kind and responsive couple,
who gave her free access to their interesting library, where she read
eagerly. A trip to Europe had been especially stimulating. Her employer
was considerate, and tried to make it possible for her to benefit by the

Throughout this period she had been observant of dress and manner among
the cultured people she saw, and had applied what she learned to her own
dress and conduct. At twenty-six, wishing for larger opportunities than
those she could have in personal service, she obtained work in a
department store at $7 a week. Here she soon advanced to $10 in a
department requiring more than average intelligence. At the end of two
years she was very much interested in her work. It made demands upon her
judgment, and offered opportunity for increasing knowledge and
heightening her value to the company. She expected soon to receive a
larger wage, as she considered her work worth at least $15 a week. Aside
from underpay, she thought she was fairly treated. She greatly
appreciated two weeks' vacation with full wages.

Zetta gave $2.50 a week for a furnished hall bedroom and the use of a
bath-room. The warmth from the single gas-jet was the sole heat. She made
coffee in her room for breakfast; a light luncheon sufficed; and dinner
in a restaurant cost 25 to 35 cents a day. She was often entertained at
dinner, by friends.

She usually rode to work, and walked home, eight blocks, spending thus 30
cents a week carfare. All living expenses for the week came to about $6.
She paid for six years $24 a year on an insurance policy which promised
her $15 a week in case of illness, and was cumulative, making a return
during the life of the holder; $290 would be due from it in about a year.

Zetta said that she was extravagant in her expense for clothing, but she
considered that her social position depended upon her appearance. She was
very attractive looking. Her manner had quiet and grace, and there was
something touching, even moving, in the dignity of her pure, clear
English, acquired in the teeth of a fortune that forced her to be a
little scullion and cook at the age of eleven. She was dressed with taste
and care at the time of the interview. Through watching sales and through
information obtained from heads of departments, she contrived to buy
clothing of excellent quality, silk stockings, and well-cut suits
comparatively cheaply. By waiting until the end of the season, she had
paid $35, the winter before, for a suit originally costing $70; $35 was
more than she had intended to spend, but the suit was becoming and she
could not resist the purchase. She managed to have pretty and
well-designed hats for from $2 to $5, because a friend trimmed them.

She spent her vacation with relatives on a farm in the country. Railroad
fares and the occasional purchase of a magazine were her only
expenditures for pleasure. But she had many "good times" going to the
beaches in the summer with friends who paid her way.

She considered that with careful planning a girl could live in fair
comfort for $10 a week. But she saved nothing.

The drawback she mentioned in her own arrangements--the best she could
obtain for her present wage--was not the cold of her hall bedroom, warmed
only by the gas-jet, but that she had no suitable place for receiving men
friends. She was obliged to turn to trolley rides and walks and various
kinds of excursions,--literally to the streets,--for hospitality, when
she received a man's visit. She spoke frequently of one man with whom she
had many "good times." She could not take him to her room. Trolley
rides, and walks in winter, would pall. She hated park benches as a
resort for quiet conversation. Where, then, was she to see him? Although
she disapproved of it, she and another girl who had a larger and more
attractive room than her own had received men there.

Zetta's income for the year had been $520. She had spent $130 for rent;
$105 for dinners; $55 for breakfasts, luncheons, and washing; $195 for
clothing, summer railway fares, and incidentals; $15 for carfare; and $20
for insurance.


Zetta's interest in her daily occupation is somewhat unusual in the trade
chronicles of the shop-girls. One frequently hears complaint of the
inefficiency and inattention of New York saleswomen and their rudeness to
plainly dressed customers. While this criticism contains a certain truth,
it is, of course, unreasonable to expect excellence from service
frequently ill paid, often unevenly and unfairly promoted, and, except
with respect to dress, quite unstandardized.

Further, it must be remembered that the world in which the shop-girl
follows her occupation is a world of externals. The fortunes, talents,
tastes, eager human effort spent in shop-window displays on Fifth Avenue,
the shimmer and sparkle of beautiful silks and jewels, the prestige of
"carriage trade," the distinction of presence of some of the customers
and their wealth and their freedom in buying--all the worldliness of the
most moneyed city of the United States here perpetually passes before the
eyes of Zettas in their $1.20 muslin waists so carefully scrubbed the
midnight before, and of Alices who have had breakfasts for 10 cents. Is
it surprising that they should adopt the New York shop-window-display
ideal of life manifested everywhere around them?

The saleswomen themselves are the worst victims of their unstandardized
employment; and the fact that they spend long years of youth in work
involving a serious outlay of their strength, without training them in
concentration or individual responsibility or resourcefulness, but
apparently dissipating these powers, seems one of the gravest aspects of
their occupation.

A proud and very pretty pink-cheeked little English shop-girl, with clear
hazel eyes, laid special stress upon unevenness of promotion, in telling
of her fortunes in this country.

She was sitting, as she spoke, in the parlor of a Christian "home,"
which, like that of many others where shop-girls live, was light and
clean, but had that unmistakably excellent and chilling air so subtly
imparted by the altruistic act of furnishing for others--the air that
characterizes spare rooms, hotel parlors, and great numbers of
settlement receiving rooms.

"I had always wanted to come to America," she said in her quick English
enunciation. "And I saved something and borrowed ten pounds of my
brother, and came. Oh, it was hard the first part of the time I was here.
I remember, when I first came in at the door of this house, and
registered, one of the other shop-girls here was standing at the desk. I
had on a heavy winter coat, just a plain, rough-looking coat, but it's
warm. That girl gave me such a look, a sort of sneering look--oh, it made
me hot! But that's the way American shop-girls are. I never have spoken
to that girl.

"I got down to 50 cents before I had a job. There was one store I didn't
want to go to. It was cheap, and had a mean name. One afternoon, when it
was cold and dark, I walked up to it at last; and it looked so horrid I
couldn't go in. There was another cheap store just beyond it, and
another. All the shoppers were hurrying along. Oh, it was a terrible time
that afternoon, terrible, standing there, looking at those big, cheap New
York stores all around me.

"But at last I went in, and they took me on. It wasn't so bad, after all.
In about two months I had a chance to go to a better store. I like it
pretty well. But I can't save anything. I had $8 a week. Now I have $9.
I pay $4.50 a week here for board and lodging, but I always live up to my
salary, spending it for clothes and washing. Oh, I worry and worry about
money. But I've paid back my $50. I have a nice silk dress now, and a new
hat. And now I've got them," she added, with a laugh, "I haven't got
anywhere to wear them to. I look forward to Sunday through the week days;
but when Sunday comes, I like Monday best.

"Though I think it doesn't make much difference how you do in the store
about being promoted. A girl next me who doesn't sell half as much as I
do gets $12 where I have $9; and the commission we have on sales in
Christmas week wasn't given to me fairly. The store is kind in many ways,
and lets the girls sit down every minute when customers aren't there, and
has evening classes and club-rooms. But yet the girls are discouraged
about not having promotions fairly and not having commissions straight.
Right is right."[4]

The charmlessness of existence noticeable in most of the working girls'
homes was emphasized by a saleswoman in the china department of a
Broadway department store, Kate McCray, a pretty young Irishwoman of
about twenty-three, who was visited in a hotel she said she didn't like
to mention to people, for fear they would think it was queer. "You see,
it's a boat, a liner that a gentleman that has a large plantation gave
for a hotel for working girls. It seems peculiar to some people for a
girl to be living on the river."

Miss McCray paid $3.50 a week board at the Maverick Deep-Sea Hotel. Her
salary was $8 a week. She had been in the same department for four years,
and considered it wrong that she received no promotion. She could save
nothing, as she did none of her own washing on account of its inroads of
fatigue, and she was obliged to dress well. She was, however, in
excellent health and especially praised the store's policy of advising
the girls to sit down and to rest whenever no customers were present.

It was misty and raining on the occasion of my visit to the Maverick
Deep-Sea Hotel, a liner anchored in the East River; and Miss McCray
conducted me into the cabin to a large party of boys, elderly women, and
children, most of them visitors like myself, and all listening to a
powerful-wristed youth happily playing, "You'll Come Back and Hang
Around," with heavily accented rag-time, on an upright piano.

"About seventy girls board on this boat. That young lady going into the
pantry now is a stenographer--such a bright girl."

Absorbed in the spectacle of a hotel freedom which permitted a guest to
go to a pantry at will, whatever the force of her brightness, I followed
Miss McCray about the boat. It was as if the hotel belonged to the girls,
while in the Christian homes it had been as if everything belonged, not
to the girls, but to benevolent though carefully possessive Christians.
Miss McCray praised highly the manager and his wife.

"About twenty men and boys stay on a yacht anchored right out here. They
board on this boat, and go to their own boat when the whistle blows at
ten o'clock," she continued, leading me to the smoking-room, where she
introduced a number of very young gentlemen reading magazines and
knocking about gutturally together. They, too, seemed proud of their
position as boarders, proud of the Maverick Deep-Sea Hotel. They were
nice, boyish young fellows, who might have been young mechanicians.

She showed me the top deck with especial satisfaction as we came out into
the fresh, rainy air. The East River shipping and an empty recreation
pier rose black on one side, with the water sparkling in jetted
reflection between; and on the other quivered all the violet and silver
lights of the city. There were perhaps half a dozen tents pitched on

"Some of the girls sleep outdoors up here," said Miss McCray in her
gentle voice. "They like it so, they do it all winter long. Have plenty
of cover, and just sleep here in the tents. Oh, we all like it! Some of
the men that were here first have married; and they like it so well, they
keep coming back here with their wives to see us. It's so friendly," said
the girl, quietly; "and no matter how tired I am when I come here in the
evening, I sit out on the deck, and I look at the water and the lights,
and it seems as if all my cares float away."

The good humor of the Maverick Deep-Sea Hotel, its rag-time, its boarders
from the yacht, the charm of the row of tents with the girls in them
sleeping their healthful sleep out in the midst of the river wind, the
masts, the chimneys, stars, and city lights, all served to deepen the
impression of the lack of normal pleasure in most of the shop-girls'

This starvation in pleasure, as well as low wages and overwork, subjects
the women in the stores to a temptation readily conceivable.

The girls in the stores are importuned, not only by men from without
these establishments, but also, to the shame of the managements, by men
employed within the stores.

The constant close presence of this gulf has more than one painful
aspect. On account of it, not only the poor girls who fall suffer, but
also the girls who have the constant sense of being "on guard," and find
it wise, for fear of the worst suspicion, to forego all sorts of normal
delights and gayeties and youthful pleasures. Many girls said, "I keep
myself to myself"; "I don't make friends in the stores very fast, because
you can't be sure what any one is like." This fear of friendship among
contemporaries sharing the same fortune, fear, indeed, of the whole
world, seemed the most cruel comment possible on the atmosphere of the
girls' lives in their occupation.

Another kind of meanness in human relations was abundantly witnessed by
Miss Johnson, the League's inquirer, who worked in one of the stores
during the week of Christmas good-will.

The "rush" had begun when Miss Johnson was transferred in this Christmas
week from the neckwear to the muffler department on the first floor of
one of the cheaper stores. All the girls stood all day long--from eight
to twelve and from one to eight at night on the first days; from one at
noon to ten and eleven at night, as the season progressed; and, on the
last dreadful nights, from noon to the following midnight. The girls had
35 cents supper money. Except for that, all this extra labor was unpaid

The work was incessant. The girls were nervous, hateful, spiteful with
one another. The manager, a beautiful and extremely rough girl of
nineteen, swore constantly at all of them. The customers were grabbing,
insistent, unreasonable from morning to evening, from evening to
midnight. Behind the counter, with the advance of the day, the place
became an inferno of nervous exhaustion and exasperation. In the two
weeks of Miss Johnson's service one customer once thanked her; and one
tipped her 5 cents for the rapid return of a parcel. Both these acts of
consideration took place in the morning. Miss Johnson said that this was
fortunate for her, as, at one word of ordinary consideration toward the
end of her long day's work, she thought she must have burst into tears.

There was a little bundler in the department, Catriona Malatesta, a
white, hungry-looking little North Italian of fourteen with a thin chin
and a dark-shadowed, worried face. She had an adored sick sister of four,
besides six other younger brothers and sisters, and a worshipped mother,
to whom she gave every cent of her wages of three dollars and a half a
week. An older brother, a day laborer, paid the rent and provided food
for all of them. Every other family expense was met by Catriona's three
dollars and a half, so that she was in the habit of spending only five
cents for her own lunch, and, on the nights of overtime, five cents for
her own dinner, in order to take home the extra thirty cents; and every
day she looked whiter and older.

At the beginning of the week before Christmas, the store raised
Catriona's wage to four dollars. Her mother told her she might have the
extra half dollar for herself for Christmas. Though Catriona had worked
for some months, this was the first money of her own she had ever had.
With pride she told the department how it was to be spent. She was going
to surprise her mother with a new waist for Christmas, a waist Catriona
had seen in the store marked down to forty-nine cents. A ten per cent
discount was allowed to employees, so that the waist would cost
forty-five cents. With the remaining five cents Catriona would buy her
sick Rosa a doll. All her life Rosa had wanted a doll. Now, at last, she
could have one.

On the day when she received the money, Catriona kept it close at hand,
in a little worn black leather purse, in a shabby bag hanging from her
arm, and not out of sight for an instant.

Her purchases were to be made in the three-quarters of an hour allowed
for supper. The time Catriona consumed in eating her five-cent meal was
never long, so that, even allowing for prolonged purchasing, her absence
of an hour was strange.

"D---- your soul, where in hell have you been all this time, Catie?" the
manager screamed at her, angrily, without glancing at her, when she came
back at last.

Catriona looked more anxious and white than ever before. Her face was
stained with weeping. "I lost my purse," she said in a dazed, unsteady
voice. "It was gone when I opened my bag in the lunch-room. I've looked
for it everywhere."

There was a sudden breathless change in the air of the department. You
could have heard a pin drop.

"Better go down to the basement and wash your face," said the manager,
awkwardly, with unbelievable gentleness.

"Well," she continued suddenly, the minute Catriona was out of ear-shot,
"I'm not so poor but I can help to make _that_ up." She took a dollar
bill from her pocket-book. Every one contributed something, though
several girls went without their supper for this purpose, and one girl
walked home four miles after midnight. Altogether they could give nearly
ten dollars.

The manager sidled awkwardly toward Catriona, when she came back from
washing her face. "Here, kid," she muttered sheepishly, pushing the money
into the little girl's hand. Catriona, pale and dazed, looked up at
her--looked at the money, with a shy excitement and happiness dawning in
her eyes. Then she cried again with excitement and joy, and every one
laughed, and sent her off again to wash her face.

That night everything was different in the department. There had been a
real miracle of transfiguration. The whole air of intercourse was
changed. All the girls were gentle and dignified with each other.
Catriona's eyes sparkled with pleasure. Her careworn air was gone. She
was a child again. She had never had any physical loveliness before; but
on that night hundreds of passing shoppers looked with attention at the
delight and beauty of her face.

On the next day everything went on as before. The girls snapped at each
other and jostled each other. The beautiful manager swore. One girl came,
looking so ill that Miss Johnson was terrified.

"Can't you stop, Kitty? You look so sick. For heaven's sake, go home and

"I can't afford to go home."

Cross and snappish as the girls were, they managed to spare Kitty, and to
stand in front of her to conceal her idleness from the floor-walker, and
give her a few minutes' occasional rest sitting down. She went through
the first hours of the morning as best she might, though clearly under
pressure of sharp suffering. But at about ten the floor-walker, for whom
it must be said that he was responsible for the sales and general
presentability of the department, saw her sitting down. "Why aren't you
busy?" he called. "Get up."

At midnight on Christmas eve, as the still crowd of girls walked wanly
out of the great store into the brilliant New York street, some one said,
"How are you, Kitty?"

She made no reply for a minute. Then she said wretchedly, "Oh--I hope
I'll be dead before the next Christmas."


The sheer and causeless misery this girl endured was, of course,
attributable, not only to the long hours and to the standing demanded by
her occupation, but to the fact that this occupation was continued at a
period when the normal health of great numbers of women demands
reasonable quiet and rest.

With a few honorable exceptions[5] it may be said to be the immemorial
custom of department stores in this country to treat women employees, in
so far as ability to stand and to stand at all seasons goes, exactly as
if they were men.

The expert testimony collected by the publication secretary of the
National Consumers' League, Miss Josephine Goldmark, for the brief which
obtained the Illinois Ten-Hour Law, gives the clearest possible record of
the outlay of communal strength involved in these long hours of standing
for women.

     _Report of "Lancet" Sanitary Commission on Sanitation in the
     Shop_. 1892

     Without entering upon the vexed question of women's rights, we
     may nevertheless urge it as an indisputable physiological fact
     that, when compelled to stand for long hours, women, especially
     young women, are exposed to greater injury and greater
     suffering than men.

     _British Sessional Papers_. Vol. XII. 1886. Report from Select
     Committee on Shop Hours Regulation Bill

     Witness, W. Abbott, M.D.

     "Does their employment injuriously affect them, as
     child-bearing women in after years?"

     "According to all scientific facts, it would do so."

     "And you, as a medical man of a considerable number of years'
     experience, would not look to girls who have been worked so
     many hours in one position as the bearers of healthy, strong

     "I should not."

     "Then it naturally follows, does it not, that this is a very
     serious matter in the interest of the nation as a whole, apart
     from the immediate injury to the person concerned?"

     "Yes. As regards the physical condition of the future race."

     _British Sessional Papers_. Vol. XII, 1895. Report from the
     Select Committee on Shops. Early Closing Bill

     Witness, Dr. Percy Kidd, M.D., of the University of Oxford,
     Fellow of the College of Physicians and Member of the College
     of Surgeons, attached to London Hospital and Brompton,

     "Would this be a fair way of putting it: It is not the actual
     work of people in shops, but having to be there and standing
     about in bad air; it is the long hours which is the injurious
     part of it?"

     "Quite so; the prolonged tension."

     _Official Information from the Reports of the [German] Factory
     Inspectors_. Berlin, Bruer, 1898

     The inspector in Hesse regards a reduction of working hours to
     ten for women in textile mills as "absolutely imperative," as
     the continuous standing is very injurious to the female

     _Fourteenth International Congress of Hygiene and Demography_.
     Berlin, September, 1907. Vol. II, Sec. IV. Fatigue Resulting
     from Occupation. Berlin, Hirschwald, 1908

     Doctor Emil Roth:

     "My experience and observations do not permit me to feel any
     uncertainty in believing that the injury to health inflicted
     upon even fully capable workers by the special demands of a
     periodically heightened rush of work is never compensated for.
     Under this head we may consider the demands of all seasonal
     work, ... as also the special rush season in shops before

     _Night Work of Women in Industry. Reports on its Importance and
     Legal Regulation_. Preface by Etienne Bauer. Night Work of Women
     in Industry in Austria. Ilse Von Arlt. Jena, Fischer, 1903

     The suitable limits of working time vary with individuals, but
     it is acknowledged that not only is a regularly long day of
     work injurious, but also that a single isolated instance of
     overstrain may be harmful to a woman all the rest of her life.

     _Proceedings of the French Senate_, July 7, 1891. Report on the
     Industrial Employment of Children, Young Girls, and Women.

     When I ask, when we ask, for a lessening of the daily toil of
     women, it is not only of the women that we think, it is not
     principally of the women, it is of the whole human race. It is
     of the father, it is of the child, it is of society, which we
     wish to reëstablish on its foundation, from which we believe it
     has perhaps swerved a little.

In New York State, the hours of labor of adult women (women over
twenty-one) in mercantile establishments are not limited in any way by

The law concerning seats in stores is as follows:--

     Seats for Women in Mercantile Establishments

     Chairs, stools, or other suitable seats shall be maintained in
     mercantile establishments for the use of female employees
     therein, to the number of at least one seat for every three
     females employed, and the use thereof by such employees shall
     be allowed at such times and to such extent as may be necessary
     for the preservation of their health.

The enforcement of this law is very difficult. The mercantile inspectors
can compel the requisite number of seats. They have successfully issued
one hundred and fourteen orders on this point[6] to the stores within the
year 1909. But the use of these seats to such extent as may be necessary
for the preservation of the health of the women employees is another
matter. For fear of being blacklisted by the merchants, the saleswomen
will not testify in court in those cases where employers practically
forbid the use of seats, by requesting the employees to do something
requiring a standing position whenever they sit down. So that in these
cases the inspectors cannot bring prosecution successfully, on account of
lack of sufficient evidence.

Further, in one store the management especially advises the saleswomen to
be seated at every moment when the presence of a customer does not
require her to stand. But the saleswoman's inability to attract possible
customers while she is seated still keeps her standing, in order not to
diminish her sales.

Curiously enough, it would seem that the shopping public of a nation
professedly democratic will not buy so much as a spool of thread from a
seated woman. There is, of course, much work for women[7]--such as
ironing for instance--in which standing is generally considered
absolutely necessary. Salesmanship is not work of this character. It is
primarily custom that demands the constant standing seen in the stores;
and, until shoppers establish a habit of buying of shop-girls who are
seated, and the stores provide enough seats for all saleswomen and permit
them to sell when seated, the present system of undermining the normal
health of women clerks will continue unchecked.

The New York State law in regard to the work of the younger women
(minors)--in mercantile establishments is as follows:--

     Hours of Labor of Minors[8]

     No female employee between sixteen and twenty-one years of age
     shall be required, permitted, or suffered to work in or in
     connection with any mercantile establishment more than sixty
     hours in any one week; or more than ten hours in any one day,
     unless for the purpose of making a shorter work day of some one
     day of the week; or before seven o'clock in the morning or
     after ten o'clock in the evening of any day. _This section does
     not apply to the employment of persons sixteen years of age or
     upward, between the eighteenth day of December and the
     following twenty-fourth day of December, both inclusive_.[9]

That is to say, that, for the holiday season, the time of all others when
it might seem wise and natural to protect the health of the younger women
working in the great metropolitan markets, for that season, of all
others, the State specifically provides that the strength of its youth is
to have no legal safeguard and may be subjected to labor without limit.

Substantially, all the present legal protection for workers in the
stores was obtained in 1896, after the investigation of mercantile
establishments conducted in 1895 by the Rinehart Commission.[10] Ever
since, an annual attempt has been made to perfect the present law and to
secure its enforcement, which had been left in the hands of the local
Boards of Health, and was practically inoperative until 1908. Enforcement
was then transferred to the Labor Commissioner, and has since that time
been actively maintained.

The hearings on the law relative to mercantile establishments are held in
Albany in a small room in the Capitol before the Judiciary Committee of
the Senate and the Assembly Commission on Labor. These hearings are very
fiery. The Support is represented by Attorney Mornay Williams, and Mrs.
Nathan, Mrs. Kelley, Miss Stokes, Miss Sanford, and Miss Goldmark of the
New York and National Consumers' Leagues, and delegates from the Child
Labor Committee, the Working-Girls' Clubs, and the Woman's Trade-Union
League. Both men and women speak fox the amendment.[11] The Support's
effort for legislation limiting hours has regularly been opposed by the
Retail Dry-Goods Merchants' Association, which yearly sends an
influential delegation to Albany.

"These ladies have been coming here for sixteen years," said one of the
merchants, resentfully, last spring. Looking around, and observing
changes in the faces watching him among adherents of the Support, he
added: "Well, perhaps not the _same_ ladies. But they have come."

"These ladies are professional agitators," said another merchant at
another hearing. "Why, they even misled Mr. Roosevelt, when he was
Governor, into recommending the passage of their bill."

Such are some of the reasons offered by the opposition for not limiting
women's hours of labor in mercantile establishments.

Among the several common features of the experiences of these New York
saleswomen, low wages, casual employment, heavy required expense in
laundry and dress, semidependence, uneven promotion, lack of training,
absence of normal pleasure, long hours of standing, and an excess of
seasonal work, the consideration of this last common condition is placed
last because its consequences seem the most far-reaching.

Looking back at these common features in the lives of these average
American working girls, one has a sudden sense that the phenomenon of the
New York department stores represents a painful failure in democracy.
What will the aspect of the New York department stores be in the future?
For New York doubtless will long remain a port of merchandise, one of the
most picturesque and most frequented harbors of the Seven Seas. Doubtless
many women still will work in its markets. What will their chances in
life be?

First, it may be trusted that the State law will not forever refuse to
protect these women and their future, which is also the future of the
community, from the danger of unlimited hours of labor. Then, the fact
that in a store in Cincinnati the efficiency of the saleswomen has been
standardized and their wages raised, the fact that in a store in Boston
the employees have become responsible factors in the business, and the
fact that a school of salesmanship has been opened in New York seem to
indicate the possibility of a day when salesmanship will become
standardized and professional, as nursing has within the last century.
Further, it may be believed that saleswomen will not forever acquiesce in
pursuing their trade in utterly machinal activity, without any common
expression of their common position.

Very arresting is the fact that, year after year, the Union women go to
Albany to struggle for better chances in life for the shop-women who
cannot at present wisely make this struggle for themselves. The fact
that the Union women fail is of less moment than that they continue to

But what have the organized women workers, the factory girls who so
steadfastly make this stand for justice for the shop-girls, attained for
themselves in their fortunes by their Union? It was for an answer to this
question that we turned to the New York shirt-waist makers, whose income
and outlay will be next considered in this little chronicle of women's


[Footnote 1: In the last six months further accounts from working women
in the trades mentioned in New York have been received by Miss Edith
Wyatt, Vice-President of the Consumers' League of Illinois. Aside from
the facts ascertained through the schedules filled by the workers, and
through Mrs. Clark's and Miss Wyatt's visits to them, information has
been obtained through Miss Helen Marot, Secretary of the New York Woman's
Trade-Union League, Miss Marion MacLean, Director of the Sociological
Investigation Committee of the Young Women's Christian Association of the
United States, Miss May Matthews, Head Worker of Hartley House, Miss
Hall, Head Worker of the Riverside Association, Miss Rosenfeld, Head
Worker of the Clara de Hirsch Home, the Clinton Street Headquarters of
the Union, the St. George Working Girls' Clubs, the Consumers' League of
the City of New York, and the offices or files of the _Survey_, the
_Independent_, the _Call_, and the _International Socialist Review_.]

[Footnote 2: It remains to be said that there are both among saleswomen
and among women in business for the department stores, buyers, assistant
buyers, receivers of special orders, advertisers, and heads of
departments, earning salaries of from twenty dollars to two hundred
dollars a week. But this experience does not represent the average
fortune the League was interested in learning.]

[Footnote 3: Here are the estimates made by the St. George's Working
Girls' Club of the smallest practicable expenditure for self-supporting
girls in New York: General expense per week: room, $2; meals, $3;
clothes, $1.25; washing, 75 cents; carfare, 60 cents; pleasures, 25
cents; church, 10 cents; club, 5 cents: total $8. Itemized account of
clothing for the year at $1.25 a week, or $65 a year: 2 pair of shoes at
$2, and mending at $1.50, $5.50; 2 hats at $2.50, $5; 8 pair of stockings
at 12-1/2 cents, $1; 2 combination suits at 50 cents, $1; 4 shirts at
12-1/2 cents, 50 cents; 4 pairs of drawers at 25 cents, $1; 4 corset
covers at 25 cents, $1; 1 flannel petticoat, 25 cents; 2 white petticoats
at 75 cents, $1.50; 5 shirt-waists at $1.20, $6; 1 net waist, $2.50; 2
corsets at $1, $2; gloves, $2; 2 pairs rubbers at 65 cents, $1.30; 1
dozen handkerchiefs at 5 cents, 60 cents; 3 nightgowns at 50 cents,
$1.50; 1 sweater, $2; 2 suits at $15, $30: total, $65.65.]

[Footnote 4: This worker later, however, in the winter of 1911,
considered she had been paid and promoted fairly.]

[Footnote 5: Macy and Company of New York give to those of their
permanent women employees who desire it a monthly day of rest with pay.
The Daniels and Fisher Company of Denver refund to any woman employee who
requests it the amount deducted for a monthly day of absence for illness.
This excellent rule is, however, said to represent here rather a
privilege than a practice, and not to be generally taken advantage of,
because not generally understood. The present writer has not been able to
learn of other exceptions.]

[Footnote 6: Ninth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, p. 127.]

[Footnote 7: See page 16 (foot-note), "Scientific Management as applied
to Women's Work."]

[Footnote 8: This statement does not include the excellent New York Child
Labor Law for children under sixteen, which allows of no exception at
Christmas time.]

[Footnote 9: Italics ours.]

[Footnote 10: A New York State Commission, appointed for this purpose in
the year 1895, through the efforts of the Consumers' League of the city
of New York.]

[Footnote 11: For fear of a permanent loss of position the saleswomen
themselves have never been urged to appear in support of this
legislation, nor, except in a few instances where this difficulty has
been nullified, have they been present at these hearings.]




Among the active members of the Ladies Waist Makers' Union in New York,
there is a young Russian Jewess of sixteen, who may be called Natalya
Urusova. She is little, looking hardly more than twelve years old, with a
pale, sensitive face, clear dark eyes, very soft, smooth black hair,
parted and twisted in braids at the nape of her neck, and the gentlest
voice in the world, a voice still thrilled with the light inflections of
a child.

She is the daughter of a Russian teacher of Hebrew, who lived about three
years ago in a beech-wooded village on the steppes of Central Russia.
Here a neighbor of Natalya's family, a Jewish farmer, misunderstanding
that manifesto of the Czar which proclaimed free speech, and
misunderstanding socialism, had printed and scattered through the
neighborhood an edition of hand-bills stating that the Czar had
proclaimed socialism, and that the populace must rise and divide among
themselves a rich farm two miles away.

Almost instantly on the appearance of these bills, this unhappy man and a
young Jewish friend who chanced to be with him at the time of his arrest
were seized and murdered by the government officers--the friend drowned,
the farmer struck dead with the blow of a cudgel. A Christian mob formed,
and the officers and the mob ravaged every Jewish house in the little
town. Thirty innocent Jews were clubbed to death, and then literally cut
to pieces. Natalya and her family, who occupied the last house on the
street, crept unnoticed to the shack of a Roman Catholic friend, a woman
who hid sixteen Jewish people under the straw of the hut in the fields
where she lived, in one room, with eight children and some pigs and
chickens. Hastily taking from a drawer a little bright-painted plaster
image of a wounded saint, this woman placed it over the door as a means
of averting suspicion. Her ruse was successful. "Are there Jews here?"
the officer called to her, half an hour afterward, as the mob came over
the fields to her house.

"No," said the woman.

"Open the door and let me see."

The woman flung open the door. But, as he was quite unsuspecting, the
officer glanced in only very casually; and it was in utter ignorance that
the rage of the mob went on over the fields, past the jammed little room
of breathless Jews.

As soon as the army withdrew from the town, Natalya and her family made
their way to America, where, they had been told, one had the right of
free belief and of free speech. Here they settled on the sixth floor of a
tenement on Monroe Street, on the East Side of New York. Nothing more
different from the open, silent country of the steppes could be conceived
than the place around them.

The vista of the New York street is flanked by high rows of dingy brick
tenements, fringed with jutting white iron fire-escapes, and hung with
bulging feather-beds and pillows, puffing from the windows. By day and by
night the sidewalks and roads are crowded with people,--bearded old men
with caps, bare-headed wigged women, beautiful young girls, half-dressed
babies swarming in the gutters, playing jacks. Push carts, lit at night
with flaring torches, line the pavements and make the whole thronged,
talking place an open market, stuck with signs and filled with
merchandise and barter. Everybody stays out of doors as much as possible.
In summer-time the children sleep on the steps, and on covered chicken
coops along the sidewalk; for, inside, the rooms are too often small and
stifling, some on inner courts close-hung with washing, some of them
practically closets, without any opening whatever to the outer air.

Many, many of Natalya's neighbors here are occupied in the garment
trade. According to the United States census of 1900, the men's clothing
made in factories in New York City amounted to nearly three times as much
as that manufactured in any other city in the United States. The women's
clothing made in factories in New York City amounted to more than ten
times that made in any other city; the manufacture of women's ready-made
clothing in this country is, indeed, almost completely in the hands of
New York's immense Jewish population.[12]

As soon after her arrival as her age permitted, Natalya entered the
employment of a shirt-waist factory as an unskilled worker, at a salary
of $6 a week. Mounting the stairs of the waist factory, one is aware of
heavy vibrations. The roar and whir of the machines increase as the door
opens, and one sees in a long loft, which is usually fairly light and
clean, though sometimes neither, rows and rows of girls with heads bent
and eyes intent upon the flashing needles. They are all intensely
absorbed; for if they be paid by the piece, they hurry from ambition, and
if they be paid by the week, they are "speeded up" by the foreman to a
pace set by the swiftest workers.

In the Broadway establishment, which may be called the Bruch Shirt-waist
Factory, where Natalya worked, there were four hundred girls--six hundred
in the busy season. The hours were long--from eight till half past
twelve, a half hour for lunch, and then from one till half past six.

Sometimes the girls worked until half past eight, until nine. There were
only two elevators in the building, which contained other factories.
There were two thousand working people to be accommodated by these
elevators, all of whom began work at eight o'clock in the morning; so
that, even if Natalya reached the foot of the shaft at half past seven,
it was sometimes half past eight before she reached the shirt-waist
factory on the twelfth floor. She was docked for this inevitable
tardiness so often that frequently she had only five dollars a week
instead of six. This injustice, and the fact that sometimes the foreman
kept them waiting needlessly for several hours before telling them that
he had no work for them, was particularly wearing to the girls.

Natalya was a "trimmer" in the factory. She cut the threads of the waists
after they were finished--a task requiring very little skill. But the
work of shirt-waist workers is of many grades. The earnings of makers of
"imported" lingerie waists sometimes rise as high as $25 a week. Such a
wage, however, is very exceptional, and, even so, is less high than might
appear, on account of the seasonal character of the work.

The average skilled waist worker, when very busy, sometimes earns from
$12 to $15 a week. Here are the yearly budgets of some of the better paid
workers, more skilled than Natalya--operatives receiving from $10 to $15
a week.

Rachael, a shirt-waist operative of eighteen, had been at work three
years. She had begun at $5 a week and her skill had increased until in a
very busy week she could earn from $14 to $15 by piece-work. "But," she
said, "I was earning too much, so I was put back at week's work, at $11 a
week. The foreman is a bad, driving man. Ugh! he makes us work
fast--especially the young beginners."

Rachael, too, had been driven out of Russia by Christian persecution. Her
little sister had been killed in a massacre. Her parents had gone in one
direction, and she and her two other sisters had fled in another to

Here in New York she lived in a tenement, sharing a room with two other
girls, and, besides working in the shirt-waist factory, did her own
washing, made her own waists, and went to night school.

Her income was seriously depleted by the seasonal character of her work.
Out of the twelve months of the year, for one month she was idle, for
four months she had only three or four days' work a week, for three
months she had five days' work a week, and for four months only did she
have work for all six days. Unhappily, during these months she developed
a severe cough, which lost her seven weeks of work, and gave her during
these weeks the expense of medicine, a doctor, and another boarding
place, as she could not in her illness sleep with her two friends.

Her income for the year had been $348.25. Her expenses had been as
follows: rent for one-third of room at $3.50 a month, $42; suppers with
landlady at 20 cents each, $63; other meals, approximately, $90; board
while ill, seven weeks at $7, $49; doctor and medicine (about) $15;
clothing, $51.85; club, 5 cents a week, $2.60; total, $313.45, thus
leaving a balance of $34.80.

Shoes alone consumed over one-half of the money used for clothing. They
wore out with such amazing rapidity that she had needed a new pair once a
month. At $2 each, except a best pair, costing $2.60, their price in a
year amounted to $24.60.[13]

In regard to Rachael's expenditure and conservation in strength, she had
drawn heavily upon her health and energy. Her cough continued to exhaust
her. She was worn and frail, and at eighteen her health was breaking.

Anna Klotin, another older skilled worker, an able and clever Russian
girl of twenty-one, an operative and trimmer, earned $12 a week. She had
been idle twelve weeks on account of slack work. For four weeks she had
night work for three nights a week, and payment for this extra time had
brought her income up to $480 for the year. Of this sum she paid $312 ($6
a week) for board and lodging alone in a large, pleasant room with a
friendly family on the East Side. To her family in Russia she had sent
$120, and she had somehow contrived, by doing her own washing, making her
own waists and skirts, and repairing garments left from the previous
year, to buy shoes and to pay carfare and all her other expenses from the
remaining $48. She had bought five pairs of shoes at $2 each, and a suit
for $15.

Fanny Wardoff, a shirt-waist worker of twenty, who had been in the United
States only a year, helped her family by supporting her younger brother.

For some time after her arrival in this country the ill effects of her
steerage voyage had left her too miserable to work. She then obtained
employment as a finisher in a skirt factory, where her best wage was $7.
But her earnings in this place had been so fluctuating that she was
uncertain what her total income had been before the last thirteen weeks.
At the beginning of this time she had left the skirt factory and become
a finisher in a waist factory, where she earned from $10 to $12 a week,
working nine and a half hours a day.

Her place to sleep, and breakfast and dinner, in a tenement, cost $2.50 a
week. She paid the same for her younger brother, who still attended
school. The weekly expense was palpably increased by 60 cents a week for
luncheon and 30 cents for carfare to ride to work. She walked home,
fifteen blocks.

Her clothing, during the eight months of work, had cost about $40. Of
this, $8 had been spent for four pairs of shoes. Two ready-made skirts
had cost $9, and a jacket $10. Her expense for waists was only the cost
of material, as she had made them herself.

She spent 35 cents a week for the theatre, and economized by doing her
own washing.

Here are the budgets of some shirt-waist operatives earning from $7 to
$10 a week, less skilled than the workers described above, but more
skilled than Natalya.

Irena Kovalova, a girl of sixteen, supported herself and three other
people, her mother and her younger brother and sister, on her slight wage
of $9 a week. She was a very beautiful girl, short, but heavily built,
with grave dark eyes, a square face, and a manner more mature and
responsible than that of many women of forty. Irena Kovalova had not been
out of work for one whole week in the year she described. She had never
done night work; but she had almost always worked half a day on
Sunday--except in slack weeks. She was not certain how many of these
there had been; but there had been enough slack time to reduce her income
for her family for the year to $450. They had paid $207 rent for four
rooms on the East Side, and had lived on the remaining $243, all of which
Irena had given to her mother.

Her mother helped her with her washing, and she had worn the clothes she
had the year before, with the exception of shoes. She had been forced to
buy four pairs of these at $2 a pair. They all realized that if Irena
could spend a little more for her shoes they would wear longer. "But for
shoes," she said, with a little laugh, "two dollars--it is the most I
ever could pay."

She was a girl of unusual health and strength, and though sometimes very
weary at night and troubled with eye strain from watching the needle, it
was a different drain of her vitality that she mentioned as alarming. She
was obliged to work at a time of the month when she normally needed rest,
and endured anguish at her machine at this season. She had thought, she
said gravely, that if she ever had any money ahead, she would try to use
it to have a little rest then.

Molly Zaplasky, a little Russian shirt-waist worker of fifteen, operated
a machine for fifty-six hours a week, did her own washing, and even went
to evening school. She had worked for five months, earning $9 a week for
five weeks of this time, and sometimes $6, sometimes $7, for the
remainder. She and her sister Dora, of seventeen, also a shirt-waist
maker, had a room with a cousin's family on the East Side.

Dora had worked a year and a half. She, too, earned $9 a week in full
weeks. But there had been only twenty-two such weeks in that period. For
seventeen weeks she had earned $6 a week. For four weeks she had been
idle because of slackness of work, and for nine weeks recently she had
been too ill to work, having developed tuberculosis. Dora, too, did her
own washing. She made her own waists, and went to evening school. She had
paid $2.75 a week for partial board and for lodging. The food, not
included in her board, cost about $1 a week. The little Molly had paid
for Dora's board and lodging in her nine weeks' illness. Dora, who had
worked so valiantly, was quietly expecting just as valiantly her turn in
the long waiting list of applicants for the Montefiore Home for
consumptives. She knew that the chance of her return to Molly was very

Her expenditure for food, shelter, and clothing for the year had been as
follows: room and board (exclusive of nine weeks' illness), $161.25;
clothing, $41.85; total, $203.10. As her income for the year had been
$297.50, this left a balance of $94.40 for all other expenses. Items for
clothing had been: suit, $12; jacket, $4.50; a hat, $2.50; shoes (two
pairs), $4.25; stockings (two pairs a week at 15 cents), $15.60;
underwear, $3; total, $41.85.

One point should be accentuated in this budget--the striking cost of
stockings, due to the daily walk to and from work and the ill little
worker's lack of strength and time for darning. The outlay for footwear
in all the budgets of the operators is heavy, in spite of the fact that
much of their work is done sitting.

Here are the budgets of some of the shirt-waist makers who were earning
Natalya's wage of $6 a week, or less than this wage.

Rea Lupatkin, a shirt-waist maker of nineteen, had been in New York only
ten months, and was at first a finisher in a cloak factory. Afterward,
obtaining work as operator in a waist factory, she could get $4 in
fifty-six hours on a time basis. She had been in this factory six weeks.

Rea was paying $4 a month for lodging in two rooms of a tenement-house
with a man and his wife and baby and little boy. She saved carfare by a
walk of three-quarters of an hour, adding daily one and a half hours to
the nine and a half already spent in operating. Her food cost $2.25 a
week so that, with 93 cents a week for lodging, her regular weekly cost
of living was $3.18, leaving her 82 cents for every other expense. In
spite of this, and although she had been forced to spend $3 for
examination of her eyes and for eyeglasses, Rea contrived to send an
occasional $2 back to her family in Europe.

Ida Bergeson, a little girl of fifteen, was visited at half past eight
o'clock one evening, in a tenement on the lower East Side. The gas was
burning brightly in the room; several people were talking; and this
frail-looking little Ida lay on a couch in their midst, sleeping, in all
the noise and light, in complete exhaustion. Her sister said that every
night the child returned from the factory utterly worn out, she was
obliged to work so hard and so fast.

Ida received the same wage as Natalya--$6 a week. She worked fifty-six
hours a week--eight more than the law allows for minors. She paid $4 a
week for board and a room shared with the anxious older sister, who told
about her experience. Ida needed all the rest of her $2 for her clothing.
She did her own washing. As the inquirer came away, leaving the worn
little girl sleeping in her utter fatigue, she wondered with what
strength Ida could enter upon her possible marriage and
motherhood--whether, indeed, she would struggle through to maturity.

Katia Halperian, a shirt-waist worker of fifteen, had been in New York
only six months. During twenty-one weeks of this time she was employed in
a Wooster Street factory, earning for a week of nine-and-a-half-hour days
only $3.50. Katia, like Natalya, was a "trimmer."

After paying $3 a week board to an aunt, she had a surplus of 50 cents
for all clothing, recreation, doctor's bills, and incidentals.

To save carfare she walked to her work--about forty minutes' distance.
Her aunt lived on the fourth floor of a tenement. After working nine and
a half hours and walking an hour and twenty minutes daily, Katia climbed
four flights of stairs and then helped with the housework.

Sonia Lavretsky, a girl of twenty, had been self-supporting for four
years. She lived in a most wretched, ill-kept tenement, with a family who
made artificial flowers. She had been totally unable to find work for the
last five months, but this family, though very poor, had kept her with
them without payment through all this time.

She had been three months an operative, putting cuffs on waists. Working
on a time basis, she earned $3 the first week and $4 the second. She was
then put on piece-work, and in fifty-four hours and a half could earn
only $3. Laid off, she found employment at felling cloaks, earning from
$3 to $6 a week. But after twelve weeks, trade in this place also had
grown dull.

During her idle time she became "run down" and was ill three weeks.
Fortunately, a brother was able to pay her doctor's bills, until he also
was laid off during part of her idle time.

When Sonia had any money she gave her landlady, for part of a room in the
poor tenement with the flower-makers, $3.50 a month, and about $2.50 a
week for food. Before her dull season and slack work began, she had paid
20 cents a week dues to a self-education society and social club.

Her brother had given her all the clothing she had. The burden of her
support evidently fell heavily upon him and upon the poverty-stricken
family of her hostess. And Sonia was in deep discouragement. She was
about to go away from New York in hopes of finding work in Syracuse.

Getta Bursova, an attractive Russian girl of twenty, had worked for eight
years--ever since she was twelve. She had been employed as a waist
operative for six years in London and for two in New York.

Here she worked nine and a half hours daily in a factory on Nineteenth
Street, earning $5 to $6 a week. Of this wage she paid her sister $4 a
week for food and lodging in an inside tenement room in very poor East
Side quarters, so far from her work that she was obliged to spend 60
cents a week for carfare. In her busy weeks she had never more than $1.40
a week left, and often only 60 cents, for her clothing and every other

Getta had been idle, moreover, for nearly six months. During this time
she had been supported by her sister's family.

In spite of this defeat in her fortunes, her presence had a lovely
brightness and initiative, and her inexpensive dress had a certain
daintiness. She was eager for knowledge, and through all her busy weeks
had paid 10 cents dues to a self-education society.

Nevertheless, her long dull season was a harassing burden and
disappointment both for herself and her sister's struggling family.

Betty Lukin, a shirt-waist maker of twenty, had been making sleeves for
two years. For nine months of the year she earned from $6 to $10 a week;
for the remaining three months only $2 a week. Her average weekly wage
for the year would be about $6. Of this she spent $3 a week for suppers
and a place in a tenement to sleep, and about 50 cents a week for
breakfast and luncheon--a roll and a bit of fruit or candy from a push
cart. Her father was in New York, doing little to support himself, so
that many weeks she deprived herself to give him $3 or $4.

She spent 50 cents a week to go to the theatre and 10 cents for club
dues. She had, of course, very little left for dress. She looked ill
clad, and she was, naturally, improperly nourished and very delicate.

Two points in Betty's little account are suggestive: one is that she
could always help her father. In listening to the account of an organizer
of the Shirt-waist Makers' Union, a man who had known some 40,000 garment
workers, I exclaimed on the hardships of the trade for the number of
married men it contained, and was about to make a note of this item when
he eagerly stopped me. "Wait, wait, please," he cried generously. "When
you put it down, then put this down, too. It is just the same for the
girls. The most of them are married to a family. They, too, take care of

To this truth, Betty's expense of $3 to $4 for her father from her
average wage of $6, and little Molly's item of nine weeks' board and
lodging for her sister, bear eloquent testimony. On the girls' part they
were mentioned merely as "all in the day's work," and with the tacit
simplicity of that common mortal responsibility which is heroic.

The other fact to be remarked in Betty's account is that she spent 60
cents a week for club dues and the theatre, and only 50 cents for all her
casual sidewalk breakfasts and luncheons from the push carts. Such an
eager hunger for complete change of scene and thought, such a desire for
beauty and romance as these two comparative items show, appear in
themselves a true romance. Nearly all the Russian shirt-waist makers
visit the theatre and attend clubs and night classes, whatever their wage
or their hours of labor. Most of them contribute to the support of a

These shirt-waist makers, all self-supporting, whose income and outlay
are described above, were all--with the exception of Irena Kovalova, who
supported a family of four--living away from home. Natalya lived with her
mother and father.

She did not do her own washing, though she made her own waists and those
of her sister and mother. But her story is given because in other
ways--in casual employment, long hours, unfair and undignified treatment
from her employers, and in the conditions of her peaceable effort to
obtain juster and better terms of living--her experience has seemed
characteristic of the trade fortunes of many of the forty thousand
shirt-waist makers employed in New York for the last two years.

In conditions such as described above, Natalya and other shirt-waist
makers were working last fall, when one day she saw a girl, a
piece-worker, shaking her head and objecting sadly to the low price the
foreman was offering her for making a waist. "If you don't like it,"
said the foreman, with a laugh, "why don't you join your old 'sisters'
out on the street, then?"

Natalya wondered with interest who these "sisters" were. On making
inquiry, she found that the workers in other shirt-waist factories had
struck, for various reasons of dissatisfaction with the terms of their

The factories had continued work with strike breakers. Some of the
companies had stationed women of the street and their cadets in front of
the shops to insult and attack the Union members whenever they came to
speak to their fellow-workers and to try to dissuade them from selling
their work on unfair terms. Some had employed special police protection
and thugs against the pickets.

There is, of course, no law against picketing. Every one in the United
States has as clear a legal right to address another person peaceably on
the subject of his belief in selling his work as on the subject of his
belief in the tariff. But on the 19th of October ten girls belonging to
the Union, who had been talking peaceably on the day before with some of
the strike breakers, were suddenly arrested as they were walking quietly
along the street, were charged with disorderly conduct, arraigned in the
Jefferson Market Court, and fined $1 each. The chairman of the strikers
from one shop was set upon by a gang of thugs while he was collecting
funds, and beaten and maimed so that he was confined to his bed for

A girl of nineteen, one of the strikers, as she was walking home one
afternoon was attacked in the open daylight by a thug, who struck her in
the side and broke one of her ribs. She was in bed for four weeks, and
will always be somewhat disabled by her injury. These and other illegal
oppressions visited on the strikers roused a number of members of the
Woman's Trade-Union League to assist the girls in peaceful picketing.

Early in November, a policeman arrested Miss Mary E. Dreier, the
President of the Woman's Trade-Union League, because she entered into a
quiet conversation with one of the strike breakers. Miss Dreier is a
woman of large independent means, socially well known throughout New York
and Brooklyn. When the sergeant recognized her as she came into the
station, he at once discharged her case, reprimanded the officer, and
assured Miss Dreier that she would never have been arrested if they had
known who she was.

This flat instance of discrimination inspired the officers of the Woman's
Trade-Union League to protest to Police Commissioner Baker against the
arbitrary oppression of the strikers by the policemen. He was asked to
investigate the action of the police. He replied that the pickets would
in future receive as much consideration as other people. The attitude of
the police did not, however, change.

It was to these events, as Natalya Urusova found, that the foreman of the
Bruch factory had referred when he asked the girls, with a sneer, why
they didn't join their "sisters." Going to the Union headquarters on
Clinton Street, she learned all she could about the Union. Afterward, in
the Bruch factory, whenever any complaints arose, she would say casually,
in pretended helplessness, "But what can we do? Is there any way to
change this?" Vague suggestions of the Union headquarters would arise,
and she would inquire into this eagerly and would pretend to allow
herself to be led to Clinton Street. So, little by little, as the long
hours and low wages and impudence from the foreman continued, she induced
about sixty girls to understand about organization and to consider it

On the evening of the 22d of November, Natalya, and how many others from
the factory she could not tell, attended a mass meeting at Cooper Union,
of which they had been informed by hand-bills. It was called for the
purpose of discussing a general strike of shirt-waist workers in New York
City. The hall was packed. Overflow meetings were held at Beethoven Hall,
Manhattan Lyceum, and Astoria Hall. In the Cooper Union addresses were
delivered by Samuel Gompers, by Miss Dreier, and by many others.
Finally, a girl of eighteen asked the chairman for the privilege of the
floor. She said: "I have listened to all the speeches. I am one who
thinks and feels from the things they describe. I, too, have worked and
suffered. I am tired of the talking. I move that we go on a general

The meeting broke into wild applause. The motion was unanimously
indorsed. The chairman, Mr. Feigenbaum, a Union officer, rapped on the
table. "Do you mean faith?" he called to the workers. "Will you take the
old Jewish oath?" Thousands of right hands were held up and the whole
audience repeated in Yiddish:[14] "If I turn traitor to the cause I now
pledge, may this hand wither from the arm I now raise."

This was the beginning of the general shirt-waist strike. A committee of
fifteen girls and one boy was appointed at the Cooper Union meeting, and
went from one to the other of the overflow meetings, where the same
motion was offered and unanimously indorsed.


"But I did not know how many workers in my shop had taken that oath at
that meeting. I could not tell how many would go on strike in our factory
the next day," said Natalya, afterward. "When we came back the next
morning to the factory, though, no one went to the dressing-room. We all
sat at the machines with our hats and coats beside us, ready to leave.
The foreman had no work for us when we got there. But, just as always, he
did not tell when there would be any, or if there would be any at all
that day. And there was whispering and talking softly all around the room
among the machines: 'Shall we wait like this?' 'There is a general
strike,' 'Who will get up first?' 'It would be better to be the last to
get up, and then the company might remember it of you afterward, and do
well for you,' But I told them," observed Natalya, with a little shrug,
"'What difference does it make which one is first and which one is last?'
Well, so we stayed whispering, and no one knowing what the other would
do, not making up our minds, for two hours. Then I started to get up."
Her lips trembled. "And at just the same minute all--we all got up
together, in one second. No one after the other; no one before. And when
I saw it--that time--oh, it excites me so yet, I can hardly talk about
it. So we all stood up, and all walked out together. And already out on
the sidewalk in front the policemen stood with the clubs. One of them
said, 'If you don't behave, you'll get this on your head.' And he shook
his club at me.

"We hardly knew where to go--what to do next. But one of the American
girls, who knew how to telephone, called up the Woman's Trade-Union
League, and they told us all to come to a big hall a few blocks away.
After we were there, we wrote out on paper what terms we wanted: not any
night work, except as it would be arranged for in some special need for
it for the trade; and shorter hours; and to have wages arranged by a
committee to arbitrate the price for every one fairly; and to have better
treatment from the bosses.

"Then a leader spoke to us and told us about picketing quietly, and the

"Our factory had begun to work with a few Italian strike breakers.[16]
The next day we went back to the factory, and saw five Italian girls
taken in to work, and then taken away afterward in an automobile. I was
with an older girl from our shop, Anna Lunska. The next morning in front
of the factory, Anna Lunska and I met a tall Italian man going into the
factory with some girls. So I said to her: 'These girls fear us in some
way. They do not understand, and I will speak to them, and ask them why
they work, and tell them we are not going to harm them at all--only to
speak about our work.'

"I moved toward them to say this to them. Then the tall man struck Anna
Lunska in the breast so hard, he nearly knocked her down. She couldn't
get her breath. And I went to a policeman standing right there and said,
'Why do you not arrest this man for striking my friend? Why do you let
him do it? Look at her. She cannot speak; she is crying. She did nothing
at all,' Then he arrested the man; and he said, 'But you must come, too,
to make a charge against him.' The tall Italian called a man out of the
factory, and went with me and Anna Lunska and the three girls to the

But when Natalya and Anna reached the court, and had made their charge
against the tall Italian, to their bewilderment not only he, but they,
too, were conducted downstairs to the cells. He had charged them with
attacking the girls he was escorting into the factory.

"They made me go into a cell," said Natalya, "and suddenly they locked us
in. Then I was frightened, and I said to the policeman there, 'Why do you
do this? I have done nothing at all. The man struck my friend. I must
send for somebody.'

"He said, 'You cannot send for any one at all. You are a prisoner.'

"We cried then. We were frightened. We did not know what to do.

"After about an hour and a half he came and said some one was asking for
us. We looked out. It was Miss Violet Pike. A boy I knew had seen us go
into the prison with the Italian, and not come out, and so he thought
something was wrong and he had gone to the League and told them.

"So Miss Pike had come from the League; and she bailed us out; and she
came back with us on the next day for our trial."

On the next morning the case against the tall Italian was rapidly
examined, and the Italian discharged. He was then summoned back in
rebuttal, and Natalya and Anna's case was called. Four witnesses, one of
them being the proprietor of the factory, were produced against them, and
stated that Natalya and Anna had struck one of the girls the Italian was
escorting. At the close of the case against Natalya and Anna, Judge
Cornell said:[17] "I find the girls guilty. It would be perfectly futile
for me to fine them. Some charitable women would pay their fines or they
could get a bond. I am going to commit them to the workhouse under the
Cumulative Sentence Act, and there they will have an opportunity of
thinking over what they have done."

"Miss Violet Pike came forward then," said Natalya, "and said, 'Cannot
this sentence be mollified?'

"And he said it could not be mollified.

"They took us away in a patrol to the Tombs.

"We waited in the waiting-room there. The matron looked at us and said,
'You are not bad girls. I will not send you down to the cells. You can do
some sewing for me here.' But I could not sew. I felt so bad, because I
could not eat the food they gave us at noon for dinner in the long hall
with all the other prisoners. It was coffee with molasses in it, and
oatmeal and bread so bad that after one taste we could not swallow it
down. Then, for supper, we had the same, but soup, too, with some meat
bones in it. And even before you sat down at the table these bones
smelled so it made you very sick. But they forced you to sit down at the
table before it, whether you ate or drank anything or not. And the
prisoners walked by in a long line afterward and put their spoons in a
pail of hot water, just the same whether they had eaten anything with the
spoons or not.

"Then we walked to our cells. It was night, and it was dark--oh, so dark
in there it was dreadful! There were three other women in the cell--some
of them were horrid women that came off the street. The beds were one
over the other, like on the boats--iron beds, with a quilt and a blanket.
But it was so cold you had to put both over you; and the iron springs
underneath were bare, and they were dreadful to lie on. There was no air;
you could hardly breathe. The horrid women laughed and screamed and said
terrible words.

"Anna Lunska felt so sick and was so very faint, I thought what should we
do if she was so much worse in the night in this terrible darkness, where
you could see nothing at all. Then I called through the little grating to
a woman who was a sentinel that went by in the hall all through the
night, 'My friend is sick. Can you get me something if I call you in the

"The woman just laughed and said, 'Where do you think you are? But if you
pay me, I will come and see what I can do.'

"In a few minutes she came back with a candle, and shuffled some cards
under the candlelight, and called to us, 'Here, put your hand through the
grate and give me a quarter and I'll tell you who your fellows are by the
cards.' Then Anna Lunska said, 'We do not care to hear talk like that,'
and the woman went away.

"All that night it was dreadful. In the morning we could not eat any of
the breakfast. They took us in a wagon like a prison with a little
grating, and then in a boat like a prison with a little grating. As we
got on to it, there was another girl, not like the rest of the women
prisoners. She cried and cried. And I saw she was a working girl. I
managed to speak to her and say, 'Who are you?' She said, 'I am a
striker. I cannot speak any English.' That was all. They did not wish me
to speak to her, and I had to go on.

"From the boat they made us go into the prison they call Blackwell's
Island. Here they made us put on other clothes. All the clothes they had
were much, much too large for me, and they were dirty. They had dresses
in one piece of very heavy, coarse material, with stripes all around, and
the skirts are gathered, and so heavy for the women. They almost drag you
down to the ground. Everything was so very much too big for me, the
sleeves trailed over my hands so far and the skirts on the ground so far,
they had to pin and pin them up with safety-pins.

"Then we had the same kind of food I could not eat; and they put us to
work sewing gloves. But I could not sew, I was so faint and sick. At
night there was the same kind of food I could not eat, and all the time I
wondered about that shirt-waist striker that could not speak one word of
English, and she was all alone and had the same we had in other ways.
When we walked by the matron to go to our cells at night, at first she
started to send Anna Lunska and me to different cells. She would have
made me go alone with one of the terrible women from the street. But I
was so dreadfully frightened, and cried so, and begged her so to let Anna
Lunska and me stay together, that at last she said we could.

"Just after that I saw that other girl, away down the line, so white, she
must have cried and cried, and looking so frightened. I thought, 'Oh, I
ought to ask for her to come with us, too' But I did not dare. I thought,
'I will make that matron so mad that she will not even let Anna Lunska
and me stay together,' So I got almost to our cell before I went out of
the line and across the hall and went back to the matron and said: 'Oh,
there is another Russian girl here. She is all alone. She cannot speak
one word of English. Please, please couldn't that girl come with my
friend and me?'

"She said, 'Well, for goodness' sake! So you want to band all the
strikers together here, do you? How long have you known her?'

"I said, 'I never saw her until to-day.'

"The matron said, 'For the land's sake, what do you expect here?' but she
did not say anything else. So I went off, just as though she wasn't going
to let that girl come with us; for I knew she would not want to seem as
though she would do it, at any rate.

"But, after we were in the cell with an Irish woman and another woman,
the door opened, and that Russian girl came in with us. Oh, she was so

"After that it was the same as the night before, except that we could see
the light of the boats passing. But it was dark and cold, and we had to
put both the quilt and the blanket over us and lie on the springs, and
you must keep all of your clothes on to try to be warm. But the air and
the smells are so bad. I think if it were any warmer, you would almost
faint there. I could not sleep.

"The next day they made me scrub. But I did not know how to scrub. And,
for Anna Lunska, she wet herself all over from head to foot. So they
said, very cross, 'It seems to us you do not know how to scrub a bit. You
can go back to the sewing department.' On the way I went through a room
filled with negresses, and they called out, 'Look, look at the little
kid,' And they took hold of me, and turned me around, and all laughed and
sang and danced all around me. These women, they do not seem to mind at
all that they are in prison.

"In the sewing room the next two days I was so sick I could hardly sew.
The women often said horrid things to each other, and I sat on the bench
with them. There was one woman over us at sewing that argued with me so
much, and told me how much better it was for me here than in Russian
prisons, and how grateful I should be.

"I said, 'How is that, then? Isn't there the same kind of food in those
prisons and in these prisons? And I think there is just as much

On the last day of Natalya's sentence, after she was dressed in her own
little jacket and hat again and just ready to go, one of the most
repellent women of the street said to her, "I am staying in here and
you're going out. Give me a kiss for good-by." Natalya said that this
woman was a horror to her. "But I thought it was not very nice to refuse
this; so I kissed her a good-by kiss and came away."

The officers guarded the girls to the prison boat for their return to New
York. There, at the ferry, stood a delegation of the members of the
Woman's Trade-Union League and the Union waiting to receive them.

Such is the account of one of the seven hundred arrests made during the
shirt-waist strike, the chronicle of a peaceful striker.

As the weeks went on, however, in spite of the advice of the Union
officers, there were a few instances of violence on the part of the Union
members. Among thirty thousand girls it could not be expected that every
single person should maintain the struggle in justice and temperance with
perfect self-control. In two or three cases the Union members struck back
when they were attacked. In a few cases they became excited and attacked
strike breakers. In one factory, although there was no violence, the
workers conducted their negotiations in an unfair and unfortunate manner.
They had felt that all their conditions except the amount of wages were
just, and they admired and were even remarkably proud of the management,
a firm of young and well-intentioned manufacturers. Early in the general
strike, however, they went out without a word to the management, without
even signifying to it in any way the point they considered unjust. The
management did not send to inquire. After a few days it resumed work with
strike breakers. The former employees began picketing. The management
sent word to them that it would not employ against them, so long as they
were peaceful and within the law, any of the means of intimidation that
numbers of the other firms were using--special police and thugs. The
girls sent word back that they would picket peacefully and quietly. But
afterward, on their own admission, which was most disarming in its
candor, they became careless and "too gay." They went picketing in too
large numbers and were too noisy. Instantly the firm employed police.
Before this, however, the girls had begun to discuss and to realize the
unintelligence of their behavior in failing to send a committee to the
management to describe their position clearly and to obtain terms. They
now appointed and instructed such a committee, came rapidly to terms with
the management, and have been working for them in friendly relations ever

While in general the strike was both peaceful in conduct and just in
demand and methods of demand on the part of the strikers, these
exceptions must, of course, be mentioned in the interests of truth.
Further, it would convey a false impression to imply that every striker
arrested had as much sense and force of character as Natalya Urusova.
Natalya was especially protected in her ordeal by a vital love of
observation and a sense of humor, charmingly frequent in the present
writer's experience of young Russian girls and women. With these
qualities she could spend night after night locked up with the women of
the street, in her funny, enormous prison clothes, and remain as
uninfluenced by her companions as if she had been some blossoming
geranium or mignonette set inside a filthy cellar as a convenience for a
few minutes, and then carried out again to her native fresh air. But such
qualities as hers cannot be demanded of all very young and unprotected
girls, and to place them wantonly with women of the streets has in
general an outrageous irresponsibility and folly quite insufficiently
implied by the experience of a girl of Natalya's individual penetration
and self-reliance.


In the period since the strike began many factories had been settling
upon Union terms. But many factories were still on strike, and picketing
on the part of the Union was continuing, as well as unwarranted arrests,
like Natalya's, on the part of the employers and the police. The few
exceptions to the general rule of peaceful picketing have been stated.
Over two hundred arrests were made within three days early in December.
On the 3d of December a procession of ten thousand women marched to the
City Hall, accompanying delegates from the Union and the Woman's
Trade-Union League, and visited Mayor McClellan in his office and gave
him this letter:--

     Mayor of the City of New York.

     We, the members of the Ladies' Shirt-waist Makers' Union, a
     body of thirty thousand women, appeal to you to put an
     immediate stop to the insults and intimidations and to the
     abuses to which the police have subjected us while we have been
     picketing. This is our lawful right.

     We protest to you against the flagrant discrimination of the
     Police Department in favor of the employers, who are using
     every method to incite us to violence.

     We appeal to you directly in this instance, instead of to your
     Police Commissioner.

     We do this because our requests during the past six months have
     had no effect in decreasing the outrages perpetrated upon our
     members, nor have our requests been granted a fair hearing.

     Yours respectfully,
          S. SHINDLER, Secretary.

The Mayor thanked the committee for bringing the matter to his attention,
and promised to take up the complaint with the Police Commissioner.

But the arrests and violence of the police continued unchecked.

On the 5th of December the Political Equality League, at the instigation
of Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont, held a packed meeting for the benefit of the
Shirt-waist Makers' Union. Many imprisoned girls were present, and gave
to the public clear, straightforward stories of the treatment they had
received at the hands of the city. The committee of the meeting had
offered the Mayor and other city officials a box, but they refused to be

Again the arrests and violence continued without protection for the
workers. Nevertheless their cause was constantly gaining, and although
all attempts at general arbitration were unsuccessful, more and more
employers settled with the operatives. They continued to settle during
December and January until the middle of February. All but thirteen of
the shops in New York had then made satisfactory terms with the Union
workers. It was officially declared that the strike was over.

Natalya's shop had settled with the operatives on the 23d of January, and
she went back to work on the next day.

She had an increase of $2 a week in wages--$8 a week instead of $6. Her
hours were now fifty-two a week instead of sixty--that is to say, nine
and one-half hours a day, with a Saturday half-holiday. But she has
since then been obliged to enter another factory on account of slack

Among the more skilled workers than Natalya in New York to-day, Irena
Kovalova, who supports her mother and her younger brother and sister, has
$11 a week instead of $9. She is not obliged to work on Sunday, and her
factory closes at five o'clock instead of six on Saturday. "I have four
hours less a week," she said with satisfaction. The family have felt able
to afford for her a new dress costing $11, and material for a suit,
costing $6. A friend, a neighbor, made this for Irena as a present.

Among the older workers of more skill than Irena, Anna Klotin, who sent
$120 home to her family last year, has now, however, only $6, $7, and $8
a week, and very poor and uncertain work, instead of her former $12 a
week. Hers was one of the thirteen factories that did not settle. Of
their one hundred and fifty girls, they wished about twenty of their more
skilled operators to return to them under Union conditions, leaving the
rest under the old long hours of overtime and indeterminate, unregulated
wages. Anna was one of the workers the firm wished to retain on Union
terms, but she felt she could not separate her chances in her trade from
the fortunes of her one hundred and thirty companions. She refused to
return under conditions so unjust for them. She has stayed on in her
boarding place, as her landlady, realizing Anna's responsible character,
is always willing to wait for money when work is slack. She has bought
this year only two pairs of shoes, a hat for 50 cents, and one or two
muslin waists, which she made herself. She has lived on such work as she
could find from time to time in different factories. Anna did not grudge
in any way her sacrifice for the less skilled workers. "In time," she
said, "we will have things better for all of us." And the chief regret
she mentioned was that she had been unable to send any money home since
the strike.

The staunchest allies of the shirt-waist makers in their attempt to
obtain wiser trade conditions were the members and officers of the
Woman's Trade-Union League, whose response and generosity were constant
from the beginning to the end of the strike. The chronicle of the largest
woman's strike in this country is not yet complete. A suit is now pending
against the Woman's Trade-Union League and the Union for conspiracy in
restraint of trade, brought by the Sittomer Shirt-waist Co. A test suit
is pending against Judge Cornell for false imprisonment, brought by one
of the shirt-waist strikers.

The whole outcome of the strike in its effect on women's wages in the
shirt-waist trade, their income and outlay in their work, both
financially and in vitality, cannot, of course, yet be fully known. The
statement that there has been a general rise of wages must be modified in
other ways than that suggested by the depletion of Anna Klotin's income
in the year since the strike. In factories where price on piece-work is
subject to arbitration between a Union committee of the workers and the
firm, the committee is not always able to obtain a fair price for labor.
One of the largest factories made a verbal agreement to observe Union
conditions, but it signed no written contract, and has since broken its
word. It discriminates against Union members, and it insists on Sunday
work and on night work for more than two nights a week. Further, during
the seventeen weeks of the strike many shirt-waist orders ordinarily
filled in New York were placed with New Jersey and Pennsylvania firms.
The present New York season has been unusually dull, and now, on this
writing, early in August, many girls are discouraged on account of the
slight amounts they earn through slack work.

"But that is not the fault of the employers," said one of the workers.
"You must be reasonable for them. You cannot ask them for work they are
not able to obtain to give you." Her remark is quoted both from its
wisdom and for another purpose. She was the girl who will always be
disabled by the attack of her employer's thug. Her quiet and instinctive
mention of the need of justice in considering conditions for employers
had for the listener who heard her a most significant, unconscious
generosity and nobility.

Looking back upon the shirt-waist strike nearly a year afterward, its
profoundest common value would appear to an unprejudiced onlooker to be
its spirit. Something larger than a class spirit, something fairer than a
mob spirit, something which may perhaps be called a mass spirit,
manifested itself in the shirt-waist makers' effort for better terms of

"The most remarkable feature of the strike," says a writer in the
_Call_,[18] "is the absence of leaders. All the girls seem to be imbued
with a spirit of activity that by far surpasses all former industrial
uprisings. One like all are ready to take the chairmanship,
secretaryship, do picket duty, be arrested, and go to prison."

There has never before been a strike quite like the shirt-waist makers'
strike. Perhaps there never will be another quite like it again. When
every fair criticism of its conduct has been faced, and its errors have
all been admitted, the fact remains that the New York strike said, "All
for one and one for all," with a magnetic candor new and stirring in the
voice of the greatest and the richest city of our country--perhaps new
in the voice of the world. Wonderful it is to know that in that world
to-day, unseen, unheard, are forces like those of that ghetto girl who,
in the meanest quarter of New York, on stinted food, in scanty clothes,
drained with faint health and overwork, could yet walk through her life,
giving away half of her wage by day to some one else, enjoying the
theatre at night, and, in the poorest circumstances, pouring her slight
strength out richly like a song for pleasure and devotion. Wonderful it
is to know that when Natalya Urusova was in darkness, hunger, fright, and
cold on Blackwell's Island, she still could be responsibly concerned for
the fortunes of a stranger and had something she could offer to her
nobly. Wonderful to know that, after her very bones had been broken by
the violence of a thug of an employer, one of these girls could still
speak for perfect fairness for him with an instinct for justice truly
large and thrilling. Such women as that ennoble life and give to the
world a richer and altered conception of justice--a justice of
imagination and the heart, concerned not at all with vengeance, but
simply with the beauty of the perfect truth for the fortunes of all
mortal creatures.

Besides the value to the workers of the spirit of the shirt-waist strike,
they gained another advantage. This was of graver moment even than an
advance in wages and of deeper consequences for their future. They
gained shorter hours.

What, then, are the trade fortunes of some of those thousands of other
women, other machine operatives whose hours and wages are now as the
shirt-waist makers' were before the shirt-waist strike? What do some of
these other women factory workers, unorganized and entirely dependent
upon legislation for conserving their strength by shorter working hours,
give in their industry? What do they get from it? For an answer to these
questions, we turn to some of the white goods sewers, belt makers, and
stitchers on children's dresses, for the annals of their income and
outlay in their work away from home in New York.


[Footnote 12: _Union Label Bulletin_, Vol. 2, No. I, p. 1.]

[Footnote 13: This expense would at this date probably be heavier, as the
working girls at one of the St. George's Working Girls' Clubs estimated
early this summer that shoes of a quality purchasable two years ago at $2
would now cost $2.50.]

[Footnote 14: Constance Leupp, in the _Survey_.]

[Footnote 15: The circular of advice issued a little later by the Union
reads as follows:--


    Don't walk in groups of more than two or three.
    Don't stand in front of the shop; walk up and down the block.
    Don't stop the person you wish to talk to; walk along side of him.
    Don't get excited and shout when you are talking.
    Don't put your hand on the person you are speaking to. Don't touch
       his sleeve or button. This may be construed as a "technical
    Don't call any one "scab" or use abusive language of any kind.
    Plead, persuade, appeal, but do not threaten.
    If a policeman arrest you and you are sure that you have committed
       no offense, take down his number and give it to your Union

[Footnote 16: In the factories where the Russian and Italian girls worked
side by side, their feeling for each other seems generally to have been
friendly. After the beginning of the strike an attempt was made to
antagonize them against each other by religious and nationalistic
appeals. It met with little success. Italian headquarters for Italian
workers wishing organizations were soon established. Little by little the
Italian garment workers are entering the Union.]

[Footnote 17: Extract from the court stenographer's minutes of the
proceedings in the Per trial.]

[Footnote 18: Therese Malkiel, December 22.]



[Unskilled and Seasonal Factory Work]


Besides the accounts of the waist makers, the National Consumers' League
received in its inquiry specific chronicles from skilled and from
unskilled factory workers, both hand workers and machine
operatives--among others, packers of drugs, biscuits, and olives,
cigarette rollers, box makers, umbrella makers, hat makers, glove makers,
fur sewers, hand embroiderers, white goods workers, skirt makers, workers
on men's coats, and workers on children's dresses.

As will be seen, the situation occupied and described by any individual
girl may in a year or five years be no longer hers, but that of some
other worker. So that the synthesis of these chronicles is presented, not
as a composite photograph of the industrial experiences in any one trade,
but rather as an accurate kinetoscope view of the yearly life of chance
passing factory workers.

For the purposes of record these annals may be loosely divided into those
of unskilled and seasonal factory workers, and those whose narratives
expressed the effects of monotony and fatigue, from speeding at their
tasks. This division must remain loose to convey a truthful impression.
For the same self-supporting girl has often been a skilled and an
unskilled worker, by hand, at a machine, and in several industries.

Discouragement at the lack of opportunity to advance was expressed by
almost all the narrators of their histories who were engaged in unskilled
factory work. Among them, Emily Clement, an American girl, was one of the
first workers who gave the League an account of her experience.

Emily was tending an envelope machine, at a wage of $6 a week. She was
about twenty years old; and before her employment at the envelope machine
she had worked, at the age of fourteen, for a year in a carpet mill; then
for two years in a tobacco factory; and then for two years had kept house
for a sister and an aunt living in an East Side tenement.

She still lived with them, sharing a room with her sister, and paying $3
a week for her lodging, with board and part of her washing. She did the
rest of her washing, and made some of her sister's clothes and all of her
own. This skill had enabled her to have for $5.20, the cost of the
material, the pretty spring suit she wore--a coat, skirt, and jumper, of
cloth much too thin to protect her from the chill of the weather, but
stylishly cut and becoming.

In idle times she had done a little sewing for friends, for her income
had been quite inadequate. During the twenty-two weeks she had been in
the factory she had had full work for eleven and one-half weeks, at $6;
half-time for eight and one-half weeks, at $3; and two weeks of slack
work, in each of which she earned only $1.50.

She had no money at all to spend for recreation; and, in her hopelessness
of the future and her natural thirst for pleasure, she sometimes accepted
it from chance men acquaintances met on the street.

Another unskilled worker of twenty, Sarina Bashkitseff, intended to
escape from her monotonous work and low wage by educating herself in a
private evening school.

For this she contrived to save $4 a month out of her income of $4 a week.
Sarina packed powders in a drug factory from eight to six o'clock, with
three-quarters of an hour for lunch. She was a beautiful and brilliant
girl, who used to come to work in the winter dressed in her summer coat,
with a little woollen under-jacket to protect her from the cold, and a
plain cheap felt hat, much mocked at by the American girls. Sarina
scorned the mental scope of these girls; scorned to spend for dress,
money with which she could learn to read "Othello" and "King Lear" in the
original; and scorned to spend in giggling the lunch hour, in which she
might read in Yiddish newspapers the latest tidings of the struggle in

In the drug factory, and in her East Side hall bedroom, she lived in a
world of her own--a splendid, generous world of the English tragedies she
studied at night school, and of the thrilling hopes and disappointments
of the Russian revolution.

She had been in New York a year. In this time she had worked in an
artificial flower factory, earning from $2 to $2.25 a week; then as a
cutter in a box factory, where she had $3 a week at first, and then $5,
for ten hours' work a day. She left this place because the employer was
very lax about payment, and sometimes cheated her out of small amounts.
She then tried finishing men's coats; but working from seven-thirty to
twelve and from one to six daily brought her only $3 a week and severe

From her present wage of $4 she spent 60 cents a week for carfare and
$4.25 a month for her share of a tenement hall bedroom. Although she did
not live with them, her mother and father were in New York, and she had
her dinners with them, free of cost. Her luncheon cost her from 7 to 10
cents a day, and her breakfast consisted of 1-1/2 cents' worth of rolls.

All that made Sarina Bashkitseff's starved and drudging days endurable
for her was her clear determination to escape from them by educating
herself. Her fate might be expressed in Whitman's words, "Henceforth I
ask not good fortune, I myself am good fortune."

Whatever her circumstances, few persons in the world could ever be in a
position to pity her.

Marta Neumann, another unskilled factory worker, an Austrian girl of
nineteen, was also trying to escape from her present position by
educating herself at night school, but was drained by cruel homesickness.

Marta had spent all her youth, since her childhood, at home,--four years
in New York,--in factory work, without the slightest prospect of
advancement. Her work was of the least skilled kind--cutting off the ends
of threads from men's suspenders, and folding and placing them in boxes.
She earned at first $3 a week, and had been advanced to $5 by a 50-cent
rise at every one of the last four Christmases since she had left her
mother and father. But she knew she would not be advanced beyond this
last price, and feared to undertake heavier work, as, though she had
kept her health, she was not at all strong.

She worked from eight to six, with half an hour at noon. On Saturday the
factory closed at five in winter and at one in summer. Her income for the
year had been $237.50. She had spent $28.50 for carfare; $13 for a suit;
$2 for a hat; and $2 for a pair of shoes she had worn for ten months. Her
board and lodging with a married sister had cost her $2.50 a week, less
in one way than with strangers. But she slept with part of her sister's
family, did her own washing and her sister's, scrubbed the floor, and
rose every day at half past five to help with the work and prepare her
luncheon before starting for the factory at seven.

Marta could earn so little that she had never been able to save enough to
make her deeply desired journey back to Austria to see her mother and
father. Although both their children were in the new country, her mother
and father would not be admitted under the immigration law, because her
father was blind.

The lack of opportunity to rise, among older unskilled factory workers,
may be illustrated by the experience of Mrs. Hallett, an American woman
of forty, a slight, gentle-voiced little widow, who had been packing
candies and tying and labelling boxes for sixteen years. In this time she
had advanced from a wage of $4 a week to a wage of $6, earned by a week
of nine-hour days, with a Saturday half-holiday.

However, as with Marta, this had represented payment from the company for
length of service, and not an advance to more skilled or responsible
labor with more outlook. In Mrs. Hallett's case this was partly because
the next step would have been to become a clerk in one of the company's
retail stores, and she was not strong enough to endure the all-day
standing which this would require. Mrs. Hallett liked this company. The
foreman was considerate, and a week's vacation with pay was given to the

Mrs. Hallett lived in an excessively small, unheated hall bedroom, on the
fourth floor of an enormous old house filled with the clatter of the
elevated railroad. On the night of the inquirer's call, she was
pathetically concerned lest her visitor should catch cold because "she
wasn't used to it." She lighted a small candle to show her the room,
furnished with one straight hard chair, a cot, and a wash-stand with a
broken pitcher, but with barely space besides for Mrs. Clark and her
kind, public-spirited little hostess. They sat, drowned at times in the
noise of the elevated, in almost complete darkness, as Mrs. Hallett
insisted on making a vain effort to extract some heat for her guest from
the single gas-jet, by attaching to it an extremely small gas-stove.

For this room, which was within walking distance of the candy factory,
Mrs. Hallett paid $1.75 a week. Her breakfast of coffee and rolls in a
bakery near by cost her 10 cents daily. She apportioned 15 or 25 cents
each for her luncheon or dinner at restaurants. In her hungriest and most
extravagant moments she lunched for 30 cents. Her allowance for food had
to be meagre, because, as she had no laundry facilities, she was obliged
to have her washing done outside. Sometimes she contrived to save a
dollar a week toward buying clothing. But this meant living less tidily
by having less washing done, or going hungrier. During the last year her
expense for clothing had been a little more than $23: summer hat, $1;
winter hat, $1.98; best hat, $2; shoes (2 pairs at $2.98, 2 pairs
rubbers), $7.16; wrap (long coat), $2.98; skirt (a best black
brilliantine, worn two years), at $5.50, $2.75; underskirt (black
sateen), 98 cents; shirtwaist (black cotton, worn every day in the year),
98 cents; black tights, 98 cents; 2 union suits at $1.25 (one every other
year), $1.25; 6 pairs stockings at 25 cents, $1.50; total, $23.56.

She said with deprecation that she sometimes went to the theatre with
some young girl friends, paying 25 cents for a seat, "because I like a
good time now and then."

These trade fortunes represent as clearly as possible the usual
industrial experience of the women workers in unskilled factory labor who
gave accounts of their income and outlay in their work away from home in
New York.


The chronicles printed below, taken from establishments of different
kinds and grades, express as clearly as possible the several features
most common to the trade fortunes the workers described--uncertain and
seasonal employment, small exploitations, monotony in occupation, and
fatigue from speeding.

Because of uncertain and seasonal employment, machine operatives in the
New York sewing industries frequently change from one trade to another.
This had been the experience of Yeddie Bruker, a young Hungarian
white-goods worker living in the Bronx.

The tenements of the Bronx appear as crowded as those of the
longer-settled neighborhoods of Manhattan, the lower East Side, Harlem,
Chelsea, and the cross streets off the Bowery, where so many
self-supporting factory workers live. These newer-built lodgings, too,
have close, stifling halls, and inner courts hung thick with washing.
Here, too, you see, through the windows, flower makers and human hair
workers at their tasks; and in the entries, hung with Hungarian and
German signs, the children sit crowded among large women with many puffs
of hair and a striking preference for frail light pink and blue princess
dresses. These blocks of Rumanian and Hungarian tenement districts, their
fire-escapes hung with feather beds and old carpets, and looking like
great overflowing waste-baskets, are scattered in among little bluff
ledges, scraggy with walnut brush, some great rocks still unblasted, and
several patches of Indian corn in sloping hillside empty lots--small,
strange heights of old New York country, still unsubmerged by the wide
tide of Slav and Austrian immigration.

In this curious and bizarre neighborhood, Yeddie Bruker and her sister
lived in a filthy tenement building, in one room of an extremely clean
little flat owned by a family of their own nationality.

Yeddie was a spirited, handsome girl of twenty-one, though rather worn
looking and white. At work for six years in New York, she had at first
been a machine operative in a large pencil factory, where she fastened to
the ends of the pencils the little corrugated tin bands to which erasers
are attached. Then she had been a belt maker, then a stitcher on men's
collars, and during the last four years a white-goods worker.

In the pencil factory of her first employment there was constant danger
of catching her fingers in the machinery; the air was bad; the forewoman
was harsh and nagging, and perpetually hurrying the workers. The jar of
the wheels, the darkness, and the frequent illnesses of workers from
breathing the particles of the pencil-wood shavings and the lead dust
flying in the air all frightened and preyed upon her. She earned only $4
a week for nine and one-half hours' work a day, and was exhausting
herself when she left the place, hastened by the accident of a girl near
her, who sustained hideous injuries from catching her hair in the

In the collar factory she again earned $4 a week, stitching between five
and six dozen collars a day. The stitch on men's collars is extremely
small, almost invisible. It strained her eyes so painfully that she was
obliged to change her occupation again.

As an operative on neckwear, and afterward on belts, she was thrown out
of work by the trade seasons. These still leave her idle, in her present
occupation as a white-goods worker, for more than three months in every

In the remaining nine months, working with a one-needle machine on
petticoats and wash dresses, in a small factory on the lower East Side,
she has had employment for about four days in the week for three months,
employment for all the working days in the week for another three months,
and employment with overtime three nights in a week and an occasional
half day on Sunday, for between two and three months. Legal holidays and
a few days of illness made up the year.

In full weeks her wage is $8. Her income for the year had been $366, and
she had been able to save nothing. She had paid $208 for her board and
lodging, at the rate of $4 a week; a little more than $100 for clothing;
$38 for carfare, necessitated by living in the Bronx; $3 for a doctor;
$2.60 to a benefit association, which assures her $3 a week in case of
illness; $5 for the theatre; and $6 for Union dues.

Her work was very exhausting. Evenly spaced machine ruffling on
petticoats is difficult, and she had a great deal of this work to do. She
sewed with a one-needle machine, which carried, however, five cottons and
was hard to thread. It may be said here that the number of needles does
not necessarily determine the difficulty of working on sewing-machines;
two-needle machines are sometimes harder to run than five or even
twelve-needle machines, because they are more cheaply and clumsily
constructed and the material is held less firmly by the metal guide under
the needle-point. It was not her eyes, Yeddie said, that were tired by
the stitching, but her shoulders and her back, from the jar of the
machines. Every month she suffered cruelly, but, because she needed
every cent she made, she never remained at home, when the factory was

One of the most trying aspects of machine-speeding, in the sewing trades,
is the perpetual goading and insistence of the foremen and forewomen,
frequently mentioned by other workers besides Yeddie. Two years ago, in a
waist and dress factory where 400 operatives--more than 300 girls and
about 20 men--were employed for the company by a well-known
subcontractor, Jake Klein, a foreman asked Mr. Klein to beset some of the
girls for a degree of speed he said he was unwilling to demand. The
manager discharged him. He asked to speak to the girls before he went
away. The manager refused his request. As Mr. Klein turned to the girls,
his superior summoned the elevator man, who seized Klein's collar,
overpowered him, and started to drag him over the floor toward the
stairs. "Brothers and sisters," Klein called to the operatives, "will you
sit by and see a fellow-workman used like this?" In one impulse of clear
justice, every worker arose, walked out of the shop with Jake Klein, and
stayed out till the company made overtures of peace. This adventure,
widely related on the East Side, serves to show the latent fire, kindled
by the accumulation of small overbearing oppressions, which smolders in
many sewing shops.

The uncertainty of employment characterizing the sewing trades fell
heavily on Sarah Silberman, a delicate little Austrian Jewish girl of
seventeen, who finished and felled women's cloaks.

She had always lived in poverty. She had worked in a stocking factory in
Austria when she was a little thing of nine, and had been self-supporting
ever since she was fourteen, machine-sewing in Vienna and London and New

She had been in New York for about a year, lodging, or rather sleeping at
night, in the tenement kitchen of some distant cousins of hers,
practically strangers. The kitchen opened on an air-shaft, and it was
used, not only as a kitchen, but as a dining room and living-room. For
the first four months after her arrival Sarah earned about $5 a week,
working from nine and one-half to ten hours a day as a finisher of boys'
trousers. From this wage she paid $3 a week for her kitchen sleeping
space and breakfast and supper. Luncheon cost her 7 cents a day. She had
been able to buy so very little clothing that she had kept no account of
it. She did her own washing, and walked to work.

She had never had any education until she came to America, and she now
attended a night school, in which she was keenly interested. She was
living in this way when her factory closed.

She then searched desperately for employment for two weeks, finding it
at last in a cloak factory[20] where she was employed from half past
seven in the morning until half past six or seven in the evening, with a
respite of only a few minutes at noon for a hasty luncheon. Her wage was
$3 a week. Working her hardest, she could not keep the wolf from the
door, and was obliged to go hungry at luncheon time or fail to pay the
full rent for her place to sleep in the kitchen.

Sarah was very naturally unstrung and nervous in this hardness of
circumstance and her terror of destitution. As she told her story, she
sobbed and wrung her hands. In the next six months she had better
occupation, however, in spasmodically busy shops, where the hours were
shorter than in the cloak factory, and she managed to earn an average
wage of $6 a week. She was then more serene; she said she had "made out

During her six weeks of better pay at $6 a week, however, which so few
people would consider "making out good," she had suffered an especially
mean exploitation.

She applied at an underwear factory which constantly advertises, in an
East Side Jewish paper, for operatives. The management told her they
would teach her to operate if she would work for them two weeks for
nothing and would give them a dollar. She gave them the dollar; but on
the first day in the place, as she received no instructions, and learned
through another worker that after her two weeks of work for nothing were
over she would not be employed, she came away, losing the dollar she had
given to the firm.

Another worker who was distressed by the dull season, and had witnessed
unjust impositions, was Katia Markelov, a young operative on corsets. She
was a tiny, grave-looking girl of nineteen, very frail, with smooth black
hair, a lovely refinement of manner, and a very sweet smile. Like many
other operatives, she wore glasses. Katia was a good manager, and an
industrious and clever student, a constant attendant at night school.

In the factory where she was employed she earned about $10 a week as a
week worker, a skilled worker making an entire corset, after it was cut
and before it was trimmed. But she had only twelve full weeks' work in
the year; for two and a half months she was entirely idle, and for the
remaining six and a half months she worked from two to five days a week.
Her income for the year had been about $346.

Katia worked with a one-needle machine in a small factory off lower
Broadway. Before that she had been employed as a week worker in a Fifth
Avenue corset factory, which may be called Madame Cora's. Shortly before
Katia left this establishment, Madame Cora changed her basis of payment
from week work to piece-work. The girls' speed increased. Some of the
more rapid workers who had before made $10 were able to make $12. On
discovering this, Madame Cora cut their wages, not by frankly returning
to the old basis, but by suddenly beginning to charge the girls for
thread and needles. She made them pay her 2 cents for every needle.
Thread on a five-needle machine, sometimes with two eyes in each of the
needles, stitches up very rapidly. The girls were frequently obliged to
pay from a dollar and a half to two dollars a week for the thread sewed
into Madame Cora's corsets, and for needles. They rebelled when Madame
Cora refused to pay for these materials herself. From among the three
hundred girls, thirty girls struck, went to Union headquarters, and asked
to be organized. But Madame Cora simply filled their places with other
girls who were willing to supply her with thread for her corsets, and
refused to take them back. Katia did not respect Madame Cora's methods,
and had left before the strike.

Katia spent $2.50 a week for breakfast and dinner and for her share of a
room with a congenial friend, another Russian girl, in Harlem. The room
was close and opened on an air-shaft, but was quiet and rather pleasant.
She paid from $1.25 to $1.50 for luncheons, and, out of the odd hundred
dollars left from her income, had contrived, by doing her own washing and
making her own waists, to buy all her clothing, and to spend $5 for books
and magazines, $7 for grand opera, which she deeply loved, and $30 for an
outing. On account of her cleverness Katia was less at the mercy of
unjust persons than some of the less skilful and younger girls.

Among these, Molly Davousta, another young machine operative, was
struggling to make payments to an extortionate ticket seller, who had
swindled her in the purchase of a steamboat ticket.

When Molly was thirteen, her mother and father, who had five younger
children, had sent her abroad out of Russia, with the remarkable
intention of having her prepare and provide a home for all of them in
some other country.

Like Dick Whittington, the little girl went to London, though to seek,
not only her own fortune, but that of seven other people. After she had
been in London for four years, her father died. She and her next younger
sister, Bertha, working in Russia, became the sole support of the family;
and now, learning that wages were better in America, Molly, like
Whittington, turned again and came to New York.

Here she found work on men's coats, at a wage fluctuating from $5 to $9 a
week. She lived in part of a tenement room for a rent of $3 a month. For
supper and Saturday meals she paid $1.50 a week. Other food she bought
from groceries and push carts, at a cost of about $2 a week. As she did
her own washing, and walked to work, she had no other fixed expenses,
except for shoes. Once in every two months these wore to pieces and she
was forced to buy new ones; and, till she had saved enough to pay for
them, she went without her push cart luncheon and breakfast.

In this way she lived in New York for a year, during which time she
managed to send $90 home, for the others.

Her sister Bertha, next younger than herself, had then come to New York,
and obtained work at sewing for a little less than $6 a week. Between
them, in the following six months, the two girls managed to buy a passage
ticket from Russia to New York for $42, and to send home $30. This, with
the passage ticket and two other tickets, which they purchased on the
instalment plan from a dealer, at a profit to him of $20, brought all the
rest of the family into New York harbor--the girls' mother, their three
younger sisters of fifteen, fourteen, and eight, and a little brother of

Five months afterward Molly and Bertha were still making payments for
these extortionate tickets.

In New York, the sister of fifteen found employment in running ribbons
into corset covers, earning from $1 to $1.50 a week. The
fourteen-year-old girl was learning operating on waists. The family of
seven lived in two rooms, paying for them $13.50 a month; their food cost
$9 or $10 a week; shoes came to at least $1 a week; the girls made most
of their own clothing, and for this purpose they were paying $1 a month
for a sewing-machine; and they gave $1 a month for the little brother's
Hebrew schooling.

Molly was seen in the course of a coat makers' strike. She wept because
the family's rent was due and she had no means of paying it. She said she
suffered from headache and from backache. Every month she lost a day's
work through illness.

She was only nineteen years old. By working every hour she could make a
fair wage, but, owing to the uncertain and spasmodic nature of the work,
she was unable to depend upon earning enough to maintain even a fair
standard of living.

A point that should be accentuated in Molly Davousta's account is the
price of shoes. No one item of expense among working girls is more
suggestive. The cost of shoes is unescapable. A girl may make over an old
hat with a bit of ribbon or a flower, or make a new dress from a
dollar's worth of material, but for an ill-fitting, clumsy pair of shoes
she must pay at least $2; and no sooner has she bought them than she must
begin to skimp because in a month or six weeks she will need another
pair. The hour or two hours' walk each day through streets thickly
spread, oftener than not, with a slimy, miry dampness literally dissolves
these shoes. Long after up-town streets are dry and clean, those of the
congested quarters display the muddy travesty of snow in the city. The
stockings inside these cheap shoes, with their worn linings, wear out
even more quickly than the shoes. It is practically impossible to mend
stockings besides walking to work, making one's waists, and doing one's

All Molly Davousta's cares, her anxiety about shoes and her foreboding
concerning seasonal work, were increased by her position of family

In the same way, in the course of her seasonal work, family
responsibility pressed on Rita Karpovna. She was a girl of nineteen, who
had come to America a few years before with her older brother, Nikolai.
Together they were to earn their own living and make enough money to
bring over their widowed mother, a little brother, and a sister a year or
two younger than Rita.

Soon after she arrived, she found employment in finishing men's vests,
at $6 or $7 a week, for ten hours' work a day. Living and saving with her
brother, she contrived to send home $4 a month. Between them, Nikolai and
Rita brought over their mother and the little brother. But, very soon
after they were all settled together, their mother died. They were
obliged to put the little brother into an institution. Then Nikolai fell
from a scaffolding and incapacitated himself, so that, after his partial
recovery, his wage was sufficient only for his own support, near his

Rita now lived alone, spending $3.50 a month for a sleeping place in a
tenement, and for suppers $1.25 a week. Her luncheons and breakfasts,
picked up anywhere at groceries or push carts, amounted, when she was
working, to about 12 cents a day. At other times she often went without
both meals. For in the last year her average wage had been reduced to
$4.33 a week by over four months and a half of almost complete idleness.
Through nine weeks of this time she had an occasional day of work, and
for nine weeks none at all.

When she was working, she paid 60 cents a week carfare, 25 cents a month
to the Union, of which she was an enthusiastic member, and 10 cents a
month to a "Woman's Self-Education Society." The Union and this club
meant more to Rita than the breakfasts and luncheons she dispensed with,
and more, apparently, than dress, for which she had spent only $20 in a
year and a half.

Some months afterward, Mrs. Clark received word that Rita had solved many
of her difficulties by a happy marriage, and could hope that many of her
domestic anxieties were relieved.

The chief of these, worry over the situation of her younger sister, still
in Russia, had been enhanced by her observations of the unhappiness of a
friend, another girl, working in the same shop--a tragedy told here
because of its very serious bearing on the question of seasonal work.
Rita's younger sister was in somewhat the same position as this girl,
alone, without physical strength for her work, and, indeed, so delicate
that it was doubtful whether her admission to the United States could be
secured, even if Rita could possibly save enough for her passage money.
The friend in the shop, hard pressed by the dull season, had at last
become the mistress of a man who supported her until the time of the
birth of their child, when he left her resourceless. Slack and dull
seasons in factory work must, of course, expose the women dependent on
their wage-earning powers, most of them young and many of them with great
beauty, to the greatest dangers and temptations.[21] Especially at the
mercy of the seasons were some of the fur sewers, and the dressmakers,
and milliners working, not independently, but in factories and workshops.

Helena Hardman, an Austrian girl, a fur sewer, had been employed for only
twenty weeks in the year. She sewed by hand on fur garments in a Twelfth
Street shop, for $7 a week, working nine hours a day, with a Saturday
half-holiday. The air and odors in the fur shop were very disagreeable,
but had not affected her health.

At the end of the twenty weeks she had been laid off, and had looked
unsuccessfully for work for seventeen weeks, before she found employment
as an operative in an apron factory. Here, however, in this unaccustomed
industry, by working as an operative nine hours a day for five days a
week, and six hours on Saturday, she could earn only $3 or $4.

She paid $4 a week for board and a tenement room shared with another
girl. She had been obliged to go in debt to her landlady for part of her
long idle time, after her savings had been exhausted.

During this time she had been unable to buy any clothing, though her
expense for this before had been slender: a suit, $18; a hat, $3; shoes,
$3; waists, $3; and underwear, $2.50. She looked very well, however, in
spite of the struggle and low wages necessitated by learning a secondary

The dull season is tided over in various ways. A few fortunate girls go
home and live without expense. Many live partly at the expense of
philanthropic persons, in subsidized homes. In these ways they save a
little money for the dull time, and also store more energy from their
more comfortable living.

On the horizon of the milliner the dull season looms black. All the world
wants a new hat, gets it, and thinks no more of hats or the makers of
hats. On this account a fast and feverish making and trimming of hats, an
exhausting drain of the energy of milliners for a few weeks, is followed
by weeks of no demand upon their skill.

Girl after girl told the investigator that the busy season more than wore
her out, but that the worry and lower standard of living of the dull
season were worse. The hardship is the greater because the skilled
milliner has had to spend time and money for her training.

Many of these girls try to find supplementary work, as waitresses in
summer hotels, or in some other trade. A great difficulty here is the
overlapping of seasons. The summer hotel waitress is needed until
September, at least, but the milliner must begin work in August. To
obtain employment in a non-seasonal industry, it is often necessary to
lie. In each new occupation it is necessary to accept a beginner's wage.

Regina Siegerson had come alone, at the age of fifteen, from Russia to
New York, where she had been for seven years. The first winter was cruel.
She supported herself on $3 a week. She had been forced to live in the
most miserable of tenements with "ignorant" people. She had subsisted
mainly by eating bananas, and had worn a spring jacket through the cold
winter. It seemed, however, that no hardship had ever prevented her from
attending evening school, where her persistence had taken her to the
fourth year of high school. She was thinking of college at the time of
the interview. Regina was a Russian revolutionist, and keenly thirsting
for knowledge. She talked eagerly to the inquirer about Victor Hugo,
Gorky, Tolstoy, and Bernard Shaw. With no less interest she spoke of the
trade fortunes of milliners in New York, and her own last year's
experience. She had worked through May, June, and July as a trimmer,
making $11 in a week of nine hours a day, with Saturday closing at five.
During August and September and the first weeks in October she had only
six weeks' work, as a maker in a ready-to-wear hat factory, situated on
the lower West Side over a stable, where she made $10 in a week of nine
hours a day.

Regina and a girl friend had managed to furnish a two-room tenement
apartment with very simple conveniences, and there they kept house. Rent
was $10.50 a month; gas for heating and cooking, $1.80; and food for the
two, about $5 a week. As Regina did her own washing, the weekly expense
for each was but $3.67, less than many lodgers pay for very much less

The greatest pleasure the girls had in their little establishment was the
opportunity it gave them for entertaining friends. Before, it had been
impossible for them to see any one, except in other people's crowded
living-rooms, or on the street.

Regina was engaged to a young apothecary student, whom she expected to
marry in the spring. Like her, he was in New York without his family, and
he took his meals at the two girls' little flat with them.

Regina's father, who was living in Russia with a second wife, had sent
her $100 when she wrote him of her intended marriage. This, and about $40
saved in the six weeks of earning $10, were her reserve fund in the long
dull season.

The inquirer saw Regina again a few days before Thanksgiving. She was
still out of work, but was learning at home to do some mechanical china
decorating for the Christmas trade.

Among the milliners, several girls were studying to acquire, not only a
training in a secondary trade, but the better general education which
Frances Ashton, a young American girl of twenty, had obtained through
better fortunes.

Her father, a professional man, had been comfortably situated. Without
anticipating the necessity of supporting herself, she had studied
millinery at Pratt Institute for half a year. Then, because it was rather
a lark, she had gone to work in New York. Most of her wage was spent for
board and recreation, her father sending her an allowance for clothes.

After a year, his sudden death made it necessary for her to live more
economically, as her inheritance was not large. The expenses of an attack
of typhoid one summer, and of an operation the next year, entirely
consumed it.

In the year she described, she had been a copyist in one of the most
exclusive shops on Fifth Avenue. The woman in charge was exceptionally
considerate, keeping the girls as long as possible. She used to weep
when she was obliged to dismiss them, for she realized the suffering and
the temptation of the long idle period.

However, the season had lasted only three or three and a half months at a
time, from February 1 to May 15, and from August 18 to December 4. During
the six busy weeks in the spring and the autumn, while the orders were
piling up, work was carried on with feverish intensity. The working day
lasted from eight-thirty until six, with an hour at noon for luncheon.
Many employees, however, stayed until nine o'clock, receiving $1, besides
30 cents supper money, for overtime. But by six o'clock Frances was so
exhausted that she could do no more, and she always went home at that

In addition to her thirty weeks in the Fifth Avenue order establishment,
Frances had two weeks' work in a wholesale house, where the season began
earlier; so that she had been employed for thirty-two weeks in the year,
and idle for twenty. She was a piece-worker and she had earned from $8 to
$14 a week.

The twenty idle weeks had been filled with continuous futile attempts to
find anything to do. Application at department stores had been
ineffectual, so had answered advertisements. She said she had lost all
scruples about lying, because, the moment it was known that she wanted a
place during the dull season only, she had no chance at all.

Frances lived in one of the pleasantest and most expensive subsidized
homes for working girls, paying for board, and a large, delightful room
shared with two other girls, $4.50 a week. Although she walked sometimes
from work, carfare usually amounted to 50 cents a week. Laundering two
sets of underwear and one white waist a week cost 60 cents. Thus, for a
reasonable degree of cleanliness and comfort, partly provided by
philanthropic persons, she spent $5.60 a week aside from the cost of

She dressed plainly, though everything she had was of nice quality. She
said she could spend nothing for pleasure, because of her constant
foreboding of the dull season, and the necessity of always saving for her
apparently inevitable weeks of idleness. She was, at the time she gave
her account, extremely anxious because she did not know how she was to
pay another week's board.

Yet she had excellent training and skill, the advantage of living
comfortably and being well nourished, and the advantage of a considerate
employer, who did as well as she could for her workers, under the

Something, then, must be said about these circumstances--this widespread
precariousness in work, against which no amount of thrift or
industriousness or foresight can adequately provide. Where industry acts
the part of the grasshopper in the fable, it is clearly quite hopeless
for workers to attempt to attain the history of the ant. Among the
factory workers, the waist makers' admirable efforts for juster wages
were, as far as yearly income was concerned, largely ineffectual, on
account of this obstacle of slack and dull seasons, whose occurrence
employers are as powerless as employees to forestall.

These chronicles, showing the effect of seasonal work on the fortunes of
some self-supporting operatives and hand workers in New York factories
and workshops, concern only one corner of American industry, in which, as
every observer must realize, there are many other enormous fields of
seasonal work. These histories are nevertheless clear and authentic
instances of a strange and widespread social waste. Neither trade
organization nor State legislation for shorter hours is primarily
directed toward a more general regular and foresighted distribution of
work among all seasonal trades and all seasonal workers. Until some
focussed, specific attempt is made to secure such a distribution, it
seems impossible but that extreme seasonal want, from seasonal idleness,
will be combined with exhausting seasonal work from overtime or
exhausting seasonal work in speeding, in a manner apparently arranged by
fortune to devastate human energy in the least intelligent manner

Further effects of speeding and of monotony in this labor were described
by other self-supporting factory workers whose chronicles, being also
concerned with industry in mechanical establishments, will be placed

[Illustration: Photograph by Lewis Hine

     "Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound;--
      But where is what I started for so long ago,
      And why is it still unfound?"



[Footnote 19: See Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage-earners in
the United States. Volume II, Men's Ready-made Clothing, pages 141-157;
160-165; 384-395.]

[Footnote 20: The income and outlay of other cloak makers will be
separately presented.]

[Footnote 21: In the first report of the New York Probation Association
the statement is made that out of 300 girls committed by the courts
during the year to the charge of Waverley House, 72 had been engaged in
factory work. Of these many had been at one time or other employed as
operatives. On questioning the probation worker, Miss Stella Miner, who
had lived with them and knew their stories most fully, it was learned,
however, that almost every one of these girls had gone astray while they
were little children, had been remanded by courts to the House of the
Good Shepherd, where they had learned machine operating, and on going out
of its protection to factories had drifted back again to their old ways
of life. How far their early habit and experience had dragged these young
girls in its undertow cannot of course, be known. The truth remains that
factory work, when it is seasonal, must increase temptation by its
economic pressure.]



[Monotony and Fatigue in Speeding]

One of the strangest effects of the introduction of machinery into
industry is that instead of liberating the human powers and initiative of
workers from mechanical drudgery, it has often tended to devitalize and
warp these forces to the functions of machines.[22]

This stupefying and wearying effect of machine-work from concentration
and intensity of application and attention was frequently mentioned by
the factory workers in their accounts.

Tina Levin, a young girl eighteen years old, had worked two years in an
underwear factory in New York; and before her arrival in America, six
years in an underwear factory in Russia. She had come from abroad to her
fiancé, Ivan Levin, whom she had recently married. She still worked in
the underwear factory, although she was not entirely self-supporting. She
and her young husband met the League's Inquirer at a Jewish Girls'
Self-Education Club, where they gave between them the account of Tina's
self-supporting years.

Before her marriage, Tina had worked at a machine ten hours a day for an
underwear manufacturer on Canal Street. In the height of the season the
shop often worked overtime until 8 o'clock, two or three nights a week.
Besides this, many of the girls took hand work home, where they sewed
till eleven or twelve o'clock. But Tina was so exhausted by her long day
that she never did this. Working as hard as possible, she earned $7, and
sometimes $8 a week, during the six busy months.

For part of this time she lived a full hour-and-a-half's car ride from
the factory. So that with dressing, and eating two meals at her lodging,
when she was at the machine twelve hours a day, she had only about six
hours sleep.

At least half the year was so dull that she could earn only $3 or $3.50 a
week; and she was so worn out that every month she was utterly unable to
work for three or four days. This loss had reduced her income by $32. She
had been obliged to pay $9 for medicine. Her income for the year had been
about $262. For board and lodging in a tenement she had paid $3.50 a
week; for carfare 60 cents a week; and she had sent $5 home in the year;
and given $9 for medicine; $36 for the dentist; and $1 a month to the
Jewish Girls' Self-Education Society. She had less than $10 left for
dress for the year. But her lover had helped her with many presents; and
had given her many good times and pleasures, besides those obtainable at
the Jewish Girls' Self-Education Society.

Tina had the advantage of a knowledge of English. This lack of
opportunity to learn the tongue of the country in which she lived was
poignantly regretted by another machine operative, Fanny Leysher, a
white-goods operative of twenty-one who had been in America four years.
She lived in one room of a tenement off the Bowery, where she boarded and
lodged for $4 a week. She worked in a factory within walking distance,
earning $7 a week in the busy season.

Fanny was a pretty, fair girl, with a graceful presence, a wistful smile,
and the charm peculiar to blond Russians with long gray eyes. She looked,
however, painfully frail and white. In the factory she had worked for
four years, first at time work, then at piece-work. She could earn $7 a
week by stitching up and down the fronts and stitching on the belts of
108 corset covers--9 dozen a day. This was the most she could possibly
complete. The unremitting speeding and close attention this amount of
stitching required left her too exhausted at six o'clock to be able to
attend night school, or to learn English. She suffered greatly from
headache and from backache.

Fanny worked in this way for forty-one weeks of the year. For six weeks
she worked three days in the week. For two weeks the factory closed. For
three weeks she had been ill.

She was a girl of quick nervous intelligence, eager for life and with a
nice sense of quality. When she talked of her inability to go to night
school because of her frailness and weariness, tears flooded her eyes.
Her room was very nicely kept, and she had on a shelf a novel of
Sudermann's and a little book of Rosenthal's sweat shop verses.
Everything she wore was put on carefully and with good taste. Her dress
showed the quickest adaptability, and in correctness, and simplicity of
line and color might have belonged to a college freshman "with every
advantage." It was a little trim delft-blue linen frock with a white
piqué collar and a loose blue tie. She had tan stockings and low russet
shoes. Fanny belonged to the Working-man's Circle. She said she went as
often as she could possibly afford it to the theatre. And when she was
asked what plays she liked, she replied with an unforgettable keenness
and eagerness, "Oh, I want nothing but the best. Only what will tell me
about real life."

She said she had spent too much money for dress last year; but she had
been able to buy clothing of a quality which she thought would last her
for a long time. The little plain gold watch in her list she had partly
needed and partly had been unable to resist. One of the three summer
dresses costing $14 was her blue linen dress, for which she had given $7.
She expected to wear it for two summers with alterations.

     Last year's suit cleaned                                   $ 3
     Shoes                                                       11
     Hat                                                         10
     Dresses (1 winter, $10; 3 summer, $14)                      24
     Coat                                                         9
     Every-day hat                                                4.50
     Muslin (for white waists and corset covers made by herself)  5
     Umbrella                                                     2
     Gloves                                                       2
     Pocket-book                                                  1
     Watch                                                       11

Painful as it was in some ways to see Fanny Leysher, who liked "nothing
but the best," pouring her life force into stitching 108 corset covers a
day, she yet seemed less helpless than some still younger workers.

Minna Waldemar, a girl of sixteen, an operative in an umbrella factory,
had been in the United States for six months. For five months of this
time she had been stitching the seams and hems of umbrella covers for 35
cents a hundred. Her usual output was about 200 a day. By working very
fast, she could in a full day make 300, but when she did, it left her
thumb very sore.

Minna paid $3 a month for sleeping space in a tenement; $1.75 a week for
suppers; and for breakfasts and luncheons, from 15 to 30 cents a day.

She wore a black sateen waist, which had cost $1. A suit had cost $8; a
hat, $3; and a pair of shoes, $2. Working her hardest and fastest, she
had not received enough money to pay for even these meagre belongings,
and was obliged to have assistance from her brother, her only relative in
New York.

Every line of Minna's little figure looked overworked. This was true,
too, of Sadie, a little underfed, grayish Austrian girl of seventeen, who
had come to New York as the advance guard of her family.

In the last year since her arrival, two and one-half years before, she
had first been employed for seven months in a neckwear factory, where she
earned from $2.50 a week to $6 and $7 on piece-work. In two very busy
weeks she had earned $9 a week.

After the slack season, the factory closed. Hunting desperately for a way
to make money, Sadie found employment as an operative on children's
dresses, running a foot-power machine in a tenement work-room for $2.50 a
week. In the second week her wage was advanced to $3 and continued at
this for the next three or four months.

After this, the demand for neckwear had increased again. She had returned
to the neckwear factory, and was earning $6 a week. Her busiest days were
eleven hours long, and her others nine.

She spent nothing for pleasure. She could send nothing to her family. In
the course of two years and a half she had bought one hat for $3 and a
suit for $12. She went to night school, but was generally so weary that
she could learn really nothing. She did her own washing, and for $3 a
month she rented a sleeping space in the kitchen of a squalid, crowded
East Side tenement. It was the living-room of her poverty-stricken
landlady's family; and she had to wait until they all left it, sometimes
late at night, before she dragged her bed out of an obscure corner and
flung it on the floor for her long-desired sleep. Supper with the
landlady cost her 20 cents a night. Sadie's breakfasts and dinners
depended absolutely upon her income and her other expenses. As in the
weeks when she was earning $3 she had only 90 cents for fourteen meals a
week and her clothing, and in the weeks when she earned $2.50, only 40
cents a week for fourteen meals and her clothing, her depleted health is
easily understood.

Sadie's custom of paying rent and yet dragging a pallet out of the corner
and finding or waiting for a place to throw it in, like a little vagrant,
is very characteristic of East Side tenements. She paid $36 a year for
lodging, and yet can scarcely be said to have received for this sum any
definite space at all under a roof-tree, honestly provided for her as her
own, but simply the chance of getting such a place when she could.

If she had attempted to find a better and less expensive place for
sleeping, in a less congested quarter of the city, she would have been
obliged to pay, besides her rent, a sum at least half as large, for
transportation. In the same way, for this really very large sum of $15 or
$20 paid yearly to the city railroads, she would not have received in
their cars any definite place at all, honestly provided for her as her
own, but simply a chance of getting a foothold when she could on a
cross-town car or the Bronx elevated during the rush hours. The yearly
sums paid to the car companies by factory workers too exhausted to walk
home are very striking in these budgets. Tina Levin had paid nearly
$30--more than she had spent for her clothing during the year. This
expense of carfare and the wretched conditions in transportation which
most of the car companies supply to the workers compelled to use their
lines in rush hours is a difficulty scarcely less than that of New York
rents and congestion, and inseparably connected with them.

Anna Flodin, a girl of eighteen, forced by illness to leave the congested
quarters of New York for the Bronx, did not attempt to return to work
until she was able to live again within walking distance of the factory.

Anna Flodin was a pale, quiet girl with smooth black hair and a serious,
almost poignant expression. All her life had been one of poverty, a sheer
struggle to keep the wolf from the door. She spoke no English, though she
could understand a little.

She stitched regularly in the busy season 1568 yards of machine sewing
daily in fastening belts to cheap corset covers. The forewoman gave her
in the course of the day 28 bundles, each containing 28 corset covers
with the belts basted to the waist lines and the loose ends of the belts
basted ready to finish.

The instant Anna failed to complete this amount, or seemed to drop behind
in the course of the day, the forewoman blamed her, and threatened to
reduce her wage.

Anna worked in this manner ten hours a day, for $6 a week. If she were
five minutes late, she was docked for half an hour. She was docked for
every needle she broke in the rapid pace she was obliged to keep, and in
the first year she was obliged to pay out of her wage, which had then
been only $5 a week, for all the many hundred yards of thread she
stitched into the white-goods company's output.

In order to complete 784 yards of belting a day--over 1600 yards of
stitching, for she fastened both edges of the belt--she was forced, of
course, to work as fast as she could feed and guide belts under the
needle. She had strong eyes. But her back ached from the stooping to
guide the material, and she suffered cruelly from pain in her shoulders.

There had been seventeen weeks of this work. Then there had been ten
weeks of two or three days' work a week, when it seemed impossible to
earn enough to live on. Then, ten weeks when the factory closed. Then she
had an illness lasting over two months, which began a few weeks after the
factory closed.

She said the doctor had told her that her illness was consumption and
that he had cured it. It must have been, of course, not consumption or
not arrested in that space of time. But, during it, she had paid him
$28.50 and given $22.50 for her board and lodging, with an uncle in the
Bronx, and for milk and eggs.

Almost as soon as she was declared able to return to stitching seven
hundred belts a day, she hurried back to work. But within a few days the
girls struck against the company's practice of making them buy thread,
and were out for five weeks. At the end of this time they won their

Altogether her income for the year had been about $150; and the severity
and amount of labor she had given in earning it had left her cruelly

She could not possibly live on this amount, as board and lodging alone
had cost her $3 a week--$126 for the year. She had been obliged to borrow
$50 for her treatment in her illness; and she had not yet paid back this
sum. Besides, her landlady had trusted her for some board bills she had
not yet paid. For clothing she had spent $26.59,--one dress for $7; one
hat for $2; one jacket for $6; two pairs of shoes at $2; a pair for $4;
36 pairs of stockings at 10 cents a pair for $3.60; three waists at 98
cents each for $2.94; and three suits of winter underwear for $1.05. But
she said winter underwear of this quality failed to keep her really warm.

In the evening she was too tired to leave the tenement for night school
or for anything else. She did her own washing. In the course of a year
her only pleasure had been a trip to the theatre for 35 cents.

Anna Flodin lived in a very poor tenement off the Bowery; and she told
her experiences in her work, in spite of her muteness and struggle to
express herself, with a sort of public spirit, and an almost
ambassadorial dignity, which was inexpressibly touching.

That spirit--a fine freedom from personal self-consciousness and clear
interest in testifying to the truth about women's work, and wages, and
expenditure of strength--was evinced by countless girls. None, indeed,
were pressed for any facts they did not wish to give, nor sought, unless
they wished to help in the inquiry. But perhaps because it arose from
such an immured depth of youth spent in foreboding poverty, the voice of
Anna Flodin's chronicle was distinctively thrilling.

She told her experience in her work with great clearness, sitting in a
little dark, clean room in a tenement, looking out on a filthy,
ill-smelling inner court. The only brightening of her grave, young face
throughout her story and our questions was her smile when she spoke of
her one visit to the theatre, and another change of expression when she
spoke of the other girls in the shop, in connection with the strike about
thread. She was a member of the Union. In the shop there were girls not
members who were willing to continue to buy the management's thread
indefinitely. Anna Flodin said quietly, with a look of quick scorn, that
she would never have anything to do with such girls.

Her mute life and mechanical days could make one understand in her with
every sympathy all kinds of unreasoning prejudices and aversions.

She was very young; and it was partly her youth which deepened all the
sense of dumb oppression and exhaustion her still presence and appealing
eyes imparted. There is a great deal of talk about the danger and sadness
of dissipation in youth. Too little is said of the fact that such an
enclosing monotony and stark poverty of existence as Anna Flodin's is in
youth sadness itself, as cruel to the pulses in its numb passage as the
painful sense of wreck. All tragedies are not those of violence, but of
depletion, too, and of starvation.

The drain and exhaustion experienced after a day of speeding at a machine
was described by another worker, a girl of good health and lively mind,
who afterwards found more attractive employment. She said that in her
factory days she used to walk home, a distance of a mile, at nine
o'clock, after her work was done, with a cousin. The cousin was another
clever and spirited Russian girl of the same age. They had a hundred
things to talk about, but as they left the factory, one would almost
always say to the other: "Please do not speak to me on my way home. I am
so tired I can scarcely answer." Instantly after supper they went to bed.
In the morning they hurried through breakfast to be at the factory at
eight, to go through the round of the day before.

"We only went from bed to work, and from work to bed again," one of the
girls said, "and sometimes if we sat up a little while at home, we were
so tired we could not speak to the rest, and we hardly knew what they
were talking about. And still, although there was nothing for us but bed
and machine, we could not earn enough to take care of ourselves through
the slack season."

It is significant to compare with the account of these ill-paid
operatives, exhausted from speeding, the chronicle of a skilled worker in
a belt-factory, Theresa Luther, earning $17 a week.

She was a young German-American Protestant woman of 27, born in New York.
After her father died, she instantly helped her older brother shoulder
the support of the family, as readily as though she had been a capable
and adventurous boy. Strong, competent, and high-spirited, Miss Luther
was a tall girl, fair-haired, with dark blue eyes, and a very beautiful
direct glance.

Her father had been a wood-carver, an artist responsible for some of the
most interesting work in his craft done in New York. Theresa, too, had
dexterity with her hands. At the age of fifteen she entered a leather
belt factory as a "trimmer." She was so quick that she earned almost
immediately $7 a week, a remarkable wage for a beginner of fifteen. Soon
she was permitted to fold and pack. Not long afterwards, overhearing a
forewoman lamenting the absence of machine operatives, she observed that
she could run a sewing-machine at home. The forewoman, amused, placed her
at the machine. After that she had stitched belts for eleven years,
though not in the same factory.

Leather belt stitching is at once heavy and skilled work. The row of
stitching is placed at the very edge of the belt. The slightest deviation
from a straight line in the stitch spoils the entire piece of work.
Running the needle-point through the leather is hard, and requires so
much strength that the stitching through the doubled leather,
necessitated by putting on the buckle, can be performed only by men.
Theresa used to complete two gross of belts a day. She and other
Americans in the factory were hard-pressed by some Russian girls, who
could finish in a day four gross of very badly sewed belts with enormous
stitches and loose threads. When the forewoman blamed Theresa for
finishing less work than these girls, she freely expressed her contempt
for their slovenly belts. She had a strong handicraft pride, and it was
pleasant to see her instinctive scorn in quoting the forewoman's reply
that "None of them (the badly made belts) ever came back"--as though
their selling quality were the one test of their workmanship.

She had left the factory because of a complete breakdown from long hours
of overwork. In one winter she had been at the machine seventy-one hours
a week for ten weeks. After this severe experience, she had a long
prostration and was depleted, exhausted, in a sort of physical torpor in
which she was unable to do anything for months.

On her recovery she entered another factory, where the hours are not so
excessive, the treatment is fair, and she has now an excellent position
as forewoman at $18 a week.

Theresa was a very earnest, clear-minded girl, with strong convictions
concerning the bad effect of excessive hours for working women. At the
time when the hearing on the New York State Labor Law was held at Albany
last spring, she had been active in obtaining a petition, signed by a
body of New York working girls and placed in the hands of Labor
Commissioner Williams, to aid in securing a shortening of their present
legal hours. Theresa had advanced beyond the drudgery of her trade to one
of its better positions by extraordinary ability. Some of the skilled
machine operatives, like some of the unskilled factory workers, were
buoyed through the monotony of their present calling by the hope of
leaving it for another occupation.

Alta Semenova, a Polish glove maker, twenty years old, worked nine hours
a day at a machine for $7 a week, and studied five evenings a week in a
private evening school, for which she paid $4 a month tuition.

She lived in a small hall bedroom with an admired girl friend. Each paid
$4.25 a month rent. Her food amounted to $2.90 a week. Saturday evening
she spent in doing her washing. She lived near enough to the factory to
walk to work in five or ten minutes. She paid 25 cents a month for Union

Alta was working for "counts" toward entering college or Cooper Union. In
spare moments she read the modern Russians. During her year in New York
she has mastered sufficient English to read Shakespeare in the original.
In a few years she will be a teacher. Alta was an eager Russian
revolutionist. She had the student's passion, and her head was full of
plans for a life of intellectual work.

These chronicles of the income and outlay of some New York factory
workers have described monotony and speeding in machine-work. The annals
of the New York factory workers presented below describe monotony and
speeding in hand-work.

Yetta Sigurdin, an Austrian girl nineteen years old, had been in New York
three years, and in the last year and a half had been employed in a
tobacco factory, a Union shop, as a skilled roller, on piece-work.

Her hours were eight a day. In a full day, Yetta could roll 2200
cigarettes. So her best wage was about $12 a week. The average was,
however, not more than $8, as the factory had been idle four weeks, and
very dull for five months, though busy for the remaining six.

Yetta looked very robust and happy. She seemed comfortable in her work
and with her income, in spite of the extra labor of washing some of her
own clothes and making her own waists. This, no doubt, was due largely to
her sane and reasonable working hours, and partly to the fact that her
work did not require the intensity of watching and application demanded
by rapid machine-work. Indeed in some Union tobacco factories the rollers
sometimes make up a sum among themselves to pay a reader by the hour to
read aloud to them while they are at work.

Yetta paid $3 a week for room, breakfast, and supper in a tenement. It
was in an extremely poor neighborhood, but was fresh, pleasant, and well
aired. Her dinners cost about $1.50 a week. She did part of her washing
and part was included in the charge for board. Her Union fee was 15 cents
a week. The members of the Cigarette Makers' Union pay a weekly due of 5
cents for the support of a sanatorium in Colorado for tubercular tobacco
workers. Yetta contributed to this sanatorium and gave a 10-cent monthly
fee for Union agitation.

She estimated the cost of her clothing at about $82 for the year. A
winter suit cost $14; a spring suit, $15; a summer dress, $5; and a
winter dress, $18. Six pairs of shoes cost $15. She could not remember
the items of the rest of her expenditure for dress. Part of it was for
underwear and part of it for material for waists she had made herself.

In spite of the monotony and speed of Yetta's work, it did not exhaust
her powers of living, because it neither required intense application nor
was pursued beyond a reasonable number of hours.

Barbara Cotton, an American woman of thirty-two, a skilled hand-worker in
an electrical goods factory, had been self-supporting for more than
eighteen years, spending the last nine in her present employment.

In the electrical goods factory she separated layers of mica until it was
split into the thinnest possible sheets. She was paid by the number she
succeeded in splitting. The constant repetition of an act of such
accuracy for nine hours a day had strained her eyes excessively and made
her extremely nervous.

For six months of these nine-hour days, she earned $8 or $8.50 a week.
During the other six months there was no work on Saturdays, and she
earned about $7 a week. She had a week's vacation with pay. She had lost
during the year she described two months' work from illness, due to her
run-down condition. This she said, however, was not caused by her work,
but by combining with it, in an emergency, the care of the children of a
sister, who had been sick.

Miss Cotton belonged to a benefit society and through her own illness she
had received an allowance of $5 a week.

Her income for the year had been about $367, an average of $7.06 a week.

Miss Cotton had tried living in boarding-houses and furnished rooms, and
although the expense was about the same, the places were much less
attractive in every way than the hotel for working girls where she was
staying at the time of the interview.

For half of a room a little larger than an ordinary hall bedroom and for
breakfasts and dinners, she paid $4.50 a week. Luncheons in addition cost
her $1 a week. As she was within walking distance of work, she had no
other expense but 35 cents for part of her washing. The rest she did

She bought very little clothing, as out of the $1.15 a week she had left
after paying every necessary expense, she generously helped to support a
sick sister and niece. After eighteen years of hard, steady work--nine
years of it skilled work--she had saved nothing except in the form of
benefit fees, and she had no prospect of saving.

Although she was nervously worn, and her eyesight was strained, she was
less exhausted by her industrial experience than Katherine Ryan, an Irish
worker of forty-five, who had been cutting and sewing trimmings for six
years in an appliqué factory.

Eight and a quarter hours of this work a day exhausted her. She received
$7 a week. Her eyes were fast failing her from the close watch she had
to keep on her scissors to guard against cutting too far.

She often went to bed at eight or half past eight o'clock, worn out by
one day's task and eager to be fresh for the next, for she was hard
pressed by the competition of young eyes and quick fingers.

Newer workers were given finer and more profitable work to do. In spite
of her faithfulness, and straining for speed, she was laid off two months
earlier in the last season than in any previous year, and newer helpers
were retained. She thought the forewoman was prejudiced against her, and
naturally could not understand the truth that from the standpoint of
modern industry she was aged at forty-five.

She had been paying $3 a week for board in a philanthropic home, and
there she was permitted to stay and to pay for her board and lodging when
she had no money by helping with the housework. Miss Ryan, however, had
exhausted herself less rapidly than Elena and Gerda Nakov, two young
Polish women of thirty-three and twenty-nine, skilled hand-workers on
children's dresses.

Elena had come from South Russia to seek her fortunes when she was
sixteen years old. Her mother and father were dead. She had been educated
by an uncle, with whom her younger sister, Gerda, remained.

According to the testimony of Elena's brother-in-law, the kind-hearted
husband of a married sister living in New York, and also according to the
testimony of Gerda, Elena at sixteen was a very beautiful girl. She was
small, but very strong and well knit, with a fresh, glowing color, deep
gray eyes, and heavy reddish gold hair, growing low upon her forehead in
a widow's peak.

Elena first found work as a cigarette roller, earning $4 a week. Here she
was subjected to constant insolence and scurrilous language from the
foreman and the men working with her. Her eyes turned black with contempt
when she spoke of this offence--"Oh" she exclaimed, "I thought, 'I am
poor, but I will never in my life be so poor as to stand things like

She left the tobacco factory and found employment as a neckwear worker.
Here, too, she earned $4, but the season grew dull, and she entered a
small factory, where she worked on children's dresses, embroidering,
buttonholing, faggoting, and feather-stitching. In this craft she proved
to have such deftness, nicety of touch, and speed that she could do in an
hour twice as much as most of the other girls and women in the factory.

She sewed from eight to six, with half an hour for lunch. She always took
work home and sometimes she sewed for half of Sunday, for living expenses
consumed all of her $4 a week. Her stomach had failed her in the
intensity of her occupation and from the insufficient food she was able
to purchase, and she needed all the extra money she could earn for
doctor's bills and medicine.

She was thin, spent, worn, and pale, when Gerda came over from Russia,
four years after Elena had arrived. Gerda was a strong, attractive girl,
with good health, dark curling hair, and a lovely color.

Entering the same factory with Elena, she soon became almost as able as
her sister in fine sewing, and almost as ill. She earned $3 a week.

The factory was owned by a young German widow, Mrs. Mendell, an extremely
attractive, pretty, and skilful person, appearing in her office an
agreeable and well-educated young woman, and able to produce the most
engaging little dresses, caps, and undermuslins for children, at a high
profit, by paying extremely small wages to skilled immigrant
seamstresses. In her workroom, Mrs. Mendell alternately terrorized and
flattered the girls. She speeded them constantly. Unless they had done as
much work as she wished to accomplish through the day, she refused to
speak to them. She made the younger girls put on her boots, and dress her
when she changed her office frock for the clothes in which she motored
home at night. And in the morning she punished girls who had not
finished as much work as she wished over night by giving them the worst
paid and hardest sewing in the factory.

One night she sent Elena and Gerda home with two great bundles of
infants' bands--shoulder-straps and waistbands--to be made ready to be
fastened to long skirts the next morning. They were all to be
feather-stitched around the shoulder-bands and upper edges of the
waist-bands, three buttons sewed on, and three buttonholes made in each.
This was to be done for 2-1/2 cents a piece--a quarter a dozen.

In the morning after she had completed this work, Elena felt so nervous
and ill when she went to the factory, that as she handed Mrs. Mendell
back the bundle and received the quarter, she burst into tears. She told
Mrs. Mendell she was sick. She could not live and work as she was
working. Gerda's eyes were always strained. Their wages must be raised.

Mrs. Mendell replied with calm and self-approbation, that she herself
stayed in the factory all day, but she never complained in any such way.
However, she raised Elena's wages 50 cents.

At this time the two girls lived in a tiny, inner room with one window,
on an air-shaft in an East Side tenement. For this they paid $8 a month.
It was scarcely more than a closet, holding one chair, one table, and a
bed; and so small that Elena and Gerda could scarcely squeeze in between
their meagre furnishings. They did their own washing, cooked their own
breakfasts on the landlady's stove, prepared a lunch they took with them
to the factory, and paid 20 cents a night apiece for dinner. Almost all
the money they had left, after their lodging and board and the barest
necessities for clothing were paid for, went for medicines and doctors.

Their clothing was so poor that they were ashamed to go out on
Sunday--when everybody else put on "best dresses"--and would sit in their
room all day. However, in the evenings they sometimes went to see
relatives in the Bronx, and on one of these occasions they had a piece of
good fortune of the oddest character. On the elevated road on which they
happened to be riding there was an accident--a collision. They were
neither of them injured; but they saw the collision, and were summoned as
witnesses for the road. They were obliged to spend several mornings away
from making children's dresses, waiting to give their testimony in the
criminal court, which they found highly pleasant and recreative. However,
after all, the road settled with the prosecutors before the girls were
ever called on for their testimony, and the case never came to trial. But
the railroad gave Elena and Gerda for the time they had spent on its
behalf a check for $20.

At this they determined to move to better quarters. The factory, besides,
had grown and moved into larger rooms farther up-town (though its
workrooms had always been well lighted and ventilated), so that the girls
were obliged to spend more than they could afford for carfare. With the
$20 they furnished their room in Harlem. They were in a wild,
disreputable neighborhood, of which the girls remained quite independent.
But the rooms were airy and attractive. Having now their own furnishings,
they paid only $8 a month for all this added space and comfort, so that
they could continue to live in these accommodations, but only with severe
effort and industry on Elena's part. For Gerda's optic nerve was now so
affected by strain, and she suffered so from indigestion, faintness, and
illness, that she was unable to go to the factory. She kept the house,
doing some sewing at home.

Elena's wages during the next six years, by struggle after struggle with
Mrs. Mendell, were raised to $7 a week after her thirteen years of
service. But she was nearly frantic with alarm over her failing health.
She was thin and frail, and eating almost nothing from gastritis.

At last a woman physician she saw told her she must stop work or she
would die. Her stomach was almost completely worn out. This doctor sent
her to a hospital, and visited Gerda and sent her, too, to a hospital.

This was four years ago. But both the young women are so broken down that
no efforts of public or private philanthropic medical care in the state
and the city have been able to restore their health. The doctors in whose
charge they have been say that these young women's strength is simply
worn out from these years of overwork and strain and poor and scanty
food, and that they can never again be really well.

They leave the hospitals or sanatoria for a few weeks of wage-earning,
six, at the most, to return again ill and unable to do any work at all.
Their life is now indeed a curious modern pilgrimage among the various
forms of charitable cure and the great charitable institutions of the
community which is entirely unable to return to them the strength they
have lost in its industries.

It may be pointed out that the exhaustion of these two workers has
involved a loss and expense not only to themselves, but to the factory
management, which has been obliged to employ in Elena's place two other
less skilful embroiderers, and to the taxpayers and the philanthropists
of New York who support charity hospitals and vacation homes.

These chronicles express as clearly as possible, in the order followed,
monotony and speeding in factory work among younger and older women,
operatives and hand-workers.

While one of the strangest results of the introduction of machinery into
modern industry is that instead of liberating the human powers and
initiative of the workers, it has often tended to devitalize and warp
these forces to the functions of machines, yet this result is so strange
that it cannot seem inevitable. Speeding for long hours at machines,
rather than machine labor itself, appears most widely responsible for the
fatigue described by the operatives whose trade histories have been
narrated. Further, speeding and long hours were responsible for the most
drastic experience of exhaustion related among all the factory workers
encountered--the experience of Elena and Gerda Nikov, who were employed
not at machines, but in handiwork so delicate it might with more accuracy
be called a handicraft.

The exhaustion of these workers was partly attributable to their custom
of pursuing their trade not only in factory hours, but outside the
factory, at home. Within the last year, the most widely constructive
effort to abolish sweated home labor from the needle trades ever
undertaken in this country has been initiated by the New York cloak
makers, to whom we next turned for an account of their industrial


[Footnote 22: These testimonies are cited from the brief for the Illinois
Ten-Hour Law, prepared by Louis D. Brandeis and Josephine Goldmark.

_Investigations into the Conditions of Health of the Swiss Factory
Workers._ Dr. Fridlion Schuler, Swiss Factory Inspector, and Dr. A. E.
Burckhardt, Professor of Hygiene.

"Instead of becoming wearied by personal labor, as in earlier stages of
industry, it is to-day the unremitting, tense concentration of watching
the machine, the necessary rapidity of motion, that fatigues the worker."

_Dangerous Trades._ Thomas Oliver, M.A., M.D., F.R.C.P. London. 1902.

"The introduction of steam has revolutionized industry.... While
machinery has, in some senses, lightened the burden of human toil it has
not diminished fatigue in man. While the machinery pursues its relentless
course, and insensitive to fatigue, human beings are conscious,
especially towards the end of the day, that the competition is unequal,
for their muscles are becoming tired and their brains jaded. Present-day
factory labor is too much a competition of sensitive human nerve and
muscle against insensitive iron."

_Fourteenth International Congress of Hygiene and Demography_, Berlin,
September, 1907. Fatigue Resulting from Occupation. Dr. Emil Roth,
Regierungsrat, Potsdam.

"With the progressive division of labor, work has become more and more
mechanical. A definite share of overfatigue and its sequels, especially
neurasthenia, must be ascribed to this monotony--to the absence of
spontaneity or joy in work."

_Proceedings of the First International Convention on Industrial
Diseases_, Milan, 1906. Imbecility and Criminality in Relation to
Certain Forms of Labor. Professor Crisafuli.

"When only one brain-centre works, it becomes overfatigued much more
easily than if the functions were alternately performed by the various

"Here, then, is another factor in overfatigue due to the _monotony_ of
work, interrupted only at long intervals.

"This monotony is the determining cause of local disturbances and
endangers the entire organism."]



Forty million dollars are invested in New York in the making of women's
cloaks, skirts, and suits. One hundred and eighty million dollars' worth
of these garments are produced in New York in a year.[23]

Between sixty and seventy thousand organized men and women in the city
are employed in these industries. The Union members constitute
ninety-five per cent of the workers engaged in the trade, and about ten
thousand of these members are women.[24]

It seems at first strange to find that the multitudinous fields of the
metropolitan needle trades,--industries traditionally occupied by sewing
women,--are, in fact, far more heavily crowded with sewing men. There is,
however, a division of labor, the men doing practically all the cutting,
machine sewing, and pressing, and in many cases working at
hand-finishing; the women practically never cutting, machine sewing, or
pressing, and in all cases working at hand-finishing.

A general strike involving all these men and women in the cloak making
trade was declared on the 8th of July, 1910. The industry had for years
burdened both its men and women workers with certain grave
difficulties--an unstandardized wage, the subcontracting system,
competition with home work, and long seasonal hours.

The subcontracting system bore most severely on the women in the trade,
as the greater proportion of the finishers were women, and before the
strike nearly every finisher was employed by a subcontractor.

The wages paid to finishers in the same shop, whether they were girls or
men, were the same. But as compared with cutters, basters, and operators
the finishers both before and since the strike had always been paid
relatively below their deserts.

Wages were lowered, not only by the unstandardized rates prevalent
through the sub-subcontracting system, but also by the practice of
sending hand-finishing out of the factories and shops to be done at home.
When inquiry was made of numerous self-supporting girls employed as cloak
finishers, most of them said that at the end of the working day they were
too exhausted to carry any sewing home. But work had been carried away
by various strong girls in the trade, and by old men, and by young men to
their families.

Among the women cloak finishers, Rose Halowitch, a delicate little
Russian girl of seventeen, a helper in a cloak factory, who gave her
account to the Consumers' League, about two years and a half ago received
a wage of from $3.50 to $6 a week. In busy weeks she would work from
eight in the morning till eight at night, with only one stop of an hour
for her insufficient noon lunch, for which she could afford to spend only
6 or 7 cents.

Among the home workers Rhetta Salmonsen, a Russian woman of forty, the
mother of four children, used to finish at night the cloaks brought to
her by her husband, who worked through the day as an operator in a cloak
factory. Between them they would earn $12 and $15 in busy weeks. In these
weeks there were some occasions when Mrs. Salmonsen would do the
housework till her husband came home late at night. After clearing away
his supper and putting the children to bed, she would start felling seams
at midnight; and in order to complete the cloaks he had brought before he
returned to the shop in the morning, she would sew until she saw the
white daylight coming in at the tenement window, and it was time for her
to prepare breakfast again. With all this industry, as her husband had
been ill and there had been three months of either slack work or
idleness, the family had fallen in debt. Rent, food, and shoes alone had
cost them $400. This left less than $100 a year for all the other
clothing and expenses of six people in New York. Against such a standard
of living as this, then, cloak finishers were obliged to compete as long
as they attempted to underbid the hours and prices of home work.

Among the stronger girls who had taken work home, Ermengard Freiburg, a
powerful young Galician woman of twenty-eight, who had been finishing
cloaks ever since she was eleven, had earned $1 in the first week and had
advanced rapidly to $3 a week. In the last years, however, she had not
carried any work home. She had sewed on piece-work from eight in the
morning to six at night with an hour for lunch and no night work or
overtime. She had earned from $20 to $25 a week in the busy weeks when
the better pieces of work were more plentiful; and in the slack weeks $6
and $7. Ermengard had no complaint whatever to make about her own trade
fortunes. All her concern and conversation were for the numbers of women
cloak makers who lacked her own wonderful strength. Successful without
education, she was astonishingly destitute of the wearisome fallacy of
complacent self-reference characteristic of many people of uncommon
ability. During the past year she had twice been discharged for
organizing the workers in cloak factories where she was employed. In the
first establishment subcontracting had made conditions too hard for most
of the women; and in the second, wages were too low for a decent
livelihood for most of the workers.

These instances serve to express in the industry and lives of women cloak
workers the subcontracting system, long seasonal hours, home work, and an
unstandardized wage--the features under discussion in the cloak making
trade in the spring of 1910.

The whole cloak making trade of New York presents, for an outside
observer, the kaleidoscopic interest of a population not static. The
cutter of one decade is the employer of another decade. In the general
strike of the cloakmakers in 1896 nearly all the manufacturers were
German. In the strike of last summer nearly all the manufacturers were
Galician and Russian.

This aspect of the New York needle trades must be borne in mind in
realizing those occurrences in the last strike which led to the present
joint effort of both manufacturers and workers to standardize the wage
scale, to regulate seasonal hours, to abolish the subcontracting system
and home work, and to establish the preferential Union shop throughout
the metropolitan industry.

Dr. Henry Moskowitz, an effective non-partisan leader in achieving the
settlement of the strike, was an eye-witness and student of all its
crises, and the outline of its history below is mainly drawn from his
chronicle and observation.

Between the cloak makers and the manufacturers of New York a contest
waged in numerous strikes had continued for twenty-five years. The
agreements reached at the close of these strikes had been only temporary,
because the cloak makers were never able to maintain a Union strong
enough to hold the points won at the close of the struggle. The cloak
makers had always proved themselves heroic strikers, but feeble
Unionists, lacking sustained power. Again and again, men and women who
had been sincerely ready to risk starvation for the justice of their
claims during the fight would in peace become indifferent, fail to attend
Union meetings, fail to pay Union dues; and the organization, strong in
the time of defeat through the members' zeal, would weaken through their
negligence in the critical hour of an ill-established success.

The main contestants in this struggle had been the cloak makers on one
side, and on the other the manufacturers belonging to the Cloak and Suit
Manufacturers' Protective Association. The majority of the manufacturers
in the association are men of standing in the trade, controlling large
West Side establishments, and supplying fifty per cent of the New York
output, though they represent only a small percentage of the cloak houses
of New York. These cloak houses altogether number between thirteen and
fourteen hundred, most of them on the East Side and the lower West Side,
manufacturing cheap and medium-grade clothing. Such smaller houses had
frequently broken the strikes of the last twenty-five years by temporary
agreements in which they afterwards proved false to the workers. Many
small dealers had become rich merchants through such strike harvests.

On this account the cloak makers naturally distrusted employers'
agreements. On the other hand, in many instances in the settlement of
former strikes, cloak makers had made with certain dealers secret terms
which enabled them to undersell their competitors. For this reason the
manufacturers naturally distrusted cloak makers' agreements. With this
mutual suspicion, the strike of 1910 began in June in two houses, an East
Side and a West Side house. From the first house the workers went out
because of the subcontracting system, and from the second practically on
account of lockout.

On the 3d of July, a mass meeting of 10,000 cloakmakers gathered in
Madison Square Garden. It was decided that the question of a general
strike should be put to the vote of the 10,000 Union members. Balloting
continued at the three polls of the three Union offices for two
succeeding days. Of these 10,000, all but about 600 voted in favor of the
strike, and of these 600 the majority afterward declared that they, too,
were in sympathy with the action.

The wide prevalence of the difficulties which led to the decision of the
10,000 workers assembled at Madison Square Garden was evinced by the fact
that within the next week an army of over 40,000 men and women in the New
York garment trade joined the Cloak and Suit Makers' Union.

These crowds poured into the three Union offices, filled the building
entries, the streets before them, reached sometimes around the
block--great processions of Rumanians, Hungarians, Poles, Germans,
Italians, Galicians, and Russians, the last two nationalities in the
greatest numbers, men and women who had been driven out of Europe by
military conscription, by persecution and pillage, literally by fire and
sword, bearded patriarchs, nicely dressed young girls with copies of
Sudermann and Gorky under their arms, shawled, wigged women with children
clinging to their skirts, handsome young Jews who might have stood as
models for clothiers' advertisements--cutters, pressers, operators,
finishers, subcontractors, and sub-subcontractors; for these, too, struck
with all the rest. In watching these sewing men and sewing women
streaming through the Union office on Tenth Street--an office hastily
improvised in an old dwelling-house in a large room, evidently formerly a
bedroom, and still papered with a delicate design of white and blue
stripes, and a border of garlands of rosebuds--it seemed to an onlooker
that almost no economic procession could ever before have comprised
elements so very catholic and various. Who could lead such a body? How
could the position of their great opponents, from day to day, be made
known to them? As a matter of fact, no one man can be said to have led
the 60,000 New York cloak makers. In the absence of such control, the
corps of more prominent Union officers and their attorney, Meyer London,
and through these men the multitudes of the Union members, were virtually
guided by an East Side Yiddish paper, the _Vorwärts_.

In the meantime, while these multitudes were flocking into the Union
early in July, the Cloak Manufacturers' Association, representing
beforehand about seventy-five houses, had by the inclusion of many
smaller firms extended its membership to twelve hundred

Soon after the formation of the alliance, it became apparent to the
smaller firms that the larger ones were not in any haste for settlement.
The latter felt that they could beat their opponents by a waiting game;
while the smaller firms, with their lesser capital, scarcely more able
than their workers to exist through a prolonged beleaguering of the cloak
makers, felt that the present stand of the larger manufacturers involved,
not only beating the Unionists, but driving themselves, the weaker
manufacturers, out of the industry.

One by one, they left the association, sought the Union headquarters, and
settled with the cloak makers. The profit reaped by these firms starting
to work induced others to meet the workers' demands. By the end of July
and the first week in August, six hundred smaller firms, employing
altogether 20,000 cloakmakers, had settled.[26] In many instances the
men and women marched back to their work with bands of music playing and
with flying flags and banners.

In July two attempts were made, on behalf of the cloak makers, by the
State Board of Arbitration to induce the manufacturers to meet the Union
members and to arbitrate with them. These attempts failed because the
Union insisted on the question of the closed shop as essential. The
manufacturers refused to arbitrate the question of the closed shop.

At this juncture a public-spirited retailer of Boston, Mr. Lincoln
Filene, entered the controversy. Mr. Filene resolved that, as a large
consumer, he and his class had no right to shirk their responsibility by
passively acquiescing in sweat-shop conditions. As an intermediary
between the wholesaler and the public, the retailer had an important part
in the conflict, not only because he suffered directly from the temporary
paralysis of the industry, but also because his indifference to the
claims of the worker for a just wage, sanitary factory conditions,
abolition of home work, and for a decent working-day was equivalent to an
active complicity in the guilt of the manufacturer. Through Mr. Filene's
intervention, the manufacturers and the Union officials agreed to confer,
and to request Mr. Louis Brandeis of Boston to act as chairman.

Mr. Brandeis had, at the outset, the confidence of both parties. Each
side recognized in him that combination of wide legal learning and a
social economic sense which had made him an effective participant in the
development of the progressive political and industrial policies of the
nation. The employers welcomed Mr. Brandeis because they had faith in his
sense of fairness. The cloak makers welcomed him because of his brilliant
and signal service to the entire trade-union movement and to American
working women in securing from the United States Supreme Court the
decision which declared constitutional the ten-hour law for the women
laundry workers of Oregon.

The conference that was to have determined the industrial fortunes of
more than 40,000 New York workers for the following year opened on
Thursday morning, July 28, in a small room in the Metropolitan Life
Building. Mr. Brandeis was in the chair. On one side of a long table sat
the ten representatives of the cloak makers, including their attorney, a
member of the _Vorwärts_ staff, and the Secretary of the International
Garment Workers' Union, all these three men of middle age, intellectual
faces, and sociological education, keenly identified with the ideas and
principles of the workers; three or four rather younger representatives
of the cloak makers, alert and thoroughly Americanized; and three older
men, who had fought throughout the quarter-of-a-century contest, men with
the sort of trade education that nothing but a working experience can
give, deeply imbued with the traditions of that struggle, a hostility to
"scabs," a distrust (too often well founded) of employers, and an
unshaken belief in the general panacea of the closed shop--a subject
which was, by agreement, to remain undiscussed in the conference. All
these men, with the exception of their attorney, Mr. London, had cut and
sewed on the benches of the garment trade. On the other side of the table
sat the ten representatives of the manufacturers, some of them men of
wide culture and learning, versed in philosophies, and prominent members
of the Ethical Society, some of them New York financiers who had come
from East Side sweat shops. Perhaps the most eager opponent of the
closed shop in their body was a cosmopolitan young manufacturer, a
linguist and "literary" man, interested in "style" from every point of
view, who had introduced into the New York trade from abroad a
considerable number of the cloak designs now widely worn throughout
America. This man felt the keenest personal pride in his output. He is
said at one time to have remarked, _"Le cloak c'est moi"_ And, bizarre as
it may seem to an outsider, a really sincere reason of his against
accepting workmen on the recommendation of the Union was that the cloak
manufacturer as an artist should adopt toward his workers "the attitude
of Hammerstein to his orchestra." One of the manufacturers had been a
strike leader in 1896. "Your bitterest opponent of fourteen years ago
sits on the same side of the table with you now," said one of the older
cloak makers, in a deep, intense voice, as the men took their places.

Mr. Brandeis opened the conference with these words: "Gentlemen, we have
come together in a matter which we must all recognize is a very serious
and an important business--not only to settle this strike, but to create
a relation which will prevent similar strikes in the future. That work is
one which, it seems to me, is approached in a spirit that makes the
situation a very hopeful one, and I am sure, from my conferences with
counsel of both parties[27] and with individual members whom they
represent, that those who are here are all here with that desire."

Up to a certain point in the conference, which lasted for three days,
this seemed to be true. The manufacturers agreed to abolish home work, to
abolish subcontracting, to give a weekly half-holiday, besides the Jewish
Sabbath, during June, July, and August, and to limit overtime work to two
hours and a half a day during the busy season, with no work permitted
after half past eight at night, or before eight in the morning. Beyond
this, the question of hours was left to arbitration. Also, the question
of wages was left to arbitration.

The last subject to be dealt with at the Brandeis conference was the
general method of enforcing agreements between the Manufacturers'
Association and the Union. It was in this discussion that the question of
the closed shop and the open shop came before the conference.

Though the Union leaders had agreed to eliminate the discussion of the
closed shop before they entered into negotiations, it was almost
impossible for them to refrain from suggesting it as a means of enforcing
agreements. As one of the cloak makers, one of the old leaders of the
labor movement in America, said: "This organization of cloak makers in
the city of New York can only control the situation where Union people
are employed. They have absolutely no control of the situation where
non-union people are employed. They cannot enforce any rules, nor any
discipline of any kind, shape, or description, and if we are to coöperate
in any way that will be absolutely effective, then the ... Manufacturers'
Association, ... it seems to me, should see that the necessary first step
is that they shall run Union shops."[28]

The Union shop the speaker had in mind, the Union shop advocated by the
_Vorwärts_ and desired, as it proved, by a majority of the workers, was a
different matter from the closed shop, which constitutes a trade monopoly
by limiting the membership of a trade to a certain comparatively small
number of workers.

The institution of the closed shop is by intention autocratic and
exclusive. The institution of the Union shop is by intention democratic
and inclusive. With the cloak makers' organization, entrance into the
Union was almost a matter of form. There were no prohibitive initiation
fees, or dues, as in other unions. They offered every non-union man and
woman an opportunity to join their ranks.

The manufacturers contended that they had no objection to the voluntary
enlistment of non-union men in Union ranks; but they would not insist
that all their workers belong to the Union.

This deadlock was reached on the third day of the conference. At this
point Mr. Brandeis brought before the meeting the opinion that "an
effective coöperation between the manufacturers and the Union ... would
involve, ... of necessity, a strong Union." "I realize," he said, ...
"from a consideration of ... general Union questions, that in the
ordinary open shop, where that prevails, there is great difficulty in
building up the Union. I felt, therefore, particularly in view of the
fact that so many of the members of the Garment Workers' Union are recent
members, that to make an effective Union it was necessary that you should
be aided ... by the manufacturers, ... and that aid could be effectively
... given by providing that the manufacturers should, in the employment
of labor hereafter, give preference to Union men, where the Union men
were equal in efficiency to any non-union applicants.... That presented
in the rough what seemed to me a proper basis for coming together.... I
think, if such an arrangement as we have discussed can be accomplished,
it will be the greatest advance, not only that unionism has made in this
country, but it would be one of the greatest advances that has generally
been made in improving the condition of the working-man, for which
unionism is merely an instrument."

This, then, was the first public presentation of the idea of the
preferential shop. Mr. Brandeis, as a result of close study of labor
disputes and a rich experience in settling strikes, had reached the
conclusion that the position of the adherents of the closed as well as
those of the open shop was economically and socially untenable. The
inherent objection to the closed shop, he contends, is that it creates an
uncontrolled and irresponsible monopoly of labor.

On the other hand, the so-called open shop, even if conducted with
fairness and honesty on the part of the employer, is apt to result in a
disintegration of the Union. It has been a frequent experience of
organized labor that, even after a strike has been won, men drop out of
the Union and leave the burden of Union obligation to the loyal minority,
who, weakened in numbers, face not only a loss of what the strike has
gained, but a retrogression of those Union standards that have been the
result of past struggles and sacrifices.

By the preferential Union plan, when an employer obliges himself to
prefer Union to non-union men, a Union man in good standing, that is, a
Union man who has paid his dues and met his Union obligations, is
insured employment to a limited extent, and the dues represent a premium
paid by him for such employment.

It was not an easy task to secure assent to this idea from the
manufacturers, for Mr. Brandeis made it clear that, while the plan did
not oblige the manufacturers to coerce men into joining the Union, it
clearly placed them on record in favor of a trade-union, and obliged them
to do nothing, directly or indirectly, to injure the Union, and
positively to do everything in their power, outside of coercion, to
strengthen the Union.

In Mr. Brandeis' appeal to the Union representatives he referred to the
history of the Cloak Makers' Union as a telling illustration of the
futility of their past policy. He pointed out that the membership of the
Union during a strike was no test of its strength--a Union's solidity
rested upon its membership in time of peace. Were they not justified in
assuming that what had occurred in the past of the Cloak Makers' Union
would occur in the future, and that its membership would dwindle to a
small number of the faithful? How could their organization be permanently

Cloak making, as a seasonal trade, offered a fair field for proving the
efficiency of the preferential plan, for in the slack season the
manufacturers must, by its terms, prefer Union men. The industrial
situation provided a test of this good faith. The Union leaders could
then effectively show the non-union worker the advantage of the union

The final formation of the preferential union shop as presented to both
sides by Mr. Brandeis, Mr. London, and Mr. Cohen, in the Brandeis
conference, was this: "The manufacturers can and will declare in
appropriate terms their sympathy with the Union, their desire to aid and
strengthen the Union, and their agreement that, as between Union and
non-union men of equal ability to do the job, the Union men shall be
given the preference."

The manufacturers were willing to make this agreement. But the
representatives of the Union received it with a natural suspicion bred by
years of oppression. "Can the man who has ground us down year after year
suddenly be held by a sentiment for the organization he has fought for a
quarter of a century?" they asked. "Between Union and non-union men, will
he candidly give the preference to Union men of equal ability? Will he
not rather, since the question of ability is a matter of personal
judgment and is left to his judgment, prefer the non-union man, and
justify his preference by a pretence, in each case, that he considers the
skill of the non-union man superior?"

Nevertheless, a majority of the leaders of the cloak makers were willing
to try the plan.... A minority refused. This minority was influenced
partly by its certain knowledge that the 40,000 cloak makers would never
accept an agreement based on the idea of the preferential Union shop, and
partly by its complete distrust of the good will of the manufacturers.
The minority was trusted and powerful. It won. The conference broke.

The _Vorwärts_ printed a statement that the preferential shop was the
"open shop with honey." The news of the Brandeis conference reached the
cloak makers through the bulletins of this paper; and during its progress
and after its close, frantic crowds stood before the office on the lower
East Side, waiting for these bulletins, eager for the victory of the
closed shop, the panacea for all industrial evils.

After the decision of the leaders, after the breaking of the conference,
the cloak makers who had settled gave fifteen per cent of their wages to
support those standing out for the closed shop, and volunteered to give
fifty per cent. The _Vorwärts_ headed a subscription list with $2000 for
the strikers, and collected $50,000. A furore for the closed shop arose.
Young boys and bearded old men and young women came to the office and
offered half their wages, three-quarters of their wages. One boy offered
to give all his wages and sell papers for his living. Every day the
office was besieged by committees, appointed by the men and women in the
settled shops, asking to contribute to the cause more than the percentage
determined by the Union. These were men and women accustomed to enduring
hardships for a principle, men and women who had fought in Russia, who
were revolutionists, willing to make sacrifices, eager to make
sacrifices. Their blind faith was the backbone of the strike.

This furore was continuing when, in the third week in August, the loss of
contracts by the manufacturers and the general stagnation of business due
to the idleness of 40,000 men and women, normally wage-earners, induced a
number of bankers and merchants of the East Side to bring pressure for a
settlement of the strike. Louis Marshall, an attorney well known in New
York in Jewish charities, assembled the lawyers of both sides. They drew
up an agreement in which the preferential union shop again appeared as
the basis of future operations, formulated as in the Brandeis conference.

The _Vorwärts_ printed the result of the Marshall conference with deep
concern. It maintained a neutral attitude. The editorials urged that the
readers consider the whole document soberly, discuss it freely in local
meetings, and vote for themselves, on their own full understanding, after
mature conviction on each point.

Tremendous crowds surged around the _Vorwärts_ office. They almost mobbed
the East Side leaders, with their voluble questioning about the
preferential Union shop. Thousands of men and women and children called
out pleas and reproaches and recriminations in an avid personal
demonstration possible only to their race. "Oh, you wouldn't sell us
out?" they cried desperately. "You wouldn't sell us out? You are our

Imagine what these days of doubt, of an attempt to understand, meant to
these multitudes, knowing no industrial faith but that of the closed shop
which had failed them absolutely, wanderers from a strange country,
turning wildly to their leaders, who could only tell them that they must
determine their own fates, they must decide for themselves. These leaders
have been blamed at once for their autocracy and for not mobilizing and
informing and directing these multitudes more clearly and firmly. Their
critics failed to conceive the remarkably various economic and political
histories of the enormous concourse of human beings engaged in the needle
trades of New York.

However that may be, when the workers and their families surged around
the _Vorwärts_ office and asked the leaders if they had betrayed them,
Schlesinger, the business manager, and the old strike leaders addressed
them from the windows, and said to the people, with painful emotion:
"You are our masters. What you decide we will report back to the
association lawyers. What you decide shall be done."

Terrible was the position of these men. Well they knew that the winter
was approaching; that the closed shop could not win; that the workers
could not hear the truth about the preferential Union shop, and that the
man who stood avowedly for the preferential shop, now the best hope of
victory for the Union, would be called a traitor to the Union.

In great anxiety, the meetings assembled. The workers had all come to the
same conclusion. They all rejected the Marshall agreement.

Soon after this, the tide of loyalty to the closed shop was incited to
its high-water mark by the action of Judge Goff, who, as a result of a
suit of one of the firms of the Manufacturers' Association, issued an
injunction against peaceful picketing, on the part of the strikers, on
the ground that picketing for the closed shop was an action of conspiracy
in constraint of trade, and therefore unlawful.

The manufacturers were now, naturally, more deeply distrusted than ever
on the East Side.[29] The doctrine of the closed shop became almost
ritualistic. Early in September, one of the Labor Day parades was headed
by an aged Jew, white-bearded and fierce-eyed,--a cloak maker who knew no
other words of English than those he uttered,--who waved a purple banner
and shouted at regular intervals: "Closed shop! Closed shop!" That man
represented the spirit of thousands of immigrants who have recently
become trade-unionists in America. Impossible to say to such a man that
the idea of the closed shop had been an enemy to the spread of
trade-unionism in this country by its implication of monopolistic

Impossible, indeed, to say anything to Unionists whose reply to every
just representation is, "Closed shop"; or to employers whose reply to
every just representation is, "We do not wish other people to run our
business." This reply the Marshall conference still had to hear for some
days. It was now the first week in September. There was great suffering
among the cloak makers. On the manufacturers' side, contracts heretofore
always filled by certain New York houses, in this prolonged stoppage of
their factories were finally lost to them and placed with establishments
in other important cloak making centres--Cleveland, Philadelphia,
Chicago, and even abroad. Two or three large Union houses settled for
terms, in hours and wages, which were satisfactory to every one
concerned, though lower than the demands on these points listed in the
cloak makers' first letter.

Curiously enough, wages and hours had been left to arbitration, had never
been thoroughly considered in the whole situation before. Neither the
workers nor the employers had clearly stated what they really would stand
for on these vital points. No one, not even the most wildly partisan
figures on either side, supposed that the first demands as to wages and
hours represented an ultimatum. The debaters in the Marshall conference
now agreed on feasible terms on these points,[30] though, curiously
enough, the rates for piece-work were left to the arbitration of
individual shops. In spite of this fact, the majority of the workers are
paid by piece-work. The former clauses of the agreement relating to the
abolition of home work and of subcontracting remained practically as they
had stood before.[31] As for the idea of the preferential Union shop, it
had undoubtedly been gaining ground. Naturally, at first, appearing to
the _Vorwärts'_ staff and to many ardent unionists as opposed to
unionism, it had now assumed a different aspect. This was the final
formulation of the preferential Union shop in the Marshall agreement:
"Each member of the Manufacturers' Association is to maintain a Union
shop, a 'Union shop' being understood to refer to a shop where Union
standards as to working conditions prevail, and where, when hiring help,
Union men are preferred, it being recognized that, since there are
differences of skill among those employed in the trade, employers shall
have freedom of selection between one Union man and another, and shall
not be confined to any list nor bound to follow any prescribed order

"It is further understood that all existing agreements and obligations of
the employer, including those to present employees, shall be respected.
The manufacturers, however, declare their belief in the Union, and that
all who desire its benefits should share in its burdens."

As will be seen, this formulation signified that the Union men available
for a special kind of work in a factory must be sought before any other
men. The words "non-union man," the words arousing the antagonism of the
East Side, are not mentioned. But whether the preference of Union men is
or is not insisted on as strongly as in the Brandeis agreement must
remain a matter of open opinion.

This formulation was referred to the strike committee. It was accepted by
the strike committee, and went into force on September 8.

The _Vorwärts_ posted the news as a great Union victory. At the first
bulletin, the news ran like wildfire over the East Side. Multitudes
assembled; men, women, and children ran around Rutgers Square, in tumult
and rejoicing. The workers seized London, the unionists' lawyer, and
carried him around the square on their shoulders, and they even made him
stand on their shoulders and address the crowd from them. People sobbed
and wept and laughed and cheered; and Roman Catholic Italians and Russian
Jews, who had before sneered at each other as "dagoes" and "sheenies,"
seized each other in their arms and called each other brother.

Now that the men and women have returned to their shops, it remains for
all the people involved--the manufacturers, the workers, the retailers,
and the interested public--to make a dispassionate estimate of this new
arrangement. Is the preferential shop so delicate a fabric as to prove
futile? Has it sustaining power? Will the final agreement prove, at last,
to be a Union victory? Will both sides act in good faith--the
manufacturers always honestly preferring Union men, the Union leaders
always maintaining a democratic and an inclusive Union, without autocracy
or bureaucratic exclusion? Undoubtedly there will be failures on both
sides. But the New York cloak makers' strike may be historical, not only
for its results in the cloak industry, but for its contribution to the
industrial problems of the country.

No outsider can read the statement of the terms of the manufacturers'
preference without feeling that a joint agreement committee should have
been established to consider cases of alleged unfair discrimination
against Union workers. On the other hand, no outsider can hear without a
feeling of uneasiness such an assertion as was made to one of the
writers--that strike breakers had been obliged to pay an initiation fee
of one hundred dollars to enter the Cloak Makers' Union.

There is undoubtedly, on both sides, need of patience and a long
educational process to change the attitude of hostility and bitterness
engendered by over twenty years of a false policy of antagonism. But
never before, in the cloak makers' history, have the men and women gone
back to work after a strike holding their heads as high as they do
to-day.[32] It can be reasonably believed that their last summer's
struggle will achieve a permanent gain for the workers' industrial
future. This narrative of the industrial fortunes of the women cloak
makers in New York in the last year is given for its statement of the
effects of the struggle for the Preferential Union Shop on their trade
histories, and for its account of their gains as workers in the same
trade with men.

These cloak makers' gains were local. What national gains have American
working women been able to obtain? For an answer to this question we
turned to the results of the National Consumers' League inquiry
concerning the fortunes of women workers in laundries and its chronicle
of the decision of the Federal Supreme Court on the point of their hours
of labor.


[Footnote 23: Printed statement of the Cloak, Skirt, and Suit
Manufacturers' Protective Association, July 11, 1910.]

[Footnote 24: Estimate of the Waverly Place Office of the International
Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, November 26 to 30.]

[Footnote 25: For this account of the position of different cloak
manufacturers the writers wish to acknowledge the kindness of Miss Mary
Brown Sumner of the _Survey_.]

[Footnote 26: These were the most important clauses of these early
settlements as regards women workers:--

I. The said firm hereby engages the Union to perform all the tailoring,
operating, pressing, finishing, cutting, and buttonhole-making work to be
done by the firm in the cloak and suit business during one year ... from
date; and the Union agrees to perform said work in a good and workmanlike

II. During the continuance of this agreement, operators shall be paid in
accordance with the annexed price list. The following is the scale of
wages for week hands: ... skirt makers, not less than $24 per week; skirt
basters, not less than $15 per week; skirt finishers, not less than $12
per week; buttonhole makers, not less than $1.10 per hundred buttonholes.

III. A working week shall consist of forty-eight hours in six

IV. No overtime work shall be permitted between the fifteenth day of
November and the fifteenth day of January and during the months of June
and July. During the rest of the year employees may be required to work
overtime, provided all the employees of the firm, as well as all the
employees of the outside contractors of the firm, are engaged to the full
capacity of the factories. No overtime shall be permitted on Saturday nor
on any day for more than two and a half hours, nor before 8 A.M. or after
8 P.M. For overtime work the employees shall receive double the usual
pay. No contracting or subcontracting shall be permitted by the firm
inside its factory, and no operator or finisher shall be permitted more
than one helper.

XIII. No work shall be given employees to be done at their homes.

XV. Only members of respective locals above named shall be employed by
the firm to do the said work.]

[Footnote 27: Mr. London for the cloak makers, and Mr. Cohen for the

[Footnote 28: Stenographic minutes of the Brandeis conference.]

[Footnote 29: This decision met with disapproval, not only on the East
Side. The New York _Evening Post_ said: "Justice Goff's decision embodies
rather strange law and certainly very poor policy. One need not be a
sympathizer with trade-union policy, as it reveals itself to-day, in
order to see that the latest injunction, if generally upheld, would
seriously cripple such defensive powers as legitimately belong to
organized labor."

And the _Times_: "This is the strongest decision ever handed down against

[Footnote 30: These are the clauses of the Marshall agreement on wage
scale and hours of labor which affect women workers. The term "sample
makers" includes, of course, sample makers of cloaks. The week workers
among the cloak makers are principally the sample makers. But the greater
proportion of the workers in the cloak factories are piece-workers. This
explains why there is no definite weekly wage schedule listed for cloak
workers as such. Sample makers, $22; sample skirt makers, $22; skirt
basters, $14; skirt finishers, $10; buttonhole makers, Class A, a minimum
of $1.20 per 100 buttonholes; Class B a minimum of 80 cents per 100

As to piece-work, the price to be paid is to be agreed upon by a
committee of the employees in each shop and their employer. The chairman
of said price committee of the employees shall act as the representative
of the employees in their dealings with the employer.

The weekly hours of labor shall consist of 50 hours in 6 working days, to
wit, nine hours on all days except the sixth day, which shall consist of
five hours only.

No overtime work shall be permitted between the fifteenth day of November
and the fifteenth day of January, or during the months of June and July,
except upon samples.

No overtime work shall be permitted on Saturdays, except to workers not
working on Saturdays, nor on any day or more than two and one-half hours,
nor before 8 A.M., nor after 8.30 P.M.

For overtime work all week workers shall receive double the usual pay.]

[Footnote 31: There has been practically no complaint on the part of the
workers or the public concerning the sanitary conditions of the larger
houses. At present the strike settlement has established a joint board of
sanitary control, composed of three representatives of the public, Dr.
W.J. Scheffelin, chairman, Miss Wald of the Nurses' Settlement, and Dr.
Henry Moskowitz of the Down-town Ethical Society; two representatives of
the workers, Dr. George Price, Medical Sanitary Inspector of the New York
Department of Health, 1895-1904, and Mr. Schlesinger, Business Manager of
the _Vorwärts_; and two representatives of the manufacturers, Mr. Max
Meier and Mr. Silver. The work of this committee will be the enforcement
of uniform sanitary conditions in all shops, including the more obscure
and smaller establishments.]

[Footnote 32: This statement is written in the last week of September,



     (This article is composed of the reports of Miss Carola
     Woerishofer, Miss Elizabeth Howard Westwood, and Miss Mary
     Alden Hopkins, supplemented with an account of the Federal
     Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of the Oregon
     Ten-Hour Law for laundry workers.)

What do self-supporting women away from home in New York give in their
work, and what do they get from it, when their industry involves a
considerable outlay of muscular strength? For a reply to this question
the National Consumers' League turned to the reports of women's work as
machine ironers and hand ironers, workers at mangles, folders, and
shakers of sheets and napkins from wringers in the steam laundries of New

For, although the labor at the machines in the laundry wash-rooms is done
by men, and all work in laundries consists largely of machine tending,
still women's part in the industry can be performed only by unusually
strong women.[33]

In the winter of 1907-1908 the National Consumers' League had received
from different parts of New York a series of letters filled with various
complaints against specified laundries in this city--complaints stating
that hours were long and irregular, wages unfair, the laundries dirty,
and the girls seldom allowed to sit down, and containing urgent pleas to
the women of the Consumers' League to help the women laundry workers.

After consulting some of the laundry women, the League determined to
secure through a special inquiry a well-ascertained statement of
conditions as a basis for State factory legislation for uniform
improvements. A few months before, the constitutionality of the present
New York legislation, as well as of almost all of the State legislation
concerning the hours of work of adult women in this country, had been
virtually determined by the decision of the Federal Supreme Court in
regard to the ten-hour law for women laundry workers in Oregon. The
opinion of the National Supreme Court, which practically confirmed the
passed New York laundry laws and made future laws for fair regulation for
the women workers seem practicable, will be given after the account of
women's work in laundries in New York.

Miss Carola Woerishofer conducted the inquiry, which was confined to
steam laundries, as hand laundries were more favorably described by many
reliable authorities. Among these, the large laundries were commercial
laundries, such as we all patronize, and hotel and hospital laundries.
The features chiefly observed in all these establishments were
sanitation, the danger of injury, and wages and hours of labor. For the
account of the hospital and hotel laundries the Consumers' League of the
city of New York obtained the services of Miss Elizabeth Howard Westwood
of Smith College and Miss Mary Alden Hopkins of Wellesley College. As a
means of investigating commercial laundries, Miss Woerishofer, answering
advertisements as they came, worked in laundries in trade employed in
nearly every branch of the industry in which women are engaged throughout
the borough of Manhattan. Her report follows.


"Naturally, the first question which faced me was that of finding a job.
For this I turned to the laundry want 'ads' in the newspapers. To my
surprise, as my investigation was made in the summer, which is, curiously
enough, by far the slackest season in New York commercial laundries, I
was never without work for more than a day at a time, although I changed
continually, for the sake of experience, averaging about a week in a

"The first establishment to which I went was known as a model laundry. It
was large and well ventilated and had a dry floor. These sanitary
conditions may be said to be fairly typical. In only one laundry did I
find a girl who was compelled to stand in a wet place, though water
overflowed sometimes into the girls' quarters from the wash-rooms, where
the men worked. In some of these wash-rooms the water is at times
ankle-deep, a condition due only to bad drainage, as other wash-rooms are
absolutely dry. Whatever the condition of the work-rooms, the women's
dressing-rooms frequently had insanitary plumbing, and were verminous and
unhealthful. In one laundry the water supply was contaminated, smelling
and tasting offensively when it came from the faucet, and worse after it
had passed through the cooler. The women here at first kept bottles of
soda-water. Some old women had beer. But on a series of hot days, with
hours from half past seven to twelve, and from one till any time up to
ten at night, 10 cents' worth of beer or soda-water a day did not go far
to alleviate thirst, and soon drank a big hole in a wage of $5 a week. A
complaint was sent to the Board of Health. After nearly three weeks, the
Board of Health replied that the complaint must be sent to the Water
Department. From the Water Department no reply could possibly come for
several weeks more. And in the meantime, all the women workers in the
laundry, impelled by intolerable thirst, drank the contaminated water.

"The work-room where I was employed had, on the whole, plenty of windows.
These were left open. But when a room is large and full of machinery,
artificial light is needed all day, and the outside air does not come in
very far to drive away the heat and the dampness. On going out at noon
from a laundry where I had dipped shirts in hot starch all the morning at
a breakneck pace, I was struck by the coolness of the day. That night I
discovered that the thermometer had been registering 96° in the shade. A
few fans should be put in each laundry. They could be run by the power
that runs the machines.

"In the 'model laundry,' I worked at first at a mangle, running spreads
and sheets and towels between two revolving cylinders. Here I found there
was danger of slipping my fingers too far under the cylinders in the
process of feeding. The mangle had a guard, to be sure,--a flexible metal
bar about three-quarters of an inch above the feeding-apron in front of
the cylinder. But I learned that this acted as a warning rather than a
protection. 'Once you get your fingers in, you never get them out,'
Jenny, the Italian girl beside me, said repeatedly. The Italian girls
Anglicized their names, and Jenny had probably been Giovanna at home.

"At the collar machine, at which I was stationed after lunch, there was
an adequate guard where the collars were slipped in. Where they came out,
however, they had to be pushed in rapid succession under the farther side
of a burning hot cylinder with no guard at all. To avoid touching the
cylinder with my arm in this process, I was obliged either to raise it
unnaturally high, or to stand on tiptoe. 'You didn't get burned to-day or
yesterday,' said Jenny, 'but you sure will sometime. Everybody does on
that machine.'

"In the ironing of collars and cuffs by machinery, there is continual
risk of burns on hands and arms. At a sleeve-ironing machine, in another
place I received some slight burn every day. And when I asked the girls
if this were because I was 'green,' they replied that every one got
burned at that machine all the time. Each burn is due to 'carelessness,'
but if the girls were to be careful, they would have to focus their minds
on self-protection instead of the proper accomplishment of their task,
and would also have to work at a lower rate of speed than the usual
output of the laundries demands. A graver danger than that from hot
surfaces and from slightly protected gas flames is from unguarded belts
and gears.

"At mangles, too, the danger is grave. What the girls call 'millionaire
work'--work that has to come out straight--in contrast with
'boarding-house work," must be shoved up to within a quarter of an inch
of the cylinder. Fingers once caught in such mangles are crushed.
Consider, in connection with these two facts, the high rate of speed at
which the girls feed the work into the machine, and the precarious
character of their task will be realized. However, in many laundries,
good mangles for table and bed linen are in use, which either have a
stationary bar in front of the first cylinder, or else have the first
roll, whether connected or not with the power, attached to a lever, and
so constructed as to lift the pressure immediately from the finger,
should it be slipped underneath.[34]

"For the purpose of inspecting the machinery I visited with different
factory inspectors, through the courtesy extended by the Department of
Labor, all, so far as I was able to determine, of the commercial steam
laundries in the borough of Manhattan. Out of sixty laundries inspected,
I found that twenty-six had either unguarded or inadequately guarded
mangles, collar presses, and collar dampeners, or else unguarded or
inadequately guarded gears and belts. In a laundry visited when the boss
was out, we conferred with the engineer about one particularly bad

"'What's this machine for? To cut girls' hands off?' asked the inspector.

"'Well,', said the engineer, 'it came pretty near finishing up the last
girl we had here--caught her arm in an apron-string and got both hands
under the roll--happened over two months ago. Fingers cut off one hand,
and all twisted and useless on the other.'

"Instead of having the machine guarded, after this mutilation, the owner
had employed a man to take chances here, instead of a girl.

"This and all the illegal defects discovered were ordered remedied by the
factory inspectors. But New York labor legislation, no matter how
excellent, cannot be enforced, with the present number of inspectors. An
inspector will arrive on one day; will discover that rules are violated;
will impose a fine; will return in the next week and discover that rules
are not violated; will, perforce, return to another part of the field;
and after that the violation will continue as if he had never observed

"Further, it is difficult for the inspector to discover, through
employees, violations of the State laws enacted in their interest, as
they risk being discharged for complaints. In addition, moreover, to this
danger, bringing a charge means that the complainant must go to court,
thus losing both time and money. A union organization would be the only
possible means of settling the matter. Made up of the workers themselves,
it is always present to observe violations; and it offers to the workers
the advantage of reporting to the State, not as individuals, but as a
body. The coöperative spirit present among almost all of the laundry
workers should make organization entirely feasible.[35]

"On entering a new situation I found, as a rule, cordiality and friendly
interest. On several occasions it was expressed by this social form:--

"'Say, you got a feller?'

"'Sure. Ain't you got one?'


"The girls are really very kind to one another, helping one another in
their work, and by loans of lunch and money.

"In one place a woman with a baby to support--a shaker earning $4.50 a
week, and heavily in debt--used to borrow weekly a few pennies apiece
from all the girls around her to pay her rent. And the pennies were
always forthcoming, although the girls had hardly more than she had, and
knew quite well that they were seldom returned. There was a great deal of
swearing among the women in almost all of the laundries, but it was of an
entirely good-natured character.

"While there was a natural division of labor, there was also an
artificial one, created during lunch hours. A deep-rooted feeling of
antagonism and suspicion exists between the Irish and the Italians, each
race clubbing together from the different departments in separate bands.

"Aside from this distinction, there is another social cleavage--the
high-wage earners sitting apart from the low-wage earners, through
natural snobbishness. In one laundry, the high-wage earners, though they
often treated the $5 girls to stray sardines, cake, etc., were in the
habit of sending young girls to the delicatessen shop to get their
lunches, and also to the saloon for beer. Then the girl had to hurry out
on the street in her petticoat and little light dressing-sack that she
wore for work, for they gave her no time to change. For this service the
girl would get 10 cents a week from each of the women she did errands
for. They did not--the boss starcher explained to me with quiet
elegance--think of such a thing as drinking beer behind the boss's back,
but they 'just didn't want him to know.'

"The same difficulties in enforcing the law about protected machinery in
laundries exist in the enforcing of the law requiring that adult women in
laundries shall not work more than sixty hours in a week. Just as in the
case of protected machinery, these difficulties might be partly removed
through trade organization.

"Nearly all laundry work is performed standing, and on heavy days, when
the work is steady, except at lunch time, very few women get a chance to
sit down during any part of the day. The chief difference between laundry
work and that of other factories is in the irregularity of the hours. A
manufacturer knows more or less at the beginning of the week how much
work his factory will have to do, and can usually distribute overtime,
or engage or lay off extra girls, according to his knowledge. The
laundryman can never estimate the amount of work to be done until the
laundry bundles are actually on the premises. He can never tell when the
hotels, restaurants, steamboats, and all the small 'hand' laundries,
whose family laundries he rough-dries, and whose collars and table and
bed linen he finishes, will want their washing back. Hard as this is for
the employer, it is still harder for the workers. The small hand laundry
can seldom keep customers waiting longer than from Monday till Saturday.
On this account, the steam laundry will be obliged to rush all of its
work for the 'hand' laundry through in one or two days. I found some
steam laundries in which no work at all is done on Monday or Saturday,
but in the busy season the place keeps running regularly on the other
four days from seven in the morning till half past eleven and twelve at
night. Very seldom is there any compensation for these long hours. Few of
the laundries pay overtime. Of these, some dock the girls proportionately
for every hour less than sixty a week they work. No laundries in which I
worked, except one, give supper money. A piece-worker at least gets some
advantage to counterbalance long hours. But the week worker not only
lacks recompense for actual labor, but is often put to greater expense.

"She does not know when her long day is coming, so she must buy her
supper, when supper is waiting for her at home. She is often so tired
that she must spend 5 cents for carfare, instead of walking. Seven cents
is a fair average spent upon supper--2 cents for bread and 5 cents for
sausage, cheese, or meat. If overtime is worked three nights a week, the
girl is out of pocket 36 cents--not a small item in wages of $4.50 and $5
a week, where every penny counts. Often, also, she either has not extra
money or she forgets to bring it. Then she has to share some one else's
lunch. The girls are always willing to divide, however slight their own
provisions. I once saw a 1-cent piece of cake shared by four girls.

"There are two kinds of long hours: those due to bad systematizing of
laundry work, creating long waits between lots; and those due to very
heavy work. In regard to the first kind, it must be said that the shirt
starchers, who are the main sufferers from waiting for work, are the best
paid, and hence are not as indignant at frequent overtime as the week
workers are. Besides, though obliged to stay in the work-room, they are
frequently seated throughout their waiting time, which sometimes lasts
for four or five hours. I saw one woman about to be confined, who
sometimes starched shirts until two in the morning, after arriving at the
laundry at half past seven on the morning before.

"The other kind of long hours involves constant standing, and is most apt
to occur in laundries where only mangle work is done. These laundries do
not tend to work late at night, but they more frequently violate the
sixty-hour law than the others do. Work is almost absolutely steady. The
women stand on their feet ten and twelve hours, with just half an hour or
an hour for lunch, and work with extreme speed.

"If your job is shaking the wrinkles out of towels and sheets, this in
itself is violent exercise. The air is hot and damp because you stand
near the washers. You are hurried at a furious rate. When you finish one
lot, you have to roll heavy baskets, and dump them upon your table, and
then go on shaking and shaking again, only to do more heavy loading and
dumping. One girl always had a headache late in the afternoon. After
standing ten or twelve hours, there are few whose feet or backs do not
ache. The effect on the feet is perhaps the chief ground of complaint.
Some merely wear rags about their feet, others put on old shoes or
slippers, which they slit up in front and at the sides. The girls who
press skirts by machine and those who do the body ironing have to press
down on pedals in order to accomplish their tasks, and find this, as a
rule, harder than standing still. An occasional worker, however,
pronounces it a relief. But several I met had serious internal trouble
which they claimed began after they had started laundry work. Few
laundries give holidays with pay. Some give half a day on the legal
holidays. In the others, 'shaking' and 'body ironing' and all the hard,
heavy processes of laundry work continue straight through Christmas day,
straight through New Year's day, straight through the Fourth of July,
just as at other times.

"In recompense for these long hours of standing, the piece-worker often
has fairly high payment financially. But the opposite is true of the week
worker. In the down-town laundries, where the wage scale runs lower, the
amount is usually inadequate for the barest need.

"The payment in laundries is extremely varied. The wages of the majority
of women I talked to in laundries amounted to between $8 and $4.50 a
week. But wages ranged from the highest exceptional instances in
piece-work, in hand starching and in hand ironing, at $25 a week, for a
few weeks in the year, down to $3 a week.

"High wages generally involved long hours. For instance, in one laundry,
young American women between twenty and thirty were employed as hand
starchers at piece-work. They made $10 a week, when times were slack, by
working once or twice a week, from seven in the morning until eleven at
night. In busy times they sometimes made $22 a week by working
occasionally from seven o'clock one morn till two o'clock the following

"Although Italians, Russians, Irish, Polish, Germans, Americans, and
Swedes are employed in New York laundries, the greater part of the work
is done by Irish and Italians. The Irish receive the higher prices, the
Italians the lower prices. The best-paid work, the hand starching of
shirts and collars and the hand ironing, is done by Irish women, by
colored women, and by Italian and Jewish men. The actual process of hand
starching may be learned in less than one hour. Speed in the work may be
acquired in about ten days. On the other hand, to learn the nicer
processes of the ill-paid work of feeding and folding at the mangle--the
passing of towels and napkins through the machine without turning in or
wrinkling the edges, the passing of table-covers between cylinders in
such a way that the work will never come out in a shape other than
square--to learn these nicer processes requires from thirteen to fifteen
days. The reason for the low wages listed for mangle work seems to lie
only in nationality. Mangle work, as a rule, is done by Italians. In two
laundries I found, working side by side with American and Irish girls,
Italians, who were doing exactly the same work, and were paid less,
solely because they were Italians. The employer said he never paid the
Italians more than $4 a week.

"In the next best-paid work after hand starching, the work of hand
ironing, paying roughly from $8 to $18 a week, Italian women are
practically never employed.

"The worst part of mangle work, the shaking, is done by young girls and
by incapable older women of many nationalities. One of the ill-paid
girls, who had $4.50 a week, gave $3.50 a week board to an aunt, who
never let her delay payment a day. She had only $1 a week left for every
other expense. This girl was 'keeping company' with a longshoreman, who
had as much as $25 in good weeks. She had been engaged to him, and had
broken her engagement because he drank--'he got so terribly drunk.' But
when I saw her she was in such despair with her low wage, her hard hours
of standing, and only $5 a week ahead of her, that she was considering
whether she should not swallow her well-founded terror of the misery his
dissipation might bring upon them, and marry him, after all.

"The shakers are the worst paid and the hardest worked employees. The
young girls expect to become folders and feeders. The older women are
widows with children, or women with husbands sick or out of work or in
some way incapacitated. Indeed, many of all these laundry workers,
probably a larger proportion than in any other trade, are widows with
children to support. 'The laundry is the place,' said one of the women,
'for women with bum husbands, sick, drunk, or lazy.' The lower the pay
and the damper and darker the laundry, the older and worse off these
women seem to be.

"The low wages and long hours of the great majority of the women workers,
the gradual breaking and loss of the normal health of many lives through
undernourishment and physical strain, are, in my judgment, the most
serious danger in the laundries. The loss of a finger, the maiming of a
hand, even the mutilation of the poor girl who lost the use of both of
her hands--the occasional casualties for a few girls in the
laundries--are, though so much more salient, far less grave than the
exhaustion and underpayment of the many.

"This, then, is the situation in general for women workers in the
commercial laundries. With respect to sanitation, the heat is excessive
wherever ironing is done by machinery. Many of the rooms are full of
steam. Some of the laundries have insanitary toilet and cloak rooms. With
respect to danger of injury, in a large proportion of places there is
unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery. In respect to hours of
labor, these often extend over the sixty-hour limit in rush seasons. The
hours are not only long, but irregular. A twelve to fourteen-hour
working-day is not infrequent. In a few places closing on Mondays and
Saturdays, or open for short hours on Mondays, the working-day runs up on
occasions to seventeen hours. Almost all the laundry work is done
standing. Wages for the majority of the workers are low."

The League's conclusions in regard to legislation will be placed at the
close of the following accounts of the laundries of the large New York
hospitals and hotels, the first report being written by Miss Elizabeth
Howard Westwood, the second report by Miss Mary Alden Hopkins.


"By a decision of the District Attorney, hotel and hospital laundries,
provided they do no outside work, do not come under the jurisdiction of
the Department of Labor. Women may work far beyond the sixty-hour limit
on seven days of the week without any interference on the part of the
government. Nor is there any authority that can force hospitals and hotel
keepers to guard their machinery.

"While the hospitals did not, as a rule, exceed legal hours, were
excellent as a rule in point of sanitation, and paid better wages than
the commercial laundries to all but the more skilled workers, the
machinery was adequately guarded in only one of the eight hospital
laundries where I worked.

"In some, the belt that transfers the power was left unscreened, to the
danger of passing workers. In others the mangle guard was insufficient.
In all the hospitals I heard of casualties. Fingers had been mashed. A
hand had been mashed. An arm had been dragged out. Unguarded machinery
was, of course, a striking inconsistency, more inexcusable in the
hospitals than in hotels or in commercial laundries. For hospitals are
not engaged in a gainful pursuit, regardless of all humanitarian
considerations. On the contrary, they are not only avowedly philanthropic
in aim, but are carried on solely in the cause of health.

"The living-in system prevails in the hospitals, and wages are paid
partly in board and lodging. The laundry workers share the dormitories
and dining rooms of the other hospital employees. The dormitories were
in every case furnished with comfortable beds, and chiffonniers or
bureaus and adequate closet space were provided. Miss Hopkins and I did
not sleep in, but had our beds assigned us, and used our dormitory rights
merely for a cloak room. Here we lingered after hours to gossip, and here
we often retired at noon to stretch out for a few minutes' relaxation of
our aching muscles. The dormitories varied in size. Each hospital had
several large and several small ones. In most cases these dormitories
were on upper floors. In one they occupied the basement. Here, however, a
wide sunken alley skirted the house wall and gave the windows a fairly
good access to the air.

"In all but two hospitals the food was excellent and the meals decently
served. There were eggs and milk in abundance. The soups were delicious,
the meats of fair quality and well cooked. There were plenty of
vegetables, and the desserts were appetizing. We sat, as a rule, at long
tables accommodating from ten to twenty. Sometimes we had table-cloths
and napkins; sometimes a white oil-cloth sufficed. We were waited on by

"In most of the hospitals there is a fifteen or twenty-minute rest in the
morning and in the afternoon, when milk, tea, and bread and butter are
served. These oases of rest and nourishment were of extraordinary value
to us in resisting fatigue. Their efficiency in keeping workers in
condition is a humane and practical feature of the laundries which should
be sharply emphasized.

"There was little variation in wages between the different grades of
workers. As a rule, only two prices obtained--one for all the manglers
and plain ironers, another for the starchers and shirt and fancy ironers.
In one laundry the wage fell as low as $10 a month. In the others it was
$14 and $15 for the lower grade of work, and $16 and $20 for the higher.
One of the laundries gave board, but no room, and here the universal
price was $20 a month.

"As to hours, three of the hospitals had an eight-hour day; four had a
nine-and-a-half-hour day. In one of these there was no work on Saturday
afternoon, so that the weekly hours were forty-four. Another hospital
worked seventy-two hours a week, with no recompense in the form of
overtime pay. Generally the catchers at the mangles sat at their work. In
one hospital the feeders also sat, using high stools. We wondered why
this was not more often the custom. The difference in vigor in our own
cases when we worked sitting was marked. Sitting, we escaped unwearied;
standing all day left us numb with fatigue. In only one hospital was
artificial light necessary in the work-room. The rooms, as a rule, were
well ventilated and the air fresh when one came into them.

"We often noticed that the workers in the hospital laundries were far
less contented than those in the other classes of laundries. It was not
surprising that they lacked enthusiasm for their work, for laundering is
not an interesting task; but, with conditions far beyond any other type
of laundry, it was strange that the hospital workers should be the most
shifting, faultfinding, and dispirited laundresses we encountered. Part
of this we attributed to the depressing effect of an atmosphere of
sickness, part to the fact that workers living out are doubtless
stimulated by the diversion of having a change of scene--of seeing at
least two sets of people, and, above all, generally by some special
sympathy and concern for their individual fortunes. In the last hospital
laundry where we worked, one conducted by the Sisters of Charity, though
the hours were long and the wages were only $10 a month, there was an
exceptional air of cheerfulness and interest among the workers. This was
due to no special privileges of theirs, but to the contagious spirit of
personal interest and kindness inherent in all the Sisters in charge.

"The bitterness that characterized workers living in the hospitals was
observed by Miss Hopkins among the laundry workers living in the


"The twenty-one hotels where we conducted our inquiry were extremely
varied, ranging from a yellow brick house near the Haymarket, with red
and blue ingrain carpets and old-fashioned bells that rang a gong when
one twisted a knob, to the mosaic floors and the pale, shaded electric
lights of the most costly establishments in New York.

"As to the sanitation of the twenty hotels visited, only six had their
laundries above ground. All the others were in basements or in cellars.
In most of these the ventilation was faulty and the air at times
intolerably hot. It is a striking fact--showing what intelligent modern
regulation can accomplish--that one laundry two stories underground in
New York was so high-ceiled and the summer cold-air apparatus so complete
that it was comfortable even in the hot months. In most of the hotel
laundries there were seats for the takers-off. Only three of the
laundries had wet floors; only three were dirty; only one had an
insanitary lavatory and toilet room.

"In regard to the danger of injury, of the nineteen mangles that I
inspected for dangerous conditions, six were insufficiently protected. It
is the custom in most hotels, when an article winds around the cylinder
of the mangle, to pluck it off while the mangle is in motion. The women
sometimes climb up on the mangle and reach over, in imminent danger of
becoming entangled either by their dresses catching or by pitching
forward. The machinery of hotel laundries is even less carefully guarded
than is that of a commercial laundry, and in some establishments is,
besides, dangerously crowded. This was the case in one laundry in a hotel
cellar. I worked here at the ironing-table on a consignment of suits from
the navy-yard. As work came in from outside the hotel, the establishment
should have been under the State inspection. The rooms were narrow. There
was a ventilating fan, placed very low, near where the girls hung their
wraps, and as soon as I came in, they warned me that it caught up in its
blades and destroyed anything that came near it. The belting of the
machines was unboxed. A blue flame used sometimes to blow out four inches
beyond the body-ironer, directly into the narrow space where the girls
had to pass before it. In connection with the danger from machinery,
danger from employees' elevators should be noted. In one hotel I rode
forty-four times on an elevator where the guard door was closed only
once, though the car was often crowded, and twice I saw girls narrowly
escape injury from catching their skirts on the landing doors and the
latches. In another hotel, inexperienced elevator boys were broken in on
dangerous cars containing signs that read: 'This elevator shall not carry
more than fifteen persons.' The cars were used, not only for people, but
for trunks and heavy trucks of soiled linen. On one trip a car carried
one of these enormous trucks, two trunks, and twelve girls; on another
trip there were twenty-two people.

"At eight of the hotels wages were paid partly in board and lodging. The
money wages are given below:--

                         WORKERS LIVING IN
                                                       PER MONTH
     Ironers on flannels, stockings, and plain work     $22
     Ironers--skilled workers on family wash             25-30
     Shakers                                             14-16
     All beginners                                       14-16

                         WORKERS LIVING OUT
                                                       PER WEEK
     Ironers                                        $7 and upward
     Shakers                                         6 and upward
     Feeders                                         6 and upward
     Folders                                         6 and upward
     Starchers (shirt), piece-work wages, average.   8
     Starchers (collars and cuffs)                  15 and upward

"The eight hotels varied widely in living conditions. The food was
reasonably well cooked, but, like most hotel fare, monotonous, and
destitute of fresh vegetables and of sweets. One of the results of this
is that the women spend a large part of their wages for fruit and other
food to supplement their unsatisfactory meals. Only two hotels planned
meals intelligently.

"The dining rooms were usually below the street-level, and varied in
ventilation, crowding, and disorder. In one the waiters were Greek
immigrants, who were in their shirt-sleeves, wore ticking aprons and no
collars, and were frequently dirty and unshaved. In the fourteen meals I
had there, I sat down only once to a clean table. The coffee boilers
along the side of the room would be boiling over and sending streams of
water over the charwomen. The dirty dishes would be piled into large tin
tubs with a clatter, and pulled out rasping over the floor. The charwomen
would beg the waiters to clear the tables, which looked as if
garbage-cans had been emptied upon them. The steward could not enforce
his authority. There was constant noise and disorder in the room. In
another dining room, that of a pleasant, ramshackle old hotel near the
river, where a breeze came into our laundry through sixteen windows, the
employees were seated in one of the restaurant dining rooms after the
noon rush hour was over, served by the regular waiters, and given
attractive and varied fare and meat from the same cuts as the guests.
'They have respect for the help here,' said one of the women.

"The dormitories were, with one exception, on upper stories. One room in
an expensive modern hotel, where there were twenty-seven beds, in tiers,
was aired only by three windows on an inner court. The room looked fresh
and pleasant because of its white paint and blue bedspreads; but it was
badly ventilated, both by condition and because the girls would keep the
windows closed for warmth. This was a frequent cause of poor ventilation
in other dormitories and in work-rooms.

"The hours of work were irregular, and varied in different places. In one
large laundry I worked over ten hours for seven days in the week--more
than seventy-two hours. About nine and a half hours seemed to be the
usual day. Four hotels gave fifteen-minute rest pauses for tea, morning
and afternoon; two gave them once a day. These rests are of incalculable
relief. One hotel gave twenty-minute pauses, so that the hours were: 7.20
to 9; 9.20 to 11.25; 12.30 to 2; 2.20 to closing time. This arrangement
gave very short work periods, but during them the women were able to work
vigorously; and they accomplished an astounding amount.

"However, in most of the hotel laundries the women were tired all the
time. They dragged themselves out of bed at the last possible minute.
They lay in their beds at noon; they crawled into them again as soon as
the work was over in the evening. Some did not go out into the air for
days at a time. The greatest suffering from any one physical cause came
from feet. 'Feet' was the constant subject of conversation. But the women
had no idea what was the trouble with their feet, and, in many cases,
accepted as inevitable discomfort that could have been alleviated by
foot-baths, care, plates, and proper shoes. Colds hung on endlessly. Sore
throats were common. A girl who fed doilies into a mangle complained that
constantly watching a moving apron made her eyes 'sore,' so that she
could not see distinctly and sometimes fed in several doilies at a time
without noticing it. The lack of air undoubtedly had a profound influence
on the women's vigor. In the old hotel near the river, where the laundry
had sixteen windows, the women were in capital health.

"In general, the older hotels, in spite of their more insanitary
dressing-rooms and less well-guarded machines, were more considerate of
their workers. But in one of the newer, more expensive hotels a sick girl
is attended by the hotel physician, and is provided with soup, milk, etc.
Her pay is not docked. She is treated with genuine sympathy. Here I once
overheard a woman telling the boss that she was ill and asking permission
to go to the dormitory. He gave the permission without question. None of
the women ever abused his kindness. The women here were in fairly good
shape, except, it must be admitted, for the extreme fatigue which seems
to sweep over almost all the laundry women, and which arises from their
hours of standing.

"I used to notice one girl who was as light on her feet as a kitten, and
who seemed tireless; but every noon, as soon as she had finished her
lunch, she would wrap herself up in a blanket and lie motionless for the
whole period. One evening a woman stumbled into a dormitory, sat down on
a trunk, pulled off her shoes and stockings, and, as she rubbed her
swollen foot, cursed long and methodically all her circumstances--cursed
the other workers who had held back work by their slowness; cursed the
manager, who had asked of her extra work; cursed the dormitory and the
laundry; cursed the whole world. At the first word of sympathy I offered
her, she paused, and said with quiet truth, 'Dear heart, we're all

"Here are my notes for one day:--

     When I went into the dormitory a little before half past seven,
     several of the girls were dragging themselves out of bed to
     dress. These went to work without breakfast, needing an extra
     half hour of rest more than they craved food.

     Two stayed in bed. One had an ulcerated tooth extracted the
     night before. I asked the other if she were sick. She groaned.
     "I'll get up just as soon as the pains are gone out of my
     stomach." Within an hour she was in the laundry, carrying
     armfuls of men's working-suits to the drying-closet. She worked
     until half past eight that night.

     All the morning I stood beside Old Sallie, who kept asking,
     "What time is it now, dear?" because she could not see the

     At noon, as we sat or lay on the beds in the dormitory, one of
     the girls said, "My God! I wish I could stay in bed this

     In the afternoon I stood beside Theresa, who kept repeating:
     "It is so long to work until half past five! If I could only go
     to bed at half past five!"

     I walked out to supper with a girl named Kate, who had sprained
     her ankle a week ago. I said, "Hasn't the doctor seen it?" She
     turned on me. "My God! when do I get time to see a doctor?" She
     has a bad humor on her face, which is scarlet, and sometimes,
     in the morning, covered with fine white scale. She obtains
     relief by wiping her cheeks with the damp napkins she shakes.

     After supper I went up to the dormitory for a minute. Here I
     found a cousin of Theresa's giving her some tea in bed, where I
     urged her to stay. The cousin shook her head. "Ah, na," she
     said, "she must na' give up; she's new yet at the job--they
     wou'na like her to be sick." Theresa arose and crawled back to
     the shaking-table, to work until seven o'clock.

     Throughout the evening I stood beside a girl, whose foot, when
     she walked, hurt her "'way to the top of her head." She said,
     "I've been on it ever since half past seven."

     On my way back to the dormitory at half past eight, one of the
     girls told me how her arms ached and her legs ached. In the
     dormitory, the girl who had been in bed all day was sobbing and
     feverish. She had a sore throat, and was spitting blood. She
     had been lying there all day, with no care, except to have tea
     and toast brought to her by a maid.

     In looking back on this past week, it seems impossible it
     could have been true. Watching these women has been like seeing
     animals tortured.

"Such a day of long hours as this generally follows some large festivity.
The Hudson-Fulton celebration, or the automobile show, or a great charity
ball, or the dinner of an excellent sociological society are the
occasions of increased hotel entertainment and a lavish use of beautiful
table linen, to be dried and mangled and folded next day by the laundry
girls underground.

"All this pressure of extra work in the hotels here is produced, not by
ill-willed persons who are consciously oppressive,--indeed, as will be
seen, much of it was produced by sheer social good will and persons of
most progessive intent,--but simply by the unregulated conditions of the


Such, then, is the account of what women workers give and what they
receive in their industry in the commercial, hotel, and hospital
laundries of New York.

It cannot be said that the unfortunate features of the laundry conditions
observed are due to the greed of employers. These features seem to be due
rather to lack of system and regulation. Financial failures in the New
York laundry business are frequent. Even in the short time elapsing
between the Department of Labor's inspection of laundry machinery, early
in February, and a reinspection of the twenty-six establishments that had
improperly guarded machinery, made in August by Miss Westwood, two out of
these twenty-six firms had collapsed. Miss Westwood found some of the
same unfortunate features that characterized commercial and hotel
laundries in existence in hospital laundries, which are quite outside

After the New York City Consumers' League had received the inquirers'
report, it determined that the wisest and most effective course it could
take for securing fairer terms for the laundry workers would be an effort
for the passage of the following legislation:[37]--

     First: That an appropriation be made for additional factory

     Second: That no woman be employed in any mechanical
     establishment, or factory, or laundry in this State for more
     than ten hours during any one day.

     Third: That the laundries of hotels and hospitals be placed
     under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor.

A New York State law now exists providing for proper sanitation and
plumbing and clean drinking water for employees in factories and
laundries.[38] A law exists requiring that work-rooms where steam is
generated be so ventilated as to render the steam harmless, so far as is

A law exists requiring the provision of suitable seats for the use of
female employees in factories and laundries; and this law should cover
the installation of seats for great numbers of workers now standing.[40]

The establishment of juster wages, as well as the observance of all these
laws, and of the sixty-hour-a-week law, might be most practically
furthered by the existence of a trade-union in the laundries, backed by
stronger governmental provision for inspection.


It has been said that the unfortunate features observed in the laundry
business in New York seemed to be due primarily to lack of general
regulation. In February 1911, the Laundrymen's Association of New York
State (President, Mr. J.A. Beatty), the Manhattan Laundrymen's
Association (President, Mr. J.A. Wallach), and the Brooklyn Laundrymen's
Association (President, Mr. Thomas Locken) conferred with the Consumers'
League, and asked to coöperate with it in obtaining additional factory
inspection, the legal establishment of a ten-hour day in the trade, and
the placing of hotel and hospital laundries under the jurisdiction of the
State Labor laws.

The League agreed to print on a published white list the names of the
laundries conforming within a year to a common standard determined on at
the conference. These are the main points agreed upon and endorsed.


    Physical Conditions

    1. Wash rooms are either separated from other work-rooms or else
  adequately ventilated so that the presence of steam throughout the
  laundry is prevented.

    2. Work, lunch, and retiring rooms are apart from each other and
  conform in all respects to the present sanitary laws.

    3. All machinery is guarded.

    4. Proper drains under washing and starching machines, so that
  there are no wet floors.

    5. Seats adjusted to the machines are provided for at the

      a. Collar ironer feeder.
      b. Collar ironer catcher.
      c. Collar dampener feeder.
      d. Collar dampener catcher.
      e. Collar straightener.
      f. Collar starcher feeder.
      g. Collar starcher catcher.
      h. Handkerchief flat-work feeder and catcher.
      i. Folders on small work.
      j. Collar shaper.
      k. Collar seam-dampener.
      l. Straight collar shaper.

    6. The ordinances of the city and laws of the State are obeyed in
  all particulars.


    1. Equal pay is given for equal work irrespective of sex, and no
  woman who is eighteen years of age or over and who has had one
  year's experience receives less than $6 a week. This standard
  includes piece-workers.


    1. The normal working week does not exceed 54 hours, and on no day
  shall work continue after 9 P.M.

    2. When work is continued after 7 P.M. 20 minutes is allowed for
  supper and supper money is given.

    3. Half holidays in each week during two summer months.

    4. A vacation of not less than one week with pay is given during
  the summer season.

    5. All overtime work, beyond the 54 hours a week standard, is paid

    6. Wages paid and premises closed on the six legal holidays, viz:
  Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year's Day, the Fourth of July,
  Decoration Day and Labor Day.

The Laundrymen's Association of New York State appeared with the
Consumers' League at Albany at the last legislative session, and
repeatedly sent counsel to the capitol in support of a bill defining as a
factory any place where laundry work is done by mechanical power. The
association's support was able and determined. The bill has now passed
both houses.

Such responsible action as this on the part of the commercial laundry
employers of the State of New York, Brooklyn, and Manhattan is in
striking contrast with the stand taken by the Oregon commercial laundry
employers in the matter of laundry employees' legal hours of industry.


The constitutionality of the present New York law concerning the hours of
labor of adult women in factories, laundries, and mechanical
establishments was virtually determined by the Federal decision in regard
to the Oregon Ten-Hour Day Law for working-women.

About three years ago the State of Oregon enacted a law of practically
the same bearing as the New York law on the same subject, though superior
in that it limited the hours of labor of adult women in mechanical
establishments, factories, and laundries to ten hours during the
twenty-four hours of any one day, where the New York law, of the same
provision in other respects, limits the hours of labor of adult women to
sixty in a week.

The laundries and the State of Oregon agreed to carry a test case to the
Federal Supreme Court to determine the new law's constitutionality.

Mr. Curt Muller of Oregon employed a working woman in his laundry for
more than ten hours. Information was filed against him by an inspector.
Mr. Muller's trial resulted in a verdict against him, and a sentence of a
ten-dollar fine. He appealed the case to the State Supreme Court of
Oregon, which affirmed his conviction. Mr. Muller then appealed the case
to the Federal Supreme Court.

In the defence of the law before the Federal Supreme Court, the National
Consumers' League had the good fortune to obtain, in coöperation with the
State of Oregon, the services of Louis D. Brandeis, the most
distinguished services that could have been received, generously rendered
as a gift. This fact alone may serve to indicate the vital character of
the case, and the importance, for industrial justice in the future, of
securing a favorable verdict for the laundry workers.

The argument of Mr. Muller was that the Oregon Ten-Hour Law was
unconstitutional: First, because the statute attempted to prevent persons
from making their own contracts, and thus violated the provisions of the
Fourteenth Amendment.[41] Next, because the statute did not apply equally
to all persons similarly situated and was class legislation. And,
finally, because the statute was not a valid exercise of the police
power; that is to say, there was no necessary or reasonable connection
between the limitations described by the act and the public health and

Mr. Brandeis' brief replied that, first, the guaranty of freedom of
contract was legally subject to such reasonable restraint of action as
the State may impose in the exercise of the police power for the
protection of the general health and welfare. It submitted that certain
facts of common knowledge established conclusively that there was
reasonable ground for holding that to permit women in Oregon to work in a
mechanical establishment or factory or laundry more than ten hours in one
day was dangerous to public welfare.

These facts of common knowledge, collected by Miss Josephine Goldmark,
the Publication Secretary of the National Consumers' League, were
considered under two heads: first, that of American and foreign
legislation restricting the hours of labor for women; and, second, the
world's experience, upon which the legislation limiting the hours of
labor for women is based.

These facts comprised the governmental restrictions of the number of
hours employers may require women to labor, from twenty States of the
United States, and from Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Austria,
Holland, Italy, and Germany. The laws were followed by authoritative
statements from over ninety reports of committees, bureaus of statistics,
commissioners of hygiene, and government inspectors, both in this country
and in all the civilized countries of Europe, asseverating that long
hours of labor are dangerous for women, primarily because of their
special physical organization.

In reply to the second allegation,--that the act in question was class
legislation, as it did not apply equally to all persons similarly
situated,--the plaintiff answered that the specific prohibition of more
than ten hours' work in a laundry was not an arbitrary discrimination
against that trade; because the present character of the business and its
special dangers of long hours afford strong reasons for providing a legal
limitation of the hours of work in that industry as well as in
manufacturing and mechanical establishments. Statements from industrial
and medical authorities described conclusively the present character of
the laundry business.

Mr. Brandeis finally submitted that, in view of all these facts, the
present Oregon statute was within Oregon's police power, as its public
health and welfare did require a legal limitation of the hours of women's
work in manufacturing and mechanical establishments and in laundries.

Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United
States. The case was won. Here are, in part, the words of the decision:--

     It may not be amiss in the present case, before examining the
     constitutional question, to notice the course of legislation as
     well as expressions of opinion from other judicial sources. In
     the brief filed by Mr. Brandeis ... is a copious collection of
     all these matters. The ... legislation and opinions referred to
     ... are significant of a widespread belief that woman's
     physical structure and the special functions she performs in
     consequence thereof, justify special legislation restricting or
     qualifying the conditions under which she should be permitted
     to toil.

     Constitutional questions, it is true, are not settled by even a
     consensus of present public opinion.... At the same time, when
     a question of fact is debated and debatable, and the extent to
     which a special constitutional limitation goes is affected by
     the truth in respect to the fact, a widespread and
     long-continued belief concerning it is worthy of consideration.
     We take judicial cognizance of all matters of general

     That woman's physical structure and the performance of
     maternal functions place her at a disadvantage in the struggle
     for subsistence is obvious. This is especially true when the
     burdens of motherhood are upon her. Even when they are not, by
     abundant testimony of the medical fraternity, continuance for a
     long time on her feet at work, repeating this from day to day,
     tends to injurious effects upon her body, and as healthy
     mothers are essential to vigorous offspring, the physical
     well-being of woman becomes an object of public interest and
     care in order to preserve the strength and vigor of the race.

Nobody knowing the actual strain upon women laundry workers, no one who
had seen them lying motionless and numb with fatigue at the end of a long
day, or foregoing food itself for the sake of rest, could listen unmoved
to these thrilling words of the greatest court of our country.

The most eloquent characteristic of the Supreme Court's affirmation was
the fact that it was essentially founded simply upon clear, human truth,
firmly and widely ascertained, founded on a respect, not only for the
past, but for the future of the whole nation.

Too often does one hear that "law has nothing to do with equity," till
one might believe that law was made for law's sake, and not as a means of
deliverance from injustice. "The end of litigation is justice. We believe
that truth and justice are more sacred than any personal consideration."
Such was the conception of the office of the law expressed by Justice
Brewer twenty years before, on his appointment to the Supreme Bench. It
was this conception of law that made the determination of the Oregon case
a great decision in our country's history.

From time immemorial, women as well as men have been workers of the
world. The vital feature of the statement that six million women are now
gainfully employed in this country is not the "entrance" of multitudinous
women into industry, but the fact that their industry, being now carried
on in public instead of private, has been acknowledged and paid. This
acknowledgment has led to the establishment of juster terms for women's
labor by the Federal Supreme Court. Such an establishment, as the opinion
of the court affirmed, is surely a distinct gain, not only for women, but
for children, for men, for the race.

When the preparation of food and clothing, the traditional household
labor of women, passed in large measure from household fires and
spinning-wheels into the canning factories and garment trades with the
invention of machinery, women simply continued their traditional labor
outside their houses instead of inside them.[42] The accounts of the
laundry, the shirt-waist and the cloak making trades in New York seem to
show that, where men and women engage in the same field of activity,
their work is, by a natural division, not competitive or antagonistic,
but complementary. Indeed, so little is it antagonistic that the very
first spark that lit the fire of the largest strike of women that ever
occurred in this country, the shirt-waist makers' strike, was kindled by
an offensive injustice to a man.

The chronicles of what self-supporting women have given and received in
their work in wage and in vitality, these working girls' budgets obtained
by the Consumers' League, will not have told their story truly unless
they have evoked with their narrative the presence of that impersonal
sense of right instinctive in the factory girls who go year after year to
Albany to fight against the long Christmas season hours for the
shop-girls, in the cloak makers in their effort to stop sweated home
work, in the responsible common-sense of countless working women. So that
the fact that six million women are now gainfully employed in this
country may finally tend to secure wiser adjustments and fairer returns
for the labor, not only of women, but of all the workers of the world.


[Footnote 33: Its severity may be indicated by an account of the work a
machine ironer in Illinois regularly performed before the passage of the
Illinois Ten-Hour Law, when conditions in that State were as they now are
in the hotel and hospital laundries of New York. Miss Radway used to iron
five hundred shirt bosoms a day. Holding the loose part of the shirt up
above her head to prevent the muslin from being caught in the iron, she
pressed the bosom in a machine manipulated by three heavy treads--by
bearing all of her weight on her right foot stamping down on a pedal to
the right; then by bearing all her weight on her left foot, stamping down
a pedal to the left; then by pressing down both pedals with a jump. To
iron five hundred shirt bosoms required three thousand treads a day.]

[Footnote 34: State Labor Law, paragraph 81.--Protection of Employees
Operating Machinery: "... If a machine or any part thereof is in a
dangerous condition or is not properly guarded, the use thereof may be
prohibited by the Commissioner of Labor, and a notice to that effect
shall be attached thereto. Such notice shall not be removed until the
machine is made safe and the required safeguards are provided, and in the
meantime such unsafe or dangerous machinery shall not be used."]

[Footnote 35: Here is a letter from the Secretary of the Women's
Trade-Union League, stating the results of organization in the West in
the laundry trade: "The laundry workers in San Francisco eight years ago
were competing with the Chinese laundries. The girls working in the
laundries there received about $10 a month, with the privilege of 'living
in.' Three days in the week they began work at 6 A.M. and worked until 2
A.M. the next morning. The other three days they worked from 7 A.M. to 8
P.M. Since organization, they have established the nine-hour day and the
minimum wage of $7. They have extended their organization almost the
entire length of the Pacific Coast."]

[Footnote 36: Perhaps a better survey of the standard of wages for all
departments of laundry work in which women are employed can be given by
the table below. By the word "standard" I mean the usual wage of a worker
of average skill who has been at work in a laundry for a period of at
least one year.

     Hand starching (shirts)             $12
     Hand ironing                         10
     Hand starching (collars)              9
     Hand washing                          8
     Machine ironing                       7
     Feeders                               6
     Folders                               6
     Catchers                              5
     Machine starching (shirts)            5
     Collar ironing                        5
     Machine starching (collars)           4.50
     Shakers                               4.50]

[Footnote 37: One of the suggestions the inquirers had made, in regard to
danger of injury, was the recommendation of the passage of the State
Compensation Act, drafted by the joint conference of the Central Labor
Bodies of the city of New York. This act became a law in September, 1910,
but has since then (July 22, 1911) been declared unconstitutional.]

[Footnote 38: Laws of New York, Chapter 229, section 1, paragraph 88.
Became a law May 6, 1910.]

[Footnote 39: Laws of New York, Chapter 31 of the Consolidated Laws, as
amended to July 1, 1909, paragraph 86. Inquirers' suggestion: This law
would be simpler to enforce if an amending clause required that, in
laundries, washing be done in a separate room from the rest of the work.]

[Footnote 40: Laws of New York, Chapter 3 of the Consolidated Laws, as
amended to July 1, 1909, paragraph 86.]

[Footnote 41: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge
the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States: nor shall
any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due
process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
protection of the laws."]

[Footnote 42: Jane Addams, "Democracy and Social Ethics."]



Within the last thirty years a new method of conducting work, called
Scientific Management, has been established in various businesses in the
United States, including "machine shops and factories, steel work and
paper mills, cotton mills and shoe shops, in bleacheries and dye works,
in printing and bookbinding, in lithographing establishments, in the
manufacture of type-writers and optical instruments, in constructing and
engineering work--and to some extent--the manufacturing departments of
the Army and Navy."[43]

Three of the enterprises to a greater or less degree reorganized by this
new system in this country employ women workers. These establishments are
a New Jersey cotton mill, a bleachery in Delaware, and a cloth finishing
factory in New England. The reduction of costs for the owning firms
inaugurating Scientific Management has already received a wide publicity.
It is the object of this account to present as clear a chronicle as has
been obtainable of the effect the methods of Scientific Management have
had on the fortunes of the workers--more especially on the hours, the
wages, and the general health of the women workers in these houses who
have so far experienced its training.[44]

What, then, are the new principles of management which have been
inaugurated? What is Scientific Management? The expression may perhaps
best be defined to lay readers by a lay writer by means of an outline of
the growth of its working principles in this company--an outline traced
as far as possible in the words of the engineers creating the system,
whose courtesy in the matter is here gratefully acknowledged.


In 1881, Mr. Frederick W. Taylor, the widely reverenced author of "The
Art of Cutting Metals" and of "Shop Management," then a young man of 21,
closed, in grave discouragement, a long, hard, and victorious contest of
his conducted as gang boss of the machinists of the Midvale Steel
Company in Pennsylvania. In the course of the last three years, as he
narrates in his book "Academic and Industrial Efficiency":[45]--

     By discharging workers, lowering the wages of the more stubborn
     men who refused to make any improvement, lowering the
     piece-work rate, and by other such methods, he (the writer)
     succeeded in very materially increasing the output of the
     machines, in some cases doubling the output, and had been
     promoted from one gang boss-ship to another until he became the
     foreman of the shop.... For any right-minded man, however, this
     success is in no sense a recompense for the bitter relations
     which he is forced to maintain with all those around him. Life
     which is one continuous struggle with other men is hardly worth
     living.... Soon after being made foreman, therefore, he decided
     to make a determined effort in some way to change the system of
     management so that the interests of the workmen and the
     management should become the same instead of antagonistic....
     He therefore obtained the permission from Mr. William Sellers,
     the President of the Midvale Steel Company, to spend some money
     in a careful scientific study of the time required to do
     various kinds of work.

     Lack of information on the part of both workers and the
     management as to the quickest time in which a piece of work can
     be done constitutes what has been the most formidable obstacle
     in the path of all progress toward improved industrial
     conditions.... Every wasteful operation, every mistake, every
     useless move has to be paid for by somebody, and in the long
     run both the employer and the employee have to bear a
     proportionate share.... For each job there is the quickest time
     in which it can be done by a first-class man; this time may be
     called the "Standard Time," for the job.... Under all the
     ordinary systems this quickest time is more or less completely
     shrouded in mist.

Through a period of about twelve years the simplest operations in the
shop were now timed, observed, and studied by graduates from science
courses, different university men, engaged by Mr. Taylor, until a general
law had been discovered regarding the exertion of physical energy a
first-class worker could employ "and thrive under." It was found that the
worker's resistance of fatigue in lifting and carrying the load depended,
not on the amount of strength in terms of horse-power which he was
obliged to exert to elevate and sustain the load, but on the proportion
of his day spent in rest. For instance, a pig-iron handler, lifting and
carrying pigs weighing 92 pounds each, could lift and carry 47 tons of
iron in a day without undue fatigue if fifty-seven per cent of his
working hours were spent in rest, and forty-three per cent were spent in
work. If he lifted and put in place a number of pigs amounting to half
that tonnage, he might work without undue fatigue for a greater part of
the day. Under a certain far lighter load he could work without fatigue
all day long, with no rest whatever.

With accurate time-study as a basis, the "quickest time" for each job is
at all times in plain sight of both employers and workmen, and is reached
with accuracy, precision, and speed.[46]


A: Op.
B: Time
C: Av.
D: No. Shov.
E: Total time min.
F: Total picking min.
G: Total shoveling and wheeling min.
H: Times per barrow min.
I: No obs
J: Times per barrow min.
K: Time per pc. per shovel min.
L: No. shovels per barrow min.
M: Time wheeling 100 ft. min.

                    |A| B  | C  | D |A|  B  |  C  | D |A |  B |C | D |A |B |C
Department--        | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 Construction       |a|1.37|1.37|15 |a|1.12 |1.12 |12 |a'|1.86|  |11 |  |  |
Men--Mike Flaherty  |b|1.56|0.19|   |b|1.39 |0.27 |   |a'|1.81|  |13 |  |  |
                    |c|1.82|0.26|   |c|1.58 |0.19 |   |a'|2.14|  |16 |  |  |
Materials--Sand     | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 requiring no pick  |d|1.97|0.15|   |d|1.70 |0.12 |   |a'|1.98|  |14 |  |  |
Materials--Hard     | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 clay in bank       |e|1.97|0.15|   |e|1.92 |0.22 |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
Implements--No. 3   | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 shovel;            | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 Contractors'       | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 wooden             | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 wheelbarrow        |f|2.36|0.09|   |f|2.36 |0.09 |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
Conditions--Day-work| |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 for a contractor.  | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 By previous        | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 observation        |a|1.24|1.24|13 |a|2.05 |0.13 |13 |  |    |  |   |  |  |
An average barrow   | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 load of sand is    | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 2.32 cu. ft.       | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 measured in cut    |b|1.36|0.12|   |b|1.38 |0.15 |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
An average barrow   | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 load of clay is    | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 2.15 cu. ft.       | |    |    |   | |     |     |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
 measured in cut    |c|1.59|0.23|   |c|1.60 |0.22 |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
                    |d|1.83|0.24|   |d|1.78 |0.18 |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
                    |e|2.08|0.25|   |e|2.05 |0.27 |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
                    |f|2.23|0.25|   |f|2.23 |0.18 |   |  |    |  |   |  |  |
Time  | Complete    |   |   |   |    | Detail      |  |     |     |    |
      | Operations  | E | F | G | H  | Operations  |I |  J  |  K  | L  | M
7 A.M.|Commenced    |   |   |   |    |             |  |     |     |    |
      |loading sand |   |   |   |    |             |  |     |     |    |
 9.02 |43 loads     |122|   |122|2.84|a--Filling   |4 |1.240|0.094|13.2|
      |wheeled to a |   |   |   |    | barrow with |  |     |     |    |
      |distance of  |   |   |   |    | sand        |  |     |     |    |
      |50 ft.       |   |   |   |    |             |  |     |     |    |
 9.50 |Picking      | 48|   |   |    |b--Starting  |4 |0.182|     |    |
      |hard clay    |   |   |   |    |             |  |     |     |    |
11.39 |29 loads clay|109|   |   |    |c--Wheeling  |4 |0.225|     |    |0.450
      |wheeled to a |   |   |   |    | full--50 ft.|  |     |     |    |
      |distance of  |   |   |   |    |             |  |     |     |    |
      |50 ft.       |   |   |   |    |             |  |     |     |    |
11.46 |Picking clay |  7|55 |   |1.67|d--Dumping   |4 |0.172|     |    |
      |again        |   |   |   |    | & turning   |  |     |     |    |
12.01 |4 loads clay | 15|   |124|3.76|e--Returning |4 |0.260|     |    |0.520
      |wheeled to a |   |   |   |    | empty--50   |  |     |     |    |
      |distance of  |   |   |   |    | ft.         |  |     |     |    |
      |50 ft.       |   |   |   |    |             |  |     |     |    |
      |             |301|   |   |    |f--Dropping  |4 |0.162|     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    | barrow &    |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    | starting    |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    | to shovel   |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    |g--          |  |2.241|     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    |h--          |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    |i--          |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    |j--          |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    |k--          |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    |l--          |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    |m--          |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    |a'--Filling  |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    | barrow with |  |     |     |    |
      |             |   |   |   |    | clay        |4 |1.948|0.144|3.5 |

     NOTE.--Comparison of "Detail" with "Complete" operations shows
     that about 27 per cent of the total time was taken in rest and
     other necessary delays. About the same quantity loose as at the
     start. Observer: JAMES MONROE.

Here is an account of the effect the result of this time-study and these
tests in strength produced on the output and wage of a group of men at
the Bethlehem Steel Co., whose work Mr. Taylor reorganized after that of
the Midvale Steel Company:--

     The opening of the Spanish War found some 80,000 tons of
     pig-iron piled in small piles in an open field adjoining the
     Bethlehem Steel Company's works. Prices for pig-iron had been
     so low that it could not be sold at a profit, and was therefore
     stored. With the opening of the Spanish War the price of the
     pig-iron rose, and this large accumulation of iron was sold.
     The ...steel company's ...pig-iron gang ...consisted of about
     75 men ...good average pig-iron handlers, under an excellent
     foreman ...A railroad switch was run out into the field, right
     along the edge of the piles of pig-iron. An inclined plane was
     placed against the side of a car, and each man picked up from
     his pile a pig of iron weighing about 92 pounds, walked up the
     inclined plank, and dropped it on the end of the car.

     We found that this gang were loading on the average of about
     12-1/2 tons per man per day in this manner. We were surprised
     to find, after studying the matter, that a first-class pig-iron
     handler ought to handle between 47 and 48 tons per day, instead
     of 12-1/2 tons, which were being handled.

     This task seemed so very large that we were obliged to go over
     our work several times before we were sure we were absolutely
     right.... The task which faced us as managers under the modern
     scientific plan ...was ...to see that the 80,000 tons of
     pig-iron were loaded on the cars at the rate of 47 tons per man
     per day in place of 12-1/2 tons.... It was further our duty to
     see that this work was done without bringing on a strike among
     the men, without any quarrel with the men, and to see that the
     men were happier and better contented with loading at the new
     rate of 47 tons than they were when loading at the old rate of
     12-1/2 tons.

     The first step was the scientific selection of the workmen....
     Under ...scientific management ...it is an inflexible rule to
     talk to and deal with only one man at a time, since we are not
     dealing with men in masses, but are trying to develop each
     individual man to his highest state of efficiency and
     prosperity. The 75 men in the gang were carefully watched and
     studied for three or four days, at the end of which time we had
     picked out four men who were believed to be physically able to
     handle pig-iron at the rate of 47 tons per day. A careful study
     was then made of each of these men.... Finally one man was
     selected from among the four as the most likely man to start

This man, who had been receiving $1.15 a day, agreed to follow for $1.85
a day the directions of the time-student, who had determined the
proportion and intervals of rest necessary for the regular accomplishment
of the task, without overstrain or undue fatigue. The worker started to
carry his accustomed load and at regular intervals was told by the
time-student, observing the proper period for rest and work with a watch:
"Now pick up a pig and walk. Now sit down and rest. Now, walk--now, rest,

[Illustration: Courtesy of _Industrial Engineering_


     He walked when he was told to walk and rested when he was told
     to rest, and at half past five in the afternoon had his 47-1/2
     tons loaded on the car. And he practically never failed to work
     at this pace and to do the task that was set him during the
     three years that the writer was at Bethlehem.... Throughout
     this time, he averaged a little more than $1.85 a day; whereas
     he had never received more than $1.15 a day, which was the
     ruling wage at that time in Bethlehem.... One man after another
     was picked out and trained to handle pig-iron at the rate of
     47-1/2 tons a day, until all of the pig-iron was handled at
     this rate, and all of this gang were receiving sixty per cent
     more wages than other men around them.

A very brilliant and extended investigation concerning the elimination of
waste of human energy and labor by motion-study has been made
independently of Mr. Taylor by Mr. Frank Gilbreth, whose discoveries in
the field have already cut down the effort of the labor of bricklaying
two-thirds. The two accompanying photographs show what Scientific
Management and motion-study did in one case to serve the worker by an
orderly and convenient arrangement of his material.

These extremely simple processes of bricklaying and carrying pig-iron
have been selected as instances of the procedure of Scientific
Management, because they reveal one of its most illuminating qualities.
Scientific Management makes an art of all work. It gives the most
primitive manual task its right dignity, and turns knowledge, science,
and the powers of direction from the position of tyrants of labor to that
of its servitors.

Scientific Management, then, besides eliminating waste in human energy,
or rather by way of eliminating this waste, eliminates waste in
equipment, waste in machine power, and evolves through an extended
planning department such better appliances, such an improved programme of
work and recording of individual work as has been only very imperfectly
indicated here.

For an instance of the elimination of waste in equipment the account of
the saving effected for one establishment by an efficient use of its
belting may be narrated. This was the work of Mr. Harrington Emerson,
widely known as a counselling engineer. In the '70's Mr. Emerson had
become interested in the subject of Efficiency Engineering by his study
of the successful conduct of the German Army during the Franco-Prussian
War; and he has since then reorganized numerous large enterprises in
accordance with the principles derived from his inquiry. Among these
establishments was a machine shop where the belting[47]

     "had cost (for maintenance and renewals) at one of the main
     shops about $12,000 a year--or $1000 a month--and it was so
     poorly installed and supervised that there was an average of 12
     breakdowns every working-day, each involving more or less
     disorganization of the plant in its part or as a whole." The
     workmen in charge of the belts now received directions as to
     their charge from a general foreman, who received directions
     from an efficiency engineer. This engineer had derived his
     general information on the subject from a man who had made a
     special study of belts for nine years. He laid down a few
     general rules, requiring accurate records of breakdown, repair,
     and installation, full authority and responsibility for the
     special worker on belts, a better grade of work in installation
     and better operation of the belts. Under this method "the
     number of breakdowns declined from 12 each working-day to an
     average of 2 a day, not one of them serious ...and due to
     original defective installation, which it was impossible to
     remedy without unjustifiable expense.... The cost of
     maintaining belts fell from $1000 a month to $300 a month."

This elimination of waste of human power, and in connection with it the
elimination of waste of equipment and of machine power, have, then, in
the course of the last thirty years, been studied and applied in this
country in the way roughly outlined by Mr. Taylor, Mr. Gilbreth, Mr.
Gantt, Mr. Sanford Thompson, Mr. Barth, Mr. Cook, and Mr. Hathaway; and
in somewhat the same manner by Mr. Harrington Emerson, Mr. Edward
Emerson, Mr. W.J. Power, Mr. Arion, Mr. Playfair, and Mr. Chipman. These
engineers have developed methods which have made it possible for them to
reorganize the various businesses mentioned which have consulted them,
and to decrease their costs and increase their profits. It will be seen
at once that the procedure of Scientific Management in determining by
scientific analysis the rate of speed and the working conditions under
which machine power and human energy can be at once most productively and
continuously employed, is really new, and differs radically from former
business management, however ably systematized.

"But these," said Mr. Taylor, in speaking of the methods of Scientific
Management, "are incidents in the course of Scientific Management. Its
great underlying purpose is the achievement of prosperity for the workers
and for the employers." Mr. Taylor's definition of prosperity, given on
another occasion, is one of the finest the present writer has ever heard.
"By a man's prosperity, I mean his best use of his highest powers."

It may be asked, after the efficiency of workers has been increased by
scientific study, what provision is made by scientific study for their
increased compensation. While Mr. Taylor was at the Bethlehem Steel
Company, Mr. Henry L. Gantt, then engaged with him in reorganizing the
Bethlehem Steel Works, first applied the Bonus and Task system of
compensation, which may be described loosely as a premium paid if a
certain predetermined amount be accomplished in a certain time. Its
general principles are these:[48]--

1. "A scientific investigation in detail of each piece of work and the
determination of the best method and the shortest time in which the work
can be done."

2. "A teacher capable of teaching the best methods and shortest time."

3. "Reward for both teacher and pupil, when the latter is


About five years ago Mr. Gantt was consulted concerning the application
of Scientific Management in a New England Cloth Finishing house. The
installation of the new system here began on the eve of a strike which
the workers lost. The history of this strike and its causes is not a part
of this account. Only these facts concerning it bear upon the present
subject. The strike started among the men folders, then folding 155
pieces of cloth a day for $10 a week on week wages, and asking for ten
per cent increase of wage without increase of output. The women folders'
wage on lighter work was $7.50. As will be seen, this request was met by
Scientific Management. The wage was increased far beyond ten per cent.
The output was increased, both by improved mechanical methods, and by a
standard of more expert work, to from 447 to 887 pieces a day. The
engineers of Scientific Management had not on either one side or the
other any part whatever in the strike. But undoubtedly one of its
contributing causes was a distrust aroused by the rumor that a new system
of work was to be inaugurated.

The Cloth Finishing establishment bleaches, starches, and calenders
dimities, muslins, percales, and shirtings, and folds and wraps them for
shipping. The factory has good light and good air and an excellent
situation in open, lightly rolling country. About two hundred young
women, Americans, Scotch, English, and French-Canadians are now employed
here on the bonus and task system, most of them whom I saw living with
their families in very attractive houses in pleasant villages near. One
or two were on the gloomy, muddy little streets of a French-Canadian mill
town. These girls, too, were in well-built houses and not living in
crowded conditions. But all their surroundings were dingy and
disagreeable. At the Cloth Finishing factory and both the other
establishments, every opportunity for the fullest inquiry among workers
as to the result of the system for them was offered by the owning
companies. Difficulties in the industry for the workers were frequently
pointed out by managers; and the addresses and names of the less
well-paid workers and those in the harder positions were supplied as
freely as information about the more fortunate effects of the system.
Both this firm and that of the cotton mill are anxious to obtain
first-class work through first-class working conditions as rapidly as
trade conditions will allow.

The first process at which women are employed is that of keeping cloth
running evenly through a tentering machine. The machine holds on tenter
hooks--the hooks of the metaphorical reference--the damp cloth brought
from the process of bleaching, and rolls it through evenly into a drier,
where it slips off. There are two kinds of tentering machines. At one
kind two girls sit, each watching an edge of the cloth and keeping it
straight on the tenter hooks, so it will feed evenly. The newer machines
run in such a manner that one girl who may either stand or sit can watch
both edges. Because of the nearness of the drying closet, the air would
be hot and dry here but that outside air is driven in constantly by fans
through pipes with vents opening close to the workers.

The tentering machines used to run slowly. This slowness enhanced the
natural monotony and wearisomeness of the work. The girls used to receive
wages of $6 a week, and to rest three-quarters of an hour in the morning
and three-quarters of an hour in the afternoon, with the same period for
dinner at noon in the middle of a ten-and-one-half hour day. After
Scientific Management was introduced, the girls sat at the machine only
an hour and twenty minutes at a time. They then had a twenty-minute rest,
and these intervals of work and rest were continued throughout the day by
an arrangement of spelling with "spare hands." The machines were run at a
more rapid rate than before. The girl's task was set at watching 32,000
yards in a day; and if she achieved the bonus, as she did without any
difficulty, she could earn $9 a week. The output of the tentering
machines was increased about sixty per cent.

The girls at the tentering machines praised the bonus system eagerly.
They said they could not bear to return to the former method of work;
that now the work was easier and more interesting than before, and the
payment and the hours were better. One of the "spare hands" showed me, as
a memento of a new era at tenter-hooking machines, the written slip of
paper the efficiency engineer had given to her, explaining to her how to
arrange the intervals of rest, and to start the "rest" with a different
girl on each Saturday--a five-hour day--so that the same girls would not
have three intervals of rest every Saturday.

But in another part of the factory the girls at the tentering machines
had wished to lump their rest intervals and to take them altogether in
fifty-minute periods in the middle of the morning and of the afternoon.
Here the "spare hands" intervals at the machines fell awkwardly, and they
were obliged to work for an unduly long time. The girls became exhausted
with the monotony in these longer stretches of work; and further wearied
themselves by embroidering and sewing on fancy work in the long rest
periods. Here the girls were much less contented than in the other

After the cloth is dry and passed through calendering machines where men
are employed, it is run into yard lengths by a yarding machine or
"hooker." At the yarding machines the girls stand under the frame holding
the wooden arms that measure off the cloth back and forth. The workers
here used to earn $7.50 a week. They watch the machine, mark defects in
some kinds of cloth, by inserting slips of paper, stop the machine when
the material runs out, and lift the pile of measured cloth to a table
where it is taken up by the cutters and folders and inspectors.

After the bonus system was introduced at the machines where the heavier
material is measured, the yarding machines were all elevated to small
platforms, so that the pile when finished would be on a level with an
adjacent table, and the worker need not lift and carry the heavy weight
of cloth to the table, but could slide the work. The machine was run more
rapidly. The task was increased to about 35,000 yards, or from about 155
pieces to about 610. The wage with the bonus was now about $10 on full
time, and the hours were lessened 45 minutes, as at the tentering

The worker stops the yarding machine by throwing her weight on her right
foot, on a pedal to the right. The girls interviewed said they did not
feel this as a strain, as there was a knack in doing it easily. On
consulting a neighborhood physician it was found that within the last ten
years, however, several women, both at the yarding and tentering
machines, had strained themselves, probably by the tread at the yarding
machine and by the slightly twisted seated position the older tentering
machines necessitated. The number of these cases traceable to any one
process of work had not increased under the new system. The whole number
of these cases in the factory had, on the other hand, either decreased
under the new system, or else had not come under this doctor's care. He
believed, however, that there was a reduction of the cases, and that this
reduction was attributable to the better general health achieved by
shorter hours, better ventilation, and better working conditions and

[Illustration: Courtesy of _Industrial Engineering_


The increased task at the yarding machine seems to have increased the
danger of accidents. A knife extends from the side of the machine; and
when the girl's attention is concentrated on her work, she sometimes puts
her fingers too near the blade, and cuts them, though no instance was
known here of the loss of a finger or of serious injury.

The girls stand all day at the yarding machine and at most of the
succeeding processes of preparation. These are various arrangements of
inspecting, counting yards, folding in "book folds," of doubled-over
material, or "long folds" of the full width, ticketing and stamping,
tying selvages together with silk thread, or tying them to wrapping paper
by means of a little instrument called a knot-tier--this process is
called knotting--tying with ribbons, pasting on strips of silver tissue
ribbon, further ticketing and stamping, and running the sets of tickets
indicating the several yards in each piece through an adding machine,
which then produces on a stamped card the total number of yards in each
consignment, before it is finally rushed away for shipment.

The process of inspection is different for different qualities of
material. Before the material is bleached, the number of yards and the
character of treatment for each piece are specified on stamped orders
issued from the planning room and sent with the cloth through the
processes of production. It may as well be said here, that several girls
have been promoted from manual work to work in this planning room, where
they stamp orders, on a bonus at different rates, giving them a wage of
about $10 a week in full time on office hours of 8 hours a day.[51]

The inspector receiving the bales from the yarding machines now counts
off the number of yards and cuts the bale in accordance with these
directions. Some material she inspects yard by yard for imperfections and
dirt. After marking the yards on the cut piece, she sends it on to the
folder if it is clean, and if it is spotted, to girls who wash out the
spots and press the cloth.[52] On other material, imperfections are
marked by the girl at the yarding machine, by the insertion of slips of
paper. As the inspector has less to do on these pieces, she not only
counts and cuts, but folds them.

Before the introduction of the bonus system, one girl used to fold,
inspect, and ticket. She used also to carry her material from a table
near the yarding machine. Boys now bring the material except where at the
yarding machines for heavier stuffs it is pushed along the table. The
hours, as for almost all of the bonus workers, have been shortened by 45
minutes. The wages which were $7.50 a week are now between $10 and $11 on
full time. Almost all the workers here said they greatly preferred the
bonus system and would greatly dislike to return to other work.

But in dealing with the heavier materials the work was tiring, and more
tiring under the new system than before, as the number of pieces lifted
had been increased. It was said while there was every intention of
fairness on the part of the management in arranging the work; it was
sometimes not evenly distributed in slack times, the same girls being
laid off repeatedly and the same girls chosen to work repeatedly instead
of in alternation.

In the further processes of folding, some of the work and the lifting to
the piles of the sheer, book-folded stuff is light, but requires great
deftness; other parts of the work and the lifting to the piles are
heavier.[53] The wage before the bonus was introduced was $7.50 a week,
and with the bonus rose to $11 a week, in full time. As with the
inspectors, the work was now brought to the folders, and the hours were
shortened by 45 minutes. Here there was great variation in the account of
the system.

One of the folders on light work, a wonderfully skilful young woman, who
had folded 155 pieces a day before, and now folded 887, could run far
beyond her task without exhaustion and earn as much as $15 a week. She
and some of the expert workers paused in the middle of the morning for 10
or 15 minutes' rest and ate some fruit or other light refreshment, and
sometimes took another such rest in the afternoon.

Another strong worker, employed on heavy material, though she liked the
bonus system, and said "it couldn't be better," had remained at work at
about the same wages as before, because she was a little ahead of the
others before and earned $8 a week; and now, as there was hardly more
than enough of her kind of work to occupy her for more than four days a
week, she still earned about $8.

One folder was made very nervous by a constant fear that she would not
earn her bonus. She always did complete the necessary amount; but when
the system was first introduced, she had been sleepless night after
night. Though this sleeplessness had passed away, she still took a nerve
tonic to brace her through her work; and this was the case with another
folder. The mothers of both these girls urged them to return to week
work. But this was of poor quality--odds and ends--and the girls disliked
it, and persisted in the new system.

In tying ribbons around the bolts of material, the girls sit at work.
Their wages had been $1 a day for tying ribbons around 600 pieces; and
now, on a bonus for 1200 pieces, is at times for quick workers, as high
as $11. But the ribbon tying was not steady work. It is applied to only
some of the material, and the task and bonus here are intermittent. The
girls who knot, or run silk threads through the selvages, paste on tinsel
ribbon, and wrap are younger than the other workers. Their wages before
had been from $5.80 to $6 a week. Now they are in some cases over $8; in
others about $7; in others about $6. The work reaches them in better
condition than before. They said it was more interesting, and the chief
difficulty was in lifting occasionally a greater number of heavy pieces
in piling. Seats were provided for these workers except for those at
tinselling; and if they found they were able to complete the task easily,
they sat at the work. At the heavier work, the girl at yarding, the
folder, knotter, and ticketer, all worked tandem, and if the girl at
yarding loses her bonus, all the girls lose the bonus.

In the last process of stamping tickets and ticketing, the girls work
without one superfluous motion, with a deftness very attractive to see;
and both here and at book folding justify the claim made by Scientific
Management that speed is a function of quality. The wages here had been
$6 before, and were now in full time from $9 to $10. As the task before
had been combined with various other processes, it was, as in other
cases, impossible to determine how much the work of each worker had been
increased. The present task was that of ticketing 39 bundles of 5 pieces
each hourly, with different rates for different amounts of tickets, and
was not considered at all a strain. But at the ticketing connected with
the adding machines the work was not differentiated so carefully. More of
the heavy work came to these ticketers, and the lifting was sometimes too
exhausting. But the work was better than in former times, and the wages
of from $9 to $10 were thought just, if a higher rate had been added for
the heavier work here.


All this work described at the tenter hooking, the yarding, the folding,
inspection, and ticketing, was of a different character from that
carried on under the bonus and task system in a large room where sheets
and pillowcases were manufactured. This work afforded the only instance
of an application of Scientific Management to the processes involved in
the great needle trades and was, on that account, of special interest.

The white cloth is brought on trucks to the girls, who tear it into
lengths, in accordance with written orders received with each
consignment. They snip the cloth with scissors, place the cut against the
edge of an upright knife, set at a convenient height on a bench, and pull
the two sides of the cloth so that the knife tears through evenly to the
end; then they stamp the material, fold it over, and place it on a truck
to be carried to the machine sewer. The weekly wages before the bonus was
introduced had been $5.98 and were now with the bonus $6.75, though
workers sometimes tore more than the 1190 sheets required by the task and
made from $7 to $7.50 by a week's work. The quick workers occasionally
stopped for 10 or 12 minutes in the morning and ate a light lunch. The
task was severe for the muscles of the hand and forearm, and apt to cause
swollen fingers and strained wrists, though the girls bound their wrists
to prevent this. All the work was done standing. The loosened starch
flying here was annoying, both to the tearers and the girls at the

Since the time of the inquiry, all the girls engaged in tearing have been
relieved and transferred to other positions, and the work of tearing has
been done by men.

Here the sheets are turned back and hemmed by workers who sew tandem, one
girl finishing the broader hem and the other the narrower one, their task
being 620 sheets a day. The girls at the machines formerly earned $7.50,
and now earn with the machine set at the higher rate of speed from $8 to
$11. They stop for 10 minutes in the morning, and clean the machines and
clear away the litter around them. The sewing and stooping are
monotonous, and the work on bonus here is apt to cause nervousness,
because of uncertainty occasioned by frequent breakages in the

There is a room at one side of the department, where the girls were to
rest when they had completed their tasks. But the present foreman, not
understanding the system, comes to the rest room and hurries them out
again, even after the 620 sheets are finished.[55] One of the girls in
the department, an Italian girl, who used to run far beyond the task at
the machine, had fallen ill under the strain of the work, or at least
left the factory looking extremely ill and saying that she had broken
down and could not remain. Another unfortunate result of the speed at the
sewing-machines is that the girls are more apt than before to run the
needles through their fingers.

The folding in this department is also exhausting, and the management is
trying to find a better system of conducting this process than that now
employed. The folders here stoop and pick up the sheets and fold them
lengthwise and crosswise. The task is 1200 a day; and the wage with the
bonus comes to between $6 and $7 a week. But after the bonus is earned,
payment is, for some reason, not suitably provided on work beyond the
task. One worker said she used to fold one or two pieces above the amount
without any objection, but lately she had folded as many as 200 beyond,
without payment.

From the folders the sheets are carried away to a mangle, where they are
folded over again by young girls. The work is light, but the payment of
$5.80 to $6 for 770 pieces an hour is low. The mangle is well guarded. By
an excellent arrangement here, the material is piled on a small elevator,
so that the girl at the mangle does not have to stoop or lift, but
easily adjusts the elevator, so that she can feed the mangle from the
pile at her convenience. The girl at a mangle can earn from $7 to $8 and
is not tired in any way by her work.

The final stamping and wrapping in paper and tying with cord are done at
a rate of 25 pieces an hour, for a wage coming to $6 a week, by young
girls; and the situation is otherwise about the same as with the other

Except at the mangle, the operation of the sheet and pillow-case factory
was unsatisfactory to the management, who had begun to study the
department for reorganization just before the time of the inquiry.
Competition had so depressed the price of the manufacture of sheets that
the commission men, for whom these processes described were executed,
paid 25 cents a dozen sheets for the work. This does not, of course,
include the initial cost of the material. It means, however, that all of
the following kinds of machine tending and manual labor on a sheet were
to be done for 2-1/2 cents:--

        Tearing; (men workers)
        Hemming; (women workers)
        Folding; (women workers)
        Mangling; (women workers)
        Book-folding; (women workers)
        Wrapping; (women workers)
        Ticketing; (women workers)

The management lost in its payment for labor here, and yet felt the work
was too hard for its workers, and should be changed. Alterations in the
rest periods are now being introduced. For the girls the system of
operation at the time of the inquiry in the sheet and pillow-case
factory, except on the mangle, was undoubtedly more exhausting than the
old method, though their wages had been increased and their hours

In general in the Cloth Finishing establishment Scientific Management had
increased wages.

It had shortened hours.

In regard to health and fatigue, outside the sheet factory, when the
general vague impression that the new system was more exhausting than the
other was sifted down, the grist of fact remaining was small, and
consisted of the instances mentioned. About forty young women told me
their experience of the work. Sometimes their mothers and their fathers
talked with me about it. Every one whose health had suffered under the
new task had been exhausted by some old difficulty which had remained
unremedied. This point will be considered in relation to the industry of
the other women workers in the other houses after the accounts of their
experience of Scientific Management.


There are over 600 workers in the New Jersey cotton mill. Of these 188
are women. One hundred and ten of the women workers are at present
engaged under the bonus and task system, though the management expects to
employ eventually under this system all of its workers, and is in this
establishment markedly in sympathy with Scientific Management. The mill
is a large, well-lighted brick structure, with fields around it, and
another factory on one side, on the outskirts of a factory town. The
establishment is composed of a larger and newer well-ventilated building,
with washed air blown through the work-rooms; and an older building,
where the part of the work is carried on which necessitates both heat and
dampness to prevent the threads from breaking.

The cotton, which is of extremely fine quality, comes into the picker
building in great bales from our Southern sea-coast and from Egypt. It is
fed into the first of a series of cleaners, from the last of which it
issues in a long, flat sheet, to go through the processes of carding,
combing, drawing, and making into roving. The carding product consists of
a very delicate web, which, after being run through a trumpet and between
rollers, forms a "sliver" of the size of two of one's fingers, from which
it issues in a long strand. This strand or sliver Is threaded into a
machine with other ends of slivers and rolled out again in one stronger
strand; and this doubling and drawing process is innumerably repeated,
till the final roving is fed into a machine that gives it a twist once in
an inch and winds it on a bobbin. There are three kinds or stages of
twisting and winding roving on these machines, and at the last, the
"speeders," women are employed.

Up to this point all the workers have been men. These speeders are in the
carding rooms, which are large and high, filled with great belts geared
from above, and machines placed in long lanes, where the operatives stand
and walk at their work. Humidifying pipes pass along the room, with spray
issuing from their vents. The lint fibres are constantly brushed and
wiped up by the workers, but there is still considerable lint in the air.
The heat, the whir of the machines, the heaviness of the atmosphere, and
the lint are at first overpowering to a visitor. While many of the girls
say that they grow accustomed to these conditions, others cannot work
under them, and go away after a few days' or sometimes a few hours'

The speeders stand at one end of a long row of 160 bobbins and watch for
a break in the parallel lines of 160 threads, and twist the two ends
together when this occurs. The greater number of the speeders used to
earn $6 a week. But two or three women, on piece-work, earned about $9
and did nearly twice as much as the other workers. The speeders had
helpers who used to assist them to thread the back of the machine and to
remove and place the bobbins in front. The change or "doff" occupied
about 20 minutes. It generally occurred five times in the day of the
better worker and thus consumed an hour and forty minutes of her working
time. The hours in the cotton mill are ten and a half a day with five and
a half on Saturday,--58 hours a week.

In order to ascertain the proper task for the speeders, a time-study was
made of the work of one of the abler workers, who may be called Mrs.
MacDermott, a strong and skilful Scotch woman, who had been employed at
speeding in the mill for 14 years. Mrs. MacDermott was employed to teach
the other speeders how to accomplish the same amount in the same time.
The girls now thread the back of the machines with her help. Mrs.
MacDermott, the speeder tender herself, and the doff boys, all working
together, remove the bobbins and fill the frame, thus accomplishing the
change in 7 minutes instead of 20 minutes. The girls are paid, while
learning better methods from Mrs. MacDermott, at their old rate of a
dollar a day. If they accomplish the task allotted, they receive a dollar
a week more flat-rate, a bonus equivalent to a few cents a pound on each
pound received by the management; and this brings the wage to $1.65 a
day, or between $8 and $10 a week. The work tires the girls no more than
it did before. They receive about thirty per cent more wages, and the
management receives from the speeders nearly twice as great an output as
before. Mrs. MacDermott's wage as a teacher has been raised to $12.

From the speeders, the doff boys send the roving--called fine roving in
the mill, because the other rovings in preceding operations are
coarser--upstairs in the older building to the spinners. Spinning is a
more difficult task than speeding. Two rovings are here twisted together
by the machines. The spinners have 104 bobbins on one side of a frame,
and watch for breakage, and change the bobbins on three frames, or six
"sides." Spinners formerly worked at piece-work rates and by watching
eight sides, and frequently doing the work very imperfectly, would earn
about $9. After a time-study was taken, the task was set at six sides,
and doffs as called for by a schedule. With the bonus the girls' weekly
wage comes to about $10. In the spinning department there is a school for
spinners. The heads receive a dollar for every graduate who learns to
achieve the task and bonus.

The yarn is carried from the spinners to the spoolers, and wound from
bobbins to spools for convenience in handling. The work of the spool
tenders seemed to the present writer to be the severest work for women in
this cotton mill. The bobbins run out very rapidly, and require constant
change. The girls watch the thread for breakages just as at the other
machines. In replacing the bobbins and fastening the broken threads with
a knot tier, the girls have to stoop down almost to the floor. Before the
time-study was taken, the girls were watching 75 bobbins, hurrying up and
down the sides, bending up and down perpetually at this work. Some of the
spool tenders had $6 a week on piece-work; others, more experienced
workers, were able to earn $10.50 at piece-work, although the work was
frequently unsatisfactory and had loose ends. A little Italian girl, who
may be called Lucia, an extremely rapid worker, used to run wildly from
one end of the frame to the other, and in the summer-time fainted several
times at her work from exhaustion. A time-study was taken from the work
of a very deft young Polish girl, and from Lucia. The other spoolers were
taught to work with the same rapidity, and were soon able to earn with
the bonus and the work done beyond the task a sum which brought their
wage up to nearly $12 a week.

This lasted for about two months. But the work was so improperly done and
the spools were so full of loose and untied ends, etc., that the number
of spindles to be tended was reduced from 75 to 50, and the machines were
run at a lower rate of speed. The task was changed accordingly so that
the worker's wage, simply with the bonus, was as it had been before. But
she was unable to overrun the task as far as she had, formerly. By the
workers' constant attention, the work now improved in quality, but the
limit of quantity, was, of course, lower. The wages with the bonus
dropped back to a smaller excess, or $1.47 a day. This was, of course,
disheartening, though Lucia said it was better, she was so much less
tired by the work than she had been before. But the work is still
undoubtedly very wearying and difficult. The spoolers still give
incessant attention to their work, still do their best, and yet make by
close application far less than they had grown accustomed to expect
whether justly or unjustly.[57] The task is now 12 doffs a day--each doff
requiring a change of 208 bobbins. So that in changing bobbins alone the
girls have to stoop down over 2000 times a day, without counting all the
stooping for knot tying, which the forewoman said would about equal the
labor of bending and working at bobbin changing. She had talked with the
management about having the frames raised, so as to eliminate this
exhausting process of stooping to work for the spoolers. This change had
been made in two machines and will doubtless be extended.[58]

At the further twisting and plying of the cotton, the processes
succeeding the spooling, men are employed. From these the yarn goes to
the winding room in the newer building, where better air and temperature
are possible than in the carding and spinning rooms. The winding room is
large and light. At one side stand the warps, very tall and interesting
to see, with their lines of delicate filament and high tiers of bobbins.
In the winding room girls are engaged at machines which wind the yarn
from spools back to bobbins for filling in the looms and also for the

In winding the filling bobbins the girls watch the thread from eighteen
bobbins, and replace and stop bobbins by pressing on foot pedals. The
worker had made from $7 to $7.50 a week before a time-study was taken and
the task increased. She can now make from $8 to $10.50 a week. The work
is lightened for her by the fact that whereas she formerly placed the
bobbins on the warp, doffers now do this for her. But the increased
stamping of the pedals made necessary by the larger task is very tiring.

There are no women on bonus in the weave room, where the warp and the
filling are now carried. After the woven product comes from the weaving
room--an extremely heavy, strong stuff of the highest grade, used for
filter cloth and automobile tires--it is hung in a large finishing room
in the newer building over a glass screen lighted with sixteen electric
lights which shine through the texture of the material and reveal its
slightest defect. After it has been rolled over the screen, it is sent to
girls who remedy these defects by needlework.

It is again run over the lighted screen by the inspectors and returned to
the girls if there are still defects. Before the bonus system was
applied, the girls had made $5.04 a week, and finished about 5 rolls a
day. After the system was applied, they made from $7 to $8 and did
sometimes 10 and sometimes 12 rolls a day. But, in spite of the greatest
care on Mr. Gantt's part in standardizing the quality in this department,
here, as with the spool tenders, requirement as to quality had recently
caused a temporary drop in wages. This change in requirement was
occasioned, not as at the spool tending by the negligence of the workers,
but by the somewhat unreasonable caprice of a customer. Knots in the
texture, formerly sewed down as they were, are now cut and fastened
differently. To learn this process meant just as hard work for the girls,
and put them back temporarily to their old day rate,[59] though they were
recently becoming sufficiently quick in the new process to earn the bonus
as well as before.

By and large, the wages of the women workers in the cotton mill had been
increased by Scientific Management.

Their hours had not been affected. These were in all instances 10-1/2 a
day and 5-1/2 on Saturday. There was no overtime. But on five nights in
the week, women preparing yarn for the following day worked at speeding
and spinning from six at night until six in the morning, with half an
hour for lunch at midnight. This arrangement had always been the custom
of the mill. The girls go home at six for breakfast, sleep until about
half past four, rise, dress, and have supper, and go to work in the mill
again at six. The night workers I visited had worked at night in other
mills in New England before they worked in New Jersey. Their sole idea of
work, indeed, was night work; and if it were closed in one mill, they
sought it in another. One of the youngest girls, a clever little
Hungarian of 17, who had been only 3 years in this country and could
barely speak English, knew America simply as a land of night work and of
Sundays, and had spent her whole life here like a little mole. The
present owner, the superintendent, and the head of the planning
department all seriously disliked night work for women, and said they
were anxious to dispense with it. But they had not been able to arrange
their output so as to make this change, though they intended to
inaugurate it as rapidly as possible.

Concerning the health and conservation of the strength of the women
workers in the mill under Scientific Management, the task of the speeders
and of the women at cloth inspection tired the girls no more than it had
before. In the spool tending and the winding, as the two most exhausting
operations in each process, the stooping and the stamping of the pedals,
had been increased by the heightened task, the exhaustion of the workers
was heightened. But the work of the excitable little spool tender
mentioned was finally so arranged as to leave her in better health than
in the days when she was employed on piece-work, and the management was
now endeavoring to eliminate the stooping at the bobbins. At spinning
almost all the spinners found the work easier than before, probably
because Scientific Management demands that machine supervision and
assistance shall be the best possible. It must be remembered that the
adjustment of conditions in the mill here is comparatively new. Almost
all the girls said: "They don't drive you at the mill. They make it as
easy for you as they can." It was of special value to observe the
operation of Scientific Management in an establishment where all the
industrial conditions are difficult for women. As in the white goods
sewing for the Cloth Finishing establishment, these industrial conditions
are unfortunately controlled to a great extent by competition and by
custom for both the employer and the employees. The best omen for the
conservation of the health of the women workers under Scientific
Management in the cotton mill was the entire equity and candor shown by
the management in facing situations unfavorable for the women workers'
health and their sincere intention of the best practicable readjustments.


The application of Scientific Management to women's work in the Delaware
Bleachery was very limited, extending only to about 12 girls, all
employed in folding and wrapping cloth.[60] The factory, on the outskirts
of a charming old city in Delaware, is an enormous, picturesque cement
pile, reaching like a bastion along the Brandywine River, with its
windows overlooking the wooded bank of the stream.

The girls stand in a large room, before tables piled with great bolts of
material, and stamp tickets and style cards, fasten them to the roll,
fold over the raw edges of the material in a lap, tie two pieces of
ribbon around the bolt, wrap it in paper, stamp and attach other tickets,
and tie it up with cord to be shipped. Here, after a time-study was made
of the quicker girls in all the operations, different tasks were set for
different weights of material; and if the task was accomplished, a bonus
was paid, amounting, roughly speaking, to a quarter of the worker's
hourly wage. The arrangement of the different processes was so different
for each worker, after and before the system was installed, that none of
the girls could compare the different amounts of work she completed at
the different times. But the whole output, partly through a better
routing of the work to the tables, and by paying the boys who brought it
a bonus of 5 cents for each worker who made her bonus, was increased from
twenty-five to fifty per cent.

The girls' hours were decreased from 10-1/4 a day with frequent overtime
up to nine at night to 9-1/4 a day with no overtime, the Saturday
half-holiday remaining unchanged. Here is a list of the changes in the
week wages. The work at the time of the inquiry was slack. Sometimes
there were only a few hours in the day of wrapping of a kind on which the
task and bonus was applied. Besides, these workers were in the midst of
an establishment managed by another system. The bonus was given on the
basis of the former wage. And this remained lower in the case of workers
employed fewer years by the firm, though sometimes their task was the
same as that of workers employed longer. Where the girls wrapped both the
heavier and the lighter materials, the allotment of these was in the
hands of a sub-foreman, who, instead of being in the new position of a
teacher rewarded for helping each worker to make her bonus, was in the
old position of a distributor of favors. The slackness of the work had
led the management, in a good-willed attempt to provide as well as
possible for the employees, to place several girls from other departments
under this sub-foreman. One of these less strong and experienced girls,
at the time of the inquiry, was receiving such an amount of heavy work
that she could wrap only enough of the task to enable her to earn from $3
to $5 a week. The firm's policy was paternalistic, and while in many ways
it had a genuine kindness, it was not in general sympathy with Scientific
Management, though the superintendent is a thorough and consistent
supporter of the new system. But he had not been able, single handed, to
achieve all the necessary adjustments, in spite of the decided increase
of output the new methods had already obtained for the company.

                                             |  PER WEEK   | FORMERLY
     Folding and ticketing on light material | $5 to 6     | $4.84
     Folding and ticketing on light material |  5 to 6     |  4.84
     Wrapping light material                 |  6 to 7     |  4.56
     Wrapping light material                 |  7 to 8     |  4.84
     Wrapping light and heavy material       |  6 to 6.50  |  4.56
     Wrapping light and heavy material       |             |
      combined with napkin tying             |  6 to 7     | 4.84
     Folding and ticketing both light and    |             |
      heavy material                         |  5 to 6     | 4.84
     Folding and ticketing both light and    |             |
      heavy material (unaccustomed to the    |  4.59       | 4.56
      work)                                  | (once 6.69) |
     Folding and ticketing both light and    |             |
      heavy material (unaccustomed to the    |             |
      work)                                  |  5          | 4.56
     Folding and ticketing both light and    |             |
      heavy material (unaccustomed to the    |             |
      work)                                  |  3 to 5     | 7
                                             |(in another department)

Even considering slackness, these increases per week for first-rate speed
and work, though in many cases the work was light, cannot but seem small.
All the girls lived in attractive houses and pleasant places. All but one
were with their families. The city has an open market. People of all
grades of income go to market properly with market-baskets, choose food
of excellent quality, and have fresh vegetables through the winter. The
ladies of the house, the girls' mothers, preserve fruit from June
strawberries to autumn apple-butter, and exhibit it proudly in row after
row of glass jars. But the girls' wages could not pay for such living
conditions. The girl who was boarding, and whose wages were sometimes $5
a week, could not always pay her board bill and had almost nothing left
for other expenses.[61]

In regard to health and fatigue the main difficulty here, as at the Cloth
Finishing factory, was in the lifting of heavier pieces of cloth. Two of
the girls had suffered, since the introduction of the bonus and task, by
straining themselves in this way. One of them was at home ill for a week,
and is now quite well again. The other girl was away for two months, and
though she is now at work, had not fully regained her health. The company
had at once obtained employment less straining for the first of these
girls, and the second said that the firm had always been fair with her in
arranging the work. It was said that it had been Mr. Gantt's intention to
have the heavier lifting done by men and boys, instead of combining it
with the larger tasks the girls now accomplished under the new system.
But the department had never fully carried out its intention, and
unfortunately since Mr. Gantt's departure rather more of the heavy
material had been ordered from the house than before.

The general good will of the firm, the picturesque factory site, the
pleasant work-rooms, and the attractive living conditions of the Delaware
workers gave them an extraordinary opportunity to pursue their labor
healthfully. But because of its incomplete adoption, Scientific
Management, though it had shortened hours, and in most cases had raised
wages, had proven of less potential value to the workers than to those in
the more difficult industrial situation obtaining in the cotton mill.


In general, then, Scientific Management for women workers in this country
may be said as far as it has been applied to have increased wages, to
have shortened hours, and to have resulted fortunately for the health of
women workers in some instances and unfortunately in others.

Wherever a process presented a difficulty which remained unremedied, if
the task were multiplied, the difficulty, of course, was multiplied. No
matter how greatly the weight of a wagon is lightened, if there is a hole
in the road of its passage, and the road is now to be travelled sixty
times a day, instead of twenty times, as before, the physical difficulty
from this hole is not only trebled, but while it may be endured with
patience twenty times, is not only a muscular, but a nervous strain at
the sixtieth. This was the situation in regard to all unrelieved heavy
lifting wherever cloth was manipulated, the situation in regard to the
stooping for the spool tenders, the stamping at the winding machine, and
the stooping and breakages at the sewing-machine. But these points,
instead of being ignored by the management, were seriously regarded by
the employers as inimical to their own best interests in combination with
those of their employees, and in all the establishments were in process
of adjustment.

In the present writer's judgment this adjustment would have been
inaugurated earlier in several processes and would have been more rapid
and effective for both the employer's interest and that of the women
workers if the women workers' difficulties had been fairly and clearly
specified through trade organization. Such an organization would also be
of value in preventing danger of injury for workers whose attention under
Scientific Management should be concentrated on their tasks, and of value
in supporting the tendency of Scientific Management to pay work
absolutely according to the amount accomplished by the worker, and not
under a certain specified rate for this amount.

Scientific Management as applied to women's work in this country is, of
course, very recent. This synthesis of its short history is collected
from the statements made by about eighty of the women workers, by Mr.
Gantt, and by the owner, superintendent, and head of the planning
department of the cotton mill, by the superintendent and one of the
owners of the Cloth Finishing factory, and the superintendent and one of
the owners of the Bleachery. The account should be supplemented by
several general observations.

The first is that it is difficult to determine where the health of a
worker has been strained by industry and where by other causes. Quite
outside any of the narratives mentioned were those of two young women
employed under Scientific Management whose health was hopelessly broken.
Both of these poor girls were subject to wrong and oppressive
maltreatment at home. Indeed, from oppression at home, one of the girls
had repeatedly found refuge and protection in the consideration shown to
her by the establishment where she worked. It was not she who blamed the
new way of management for her breakdown, but people whose impression of
her situation was vague and lacked knowledge.

The whole tendency of Scientific Management toward truth about industry,
toward justice, toward a clear personal record of work, established
without fear or favor, had inspired something really new and
revolutionary in the minds of both the managers and the women workers
where the system had been inaugurated. Nearly all of them wished to tell
and to obtain, as far as they could, the actual truth about the
experiment everywhere. Almost no one wished to "make out a case." This
expressed sense of candor and coöperation on both sides seemed to the
present writer more stirring and vital than the gains in wages and hours,
far more serious even than the occasional strain on health which the
imperfect installation of Scientific Management had sometimes caused.

These strains on women's health in industry in America--stooping and
monotony in all the needle trades, jumping on pedals in machine tending,
dampness and heat in cotton production, the standing without pause for
many hours a day throughout the month, the lifting of heavy weights in
packing and in distribution--all these industrial strains for women
constitute grave public questions affecting the good fortune of the whole
nation and not to be answered in four years, nor by one firm. It is
undoubtedly the tendency of Scientific Management to relieve all these

No one can see even in part the complications of contemporary factory
work, the hundred operations of human hands and muscles required for
placing a single yard of cotton cloth on the market, the thousand threads
spinning and twisting, the thousand shuttles flying, the manifold folding
and refolding and wrapping and tying, the innumerable girls working,
standing, walking by these whirring wheels and twisting threads and high
piled folding tables, without feeling strongly that ours is indeed an
industrial civilization, and that the conditions of industry not only
completely control the lives of uncounted multitudes, but affect in some
measure every life in this country to-day.

No finer dream was ever dreamed than that the industry by which the
nation lives should be so managed as to secure for the men and women
engaged in it their real prosperity, their best use of their highest
powers. By and large, the great task of common daily work our country
does to-day is surely not so managed, either by intent or by result,
either for the workers or for the most "successful" owners of dividends.
How far Scientific Management will go toward realizing its magnificent
dream in the future will be determined by the greatness of spirit and the
executive genius with which its principles are sustained by all the
people interested in its inauguration, the employers, the workers, and
the engineers.


[Footnote 43: Brief on behalf of Traffic Committee of Commercial
Organizations of Atlantic Seaboard, p. 70. Louis D. Brandeis.]

[Footnote 44: Fourteen years ago Scientific Management was applied to
women's work in a Rolling Machine Company in Massachusetts. Here the
women's hours were reduced from 10-1/2 day to 8-1/2; their wages were
increased about 100 per cent; and their output about 300 per cent. All
the women had two days' rest a month with pay. The work consisted in
inspecting ball-bearings for bicycles. Their department of the business,
however, closed twelve years ago. Accurate facts other than those listed
concerning the workers' experience as to hours, wages, and general health
under Scientific Management are at this date too few to be valuable.]

[Footnote 45: "Academic and Industrial Efficiency," by F.W. Taylor and
Morris Llewellyn Cook.]

[Footnote 46: The specialistic and detailed care necessary for practical
and exact time-study may be indicated by the reproduction below of a
method of record used by Mr. Sanford E. Thompson in timing wheelbarrow
excavations. (Explanation. The letters _a_, _b_, _c_, etc., indicate
elementary units of the operation: "Filling barrow" = (_a_); "starting" =
(_b_); "wheeling full" = (_c_), etc.)]

[Footnote 47: "Efficiency." Harrington Emerson.]

[Footnote 48: "Work, Wages and Profits," pp. 110 to 111. H.L. Gantt.]

[Footnote 49: While the bonus system as a means of compensation has been
used very often in connection with the Scientific Management, it must
not, however, be supposed that this method of compensation is alone and
in itself Scientific Management. In fact, as employed without Scientific
Management, it is to be regarded with some apprehension.]

[Footnote 50: The work in this department was, besides, rather slack at
the time of year when I visited the factory, and wages for some of these
workers were $6 a week, as low as they had been before the bonus was

[Footnote 51: The girl who directs them and issues the orders receives a
bonus for every stamper earning a bonus and earns on full time from $12
to $15.]

[Footnote 52: These girls are not employed under the bonus and task
system. But it is interesting to observe that they may either sit or
stand to iron, as they prefer.]

[Footnote 53: The men folders at the heaviest work here now receive with
the bonus from $14 to $17 a week.]

[Footnote 54: A worker does not lose her regular wage if she is stopped
by a breakage. Her time-card is altered. And she has credit on a time
basis for the period while the machine is not running. A breakage in the
first machine of a tandem pair stops both sewers. But a breakage in the
second means that work piles up for the second sewer, and unless she
makes it up, she will prevent her companion from earning a bonus, though
not a time wage.]

[Footnote 55: The management, on learning of this, said the practice
would be stopped at once.]

[Footnote 56: "The cotton as it grows in the field becomes more or less
filled with blown dust.... Lint is given off in all processes up to and
including spinning.... The only practical way to keep down the dust in
all of these operations is by frequent sweeping and mopping the floor and
wiping off the machinery." Report on Condition of Women and Child
Wage-earners in the United States. Vol. I, p. 365.

"What degree of moisture is safely permissible from the standpoint of the
operatives' health is an unsettled question.... When the operative after
a day's work in a humid and relaxing atmosphere goes into one relatively
drier, the assault on the delicate membrane of the air-passages is sharp.
The effect of these changes is greatly to lower the vital resistance and
make the worker especially susceptible to pulmonary, bronchial, or
catarrhal affections. It is very possible that the dust and lint present
in the mill have been credited with effects which are due in part to
these atmospheric conditions." Report on Condition of Women and Child
Wage-earners in the United States. Vol. I, p. 362.]

[Footnote 57: Besides, work had lately been slack, and this had further
decreased the wages.]

[Footnote 58: Since visiting the New Jersey cotton mill, the present
writer has seen spool tenders at work at a machine requiring no stooping,
and provided with a board below the bobbins, placed at such a height,
that the worker can relieve her position while standing by resting her
weight against the board, above one knee and then above the other.]

[Footnote 59: At the same time work was slack so that week wages had
dropped to $3 and $4.]

[Footnote 60: One of the girls issues batches of tickets. Another girl
unfolds one end of certain of the packages, and inserts a ticket and
stamps an outside label, to accord with the invoice system of some of the
purchasers. These girls had received before $5.40 and $4.84 a week,
respectively, and now receive, the one $5.73, and the other between $5
and $6.]

[Footnote 61: All the firms have rest rooms for the girls. The Delaware
firm and the New Jersey cotton mill have pleasant lunch-rooms, where an
excellent lunch is provided at cost.]

       *       *       *       *       *

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     constructive throughout, as its author evidently intends; and
     it is safe to say that for many years to come it will be, both
     for the practical worker and for the scientific student, the
     authoritative work upon the 'Principles of Relief.'"--_Annals
     of the American Academy._

       *       *       *       *       *


     Publishers     64-66 Fifth Avenue     New York

_The Tenement House Problem_


     The most authoritative and comprehensive work on this subject,
     written by various authors and illustrated with eighty
     photographs and charts.


     CONTENTS:--Tenement Reform in New York since 1901; The Tenement
     House Problem; Tenement House Reform in New York City,
     1834-1900; Housing Conditions in Buffalo; Housing Conditions
     and Tenement Laws in Leading American Cities; Housing
     Conditions and Tenement Laws in Leading European Cities; A
     Statistical Study of New York's Tenement Houses; The
     Non-enforcement of the Tenement House Laws in New Buildings;
     Tenement House Fires in New York; Tenement House Fire Escapes
     in New York and Brooklyn; Back to Back Tenements; Tenement
     House Sanitation; Small Houses for Working Men; Financial
     Aspects of Recent Tenement House Operations in New York; The
     Speculative Building of Tenement Houses; Tenement Evils as seen
     by the Tenants; Tenement Evils as seen by an Inspector;
     Tuberculosis and the Tenement House Problem; The Relation of
     Tuberculosis to the Tenement House Problem.


     CONTENTS:--Parks and Playgrounds for Tenement Districts;
     Prostitution as a Tenement House Evil; Policy; A Tenement House
     Evil; Public Baths; A Plan for Tenements in Connection with a
     Municipal Park; Foreign Immigration and the Tenement House in
     New York City; Appendices.

In Two Volumes, Cloth, 8vo, $3.00 net

       *       *       *       *       *


     Publishers     64-66 Fifth Avenue     New York

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