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Collection Scope and Content Note


Taken together, the four collections that constitute Series I, Constitutions, By-Laws and Conventions, 1893-1995, document the founding of the ILGWU and the structure of its governance through 1995 when it merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union to form UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees). This series includes the ILGWU's constitutions and bylaws from 1903 to 1992, as well as constitutions and bylaws for units comprising the ILGWU such as local unions, local unions' health and welfare funds, and joint boards. Constitutions and bylaws are complemented by documentation of the ILGWU's conventions held between 1900 and 1995. This documentation includes published reports of proceedings, and for some of the conventions, partial transcription of proceedings, notes, and ephemera.

While these four collections are the foundation of documentation on this aspect of the ILGWU, other parts of the ILGWU Records complement them. Materials in Series VII, Printed Material, offer published reports on the International's conventions. Collection 5780 PUBS, Publications, includes off-prints of reports to delegates at the ILGWU conventions, as well as other printed material published on the occasion of the international convention, such as ILGWU News-History, 1900-1950. Issues of the ILGWU's official organs - The Ladies' Garment Worker, Justice, Giustizia, Justicia, and Gerechtigkeit - as well as the publications of local unions, joint boards, district councils, and regional departments also report on the union's conventions.

In addition to these publications, portions of the records of local unions, district councils and regional departments, as well as the papers of ILGWU presidents, other officers, and staff complement the convention records in this series. Dispersed throughout the records of local unions, district councils, and regional departments are draft resolutions, correspondence, memoranda, and other materials relating to the selection of delegates to the international convention. The presidential papers of Benjamin Schlesinger, Morris Sigman, David Dubinsky, Louis Stulberg, Sol Chaikin, and Jay Mazur include correspondence and memoranda, presidential remarks, and printed material related to ILGWU conventions. The papers of Assistants to the President - Wilbur Daniels, James Lipsig, and Carl Proper - include off-prints of committee and department reports to the delegates, administrative files and notes, and other materials pertaining to conventions. The papers of Irwin Solomon, General Secretary-Treasurer of the ILGWU at the time of its merger with ACTWU, are noteworthy for their documentation of the work leading up to the creation of UNITE in 1995, in addition to records of earlier conventions.

Complementary to the text collections of the ILGWU Records, there are photographs, film, video, audio, and ephemera that document the ILGWU's conventions. Collections 5780 AV, Audio-Visual, and 5780 F contain film, video, and audio recordings documenting some ILGWU conventions between 1950 and 1995. These recordings include speeches, reports, performances, and presentation and discussion of resolutions. Collection 5780 P, Photographs, contains many images of the ILGWU's conventions; these include group photographs of members and delegates, staff and officers, the General Executive Board and committees, as well as of all the attendees in the large venues where the conventions were held. Collection 5780 MB, Memorabilia, includes ephemera distributed in conjunction with the ILGWU's convention such as medals, ribbons, badges, and pins; scarves, hats, and pendants; and pens and fans.


Series II contains the records of several ILGWU joint boards, district councils, and regional departments throughout the United States and Canada. This series is divided into two subseries: Subseries A. Joint Boards; and Subseries B. District Councils and Regional Departments.

The scope and content and physical disarray or records contained in this series vary considerably. The records for some joint boards, district councils, and regional departments are far more extensive than others, and many joint boards, district councils, and regional departments of the ILGWU are not represented at all. In some instances, the records of a joint board, district council, or regional department also contain files of, or pertaining to, constitutive local unions, such as meeting minutes, election results, and correspondence.

Subseries A, Joint Boards, 1909-1981

The charter and jurisdiction of Joint Boards was of perennial interest to the ILGWU, though the requirements for charter and the jurisdictional scope of the organizations changed over time. According to the International's 1918 constitution, "Two or more L.U.s located in the same city or locality and engaged in various branches of the same trade shall organize a joint board. All the branches engaged in the manufacture of cloaks, suits, reefers, and skirts, shall be considered one trade." In the years to follow, the branches considered to be part of one trade were not outlined in the constitution, but left to the discretion of the General Executive Board. By 1992, the requirements for chartering a joint board became even more flexible, providing that "Two or more locals located in the same city or locality may organize a joint board, if granted a charter by the GEB, which shall define the powers and jurisdiction of such joint board." Even while the requirements for chartering a joint board (and joint council) changed somewhat throughout the ILGWU's existence, the primary purpose of the joint board remained consistent - to negotiate agreements, settle grievances between members and employers, monitor conditions in union shops, and manage union staff and funds, and if necessary, discipline members found guilty of misconduct.

In this subseries, joint boards in eight cities - Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York City, San Francisco, and Toronto - are documented in 21 unique collections. These collections are arranged alphabetically by state or province, and within state or province, alphabetically by city.

The records of joint boards in New York City, spanning from 1913 to 1977, comprise the bulk of this subseries, and consist of a wide range of material. Included are meeting minutes of the board, memoranda pertaining to the joint board's operation, materials generated through the grievance process, as well as correspondence with the board's constitutive local unions and departments of the international. Also of note are records documenting the ILGWU's participation in New York State Governor Alfred Smith's Advisory Commission on the Cloak, Suit, and Skirt Industry beginning in 1924.

While the bulk of records in this subseries document the work of joint boards in New York, there are significant holdings of records of Joint Boards in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Montreal, San Francisco, and Toronto. The largest of these collections are the records of the Montreal Joint Board. These include correspondence with members, local unions, and the international office, as well as reports and meeting minutes, conference files, materials relating to the board's work in negotiations, elections, and the Quebec Federation of Labor. Some materials of the Montreal Joint Council, as well as extensive materials pertaining to local unions in Quebec are also included; joint councils were composed of joint boards and other affiliates. The records of the Chicago Joint Board contains similar materials relating to that affiliate's work in that city, as well as correspondence with joint boards in other parts of the country. The records of the Los Angeles Joint Board are the only text collection in this subseries with a complementary photograph collection; these photographs, contained in Collection 5780/046 P, show members in Los Angeles participating in meetings, conventions, officer installations, parades, and other events.

In addition to documenting the activities of the ILGWU's joint boards, the collections comprising this subseries also offer evidence of the work of local unions in their city or locality. This record sometimes consists of correspondence with members of those local unions about their activities or grievances; other times, meeting minutes forwarded from the local unions are the full extent of the records that the joint board maintained. Thus, researchers interested in the work of a particular local union should review records in this subseries, as well as records in Series III., Local Unions, 1901-1996.

Subseries B, District Councils and Regional Departments, 1901-2000

District Councils were constituted of local unions that were not part of a joint board, with the primary purpose of organizing garment workers in their area. In addition to organizing the workers of their area, these affiliates were bound by rights and duties as determined by the General Executive Board; when no determination was made, district councils enjoyed the same provisions as did the joint boards. Regional departments of the ILGWU, such as the Cloak-Out-of-Town Department or the Upper South Department, likewise were composed of local unions that were not part of a joint board; however, regional departments might be constituted of both local unions and district councils (e.g., the Southeast Region was composed of dozens of local unions, plus the North Carolina District Council, which was composed of ten local unions).

This subseries is constituted of 19 collections, arranged alphabetically by name of district council or regional department. This subseries contains records of several Pennsylvania district councils, as well as records of the Pacific Northwest District Council, Western Massachusetts District Council, and some files of Canadian joint councils. This subseries also contains records of the following regional department: Midwest, Northeast, Ohio Kentucky, Southeast, Upper South, and Western States.

A portion of several collections in this subseries contain the papers of several officers and staff. The papers of David Gingold, longtime director of the Northeast Department, are contained in that department's records. In the records of the Pacific Northwest District Council, there are correspondence and notes of manager Mattie Jackson and her successor, Katie Quan. The largest collection in this subseries, Western States Region Records, contain papers of several staff members between 1940 and 1985: Cornelius Wall, Max Wolf, Ralph Smith, and Meyer Silverstein. Other strengths of this subseries included regular reports from organizers in the Southeast Region Department, records documenting the work of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Stakeholder Alliance relating to the closure of Leslie Fay facilities in that region, and collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the Mid-West Region Department. This subseries is rounded out by issues of The Garment Worker and Ohio Kenucky News, publications of the Central Pennsylvania District Council and the Ohio Kentucky Region, respectively; researchers interested in publications of district councils and regional departments of the ILGWU should also consult the finding aid for 5780 PUBS, ILGWU Publications.

The photograph and audio-visual collections in this subseries document the operations of the affiliates, such as meetings and conferences, strikes and rallies, and classes and recreational outings. The Central Pennsylvania District photographs are the largest of the two photograph collections, and they show the diversity of activities of the district's members. The audio-visual materials include films and videos that were either created or produced by the affiliates, or that featured the affiliates, their members, or officers of the ILGWU. Collection 5780/038 AV, Canadian Area films, appears to include many dozens of reels of audio and film that were created in the course of producing Les Midinettes .

As does Subseries A, the collections comprising this subseries also offer record of the work of local unions in their city or locality. This record sometimes consists of correspondence with members of those local unions about their activities or grievances; other times, meeting minutes forwarded from the local unions are the full extent of the records that the joint board maintained. Thus, researchers interested in the work of a particular local union should review records in this subseries, as well as records in Series III., Local Unions, 1901-1996.


Over the course of the ILGWU's existence, dozens of local unions came into and out of existence. Many were formed, then dissolved or merged with other unions, as membership ballooned with the growth of the organized ladies' garment industry in the United States and diminished with its decline. In 1900, the ILGWU charted four local unions - the Cloak Makers' Union of New York Local Union 1; the Cloak Makers' Union Protective Union of Philadelphia Local Union 2; the United Cloak Pressers of Philadelphia Local 3; and the Cloak Makers' Union of Baltimore Local Union 4. In 1994, the year before the ILGWU's merger with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers to create UNITE, over 200 local unions were included in the International's joint boards, district councils, and departments.

While the rules governing the composition, rights, and responsibilities of local unions changed somewhat between 1900 and 1995, the requirement for chartering a local union largely remained consistent: Local unions were composed of at least seven workers in the same branch of the garment industry who applied for and received a charter by the General Executive Board of the ILGWU, and the local union could dissolve or join a non-ILGWU union only if, by a vote, fewer than seven members wished to retain the charter from the ILGWU.

Throughout the ILGWU's existence, the greatest concentration of local unions was in New York City, the historic center of the United States garment industry and the city where the International had been founded and maintained its headquarters. This concentration is reflected in the ILGWU Records, as most of the records in this series document the activities of New York City locals.

All told, however, this series contains records of 42 local unions - half of which were based in Boston, Milwaukee, Montreal, Philadelphia, Springfield, and Worcester. Constituted of 63 collections, this series is arranged alphabetically by city, and within city, by local union number.

The density of documentation of local union activity varies considerably, but the types of records are consistent throughout. Again, the records of local unions of New York City are the most extensive, and of these, the records of Local 10, Local 22, Local 62, and Local 89. This is due primarily to the existence of managers' or other officers' correspondence, and in the case of Local 22, records of its Education Department. These records reflect not only the routine work of staff and officers of locals, but in several instances, they document the ways that members interacted with their union. In some instances, these were somewhat public affairs relating to disputes and grievances about elections, but in others, they document the ways that members made use of services provided by the local or the International. Also, the more substantive of the collections of local union records illustrate the relationships between members, officers, and staff of a local and state and national politics; see, for example, Isidore Nagler's correspondence about presidential campaigns or the Liberal Party.

For records of local unions that do not include papers of their staff or officers, the bulk of the documentation takes the form of meeting minutes and publications. Collections of minutes include minutes of meetings of local unions' membership, and executive board and other committees; collections of publications, in general, contain local unions' official organ. Some local unions' records include photographs and audio-visual material which documenting their activities including strikes and rallies, recreational trips, educational classes, conferences, and meetings.

Materials in other series of the ILGWU Records complement the collections organized into this series. The report and record of proceedings in Series I, Constitutions, By-Laws, and Conventions often include some information on the activities of joint boards, district councils, or regional departments of which a local union was a part, if not a report from the local union itself. The records contained in Series IV contain the papers of ILGWU presidents, other officers, and staff; in many cases, these individuals maintained files on local unions or their managers. Likewise, the records of departments and institutions, contained in Series VII, sometimes include either subject or correspondence files on local unions. Series VIII, Printed Material, includes a wide range of publications, including local unions' newspapers and newsletters; even in cases where the bulk of a local's publications are contained in Series III, researchers should consult the collections of Series VIII if there are gaps in runs of issues. If not contained in a local union's own records, it may be possible to locate that affiliate's collective bargaining agreements in Series VI, Contracts and Files.

Perhaps the most promising of the other series is Series II, Joint Boards, District Councils and Regional Departments. In that series, local unions from the following states are represented: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. The United States commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Canadian province of Quebec are also represented in Series II.

The records of ILGWU local unions held at the Kheel Center are the largest concentration of such documentation in the United States, but as even a cursory consideration of the composition of the ILGWU or a quick review of its membership numbers between 1900 and 1995 will indicate, records of a great number of local unions are not held. Researchers should review holdings at other archival repositories, including those listed at the beginning of this finding aid, for records of other local unions of the ILGWU.


Series IV, Executive Officers and Staff, consists of 47 collections that document the work of 24 staff and offices of the ILGWU. The collections in this series contain papers, photographs, memorabilia, and audio-visual materials, and they are divided into two subseries: Presidents, and Other Officers and Staff.

Subseries A, Presidents, 1914-1995

Subseries A, Presidents, documents the tenure of 6 ILGWU Presidents: Benjamin Schlesinger (1914-1923, 1928-1932), Morris Sigman (1923-1928), David Dubinsky (1932-1966), Louis Stulberg (1966-1975), Sol Chaikin (1975-1986), and Jay Mazur (1986-1995). The 16 collections constituting this subseries are arranged chronologically by presidential term of service.

The papers of all of the presidents attend to workplace issues and the approaches taken by the ILGWU to address those issues. At the same time, each of the collections of presidential papers highlights issues particular to that moment in the history of the union. For example, Benjamin Schlesinger's presidential papers are the earliest such documents in the ILGWU Records, and thus provide a unique perspective on the union's growth and interaction with other organizations in its early years, documenting not only major strikes during his tenure, but other early union activities.

Morris Sigman's papers document the controversy around communist activity within the union, and the leadership's efforts to stem the growth of such activity by ILGWU members. These include a series on the 1926 cloakmakers strike in New York City, including union statements, correspondence and memoranda, and financial records.

David Dubinsky's voluminous papers illustrate the union's unprecedented growth - whether measured in membership numbers, financial assets, or political power - during his tenure, as well as the international reach that such growth enabled. Dubinsky's papers include an extensive series of correspondence and subject files, which document the broad interests and investments of Dubinsky and the ILGWU. Dubinsky's speeches and statements provide an account of the union's official position on current events, political issues and organizations, as well as a sense of Dubinksy's rhetorical style. An index to these speeches and statements (Box 399, folder 1) is available.

Because David Dubinsky was deeply involved in very many facets of the union's operation for over 30 years, his papers should be consulted when considering any aspect of the ILGWU's work between 1932 and 1966. For example, Dubinsky's correspondence documents the important roles he played in national and international politics, e.g., his work with the Jewish Labor Committee, the American Labor Party, and the Liberal Party. His collection also provides information about administrative issues within the main office, or matters relating to local unions' governance. In short, Dubinsky's "hands-on" leadership on the ILGWU makes his papers a potentially useful resource for any number of research topics.

The papers of subsequent presidents - Stulberg, Chaikin, and Mazur - document not only the work of these individuals, but also the efforts to stem the decline of the union and the garment manufacturing industry in the United States. Louis Stulberg's papers also address the issues of civil rights and international labor activities, and the union's shifting alliances with domestic political parties. The papers of Sol Chaikin document the ILGWU's approaches to dealing with an increase in importation of garments to the United States. Jay Mazur's papers show the work of the ILGWU to increase membership through new organizing efforts, collaboration within the industry, and expansion of immigration services to members and their families.

Audio recordings (5780 OH) and transcripts (5780/110 OHT) of oral history interviews with David Dubinsky and Louis Stulberg are available.

The presidential records of Herman Grossman (1900-1903, 1905-1907), James McCauley (1904-1905), Mortimer Julian and Charles Jacobson (1907-1908), and Abraham Rosenberg (1908-1914), as well as the records of Benjamin Schlesinger's first tenure as ILGWU president (1903-1904) are not held at the Kheel Center. Their location is unknown.

Subseries B, Other Officers and Staff, 1911-2006

Subseries B, Other Officers and Staff, includes the records of Myrtle Banks, Martin Berger, Muzaffar Chishti, Susan Cowell, Wilbur Daniels, Joseph Good, Murray Gross, Alan Howard, James Lipsig, Jay Mazur, David Melman, James Parrott, Carl Proper, Irwin Solomon, Leon Stein, Gus Tyler, and Frederick Umhey. Also included are the records of Louis Stulberg's tenure as General Secretary-Treasurer, and the Office Employees International Union (OEIU) local 153. The 31 collections comprising this subseries are arranged in alphabetical order by surname.

The collections in this subseries originated from a variety of offices within the ILGWU's international headquarters. The finding aids to these collections offer details about these different origins, but several characteristics about the materials are consistent throughout.

One, ILGWU staff and officers were often involved in several projects at once, and the papers in this subseries reflect this concurrent work. For example, James Lipsig's papers document both his work as Assistant Executive Secretary and, from 1966 to 1976, as Treasurer of the ILGWU Campaign Committee, and other materials relating to Lipsig's work might be found in the Political Department records of Evelyn Dubrow from that period (5780/119). Likewise, Leon Stein's papers include material for his book The Triangle Fire, but they also contain documents relating to his book on the 1914 Ludlow (Colorado) massacre.

Two, in addition to being involved in concurrent projects, many staff and officers held different positions in sequence, thus the materials in this subseries provide an incomplete picture of staff members' work over time. Jay Mazur, for example, had a long career in the ILGWU, and a researcher interested a comprehensive study of his work will find only a segment of it in this subseries. Review of Local 40's records, Local 23-25's records, and Mazur's presidential papers would complement the papers in this series (5780/154) from his tenure as Secretary-Treasurer. The same holds true for the work of Louis Stulberg, who worked in Local 81 (Chicago) and Local 10 before serving in executive positions and finally, being elected president of the ILGWU.

Finally and along the same lines, all of the collections in this subseries are complemented by collections in other series of the ILGWU Records. The files on the Garment Industry Development Corporation (GIDC) in James Parrott's paper and the Council on American Fashion (CAF) in Muzaffar Chishti's papers complement one another, as well as the records of the Apparel Job Training and Research Corporation (5780/114), insofar as they all document cooperative efforts between the ILGWU, local and national government, and industry to buoy the women's garment manufacturing industry in the United States. Gus Tyler's papers, especially those that contain his columns and transcripts from his radio broadcasts (5780/096) obviously complement Leon Stein's collection of writings, but they also pair well with the speeches, reports, and grey literature of the Education Department (578/166 PUBS).

Collections of audio recordings (5780 OH) and transcripts (5780/110 OHT) of oral history interviews of 45 officers, staff, and members of the ILGWU are also available.


The General Executive Board (GEB) was the highest governing authority of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, except when the ILGWU constitution stated otherwise. The GEB's responsibilities included participation in the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements; authorization of strikes and the use of funds in relation to such actions; supervision of the subordinate affiliates of the ILGWU, i.e., regional departments, district councils, joint boards and councils, and local unions; supervision of departments and institutions within the International office; and oversight of financial and administrative matters.

In addition to these duties, the GEB was responsible for the appointment of an executive committee from its own ranks, as well as the appointment or election of individuals to standing and special committees. Though "standing," standing committees came into and out of being over the course of the ILGWU's existence. In 1950, for example, the GEB appointed seven standing committees: Finance Committee, Grievance and Appeal Committee, Educational Committee, Death Benefit Committee, Jurisdiction Committee, Health and Welfare Funds Committee, and Press Committee. By 1965 (and through 1992), the standing committees were reduced to five: Appeals, Education and Community Relations, Finance, Workers' Benefits, and Jurisdiction.

As for the composition of the GEB itself, while the individuals serving on the GEB changed with elections at the ILGWU's regular conventions, as well as through retirement or departure from the garment industry, the general composition of the board remained for the most part consistent throughout the ILGWU's existence. The GEB was composed of the President, General Secretary-Treasurer, and a number of vice-presidents and executive vice-presidents; the number, title, and responsibilities of those vice-presidents changed over time. Meetings were held at least semi-annually, though in some years the GEB met more frequently.

This series consists of meeting minutes, reports, correspondence, and other materials of the General Executive Board of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union. Included are resolutions of the GEB and ILGWU affiliates, GEB election results, and in many instances, indexes to GEB minutes. Also included are reports from the ILGWU's departments and affiliates, and reports from the GEB's standing committees, special committees, and executive committee. The work of the GEB's Appeal Committee, Election and Objection Committee, and Grievance Committee are especially well-documented; those committees' case files include correspondence between the International office and ILGWU affiliates relating to members' cases, notes on cases, notices of decisions, evidence presented to the committee in appeals, and meeting minutes.

Because the General Executive Board had supervisory authority over all ILGWU departments and affiliates and, in turn, those departments and affiliates provided regular and formal reports to the General Executive Board, the collections in this series are among the most complete in the ILGWU records. The regular reports from ILGWU affiliates highlight their work and complement, or perhaps contradict, the records elsewhere in the ILGWU Records that document their work in greater details. In some instances, reports to the GEB are the full extent of the non-published documentation of an affiliates work. Thus, the reports to the General Executive Board begin to fill out gaps in other parts of the records.

Of course, in addition to recording the work of the many entities that reported to the GEB, the records of the GEB also reflect the priorities and strategies of the ILGWU leadership. This documentation is most evident in the meeting minutes of the GEB's executive committee. Researchers interested in this aspect of the ILGWU should also consult the papers of the members of the GEB. In many instances, the papers of the union's presidents and other officers include files on the GEB. In some instances, these files duplicate the records of this series, but in other instances, they complement the minutes of and reports to the GEB, including correspondence and other related material. Likewise, where gaps exist, researchers should also review the papers of executive assistants; they, too, maintained files on the GEB and several of its committees.


Series VI, Contracts and Case Files, is comprised of 7 collections of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) negotiated by the ILGWU.

At the core of this series is a general collection of CBAs (5780/075 and 5780/075mf) that were in effect between 1907 and 2000. These include agreements with independent companies and associations of manufacturers, negotiated by individual local unions, joint boards, and after its establishment in 1965, the Master Agreements Department. These two collections are supplemented by a third (5780/191), which consists of CBAs negotiated with associations of manufacturers and effective between 1916 and 1994.

The remaining collections in this series are comprised of contracts that the ILGWU filed as "Out of Business," meaning that the contract was with an independent manufacturer that had gone out of business or with an association of manufacturers that had dissolved. These include contracts negotiated by the Master Agreements Department (5780/146), and by local unions, joint boards, and joint councils (5780/147 and 5780/158) with individual companies. One collection (5780/145) contains contracts with out-of-business associations of manufacturers.

While this series contains the bulk of collective bargaining agreements within the ILGWU Records, additional CBAs may be found throughout the collection. The records of Local 62-32 (5780/089), for example, primarily consists of that union's agreements. Other local unions, joint boards and councils, district councils, and regional departments may contain agreements pertaining to their own or others' areas. The papers of presidents, officers, and other staff may also contain agreements, as well as notes and correspondence relating to their negotiation. The papers of Wilbur Daniels (5780/113), for example, contain documents from during his tenure as Director of the Master Agreements Department. Likewise, the papers of Jay Mazur (5780/203) contains notes, memoranda, and news clippings about contract negotiations while he was president of the ILGWU.

In addition to CBAs in this series and dispersed throughout the rest of the ILGWU Records, researchers will find additional ILGWU agreements in other collections at the Kheel Center. These include the Archival Collective Bargaining Agreements File (6030) and the collection of collective bargaining agreements from the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (6178).


The ILGWU's international office maintained departments and institutions to organize and advance the union's work. This series consists of 56 collections documenting the work of 20 of these departments and institutions, arranged alphabetically by name. Taken together, they document the national and often international reach of the ILGWU's work.

The scope and content of the collections varies, thus the daily operations and special projects of some departments are more fully documented than others. The Research Department's records, for example, not only include everyday administrative records and department reports on the garment industry, but also some of the sources that research department staff consulted in the course of their work. By contrast, the records of the Communications Department consist entirely of subject and biographical files that while providing helpful biographical information on ILGWU staff and officers, do not clearly indicate how the organization routinely operated. Likewise, the collection for the ILGWU Library is in its entirety a photocopy of the catalog cards.

In some instances, the records of a department are divided further into collections of files maintained by individuals. The records of the Education Department exemplify this. For that department, there are collections created by four former staff members and one central file, all named accordingly. Together, they comprise the department's records.

In other instances, certain individuals were long-time or founding directors of a department; their names were synonymous with the department for a period; and their files constitute the bulk of the written documentation on the department. The Retiree Services Department and the David Dubinsky Foundation, both organized around the time of David Dubinsky's retirement in 1966, are examples of this. Likewise, the bulk of the Political Department Records at the Kheel Center were maintained by Evelyn Dubrow. In these cases, the names of the directors appear in the title of the collection.

In yet other instances, the records of a department are neither concentrated in the records maintained by a single director nor divided into files of several individual staff members. The records of the Apparel Job Training and Research Corporation, for example, primarily consist of application forms, and it is not apparent who collected, organized, and maintained them. The same is true of the relatively small collection of Union Health Center records, as well as a collection of publications from the Auditing Department.

For the most part, whether associated with a prominent ILGWU figure or not, the collections in this series contain sufficient records to assist in ascertaining the primary function of a department or institution, and to complement the published accounts of their work in the ILGWU's official organ Justice or the union's Report and Record of Proceedings .

Beyond this, several elements of this series may be of interest to researchers. More than any of the other segments of the ILGWU Records, the records of the Archives Department and the Research Department cover a broad chronological scope. The records of the Archives Department contain a copy of the founding minutes of the ILGWU (5780/111, box 1, folder 13), as well as notes and interviews with union leaders. The oral histories conducted by the ILGWU Archives Department (5780 OH and 5780/110 OHT) constitute the bulk of such interviews with ILGWU officials at the Kheel Center. Early documents held in the Research Department Records include meeting minutes of the ILGWU predecessor union Sanctuary Local Assembly 3038 of the Knights of Labor.

The aforementioned biographical files of the Communications Department are of interest not only because they provide sometimes difficult-to-find, basic information on ILGWU members and officers, but because that information was provided by the individuals themselves, on forms provided by the union and designed to be returned to the office when completed. Organizational self-reporting is documented in the small collection of publications from the Auditing Department. These annual reports of membership, affiliates, and income provide information on the steady growth, and later, decline in the union's number of local unions and members, as well as clear reportage of the breakdown of the organization by city, region, and territory.

The records of the Education Department and the Legal Department are larger than other department records in this series. In addition to seeing how individual staff went about their work in the Education Department, the collection of department publications (5780/166) spans seventy-five years of the union's history and includes not only writings and speeches by Fannia Cohn and Mark Starr, but also department publications for union members and catalogues of other publications available to members through the department, both documenting the kinds of lessons the ILGWU staff thought worthwhile to teach. The records of the Legal Department document major legal cases with garment manufacturers, such as Kellwood and Judy Bond, in court documents and leaflets, as well as address legal issues relating to the ownership and maintenance of ILGWU institutions such as the Union Health Center and Unity House. The controversy over the right of union organizers to organize themselves is also documented in the records of the ILGWU's Legal Department.

Researchers should note that over the course of the ILGWU's nearly century-long history, many departments and projects were formed and disbanded, and a good number of these are not represented in this series. Thorough review of the ILGWU's Convention Report and Proceedings will yield information on departments' formation, activities, and dissolution. Reports to the General Executive Board between international conventions will also provide basic information on the activities of departments and institutions. The general collection of ILGWU publications (5780 PUBS) contains newsletters, pamphlets and other printed material that supplement the department publications found in this collection.

Beyond published and other printed material, information on departments and institutions may be found in the papers of ILGWU presidents, other officers, and staff. These individuals sometimes worked in or directed departments before moving into administrative positions. The papers of Executive Vice-President Wilbur Daniels may contain material of interest, for example, since Daniels worked in the Legal Department, Research Department, and Master Agreements Department over the course of his long career in the ILGWU. Likewise, researchers interested in the work of the Political-Education Department should review Assistant Vice President Gus Tyler's papers.


The collections organized in this series form the core of printed material in the ILGWU Records and consist of printed materials either collected or published by the ILGWU and its affiliates. This includes the official organs of the ILGWU, namely The Ladies' Garment Worker and Justice , and publications from some of its affiliates. In addition to periodical publications of the union, this series contains publications by union officers, printed material collected by union officers and departments, and publications of entities of which the ILGWU had a vested interest.

Only for the purposes of description, this scope and content note and the detailed listings below are divided into two: Official Organs of the ILGWU, and Other Printed Material. This is a somewhat false distinction, given that the largest of the collections in this series, 5780 PUBS, contains every kind of aforementioned publication. Thus, if a particular title, or a particular issue of a title, is not found in the collection first consulted, researchers should be sure to consult 5780 PUBS and, if possible, all of the collections comprising this series as well as collections of publications in other series.

Official Organs of the ILGWU

The Ladies' Garment Worker was the first official organ of the ILGWU. First published by the ILGWU in April 1910, the paper was issued monthly in Yiddish, English, and Italian. The Ladies' Garment Worker included reports on activities of the ILGWU and its affiliates, analysis of the garment industry, articles by officers of the union, reports of union activities, and announcements of upcoming events. Two features of The Ladies' Garment Worker are especially useful for basic reference regarding the ILGWU's growth in membership and changes in leadership: the publication regularly included directories of local unions' number, name, and mailing address, as well as a listing of general officers' names, titles, and addresses.

At the end of 1918, The Ladies' Garment Worker ceased publication, and in 1919, Justice became the official organ of the ILGWU. It remained the official newspaper of the International until the ILGWU's merger with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in 1995. In addition to continuing to publish Yiddish, English, and Italian editions, the ILGWU also published a Spanish edition. The paper was published monthly, except in the summer (July-August) when it was published bimonthly. As with its predecessor publication, Justice featured articles about union activities, analysis of the garment industry, announcements of upcoming events, and communications from ILGWU officers. Sometimes, it included information on local union elections, notice of television programs featuring the ILGWU, and photographs of members and officers. These photographs, along with the illustration work of Bernard Seaman and others, made Justice more visually-striking than the former ILGWU newspaper.

Other Printed Material

The materials published or collected by the International and its affiliates document the activities of the ILGWU's members, staff, and officers. The official organs of local unions, district councils, and regional departments are included in this series. Writings by ILGWU officers include Yetta Horn's translation of Abraham Rosenberg's Memoirs of a Cloakmaker and unpublished union histories by Fannia Cohn, Sol Goldberg, Julius Hochman, and others. Charles Zimmerman's collection of pamphlets covers a wide range of sources, from the AFL-CIO's Free Trade Union Committee to Roy Wilson Howard's interview with Joseph Stalin. Garment trade publications, including bulletins and newspapers, are also included.

While the collections in this series constitute the bulk of printed material in the ILGWU records, researchers should also consult collections of printed materials that are listed as part of other series. In most instances, these collections are the result of transferring printed materials from a collection of archival records, e.g. 5780/059 consists of records of Local 23-25, and 5780/059 PUBS consists of publications of or collected by Local 23-25. In other instances, such as with the Auditing Department records, the printed materials constitute the entirety of the records for that affiliate. Descriptions and listings for these collections may be found in Series I. Constitutions, By-Laws and Conventions, Series III. Locals, and Series VII. Departments and Institutions.


This series contains the core collections of visual materials of the ILGWU Records, including photographs, photographic negatives, film and video, audio recordings, broadside, ad boards, and exhibit displays. Photographic and audio-visual materials collections associated with an individual or specific ILGWU affiliate are included in other series. These collections of media are indicated by their title names, as well as by "AV" and "P" appended to their collection numbers.

The collections that comprise this series include materials that came to the archives in a number of ways. They were created for publication, circulated for internal use, commissioned to professional photographers and filmmakers, collected by staff and members, and purchased from other unions. Given this, these collections provide a kind of holistic picture of the union, documenting how the ILGWU managed its public image, communicated with members, and learned from other labor organizations.

For example, the photographs collected for possible publication in Justice (5780/102 P) include familiar images that made it into print in the ILGWU's official organ, while posters and fliers from the collection of broadsides (5780/109) might have been posted in a certain city or only distributed to workers in a particular shop. Likewise, the audio-visual, film, and photograph collections (5780 AV, 5780 F, and 5780 P), contain materials that were likely to be heard or viewed only by members of a local union, such as the audio taped proceedings of a meeting or a home movie of a trip to Unity House. These collections also contain materials that were to be broadcast nationally, such as interviews with ILGWU officers or Union Label commercials. An oral history project by the staff of the ILGWU Archives resulted in the core holdings of audio recordings (5780 OH) and transcripts (5780/110 OHT) of oral history interviews with ILGWU officers and staff.

The visual materials contained in this series are complemented by the records housed elsewhere in the collection. The reports and proceedings of the ILGWU's conventions can help to identify individuals in unlabeled photographs of committees and local union delegations. The organizing efforts detailed in the records of a regional department were sometimes photographed from meeting to rally to press conference. The negotiations and conflicts over the establishment of piece rates complement the time and motion studies conducted by the ILGWU's Management-Engineering Department. Researchers would do well to review materials in other series of the ILGWU Records.


This series is comprised of 10 collections of scrapbooks and memorabilia created or collected by ILGWU members, officers, and staff. Taken together, they document the ILGWU's work for its members, as well as the union's broad and varied approach to maintaining a place in the broader public's eye. The international union banners, district council charters, local strike placards, and individual staff members' awards made the union highly visible to the considerable ILGWU membership and the public at-large. The wide range of ILGWU and Union Label merchandise available to members and industry representatives, the sponsorship of a women's apparel design award, and articles in the trade press kept the ILGWU emblem visible to a wide public.

Two collections - one of union banners, one of union memorabilia - constitute the bulk of this series. The collection of union banners includes those used by the international, local unions, and allied organizations that were at union and public events. The collection of union memorabilia contains souvenirs from the international conventions, merchandise featuring the ILGWU seal, Union Label Department promotional material, awards, certificates, and citations for individuals, charters for ILGWU affiliates, and placards from pickets, rallies, and other labor actions.

Several collections of memorabilia relate specifically to staff and officers of the ILGWU. David Dubinsky's collection of memorabilia is the largest of these, but Kitty Goldstein, Murray Gross, and Myrtle Banks also collected ILGWU memorabilia. While these include materials that might also be found in the general memorabilia collections - such as Union Label fabrics, ILGWU merchandise, and souvenirs from the union's international conventions - they are distinguished by the awards and citations presented to the individuals from social and political organizations. The collection relating to the case against Benedict Macri, who was charged in the murder of union organizer William Lurye, is focused on a staff member of the ILGWU, albeit in a different light.

Other collections relate to social, cultural, and political organizations with which the ILGWU was closely related. These include entities owned by the ILGWU, such as the Poconos vacation resort Unity House and the New York City radio station WFDR-FM, as well as the American Labor Party, with which the ILGWU was closely involved since the political party's formation in 1936. This series also includes collections that document the ILGWU's important role in the women's apparel industry. These include scrapbooks of news clippings from Women's Wear Daily , and scrapbooks on the ILGWU-sponsored fashion prize, America's Next Great Designer Award.

Records in other series complement these memorabilia collections. Photographs of ILGWU members - attending the international convention, picketing a local shop, or attending a national rally - sometimes include images of some of the placards, signs, clothing and accessories held in these collections. Textual and photographic records of the ILGWU's conventions help to date and put into context convention souvenirs. Likewise, reports from the Union Label Department recount campaigns to promote the label within the industry and to the general public, and film and television productions from the department underscore the scale of the campaign. The papers of David Dubinsky are especially complementary of the memorabilia on WFDR-FM, Unity House, and the ILGWU's involvement with the American Labor Party.


This series consists of two small collections of miscellaneous records of the ILGWU. 5780/061 consists primarily of records from the Research Department, but other records in the collection suggest that the Research Department may not have been the affiliate that originally transferred the records. Collection 5780/200 consists primarily of publications, but other, a few non-published materials are included as well.

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