Guide to the National Consumers League Records

Collection Number: 5235

Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library

Contact Information:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives
Martin P. Catherwood Library
227 Ives Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
(607) 255-3183>
Compiled by:
Kheel Staff, October 31, 2012
EAD encoding:
Randall Miles, February 22, 2017

© 2017 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library


National Consumers League Records, 1897-1959
Collection Number:
National Consumers League
2 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Records (documents) .
Kheel Center for Labor- Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Records document the League's research and lobbying activities for federal and state legislation and various social action programs. Consist of routine business records, published and unpublished reports, correspondence, and research documents pertaining to equal pay, equal rights, minimum wage, child labor, women workers, migrant workers, and fair labor standards.
Collection material in English


The Boston, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia Consumers Leagues founded the National Consumers League in 1899. It became a central force in exposing social injustice, particularly with respect to low wages and poor working conditions. Under the leadership of its first general secretary, Florence Kelley, the League launched important initiatives to improve wages and working conditions for many.
Women significantly involved in the League included Florence Kelley, Josephine Roche, Lucy R. Mason, Mary Dublin, Elizabeth Magee, Frances Perkins, Clara Beyer, Mary Dewson, Dorothy Kenyon and Josephine Goldmark. The League effected the passage, enforcement and defense of laws having to do with safety, sanitation, night work, maximum hours, child labor, minimum wages, social security, migrant camp conditions and fair employment practices.


This collection includes organizational records and subject files of the National Consumers League ranging from 1904-1955. It documents the League's goals and objectives through correspondence, publications, legislative initiatives, and individual and group activities. Subject files suggest an emphasis on the League's commitment to workplace issues affecting children and women, migrant workers, equal rights, fair labor standards, and minimum wage. A significant portion of the collection documents the League's activities in New York State, often in concert with the Consumers League of New York.
Organization records (1905-1955) consist of proceedings, resolutions, and reports of annual meetings (1930-1955); minutes of the Board of Directors (1937-1954); annual reports (1905-1916); and routine correspondence, press releases, programs, and speeches pertaining to the arrangements for the League's 50th anniversary (1949).
Research materials (1904-1955) consist of documents collected and produced by the League's staff and members to facilitate its legislative actions and research projects. Include memoranda; manuscript notes; bulletins; research documents; miscellaneous letters, and correspondence of various League officers and staff, including Florence Kelly, with political figures and other social action agencies concerning federal and state legislation and social action programs in occupational health and safety, labor relations, equal rights amendments (1925-1955), "candy white lists" boycotts (1929-1933), public education, equal pay, health insurance (1946), wages, hours and working conditions for women, children and migrant workers, migrant labor camps, wage and hour legislation, war labor standards, disability insurance, New York State household workers (1938), work at home (1934-1945), unemployment insurance (1933-1936), defense production, New York State Minimum Wage Boards, New York savings bank insurance (1938), and social security. Also, reports, newsletters and pamphlets, chiefly of the League, pertaining to equal rights amendments, child labor, migrant workers and fair labor standards; and reports of the New York Minimum Wage Boards on the cleaning and dyeing, hotel, restaurant, retail trade and laundry industries (1933-1945).

National Consumers' League
Kelley, Florence, 1859-1932

Child labor--United States.
Consumers' leagues--United States.
Equal pay for equal work--United States.
Disability insurance--United States.
Health insurance --United States.
Savings bank life insurance--New York (State)
Unemployment insurance--United States.
Labor laws and legislation--United States.
Migrant labor--United States.
War--Economic aspects--United States.
Women--Employment--United States.
Working class women--United States.
Agricultural Workers. Housing. United States.
Domestics. Legal status, laws, etc.
Hours of labor. Law and Legislation. United States.
Industrial hygiene. Law and legislation. United States.
Industrial safety. Law and legislation. United States.
Sex discrimination against women. Law and legislation. United States.
Social security. Law and legislation. United States.
Wages. Cleaning and dyeing industry. New York (State)
Wages. Hotels, taverns, etc. New York (State).
Wages. Laundry industry. New York (State)
Wages. Minimum wage. New York (State)
Wages. Minimum wage. United States.
Wages. Restaurants, lunch rooms, etc. New York (State)
Wages. Women. United States.
Women. Employment. Law and legislation. United States.
Work at home. United States.
Working conditions. United States.

Form and Genre Terms:
Records (documents)


Access Restrictions:
Access to the collections in the Kheel Center is restricted. Please contact a reference archivist for access to these materials.
Restrictions on Use:
This collection must be used in keeping with the Kheel Center Information Sheet and Procedures for Document Use.
Cite As:
National Consumers League Records #5235. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Series 1: Organizational Records
Series 2: Subject Files, National Focus
Series 3: Subject Files, New York State Focus
Series 4: Publications


Annual Meeting Resolutions
Box 1 Folder 1
Significant resolutions pertaining to child labor, including a resolution favoring a 16-year minimum work age for employment of children in industry and that adequate appropriations be made for their educational needs
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Box 1 Folder 1
Minimum Wage: A resolution urging concerted action to continue the League's national campaign for minimum wage laws.
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Box 1 Folder 1
8/40 Hours Per Week: A resolution to urge the passage of state laws limiting hours of work to eight in one day and forty in one week
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Box 1 Folder 1
Equal Rights: A resolution voicing strong support for equal opportunities for men and women in industry through legislation
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Box 1 Folder 1
Other resolutions pertaining to unemployment insurance legislation, the Social Security Act, health insurance, migratory workers, labor-management relations, equal pay, and establishing labor standards in all government contracts
Annual Meeting Proceedings
Box 1 Folder 2
Includes discussions on: economic implications of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); child labor and the FLSA; minimum wage experience; and a wage and hours program for the states
Board of Directors - Minutes of Meetings
Box 1 Folder 3
(Incomplete, arranged by month). Discussion topics are primarily those referred to in File 1
Fiftieth anniversary
Box 1 Folder 4
Address by Dr. J. Douglas Brown, Princeton: Cooperation vs. Paternalism; 50th Anniversary Award presentation to Dr. Alice Hamilton, Harvard Medical School; Remarks by Florence Kelley; Speech by Senator Paul H. Douglas; Letter establishing the 50th Anniversary Fund; Letter of congratulations from President Harry Truman ; Editorial comment by the New York Times; List of Milestones (page 2 of 2)
Routine Correspondence
Box 1 Folder 5
Bulletin of National Consumers League for Fair Labor Standards
Box 1 Folder 6
Issues: Fall, 1945; Fall, 1946; Winter, 1946
(Additional organizational files in small Hollinger box within this box, i.e. File 34.)
Box 1
Candy Industry, Permanent Candy Committee
Box 1 Folder 7
Proceedings from the Permanent Candy Committee of the NCL, November 12, 1929. Discussion pertaining to hours and wages of workers in the candy industry. A 1933 memorandum expressing regret for the need to discontinue the issuance of the candy manufacturers' White List, owing to the breakdown of labor standards across industries
Child Labor, Pamphlets
Box 1 Folder 8
See bibliography of pamphlets: appendix B
Child Labor, Industrial Accidents
Box 1 Folder 9
Study findings and other writings by Florence Kelley; See bibliography of pamphlets/writings: appendix A
Child Labor Manufacturers Program
Box 1 Folder 10
Address to the NCL by New York Consumer's League President Dorothy Kenyon, 1927. Letter to Florence Kelley from the U.S. Dept. of Labor, October 1927. Draft outlining a new plan for youth in industry, November 15, 1926. News release, Industry Meets Educators' Ideas, Modifies Child Education Program, National Association of Manufacturers, New York, NY, 1928. Draft of Act to Amend the Child Labor Law, 1953
Disability Insurance
Box 1 Folder 11
Recommendations of the Committee on Cash Disability Insurance, NCL
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Box 1 Folder 12
Senate Bill S.1178: A Bill providing equal pay for equal work, June 21, 1945. U.S. Dept. of Labor Women's Bureau. Suggested language for an Act to abolish wage differentials based on gender. State of Montana code regarding equal pay: 1935 revision to 1919 code. State of Washington: House Bill approving 1943 revision of 1913 law on equal pay
Equal Rights
Box 1 Folder 13
Remarks by Florence Kelley. List of, and comments from, national organizations officially on record as against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Proposed Amendment to the Unites States Constitution and related correspondence. Routine correspondence
Equal Rights
Box 1 Folder 14
Comments by Secretary of Labor to Judiciary Committee on the ERA. List of Organizations Opposed the ERA. Routine correspondence and records supporting and opposing the ERA
Health and Safety
Box 1 Folder 15
Pamphlets related to workplace-related illnesses, including exposure to poisons
Health Insurance
Box 1 Folder 16
Summary of proposed National Health Insurance Bill, November 19, 1945. Routine correspondence and news clippings on proposed National Health Bill
Hotel Industry
Box 1 Folder 17
NCL pamphlets and leaflets on women hotel workers
Hours of Work
Box 1 Folder 18
Routine correspondence, pamphlets, and new clippings related to hours of work required by some employers, including that related to night work required of women and children
Box 1 Folder 19
8 original pamphlet illustrations (photocopies here, originals in File 70)
Labor Standards Conference
Box 1 Folder 20
Reports from the first three annual meetings
Migrant Labor, Pamphlets and Government Issued Reports
Box 1 Folder 21
See bibliography of pamphlets: appendix C
Migrant Labor, Newsclippings
Box 1 Folder 22
Miscellaneous newsclippings, 1950s
Migrant Labor, Senate Hearings: Hopper Testimony
Box 1 Folder 23
Testimony of Mabel Hopper, Consumer League of New York, Research Director of the Migrant Labor Study. Accompanying Photographs (10) (photocopies here, originals in File 71)
Minimum Wage
Box 1 Folder 24
Collection of pamphlets and leaflets, bulk published by the National Consumer League. See bibliography of pamphlets: appendix D
Minimum Wage
Box 1 Folder 25
The Public Stake in Minimum Wage Laws: Address to NCL, May 22, 1946, Leon Henderson, Chief Economist of the National Recovery Act (NRA). Minimum Wage and Collective Bargaining: Address to NCL, , Solomon Barkin, Director of Research, Textile Workers Union, May 22, 1946. Collection of pamphlets and leaflets, bulk published by the National Consumer League. Bibliography: Appendix E
Minimum Wage, Great Britain
Box 1 Folder 26
British Minimum Wage Act of 1909. Report on the British Trade Boards Act, 1909- 1922
Social Security, National Testimony
Box 1 Folder 27
Statements on behalf of the NCL regarding Social Insurance (1950) and Bill to amend the Social Security Act (1954). Bill introduced for improving maternity care and care of infants, 1938. Correspondence from Social Security Board, 1938
U.S. Congress
Box 1 Folder 28
Statement of the NCL to the House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 584 addressing suits for portal-portal claims filed under the FLSA
U.S. Supreme Court
Box 1 Folder 29
Articles and pamphlets related to Supreme Court rulings on labor, including its ruling on the J. Tipaldo Case
Unemployment Compensation, Merit Rating
Box 1 Folder 30
Routine correspondence and Merit Rating Committee Report
Wartime Labor Standards (WWI)
Box 1 Folder 31
Pamphlets on the need for saving labor power during wartime
Women, Labor Legislation
Box 1 Folder 32
Routine correspondence on legislation affecting women's earnings and working conditions
Working Conditions
Box 1 Folder 33
Articles and leaflets regarding poor working conditions, particularly those for women in the needle trade industry
Small Hollinger within Box 1, Contents:
Box 1 Folder 34
Consumer League of the City of New York Annual Report, 1897. National Consumer League Annual Reports: 1905-07, 1910-16
Child Labor
Box 2 Folder 35
Routine correspondence, confidential report on child labor in commercial agriculture, proposed legislation relating to the sale of goods produced employing child labor, news clippings
Child Labor
Box 2 Folder 36
NYS DOL report: "Child Labor and Hours in NYS Canneries, Summer 1944." Descriptions of and routine correspondence related to the Coudert-Brooks Bill, a proposal to amend the labor law relating to the combined hours of work and hours in school for minors under the age of 18. Related newspaper clippings. An abstract of laws governing school attendance and the employment of children in NYS
Child Labor, State Correspondence
Box 2 Folder 37
Summary of laws passed in Missouri, NYS, and Vermont prohibiting sale, etc. of goods made by child labor. Bill S. 2226 proposing the regulation of interstate commerce in the products of child labor and for other purposes. A Brief in opposition to Nunan-Moffat Bill regarding the protection of children employed in industries engaged in interstate commerce, presented by the National Child Labor Committee, 1937. News releases and clippings, including several relating to prison-made goods
Constitutional Convention
Box 2 Folder 38
Routine correspondence relating to a proposed change to Section 25 of the Judiciary Article of the NYS constitution which would subject all administrative determinations to review of the facts as well as the law
Consumers League of New York, Routine Correspondence
Box 2 Folder 39
Routine correspondence
Consumers League of New York
Box 2 Folder 40
Routine correspondence between NY league and National league, 1935-1940. Signed Bill amending NYS labor law establishing new minimum wage standards for women and minors. Signed by Governor April 28, 1937
Consumers League of New York, Routine Correspondence (addl)
Box 2 Folder 41
Routine correspondence and membership listing
Consumers League of New York, Newsletters
Box 2 Folder 42
Consumers League of New York, Newsletters (addl)
Box 2 Folder 43
Consumers League of New York, Publications
Box 2 Folder 44
Disability Insurance
Box 2 Folder 45
Recommendations on disability insurance made by Consumers League of New York before Joint Legislative Committee
Household Employment
Box 2 Folder 46
Routine correspondence, news releases, re: proposed legislation to regulate hours of employment of household workers, 1938. Notes on Women's Trade Union League re: protective legislation for domestics
Industrial Homework
Box 2 Folder 47
Correspondence, news releases, notices of public hearings on proposed orders restricting industrial homework, NYS Supreme Court record of an appeal to permit industrial homework, order prohibiting homework in artificial flower and feather industries. NYS DOL report on trends in industrial homework
Labor Standards Committee, NYS
Box 2 Folder 48
Letter referring to the establishment of the NYS Labor Standards Committee, January 12, 1912, list of Committee members. Minutes of meetings. Public hearing correspondence and notices. List of Senate and Assembly members, 1934. Routine correspondence, public statements, and news clippings on unemployment insurance, minimum wage
Migrant Labor, NYS, Conferences and Studies
Box 2 Folder 49
Analysis by NYS Committee on Summer Farm Labor Problems of roundtable reports from Conference on Agricultural Labor and Community Problems, Rochester, NY, 1945. NYS DOL Report on children working on fruit and vegetable farms in NYS, 1951. Excerpts from report on summer farm labor camps, 1936. Routine correspondence
Minimum Wage, Advisory Committee
Box 2 Folder 50
Advisory Committee to Minimum Wage Board member list. Routine correspondence
Minimum Wage, General
Box 2 Folder 51
Background document on the genesis for minimum wage legislation. An analysis of minimum wage legislation. Routine correspondence, news releases, newspaper clippings. Transcript of radio address: Elinore Morehouse Herrick, Regional Director, NLRB, 1936. Brochure: New York's Minimum Wage Law: The First Twenty Years, 1958
Minimum Wage, General (addl)
Box 2 Folder 52
Additional historical background on minimum wage. Routine correspondence. Brochure from NYS DOL describing minimum wage and its objectives. Brief in support of minimum wage legislation, Consumer League of NY
Minimum Wage, Correspondence
Box 2 Folder 54
Routine correspondence. Bibliography of publications relating to women workers and child labor issues. Reprints of Industrial Bulletin articles related to women in industry during wartime
Minimum Wage, Correspondence
Box 2 Folder 53
Routine correspondence. NYS DOL news releases
Minimum Wage, Inspection
Box 2 Folder 55
Correspondence, notice of exam to become an inspector. Examination questions. Appeals by those who did not pass
Minimum Wage, Legislative Proposals
Box 2 Folder 56
Routine correspondence. Legislative proposals and analysis. Newspaper clippings
Minimum Wage, Newspaper Clippings
Box 2 Folder 57
Collection of newspaper clippings on minimum wage issues, primarily from 1933
Minimum Wage, Tipaldo Case
Box 2 Folder 58
Routine correspondence and newspaper clippings related to New York State Court of Appeals' declaration that New York's Minimum Wage Law is unconstitutional
Minimum Wage, Candy Industry
Box 2 Folder 59
News releases
Minimum Wage, Cleaning & Dyeing Industry
Box 2 Folder 60
Routine correspondence, news releases
Minimum Wage, Hotel and Restaurant Industry
Box 2 Folder 61
Routine correspondence, news releases, leaflets
Minimum Wage, Laundry Industry
Box 2 Folder 62
Routine correspondence, news releases. (4) Film negatives of earning tables: Comparisons between basic hours and wages (skilled/unskilled workers) in 47 laundry plants in Greater New York and Westchester County, 1929 and 1931
Minimum Wage, Laundry Industry
Box 2 Folder 63
Routine correspondence, news releases
Minimum Wage, Retail Stores
Box 2 Folder 64
Routine correspondence, news releases
Savings Bank Life Insurance, NYS
Box 2 Folder 65
Routine correspondence urging support of SBLI
Unemployment Insurance, NYS
Box 2 Folder 66
Copy of NYS Unemployment Insurance Law, 1935. Analysis of Unemployment Ins. Bills Pending in Albany. Routine correspondence, newspaper clippings
Wages and Hours, NYS, Correspondence
Box 2 Folder 67
Routine correspondence, majority from 1940s
Wage and Hour Legislative Proposals
Box 2 Folder 68
Routine correspondence. Legislative proposals
Wartime Labor Standards Committee, NYC
Box 2 Folder 69
Organizational member list. Minutes of Meeting, 1942. "War Emergency Dispensation Act," an Act to dispense from certain limits of the labor law as warranted by the war emergency. Guide on "Labor Standards for Maximum War Production in NYS."
Box 2 Folder 70
Original illustrations (8) referred to in File 19 (child labor). These are pen and ink drawings of working people used in NCL pamphlets, artist unknown, n.d.
Box 2 Folder 71
Original photographs (10) referred to in File 23 (migrant labor)
General Publications
Box 2 Folder 72
See Appendix F for listing
Text digitized from the collection.
Box 3