© 2012 Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University
ILGWU. Education Department. Fannia Cohn
Cohn, Fannia M. (Fannia Mary),
International Ladies' Garment Workers'
0.5 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Articles, reprints, pamphlets, correspondence,
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives,
Cornell University Library
Collection consists of photographs pulled from the Fannia Cohn
papers. Photographs include portraits of Cohn, as well as document activities of Local 66, trips
to Unity House, Triangle Factory fire commemoration, and other union activities.
Collection material in English
ILGWU ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY
Founded in 1900 by local union delegates representing about 2,000 members in cities in the
northeastern United States, the ILGWU grew in geographical scope, membership size, political
influence to become one of the most powerful forces in American organized labor by mid-century.
Representing workers in the women's garment industry, the ILGWU worked to improve working and
living conditions of its members through collective bargaining agreements, training programs,
health care facilities, cooperative housing, educational opportunities, and other efforts. In
1995, the ILGWU merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) to form
the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE).
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY
Local union's of the ILGWU established and maintained robust, ambitious educational
departments early on in the international's history. As these groups grew in size and scope, the
international office sought to coordinate and centralize educational programming for the union's
members, culminating in the formation of the Educational Department in 1918.
The department's programming included courses at the Workers' University at the Washington
Irving High School in New York City, lectures at Unity Centers and Unity Houses in the
northeastern United States, and other events. The educational offerings of the International's
Education Department were varied, as had been the education departments of the local unions, and
included not only classes in labor studies but also courses in languages, music, and the arts.
The ILGWU's 1937 musical "Pins and Needles" exemplified the diversity of the union's programs.
Directors of the Education Department, especially Fannia Cohn and Mark Starr, wrote
extensively on the ILGWU's programs and worker education in general. Longtime director Gus Tyler
not only directed the department, but also served as the ILGWU's on-staff scholar. In later
years, the Education Department went beyond collaborating with other education organizations and
arranging in-house programs to also supporting post-secondary education for union members and
The Education Department records document activities across the entire period of the
department's existence, with the bulk of the records covering the 1970s and 1990s. It contains
papers from directors of the Education Department: Fannia Cohn, Mark Starr, Gus Tyler, and Kitty
The earliest documentation of the department's work is found in the Fannia Cohn papers
(5780/049, 5780/049 P); these contain correspondence, subject files, speeches, photographs, and
printed material from her work as director of the Educational Department. A microfilm copy of
the Fannia Cohn papers held at the New York Public Library (5998 mf) complements the Kheel
Center's holdings. Documentation of the work of another longtime leader of the Education
Department, Mark Starr, is contained in these records (5780/166, 5780/166 PUBS), as well as in a
related collection from Starr on worker education programs (5243).
Documentation of the work of Gus Tyler, who led the merged Education and Political Department
after Mark Starr's retirement in 1960, is also contained in the ILGWU records (5780/052,
5780/088, 5780/096). Tyler's papers are complemented by those of Assistant Director Jasper
Peyton (5780/086) and Special Projects Coordinator Beverly Shulman (5780/106). These collections
contain routine correspondence and memoranda, reports, materials relating to training
institutes, seminars, and conferences, and printed material.
The papers of Kitty Krupat, who was serving as Education Director at the time of the
ILGWU/ACTWU merger in 1995, constitute the entirety of Education Department records from the
1990s. They include correspondence, memoranda, reports, and financial records relating to the
ILGWU's independent and collaborative education projects, including the Worker-Family Education
Program, the Joint Union-University Committee on Labor Education, and the Consortium for Worker
Education, as well as numerous trainings, conferences, and seminars. Also included in the files
are materials from local unions and regional departments of the ILGWU, files on the
Internationals' conventions, and reports to the General Executive Board.
The Fannia Cohn papers (5780/049) contain correspondence, subject files, speeches, articles,
photographs, and programs from Fannia Cohn's term as Executive Secretary of the ILGWU Education
Department. The materials in Series I are primarily letters between Cohn and various individuals
pertaining to trade union matters in general and the ILGWU in particular. Included in the series
are programs for lectures, concerts, museum visits and tours of New York City that were offered
to ILGWU members and others as part of the Education Department's activities. Series II consists
of bulletins, articles, lectures and course outlines. Most of these materials were written by
Cohn herself or were prepared under her direction for use at the union's Unity Centers and at
the Workers' University. A number of articles are by Mark Starr. There are also lectures by
Charles A. Beard; Robert Brure; Babette Deutsch; Paul H. Douglas; Harry Laidler; A.J. Muste;
Grace Scribner; Alexander Trachtenberg; Carl Van Doren; and Theresa Wolfson, among others.
Significant individuals represented in the collection include David Dubinsky, Samuel Gompers,
Morris Sigman ,Rose Pesotta, and H.G. Wells. Organizations include the Education Department of
the ILGWU, the Brookwood Labor College, the AFL, Pioneer Youth of America, the Rand School of
Social Science, and Unity House.
Cohn, Fannia M.(Fannia Mary), 1885-
Dubinsky, David, 1892-1982
Pesotta, Rose, 1896-
Wolfson, Theresa, 1897-1972
American Federation of Labor.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Educational
Clothing workers--Labor unions--United States.
Labor unions--Officials and employees.
Labor movement--United States.
Labor unions--United States.
Labor unions and education--United States.
Working class--Education--United States.
Form and Genre Terms:
Includes: Niagara Falls "ILGWU Convention Special," 1934; Fairfield, Connecticut, 1934;
Bermuda 1924; A.F. of L. Convention, 1916; and unspecified.
Includes: Formal portraits of Fannia Cohn, some on postcards, from Unity House and her time
as Executive Secretary of the ILGWU Educational Department
Includes: Local 66 excursion to Bear Mountain (1935) Fannia Cohn on the Local 66 Excursion
(S.S. Colvert?) (1935)
Includes: Individuals, groups and activities at Bryn Mawr Summer School (Mt. Ivy, Pomona,
New York), the Brookwood (Summer) Institute/Session (Katonah, New York); Commonwealth College;
unnamed "affiliated school"; "P.Y. Camp," 1931; Local 89 students, 1935. Identified
individuals include: Fannia Cohn, Dr. Theresa Wolfson; Christine Provenzale; Brookwood
Commencement, graduates including 2 from Puerto Rico: Ruth Miller, Rebecca Goldberg, Anna
Kula, Edith Bereowitz, Anna Sosnovsky, Fannia M. Cohn, Mary Goff, Ambaro Rivera, Frances
Vengen, Carmen Curbelo, Mark Starr, Abe Calderon.
Commemoration of Triangle Fire victims including ILGWU Committee members laying wreaths,
gravestones (of Sarah Cooper, age 16; Rosie Mehl, age 15, and Isi Rosen, age 17
Includes: Waterbury [Materbury?] Strike, 1935; two female ILGWU strikers Feb. 14, 1935 with
signs "Strike at Osgood and Sons" and "We Want Recognition of our Union;" Marion Memorial
meeting, Oct. 1930; graphic of marchers with ILGWU banner, and images portraying education and
healthcare, partial bottom reads: "Pioneers in Bringing Education, Recreation, Art and Medical
Science to the Service of Labor;" and women beneath an "ILGWU Educational Department" sign,
ca. 1930s. Identified individuals include Fannia Cohn, Ann Karlowski, Helen [?] Reed, Rose
Pesotta, Clara Rothberg, Theresa Wolfson and Dr. Igo [?] Goldstone probably at Brookwood ca.
Includes: Fannia Cohn; ILGWU Training For Trade Union Activity Institute; ILGWU Education
Department; and union Locals 1, 32, 35, and 143 members. Educational Department Unity House
Institute including Out-Of-Town students (1935); training for Trade Union
Activity/Institute(1935); sports and recreation including boating, basketball, theatrical
productions and hiking; ILGWU Players; art exhibition and lecture on "Appreciation of Art"
(1935); Pine Grove - Unity House (1934). People include: Fannia Cohn; David Dubinsky; Frank
Liberti; A. Ostrofsky; Bessie Weiss; Jimmy Leonotti; Molly Mottola/Matolla; Mamie Troccoli;
Lucy Frati; Sam Gidda; Sadie Basel/Bosel; Mary Bosel; Lazar Fried; David Rossi; Harry Kadison;
Gertrude Lubin; Nathalie Opatowsky; Sarah Shapiro; Rose Wertis; Ada Rosenfelt; Christine
Provenzale; Catherine Provenzale; Gertrude Lubin; Paul Degribetzer[?]; Harry Kadison; and
Includes: perhaps baby, childhood, and youth photos; signed photo of an infant and toddler
("Jan. 1931 A Happy New Year to you Fannia dear - from Teddy Peggy Pooky"); Photograph
postcard of middle-aged and elder gentleman; Postcard with Russian and Hebrew typeface mother
and baby; young man; and with who might be Fannia or a relative; two women holding a child;
Christmas note with two children, addressed to Fannia from Evelyn (1931); Fannia with a young
child; young boy. Postcard of Robert Smillie; Postcard - one man and two women at work