National Consumers League Records, 1897-1959
Collection Number: 5235

Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives
Cornell University Library


National Consumers League Records, 1897-1959
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives
Collection Number:
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 Consist of routine business records, published and unpublished reports, correspondence, and research documents pertaining to equal pay, equal rights, minimum wage, child labor, women workers, migrant workers, and fair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.
National Consumers League
2 cubic feet
Collection material in English

Biographical / Historical

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).
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Conditions Governing Use

This collection must be used in keeping with the Kheel Center Information Sheet and Procedures for Document Use.


Preferred Citation

National Consumers League Records #5235. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


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.

Series 1: Organizational Records
Box 1 Folder 1
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 1
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Scope and Contents
Minimum Wage: A resolution urging concerted action to continue the League's national campaign for minimum wage laws.
Box 1 Folder 1
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 1
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Scope and Contents
Equal Rights: A resolution voicing strong support for equal opportunities for men and women in industry through legislation
Box 1 Folder 1
Annual Meeting Resolutions
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 2
Annual Meeting Proceedings
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 3
Board of Directors - Minutes of Meetings
Scope and Contents
(Incomplete, arranged by month). Discussion topics are primarily those referred to in File 1
Box 1 Folder 4
Fiftieth anniversary
Scope and Contents
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)
Box 1 Folder 5
Routine Correspondence
Box 1 Folder 6
Bulletin of National Consumers League for Fair Labor Standards
Scope and Contents
Issues: Fall, 1945; Fall, 1946; Winter, 1946
Box 1
(Additional organizational files in small Hollinger box within this box, i.e. File 34.)
Series 2: Subject Files, National Focus
Box 1 Folder 7
Candy Industry, Permanent Candy Committee
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 8
Child Labor, Pamphlets
Scope and Contents
See bibliography of pamphlets: appendix B
Box 1 Folder 9
Child Labor, Industrial Accidents
Scope and Contents
Study findings and other writings by Florence Kelley; See bibliography of pamphlets/writings: appendix A
Box 1 Folder 10
Child Labor Manufacturers Program
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 11
Disability Insurance
Scope and Contents
Recommendations of the Committee on Cash Disability Insurance, NCL
Box 1 Folder 12
Equal Pay for Equal Work
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 13
Equal Rights
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 14
Equal Rights
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 15
Health and Safety
Scope and Contents
Pamphlets related to workplace-related illnesses, including exposure to poisons
Box 1 Folder 16
Health Insurance
Scope and Contents
Summary of proposed National Health Insurance Bill, November 19, 1945. Routine correspondence and news clippings on proposed National Health Bill
Box 1 Folder 17
Hotel Industry
Scope and Contents
NCL pamphlets and leaflets on women hotel workers
Box 1 Folder 18
Hours of Work
Scope and Contents
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
Scope and Contents
8 original pamphlet illustrations (photocopies here, originals in File 70)
Box 1 Folder 20
Labor Standards Conference
Scope and Contents
Reports from the first three annual meetings
Box 1 Folder 21
Migrant Labor, Pamphlets and Government Issued Reports
Scope and Contents
See bibliography of pamphlets: appendix C
Box 1 Folder 22
Migrant Labor, Newsclippings
Scope and Contents
Miscellaneous newsclippings, 1950s
Box 1 Folder 23
Migrant Labor, Senate Hearings: Hopper Testimony
Scope and Contents
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)
Box 1 Folder 24
Minimum Wage
Scope and Contents
Collection of pamphlets and leaflets, bulk published by the National Consumer League. See bibliography of pamphlets: appendix D
Box 1 Folder 25
Minimum Wage
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 26
Minimum Wage, Great Britain
Scope and Contents
British Minimum Wage Act of 1909. Report on the British Trade Boards Act, 1909- 1922
Box 1 Folder 27
Social Security, National Testimony
Scope and Contents
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
Box 1 Folder 28
U.S. Congress
Scope and Contents
Statement of the NCL to the House Judiciary Committee on H.R. 584 addressing suits for portal-portal claims filed under the FLSA
Box 1 Folder 29
U.S. Supreme Court
Scope and Contents
Articles and pamphlets related to Supreme Court rulings on labor, including its ruling on the J. Tipaldo Case
Box 1 Folder 30
Unemployment Compensation, Merit Rating
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence and Merit Rating Committee Report
Box 1 Folder 31
Wartime Labor Standards (WWI)
Scope and Contents
Pamphlets on the need for saving labor power during wartime
Box 1 Folder 32
Women, Labor Legislation
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence on legislation affecting women's earnings and working conditions
Box 1 Folder 33
Working Conditions
Scope and Contents
Articles and leaflets regarding poor working conditions, particularly those for women in the needle trade industry
Box 1 Folder 34
Small Hollinger within Box 1, Contents:
Scope and Contents
Consumer League of the City of New York Annual Report, 1897. National Consumer League Annual Reports: 1905-07, 1910-16
Series 3: Subject Files, New York State Focus
Box 2 Folder 35
Child Labor
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence, confidential report on child labor in commercial agriculture, proposed legislation relating to the sale of goods produced employing child labor, news clippings
Box 2 Folder 36
Child Labor
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 37
Child Labor, State Correspondence
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 38
Constitutional Convention
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 39
Consumers League of New York, Routine Correspondence
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence
Box 2 Folder 40
Consumers League of New York
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 41
Consumers League of New York, Routine Correspondence (addl)
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence and membership listing
Box 2 Folder 42
Consumers League of New York, Newsletters
Scope and Contents
Box 2 Folder 43
Consumers League of New York, Newsletters (addl)
Scope and Contents
Box 2 Folder 44
Consumers League of New York, Publications
Box 2 Folder 45
Disability Insurance
Scope and Contents
Recommendations on disability insurance made by Consumers League of New York before Joint Legislative Committee
Box 2 Folder 46
Household Employment
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 47
Industrial Homework
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 48
Labor Standards Committee, NYS
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 49
Migrant Labor, NYS, Conferences and Studies
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 50
Minimum Wage, Advisory Committee
Scope and Contents
Advisory Committee to Minimum Wage Board member list. Routine correspondence
Box 2 Folder 51
Minimum Wage, General
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 52
Minimum Wage, General (addl)
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 54
Minimum Wage, Correspondence
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 53
Minimum Wage, Correspondence
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence. NYS DOL news releases
Box 2 Folder 55
Minimum Wage, Inspection
Scope and Contents
Correspondence, notice of exam to become an inspector. Examination questions. Appeals by those who did not pass
Box 2 Folder 56
Minimum Wage, Legislative Proposals
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence. Legislative proposals and analysis. Newspaper clippings
Box 2 Folder 57
Minimum Wage, Newspaper Clippings
Scope and Contents
Collection of newspaper clippings on minimum wage issues, primarily from 1933
Box 2 Folder 58
Minimum Wage, Tipaldo Case
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence and newspaper clippings related to New York State Court of Appeals' declaration that New York's Minimum Wage Law is unconstitutional
Box 2 Folder 59
Minimum Wage, Candy Industry
Scope and Contents
News releases
Box 2 Folder 60
Minimum Wage, Cleaning & Dyeing Industry
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence, news releases
Box 2 Folder 61
Minimum Wage, Hotel and Restaurant Industry
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence, news releases, leaflets
Box 2 Folder 62
Minimum Wage, Laundry Industry
Scope and Contents
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
Box 2 Folder 63
Minimum Wage, Laundry Industry
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence, news releases
Box 2 Folder 64
Minimum Wage, Retail Stores
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence, news releases
Box 2 Folder 65
Savings Bank Life Insurance, NYS
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence urging support of SBLI
Box 2 Folder 66
Unemployment Insurance, NYS
Scope and Contents
Copy of NYS Unemployment Insurance Law, 1935. Analysis of Unemployment Ins. Bills Pending in Albany. Routine correspondence, newspaper clippings
Box 2 Folder 67
Wages and Hours, NYS, Correspondence
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence, majority from 1940s
Box 2 Folder 68
Wage and Hour Legislative Proposals
Scope and Contents
Routine correspondence. Legislative proposals
Box 2 Folder 69
Wartime Labor Standards Committee, NYC
Scope and Contents
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
Scope and Contents
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
Scope and Contents
Original photographs (10) referred to in File 23 (migrant labor)
Series 4: Publications
Box 2 Folder 72
General Publications
Scope and Contents
See Appendix F for listing
Box 3
Text digitized from the collection.