International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Morris Sigman, President. Records, 1923-1928

Collection Number: 5780/006

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


International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Morris Sigman, President. Records, 1923-1928.
Collection Number:
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. President's Office.
3 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
The collection consists of correspondence, subject files, form letters, circulars, speeches and other items from Morris Sigman's term as ILGWU president.
Collection material in English


Sigman was a Russian-born garment worker who emigrated to the U.S. in 1903. He worked in the New York garment industry and quickly became involved in union activities. He organized the Independent Cloak Pressers' Union and allied it with the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance. Sigman was also one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).
Morris Sigman held leadership roles in a number of garment workers' unions, including the Joint Board of Cloakmakers and ILGWU Local 35 (New York Cloak Pressers Union). He was elected Secretary-Treasurer and first Vice-President of the ILGWU before assuming the Presidency in 1923. He resigned from office in 1928. His health deteriorating, he retired to a farm in Storm Lake, Iowa, where he died on July 19, 1931.
Sigman's tenure as president of the ILGWU was a tempestuous one in which the union faced a long and bitter internal struggle with Communist members for control of the organization. A lengthy strike of the New York cloakmakers in 1926 proved to be another costly battle for the union during this period. But Sigman's term was also marked by some significant accomplishments, including a reform effort that made possible substantial union contributions to the restructuring of the garment industry.


Significant individual correspondents include: Luigi Antonini; David Dubinsky; William Z. Foster; Morris Hillquit; Julius Hochman; Samuel Gompers; William Green; Herbert H. Lehman; John L. Lewis; Salvatore Ninfo; Meyer Perlstein; Elias Reisberg; Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York; and Norman Thomas.
Notable organizations in represented in the collection include: the American Federation of Labor; the British Trades Union Congress; Brookwood Labor College; the Chicago Federation of Labor; the Committee of One Hundred for the Defense of Imprisoned Needle Trade Workers; the Governor's Advisory Commission on the Cloak and Suit Industry (New York State); the International Association of Machinists; ILGWU Locals 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, 22, 35, 50, 64, and 80; the ILGWU Workers' Education Bureau; the Needle Trade Union (Warsaw, Poland); Needle Trades Workers' Union of the USSR; the New York State Federation of Labor; the Tailors' and Garment Workers' Trade Union (Great Britain); the Trade Union Educational League; the Unemployment Insurance Fund of the Cloak, Suit and Skirt Industry of New York City; Union Labor Life Insurance Company; the United Garment Workers of America; the United Ladies' Tailors Trade Union (Great Britain); the United Mine Workers of America; Unity House (the ILGWU-owned workers' resort); radio station WEVD (the Eugene Debs memorial radio station in New York City); and the Wholesale Dress Manufacturers' Association.
Among the topics covered are: communist activity in the ILGWU, and the leadership's battle against a communist takeover of the union; conditions in the U.S. garment industry, particularly in New York City; education for workers; inter- and intra-union relations; ILGWU locals, with an emphasis on the New York City area; strikes in the garment industry (in particular the Cloakmakers' strike of 1926), as well as in other industries; life and unemployment insurance for union members; relations with other garment workers' unions in the U.S., Great Britain, Poland and the Soviet Union, and with the International Clothing Workers' Federation in Amsterdam; relations with the garment manufacturers; unemployment insurance; union legal matters; and union organizing activities.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
Antonini, Luigi, 1883-1968.
Dubinsky, David, 1892-
Foster, William Z., 1881-1961.
Gompers, Samuel, 1850-1924.
Green, William, 1872-1952.
Hillquit, Morris, 1869-1933.
Hochman, Julius, 1892-1970.
Lehman, Herbert H. (Herbert Henry), 1878-1963.
Lewis, John Llewellyn, 1880-1969.
Ninfo, Salvatore, 1883-1960.
Perlstein, Meyer, 1884-1958.
Reisberg, Elias.
Sigman, Morris, 1880-1931.
Smith, Alfred Emanuel, 1873-1944.
Thomas, Norman, 1884-1968.
American Federation of Labor.
Brookwood Labor College (Katonah, N.Y.)
Chicago Federation of Labor and Industrial Union Council.
Committee of One Hundred for the Defense of Imprisoned Needle Trade Workers.
International Association of Machinists.
International Clothing Workers' Federation.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union--Presidents.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 1 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 2 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 3 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 8 (San Francisco, Calif.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 9 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 11 (Brownsville,N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 17 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 20 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 22 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 35 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 50 (Philadelphia, Pa.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 64 (New York, N.Y.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Local 80 (Boston, Mass.)
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.--Workers' Education Dept.
New York (State). Governor's Advisory Commission, Cloak, Suit and Skirt Industry, New York City.
New York State Federation of Labor.
Soiuz rabochikh shveinoi promyshlennosti S.S.S.R.
Tailors' and Garment Workers' Trade Union.
Trade Union Educational League (U.S.)
Trades Union Congress.
Union Labor Life Insurance Company.
United Ladies' Tailors Trade Union.
United Mine Workers of America.
Unity House.
WEVD (Radio station) New York, N.Y.
Wholesale Dress Manufacturers' Association.
Zwiazek Zawodowy Robotników Przemyslu Odziezowego w Polsce.

Trade-unions--Clothing workers--United States.
Trade-unions--Clothing workers--New York (State)--New York.
Trade-unions--Clothing workers.
Trade-unions--Clothing workers--Organizing--United States.
Women's clothing industry--United States.
Women's clothing industry--New York (State)--New York.
Clothing trade--United States.
Clothing trade--New York (State)--New York.
Clothing workers--United States.
Clothing workers--New York (State)--New York.
Clothing workers.
Insurance, unemployment--United States.
Strikes and lockouts--Clothing trade--New York (State)--New York.
Strikes and lockouts--Clothing trade--United States.
Industrial relations--United States.
Industrial relations--New York (State)--New York.
Labor unions and communism--United States.
Communism--United States.
Labor radio stations--New York (State)--New York.

Form and Genre Terms:
Organization files


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:
International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Morris Sigman, President. Records, 1923-1928. #5780/006. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

General correspondence is filed alphabetically A-Z, followed by subject correspondence, A-Z.

I. General correspondence
Box 1 Folder 1
Box 1 Folder 2
Includes Sigman letter to Harry Greenberg re burial instructions.
Box 1 Folder 3
Box 1 Folder 4
Includes correspondence with editors, Freda Kirchwey, 1925, Louis Garnett, 1927, Nation, Bruce Bliven, 1925, New Republic, on cloak-makers' strike and internal conflict; text of articles; General Executive Board order to Union locals on Cloakmakers' strike, Dec. 1926.
Box 1 Folder 5
Includes letters to Police Department on agitation by Communists in cloak industry, 1927.
Box 1 Folder 6
Includes acknowledgment from Norman Thomas on Sigman's statement re Communists, July 1925.
Box 1 Folder 7
II. Correspondence arranged by subject
Box 1 Folder 8
Advertisements (in Yiddish papers).
American Federation of Labor.
Box 1 Folder 9
Jan-June 1923.
Includes correspondence on establishing Legal Information Bureau, appointing organizer for corset workers in Bridgeport, Conn.; correspondence between Gompers and Salvatore Ninfo on Fascist groups planning to march on Memorial Day.
Box 1 Folder 10
July-Nov. 1923.
Includes resolutions on immigration submitted by Union delegates to AFL convention, Oct.
Box 1 Folder 11
Dec. 1923.
Continued correspondence on resolutions.
Box 1 Folder 12
Jan-April 1924.
Includes correspondence on appointment of Solomon Polakoff as organizer, Dec. 1923-Jan. 1924.
Box 1 Folder 13
May-Dec. 1924.
Includes Sigman letters on merger of Locals 1, 11 and 17 into Operators Union, Oct.-Nov.
Box 1 Folder 14
Jan.-March 1925.
Includes minutes of meeting of Conference Committee of Trade Union Legislative Representatives, Jan.; correspondence on Samuel Gompers bust donated by Union.
Box 1 Folder 15
April-May 1925.
Includes correspondence on drive to organize workers in Philadelphia; conditions in Puerto Rico.
Box 1 Folder 16
June-Aug. 1925.
Includes correspondence on situation in China and relief for striking textile workers in China? German delegation to study American industrial living conditions.
Box 1 Folder 17
Sept-Dec. 1925.
Includes correspondence on striking coal miners; AFL releases
Box 1 Folder 18
Jan.-Feb. 1926.
Continued correspondence on striking coal miners, organizational drives; proposed convict-labor bill.
Box 1 Folder 19
March-Aug. 1926.
Box 1 Folder 20
Sept.-Oct. 1926.
Correspondence on Union organizing Mexican women in Los Angeles; Union request for financial aid from national and international unions due to N.Y. Cloakmakers' strike; Union resolution at AFL convention requesting aid.
Box 1 Folder 21
Oct.-Dec. 1926.
Continued correspondence on Cloakmakers' strike; acknowledgments to AFL for their support of Union resolution on aiding striking Cloakmakers.
Box 2 Folder 1
Jan.-March 1927.
Correspondence on internal struggle; statement by Union to AFL and Green's response
Box 2 Folder 2
April-Oct. 1927.
Continued correspondence on internal struggle; Sigman address to AFL convention (47th), Oct.; correspondents Includes Isidore Nagler, Abraham Plotkin re convention matters.
Box 2 Folder 3
Nov.-Dec. 1927.
Letters from Green re coal miners' strike and Union support.
Box 2 Folder 4
Jan-March 1928.
Box 2 Folder 5
April-Dec. 1928.
Includes correspondence on trade unionism and communism; organizing needle trades department in AFL; continued correspondence on striking coal miners.
Box 2 Folder 6
Antonini, Luigi: 1926-28.
Includes case, Luigi Antonini vs Angelo LaVilla of Local 89, 1926.
Box 2 Folder 7
Berger, Harry (Manager), Jewish Daily Forward, Philadelphia: 1927
letter requesting funds for Labor Institute, 1927.
Box 2 Folder 8
British Trades Union Congress: 1924-26.
Box 2 Folder 9
Brookwood Labor College: 1927-28.
Includes releases by A.J.Muste (Chairman of Faculty); correspondence with Roger Baldwin (Director), American Fund for Public Service, Inc., on payment of Union loan.
Box 2 Folder 10
Chicago Federation of Labor: 1924-July 1927.
Includes correspondence with John Fitzpatrick (President) on Federation support of N.Y. Cloakmakers' strike; Communist agitation in trade unions; Union broadcast, "Triumph of Garment Workers Through Idealism" over WCFL, Voice of Labor Broadcasting, 1927.
Box 2 Folder 11
Chicago Federation of Labor, Aug. 1927-Jan. 1929.
Continued correspondence re WCFL and Federal Radio Commission, 1928-29.
Box 2 Folder 12
Chicago Joint Board Cloak and Dressmakers Union: 1923-26
Correspondence with Meyer Perlstein on all facets of Union activities in Mid-West.
Box 2 Folder 13
Committee of Fifty of the Cloak and Dressmakers: 1926-28.
Box 2 Folder 14
Convention (Boston): May 1924.
Convention call and list of guests.
Box 2 Folder 15
Convention (Boston): May 1928.
Congratulatory Messages and Greetings.
Box 2 Folder 16
Convention; May 1928.
Invitations; list of convention delegates and acknowledgments for being invited to convention; arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
Box 2 Folder 17
Convention: May 1928.
Miscellaneous items.
Box 2 Folder 18
Convention: May 1928.
Includes resolutions introduced by local delegates and joint boards.
Box 3 Folder 1
Form Letters and Circulars: 1923.
Box 3 Folder 2
Form Letters and Circulars: 1924.
Box 3 Folder 3
Form Letters and Circulars: Jan-Oct. 1925 (dated).
Box 3 Folder 4
Form Letters and Circulars: 1925 (n.d.), 1926.
Box 3 Folder 5
Form Letters and Circulars: 1928 (undated).
Includes broadsides, pamphlets.
Box 3 Folder 6
Government Advisory Commission: 1924.
Correspondence, memoranda, for Commission.
Box 3 Folder 7
Government Advisory Commission: 1925-26.
Includes letters from Raymond V. Ingersoll (Impartial Chairman), Cloak and Suit Industry re meetings.
Box 3 Folder 8
Government Advisory Commission, Printed Material: 1924.
Commission reports, recommendations, statements, hearings and decisions.
Box 3 Folder 9
Government Advisory Commission: 1925.
Same as above; memorandum on behalf of Union; newspaper clippings.
Box 3 Folder 10
Hillquit, Morris: 1923-24.
Correspondence, legal matters and case, Miller, Franklin, Basset vs Cleveland Joint Board, 1924.
Box 3 Folder 11
Hillquit, Morris: 1925-26.
Box 3 Folder 12
Hillquit, Morris: 1927.
Includes correspondence, internal conflict cases; International. Union Bank.
Box 3 Folder 13
Hillquit, Morris: 1928.
Box 3 Folder 14
Hochman, Julius: Nov. 1923-Sept. 1926.
Correspondence on his activities as organizer in Boston, Montreal, Toronto.
Box 3 Folder 15
Hochman, Julius: Nov. 1926-Sept. 1928.
Continued, Boston activities.
Box 3 Folder 16
International Association of Machinists: 1925-27.
Includes correspondence on Communist activities in trade unions, financial loans to Union, 1927.
Box 4 Folder 1
International Clothing Workers Federation, Amsterdam: 1923-April 1925.
Includes correspondence with E. Kupers (Secretary) re financial aid to German Workers Federation, 1923; strike by Swiss Clothing and Leather Workers Union, 1924? affiliation of Hat and Cap Makers Union, Furriers Union with Clothing Workers Federation, 1925; report and minutes.
Box 4 Folder 2
International Clothing Workers Federation: April-Dec. 1925.
Continued correspondence with E. Kupers.
Box 4 Folder 3
International Clothing Workers Federation: 1926
Includes correspondence with T. van der Heeg (Secretary) on N.Y. Cloakmakers striker minutes of meeting between Russian Clothing Workers Union and Clothing Workers Federation, Sept.
Box 4 Folder 4
International Clothing Workers Federation: 1922, 1925-26.
Bulletins, Includes pub., Red Labor Union International, 1922.
Box 4 Folder 5
Jewish Consumptive Relief Association: 1923
Correspondence with Henry M. Silverberg re funds for sanatorium.
Box 4 Folder 6
Local 3, New York; 1923-28.
Correspondence with Samuel Lefkovitz, D. Rubin.
Box 4 Folder 7
Local 8, Calif: 1923-28.
Correspondence with Max Gorenstein, Harry Greenberg, Abraham Plotkin and Charles M. Schwartzberg on Local activities in San Francisco.
Box 4 Folder 8
Local 20, N.Y.: 1923.
Investigations; charges brought against Local Manager Louis Wexler; Boston Joint Board Cloak and Skirt Makers vs Morris Shapiro.
Box 4 Folder 9
Local 64, N.Y.: 1923-27.
Box 4 Folder 10
Local 80, Italian Branch of Cloak, Suit and Dressmakers Union, Boston: 1927.
Box 4 Folder 11
Local Unions, Internal Conflict with Union: 1925
Includes correspondence with Local 22 and Empire City Safe Deposit Co., on Local's withdrawing securities, June; letter to John Lahey Chief Inspector), Police Department on suspension of officers from Locals 2, 9 and 22, August; peace plan between Union and Joint Action Committee of Cloak and Dressmakers, Sept.
Box 4 Folder 12
Local Unions, Internal Conflict with Union; 1927
Includes General Executive Board resolution suspending Locals 2, 9, 22 and 35; replies from Locals; Union release on N.Y. Cloakmakers Union situation.
Box 4 Folder 13
Needle Trade Union, Warsaw, Poland: 1924-28.
Includes letter supporting N.Y. Cloakmakers strike (1926); requests from Union for financial assistance, 1928.
Box 4 Folder 14
Needle Trades Workers' Union of the USSR: 1923-27.
Includes greetings between Union and Needle Trades Workers; invitations to attend All-Russian Congress; General Executive Board reply, Jan. 1927
Box 4 Folder 15
New York Cloak Industry: 1924.
Includes list of manufacturers in contractual relation with Union, Sept.
New York Cloakmakers' Strike.
Box 4 Folder 16
1924 (July 8-Aug. 11)
Includes Union statement, release, memorandum, resolution on controversy, Sigman letters on condition in industry.
Box 4 Folder 17
Cloakmakers, Imprisoned. 1926, Jan-Feb. 1927.
Correspondence with imprisoned Cloakmakers and statements from prisoners denouncing left faction of Union for betraying workers.
Box 4 Folder 18
Cloakmakers, Imprisoned. 1926, March-Dec. 1927.
(Continued from above.)
Box 4 Folder 19
Cloakmakers, Imprisoned. 1926.
Includes correspondence with attorneys for prisoners and relatives; William Green appeal to Governor Alfred E. Smith to commute sentences; letters from Sigman to Board of Parole and Judge Otto A. Rosalsky on the release of prisoners; list of contributors to Defense Fund; statement by released prisoners, Samuel Grossman and Harry Friedman denouncing Sigman and Union in Freiheit, Nov. 1927.
Box 4 Folder 20
Committees. 1926.
Letters from Union members on striking members; correspondence with committees.
Box 5 Folder 1a
Committee of One Hundred for Defense of Imprisoned Needle Trade Workers. 1926-1927.
Includes correspondence with Forest Bailey, Arthur Garfield Hayes, John Haynes Holmes, Harry F. Ward, Norman Thomas on aims and purposes of Committee and members of American Civil Liberties Union who joined Committee; list of individuals and organizations comprising committee.
Box 5 Folder 1b
Congratulatory messages on settlement of strike. 1926.
Box 5 Folder 1c
Contributions. N.Y. Cloakmakers Strike; 1926.
Requests for financial aid for striking Cloakmakers.
Box 5 Folder 2
Contributions. N.Y. Cloakmakers Strike: 1926.
Box 5 Folder 3
Contributions. N.Y. Cloakmakers Strike: 1926.
Box 5 Folder 4
A. Johannsen (Director), Chicago Strike Relief Committee. 1926
Includes correspondence with Abraham Baroff on his activities in Chicago in aiding N.Y. striking Cloakmakers.
Box 5 Folder 5
Alfred E. Smith (Governor). 1926.
Smith proposal to end strike and Sigman's reply, August.
Box 5 Folder 6
Miscellaneous items.1926.
Includes history of strike (Dec.1926); General Executive Board order issued on N.Y. Cloakmakers Union, Dec.1926; resolution at Cloakmakers meeting. June 29, authorizing Joint Board and Union to call general strike.
Box 5 Folder 7
N.Y. State Federation of Labor: 1923. 1925, 1927.
Box 5 Folder 8
Ninfo, Salvatore: 1923-28.
Includes resignation letter as trustee of special strike fund of Cloak and Dress Joint Board (n.d.).
Box 5 Folder 9
Reisberg, Elias: 1923-28.
Organizing report, Local 50, (Waist and Dress Industry), Philadelphia, Pa., 1927; pamphlets.
Box 5 Folder 10
Shop Chairman Meetings (Yiddish): 1925.
David Dubinsky (Chairman), 9-2-25. Nicholas Hourwich (Chairman), 9-24-25.
Box 5 Folder 11
Sigman, Morris: Nov. 1928.
Resignation letter and related correspondence
Box 5 Folder 12
Sigman, Morris: 1926-28.
Speeches and Statements.
Box 5 Folder 13
June-Aug, 1925.
Union releases; includes publication, A Plan for Peace in Our Union.
Box 5 Folder 14
Sept. 1925-Aug. 1926.
Includes peace agreement in Cloak and Dressmakers Union, Sept. 1925; speeches at Locals 2, 9 and 22 executive board and managers installations; speakers, Morris Sigman, Joseph Boruchowitz, Julius Portnoy, Louis Hyman and Herman Grossman.
Box 5 Folder 15
Aug.-Dec. 1926.
Box 5 Folder 16
Tailors and Garment Workers Union and Ladies' Tailors Trade Union, United, England: 1923-27.
Box 5 Folder 17
Trade Union Educational League: Oct. 1923.
letter from William Z. Foster, requesting conference between Union and T.U.E.L.
Box 6 Folder 1
Unemployment Insurance Fund, Cloak, Suit and Skirt Industry of N.Y.: Oct. 1924-28.
Correspondence with James A. Corcoran, Alfred Lyons, Wholesale Dress Manufacturers Association; minutes and reports of meetings.
Box 6 Folder 2
Unemployment Insurance Fund, Cloak, Suit and Skirt Industry of N.Y.: 1924-27.
Minutes and reports.
Box 6 Folder 3
Union Health Center: 1927.
Box 6 Folder 4
Union Labor Life Insurance Company: 1927-28.
Publication Manual, of Group Life Insurance, Birth and Development of the Union Labor Life Insurance Co.; addresses by Matthew Woll and Carville D. Benson, 1927.
Box 6 Folder 5
United Garment Workers of America: 1924-26.
Box 6 Folder 6
United Mine Workers of America: 1924-25.
Includes correspondence re Union loan, 1924, striking mine workers in District 17 and Union aid.
Box 6 Folder 7
United Mine Workers of America: 1926-28.
Includes correspondence with John L. Lewis on striking mine workers and Union support.
Box 6 Folder 8
United Textile Workers of America: 1923-28.
Box 6 Folder 9
Unity House: 1925-28.
Box 6 Folder 10
WEVD, Debs Memorial Radio Station: 1927-28.
Box 6 Folder 11
Wholesale Dress Manufacturers Association: 1923-28.
The Women's Garment Workers by Louis Levine.
Box 6 Folder 12
Acknowledgments for sending book, 1925.
Box 6 Folder 13
Box 6 Folder 14
Box 6 Folder 15
Box 6 Folder 16
Box 6 Folder 17
Acknowledgments and reviews.
Box 6 Folder 18
Workers Education Bureau of ILGWU: 1923
Sigman letter emphasizing the importance of the Workers Education Bureau and the need for it to remain within the trade union movement.