ILGWU. Local 40 records

Collection Number: 5780/035

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


ILGWU. Local 40 records, 1933-1977
Collection Number:
Local 40 International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU).
3 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Minutes, reports, correspondence, newsletters.
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
The collection contains the records of International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union Local 40, Beltmakers Union. Includes minutes of the Executive Board, Membership, Grievance Board, and Committee meetings. Also includes correspondence, agreements, election files, financial reports, strike files, and issues of the local's publication, The Belt Maker.
Collection material in English


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).


Having no union of their own for the first two decades of the twentieth century, beltmakers in 1918 appealed to the executive board of the Fancy Leather Goods Workers' Union to undertake an organizing drive. Met with enthusiastic response, almost all beltmakers in New York soon joined the union. These organized members demanded union recognition, a forty four hour week and a thirty percent wage increase. A work stoppage in September 1918 forced employers to the negotiating table. Unwilling to agree to a wage increase, a strike on September 3 brought the belt industry to a standstill. An agreement was reached, but soon the large firms began moving their factories outside of the city and of union control. Between 1919 and 1933, beltmakers in New York were left without a union. By the 1930s, the belt industry saw significant increases in workers and production, especially in the field of women's belts. In 1933, there began a series of walkouts and meetings among workers with the intent to organize. A general strike of 900 workers took place on September 13, 1933 and the employers retaliated with hostility. With the aid of the ILGWU, in 1934 there began a series of walkouts, one shop at a time. Employers began signing collective agreements. While Beltmakers' Union Local 40 was chartered in 1934, it was officially installed as a local of the ILGWU in February 1935.


The first half of the collection consists of various minutes. There are minutes of the Executive Board, minutes of the Health and Welfare Committee, minutes of the Grievance Board, and minutes of the Retirement Benefits Fund.
The earliest minutes of the Executive Board are handwritten. Later years contain reports from the various committees as well as the manager's report and a report on the local's finances. The Grievance Board minutes consist of cases that came before the Grievance Board, identified by case number, date, individual grievant and a summary.
Posters announce early meetings of the beltmakers, before the union was chartered. Also in the records are the first agreements with employers, election materials for the new local, and the local's publication "The Belt Maker."
Local 40 produced numerous publications on benefits, plans, and shop conditions. There are publications about the benefits of membership and introductory material for new members, a guide to the union, information about union dues, and a constitution and by-laws. Most interesting are the booklets on belts and belt making. There are diagrams illustrating the different styles of belts and how to sew them. One can also find a booklet on the history of beltmakers and Local 40. Publications were printed both in English and Spanish.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Local 40.

Women's clothing industry--United States.
Labor unions--Clothing workers--United States.
Clothing workers--United States.
Industrial relations--United States.

Form and Genre Terms:


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:
ILGWU. Local 40 records #5780/035. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related Collections:
5780/034: ILGWU. Local 117 minutes
5780/036: ILGWU. Local 22 minutes
5780/037: ILGWU. Locals minutes
5780/037: ILGWU. Locals minutes


Box 1 Folder 1 1934-1936
Box 1 Folder 2 1937-1940
Box 1 Folder 3 1937-1940
Box 1 Folder 4 1941-1944
Box 1 Folder 5 1941-1944
Box 1 Folder 6 1944-1950
Box 1 Folder 7 1944-1950
Box 1 Folder 8 1951-1960
Box 1 Folder 9 1951-1960
Box 1 Folder 10 1961-1967
Box 1 Folder 11 1961-1967
Box 1 Folder 12 1939-1944
Box 1 Folder 13 1946-1955
Box 1 Folder 14 1956-1967
Box 1 Folder 15 1956-1967
Box 1 Folder 16 1939-1941
Box 1 Folder 17 1939-1941
Box 1 Folder 18 1945-1956
Box 2 Folder 1 1953-1964
Box 2 Folder 2 1953-1964
Box 2 Folder 3 1959-1973
Box 2 Folder 4
Box 2 Folder 5
Box 2 Folder 6 1964-1972
Box 2 Folder 7
Box 2 Folder 8
Box 2 Folder 9 1935-1938
Box 3 Folder 1 1933-1960
Box 3 Folder 2 1933
Box 3 Folder 3 1935-1939
Box 3 Folder 4 1942-1947
Box 3 Folder 5 1950
Box 3 Folder 6 1934-1935
Box 3 Folder 7 1937
Box 3 Folder 8 1936-1937
Box 3 Folder 9 1937
Box 3 Folder 10 1938
Box 3 Folder 11 1939
Box 3 Folder 12 1940-1946
Box 3 Folder 13 1947-1957
Box 3 Folder 14 1958-1977