ILGWU Local 22 Education Department Records

Collection Number: 5780/057

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


ILGWU Local 22 Education Department Records, 1930-1979
Collection Number:
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU). Local 22;
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU)
2 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Clippings, correspondence, newsletters, photographs, speeches.
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
The records of the Education Department of Local 22 consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, newsletters, programs, photographs, and speeches documenting the activities of the Department from the 1930s to the 1970s. In addition to documentating the Department's activities, there is material on the local's political involvement with the Liberal Party of New York State and some items about aid to the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. There are also some materials dealing with international labor cooperation, civil rights, and communism in the U.S. Correspondents include Joseph Mazur and Saby Nehama.
Collection material in English


The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was once one of the largest labor unions in the United States founded in 1900 by local union delegates representing about 2,000 members in cities in the northeastern United States. It was one of the first U.S. Unions to have a membership consisting of mostly females, and it played a key role in the labor history of the 1920s and 1930s. The union is generally referred to as the "ILGWU" or the "ILG". The ILGWU grew in geographical scope, membership size, and 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. The ILGWU merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in 1995 to form the Union of Needle trades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). UNITE merged with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) in 2004 to create a new union known as UNITE HERE. The two unions that formed UNITE in 1995 represented only 250,000 workers between them, down from the ILGWU's peak membership of 450,000 in 1969.


The Education Department of Local 22 was developed to further the educational and cultural development of the Local's membership. It routinely sponsored lectures and courses on a variety of labor and other topics; it also offered musical and dramatic performances on a regular basis, either for or featuring its membership.
Local 22 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU), also known as the Dressmakers' Union, was chartered in December 1920 and based in New York City. The dress industry formed its own Joint Board in 1921 composed of Local 22 Dressmakers, Local 25 Waistmakers, Local 58 Waist Buttonhole Makers, Local 60 Waist and Dress Pressers, Local 66 Bonnaz Embroidery Workers, Local 89 Italian Waist and Dressmakers, and the waist and dress branch of Cutters' Local 10. A general work stoppage in February 1923 in the dress industry won the union a 40 hour week and 10 percent wage increase, as well as a large gain of new members. During the summer of 1923, after years of discussion and deliberation, the two dress locals, Local 23 and 22 were consolidated. The dressmakers from Local 23 transferred to Local 22 and subsequently Local 22 joined the New York Cloakmakers' Joint Board. Soon, the Dress and Waist Joint Board became unnecessary and was dissolved. Local 25 Waistmakers were left without an affiliated organization and in October 1924 merged with the Dressmakers' Union, Local 22.
By the end of 1926, the Communists had gained control of the dress organization in New York City and the union barely existed. In February 4, 1930, 25,000 dressmakers walked out of the shops. The strike was called to reorganize dressmakers and finally abolish the Communist influence in the industry. On April 8, 1930 the General Executive Board decided to separate the dressmakers from the Cloakmakers' Joint Board. In 1931, Charles Zimmerman formed a committee to rebuild Local 22. He was elected to executive board of Local 22 in 1932, and elected manager-secretary in 1933. Another walkout in all dress shops, both union and non-union on August 16, 1933 brought the dress industry to a halt.
Zimmerman left Local 22 in 1958 to become manager of the Dress Joint Board. Israel Breslow succeeded him as manager of Local 22 from 1958 until his retirement in 1975. By 1975, the New York Dress Joint Board completed restructuring of affiliate locals, and Locals 60-60A, 159, and 38 were merged into existing Locals 22 and 89. Local 22 gained jurisdiction over all dressmakers in Manhattan. In the 1980s, more locals were dissolved and members transferred to Local 22, but by 1984, Local 22 saw restructuring as well. Changes in the garment industry necessitated the dissolution of the Joint Board and Local 22 into the new Local 89-22-1.


The records of the Education Department of Local 22 are made up of correspondence, newspaper clippings, newsletters, programs, photographs and speeches documenting the activities of the department from the 1930s to the 1970s. The newsletters, pamphlets and brochures detail the multitude of events and activities organized by the Education Department. The calendars in the collection show with daily listings, and illustrate the wide range of offerings with recreation such as concerts and gym classes, tap dancing and art workshops, and education with classes in English, citizenship, public speaking, trade unionism, social labor and legislation.
The Education Department held dances and festivals, often specific to the many ethnic groups in the union, and organized excursions such as boat cruises, outings to Unity House, trips to Puerto Rico, and a tour of Spain, North Africa and Portugal. There are also records of Club 22, which was comprised of the women members of Local 22. Club 22 planned activities such as dances and holiday parties, and brought in speakers and held lectures. The collection contains programs, fliers and correspondence detailing the events put on by the club for each calendar year.
Within the local there was the Dressmakers Liberal Party Club formed in reaction to the passage of the Taft-Hartley bill to organize dressmakers for effective action on the political field. The group held meetings to discuss campaigns, candidates, and current politics that could affect dressmakers, and the records include membership lists, correspondence, and information about meetings.
The second series of the collection contains the correspondence of Saby Nehama. Nehama was the secretary of the Dressmakers Liberal Party, a Business Agent for Local 22, and worked in the Education Department.

Mazur, Joseph.
Nehama, Saby.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Local 22 (New York, N.Y.).Education Dept.
Liberal Party of New York State.

Civil rights--United States.
Communism--United States.
International labor activities.
Labor unions and education--New York (State)--New York.
Working class--Education--New York (State)--New York.

Geographic Subjects:
New York (State)--Politics and government--1865-1950.
New York (State)--Politics and government--1951- .
Spain--History-- Civil War, 1936-1939.

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 22 Education Department Records #5780/057. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related Collections:
5780/014: ILGWU Local 22, Charles S. Zimmerman Papers
5780/014 P: ILGWU Local 22, Charles S. Zimmerman Photographs
5780/015: ILGWU Local 22 Records
5780/036: ILGWU Local 22 Minutes
5780/057 P: ILGWU Local 22 Education Department Photographs
5780/067: ILGWU Local 22 Israel Breslow Papers

Series I: Subject Files, 1930-1973
Series II: Saby Nehama Correspondence, 1949-1969


Box 1 Folder 1 1963
Robert Kennedy letter w. enclosed report on the progress in the field of civil rights.
Box 1 Folder 2 1948-1957
Announcements, programs, printed material and related correspondence.
Box 1 Folder 3 1958-1963
Box 1 Folder 4 1962
Includes undated material.
Box 1 Folder 5 1946-1951
Box 1 Folder 6 1948-1973
Box 1 Folder 7 1950
Newspaper clippings.
Box 1 Folder 8 1962-1963
Box 1 Folder 9 1948-1950
Incl. text of conversation between James B. Carey (CIO) and Giuseppe Di Vittorio (Italian Confederation of Labor).
Box 1 Folder 10 1933-1979
Announcements and programs.
Box 2 Folder 1
Local newsletter.
Box 2 Folder 2 1961-1971
Report 1962. Financial data, 1961,1971.
Box 2 Folder 3 1936-1957
Box 2 Folder 4 1949-1968
Box 2 Folder 5 1949-1968
Box 2 Folder 6 1949-1968
Box 2 Folder 7 1949-1968
Box 2 Folder 8 1950-1966
Wilson Line Contracts.
Box 2 Folder 9 1975
Thesis for B.A. Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass. 1975, 116 pp.
Box 3 Folder 1 1940
Box 3 Folder 2 1952-1971
Box 3 Folder 3 1947-1960
Call to meetings.
Box 3 Folder 4 1947-1960
Call to meetings.
Box 3 Folder 5 1961-1970
District lists
Box 3 Folder 6 1951-1963
Membership lists
Box 4 Folder 1 1948-1961
Box 4 Folder 2 1965-1974
Box 4 Folder 3 1934-1959
Box 4 Folder 4 1964
Croton-on-Hudson. June 1964.
Box 4 Folder 5 1937
Trade Union Relief for Spain.
Box 4 Folder 6 1930
Incl. Left-wing material during the 1930's.
Box 4 Folder 7 1950-1959
Box 4 Folder 8 1949-1957
Box 4 Folder 9 1949-1968
Box 4 Folder 10 1954-1957
9/1/54-7/3/57. Correspondence during leave of absence in Spain & Mexico.
Box 4 Folder 11 1962-1969
Corres. w. trade unions in Central & South America.
Box 4 Folder 12 1937-1952
Letters from Spanish Republican militiamen who came to U.S. for aid. Subsequent letters from these visitors.
Box 4 Folder 13 1955-1968
Box 5
Box 6