ILGWU Research Department Reports

Collection Number: 5780/078

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


ILGWU Research Department Reports, 1938-1985
Collection Number:
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU);
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU). Research Dept.
0.5 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Records (documents).
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
This collection contains reports from the Research Department, including its annual "Conditions in the Women's Clothing Industry."
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.


Formed in 1937, the Research Department of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) supported the administrative operations of the Union and coordinated the ILGWU's investigative operations. It provided union leaders with information on wages, working conditions, economic conditions, and other matters in the women's garment industry; analyzed information for the union; and monitored developments in the industry.
In addition to providing research for union leadership, Research Department staff prepared materials for Congressional testimony, presented cases on behalf of local unions to the War Labor Board, and worked to administer the Fair Labor Standards Act. At times, the director of the Research Department represented the ILGWU in national forums.
The Department also maintained an extensive library, collecting and housing documents from Union administrative staff that were deemed substantive and of lasting value to the Union, whether produced internally or externally. The information gathered by the Department was of particular value during labor disputes and contract negotiations.
Lazare Teper was the founding director of the ILGWU's Research Department, working in that position from 1937 to 1980. Born in Russia sometime between 1906 and 1908, Teper later studied at the University of Paris and earned his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University. He died in New York City in 1985.


The Research Department records reflect the department's varied functions, documenting its role in gathering and analyzing information for international and local union leadership, representing the union before government and labor organizations, and gathering materials of research, and oftentimes historical, value. Some segments of the records focus on one aspect of the department's work, and others include documentation across the department's functions.
Research Department director Lazare Teper's papers, for example, include files relating to the Wage Stabilization Board (5780/105). The department also maintained records focused on the National Coat and Suit Industry Board (statements of receipts and disbursements, label division reports, meetings minutes, bulletins to members, and other reports and resolutions), as well as some related legal files (5780/123). Also among the documents collected by the Research Department are the New York Coat and Suit Industry Reports between 1934 and 1960. (5780/168)
Parts of the Research Department records consist primarily of collected documents from ILGWU affiliates. In this way, they resemble and, in some instances, complement the parts of the Archives Department Records (5780/121, 5780/121 PUBS), records generated by local unions (Series III), and the general collection of ILGWU publications (5780 PUBS). Research Department records of this kind contain records of predecessor unions to the ILGWU and ILGWU local union records (5780/045), or the annual report, "Conditions in the Women's Clothing Industry" (5780/078).
Other parts of the Research Department records document all of the department's functions. These records include financial and administrative reports, meeting minutes, and correspondence (5780/056, 5780/209), collected printed material (5780/168), and ILGWU statements on issues related to the garment industry (5780/209).
The Research Department reports primarily consists of reports from the Research Department, including its annual "Conditions in the Women's Clothing Industry."

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Research Dept.

Women's clothing industry--New York (State) -- New York.
Clothing workers--Labor unions--New York (State) -- New York.
Clothing trade--New York (State) -- New York.

Form and Genre Terms:
Records (documents)


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 Research Department Reports #5780/078. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related Collections:
5780: ILGWU records
5780/045: ILGWU Research Department Records
5780/056: ILGWU Research Department Collected Documents
5780/105: ILGWU Research Department Records
5780/123: ILGWU Research Department Records
5780/168: ILGWU Research Department Records
5780/209: ILGWU Research Department Records


Box 1 Folder 1 1938-1943
Box 1 Folder 2 1945-1948
Box 1 Folder 3 1951-1985
Box 1 Folder 4 1940
Box 1 Folder 5 1941
May 2, 1941
Box 1 Folder 6 1943
Box 1 Folder 7 1949
July 22, 1949
Box 1 Folder 8 1985