ILGWU. Unpublished Union Histories,1911-1971.

Collection Number: 5780/167

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


ILGWU. Unpublished Union Histories, 1911-1971.
Collection Number:
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
1 linear foot
Forms of Material:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Manuscripts, typescripts, and bound volumes containing unpublished histories of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Authors include Julius Hochman, Abraham Rosenberg, and Fannia Cohn.
Collection material in English


The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union was founded in New York City in 1900 by mostly Socialist immigrant workers who sought to unite the various crafts in the growing women's garment industry. The union soon reflected changes in the sector and rapidly organized thousands of unskilled and semi-skilled women, mostly Jewish and Italian young immigrants. Exemplifying the “new unionism,” the ILGWU led two of the most widespread and best-known industrial strikes of the early Twentieth Century: the shirtwaist makers’ strike of 1909 in New York City and the cloak makers’ strike of 1910 in Chicago. The union also tried to adapt to the fragmented and unstable nature of the industry. It adopted the “protocol of peace,” a system of industrial relations that attempted to ensure stability and limit strikes and production disruption by providing for an arbitration system to resolve disputes.
The ILGWU exemplified the European-style social unionism of its founding members. They pursued bread and butter issues but provided educational opportunities, benefits, and social programs to union members as well. In 1919, the ILGWU became the first American union to negotiate an unemployment compensation fund that was contributed to by its employers. The ILGWU also pioneered in the establishment of an extremely progressive health care program for its members which included not only regional Union Health Centers but also a resort for union workers, known as Unity House. The Union also had an imaginative and pioneering Education Department which not only trained workers in traditional union techniques, but provided courses in citizenship and the English language.
David Dubinsky, an immigrant from Belarus who came to the US in 1911, provided strong leadership that led to unprecedented growth in the union during his presidency from 1932 to 1966. He led the union through successful internal anti-communist struggles, built on the ascendancy of industrial unionism by encouraging the formation of the Committee for Industrial Organization, and helped the union become an important political force in New York City and state politics, and in the national Democratic Party and Liberal Party as well.
In the period following the Second World War, the union suffered a decline in membership as manufacturers avoided unionization and took advantage of less expensive labor by moving shops from the urban centers in the northeast to the south, and later abroad. The ethnic and racial character of the ILGWU also changed as European immigrants were supplanted by Asians, Latin Americans, African- Americans, and immigrants from the Caribbean.
In July 1995 the ILGWU merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) at a joint convention, forming UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees). At the time the new union had a membership of about 250,000 in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.


Manuscripts, typescripts, and bound volumes containing unpublished histories of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Authors include Julius Hochman, Abraham Rosenberg, and Fannia Cohn.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
Cohn, Fannia M.(Fannia Mary), 1885-
Hochman, Julius, 1892-1970.
Rosenberg, Abraham.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

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:
The ILGWU Records, except for publications and materials produced for publication, are restricted. Materials created prior to twenty years from the current date are open to researchers only with prior written permission from the Director of the Kheel Center; materials created during the past twenty-years are closed; the minutes of the General Executive Board are closed. For more information contact the Kheel Center.
Cite As:
ILGWU. Unpublished Union Histories. 5780/167. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.


5780. ILGWU records
5780/159. ILGWU. Abraham Rosenberg, Memoirs of a Cloak Maker
5780/159 mf. ILGWU. Abraham Rosenberg, Memoirs of a Cloak Maker. Microfilm


"Permanent deposits"


Box 1 Folder 1
I. Aleksandrowicz and Broadus Mitchell, “Description of Some Documentary Material on Right-Left Struggle in ILGWU"
2 copies
Box 1 Folder 2
Cohn, Fannia, “History of ILGWU”
Box 1 Folder 3
DiMartino, Frances, “Labor Management Co-operation: The Engineering Department of the ILGWU.”
No date
Box 1 Folder 4
Goldberg, Sol, “History of the Office and Distribution Employees Union in the Women’s Garment Industry.”
2 copies
Box 1 Folder 5
Green, George, “ ILGWU in Texas, 1930-1970.”
Box 1 Folder 6
Hochman, Julius, “ Our Industry: A Program for Reconstructing New York’s First Industry.”
Box 1 Folder 7
Hochman, Julius, “ Industry Planning Through Collective Bargaining.”
Box 1 Folder 8
Homework in Apparel Industry particularly in relation to Embroideries
Extracts from various Official Documents and Reports.
Box 1 Folder 9
Janis, Samuel, “ History and Trends in Location of The Women’s Garment Industry.”
Box 1 Folder 10
Mayer, Rae Virginie, “ A Brief History of The Locals and Institutions of the ILGWU.”
Box 1 Folder 11
Problems of the ILGWU
Box 1 Folder 12
Rosenberg, A. “ How Our Unions Were Built Up.”
Box 1 Folder 13
Rothenberg, J. “ The ILGWU.”
Box 1 Folder 14
Sileci, Denise, “ Morris Sigmans New York”
Box 1 Folder 15
Sister Rosemary Ann Friedenbach, “ The Relationship of the 1913 ILGWU Strike as a Social Movement…”
Box 1 Folder 16
Stike Songs of the ILGWU
Box 1 Folder 17
Thornton, Maxine, “ Racial Adjustment Within Trade Unions.”
Box 1 Folder 18
Wexler, Louis, “ A Retirement Program for the ILGWU.”
Box 1 Folder 19
Women’s Trade Union League, Chicago- Official Report of the Strike Committee, Chicago Garment Worker’s Strike…”
Box 1 Folder 20
Levine, Louis, "The Women's Garment Workers."