ILGWU Ohio Kentucky Region Records

Collection Number: 5780/183

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


ILGWU Ohio Kentucky Region Records, 1951-1999
Collection Number:
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU)
1 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Records (documents).
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
The collection contains material relating to the activities of the office of the Ohio Kentucky Region, minutes of local union 300 between 1964 and 1968, and resolutions passed by city and state governments in the region in recognition of Garment Workers' Day, 1975. Also contains printed material either published or collected by the office, including the Ohio Kentucky Region periodical, "Ohio Kentucky News" from 1960 to 1977.
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 ILGWU had been organizing in Cleveland since its early years, and by the 1930s, the union was organizing in other parts of Ohio and Kentucky as well. The Cleveland Joint Board and Cleveland Knitgoods Council represented workers in Cleveland, and Cincinnati Joint Board represented workers in Cincinnati and parts of Kentucky. Together, these represented ILGWU members in the Ohio-Kentucky Area.
By 1977, the Ohio- Kentucky Area, which included local unions in the Ohio-Kentucky Region, Cleveland Joint Board and Knitgoods Council, and unaffiliated locals, claimed a total membership of roughly 5,500 people. In 1978, the Ohio-Kentucky Regional Office was dissolved. Local unions in Ohio became part of the Northeast and Western Pennsylvania Department to create the Northeast, Western Pennsylvania, and Ohio Department. Kentucky locals became part of the Upper South Department.
Abraham Katovsky was the ILGWU representative in Ohio from 1910 until his death 1945. Nathan Solomon was appointed Manager of the Cleveland Joint Board, a position he held until his passing in 1948. Louis Friend and Hyman Langer served short appointments, until Nicholas Kirtzman assumed leadership of the region in 1950 and stayed in that role until his death in 1963. Sam Janis was director of the regional office from 1963 until its dissolution in 1978.


The collection documents various projects, initiatives, and efforts of the Ohio-Kentucky Region. One such example is the involvement in the spring campaign to roll back apparel and textile imports from 1985. The records include correspondence, work done to push through legislation, the organization of demonstrations for import regulations, and collaboration with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU), particularly Cleveland's participation in the activities. There are also notes, articles, instructions, and publicity regarding the "price watch" campaign to record prices and any changes in prices for items in stores week after week. Other such programs documented included the retraining program for laid off workers through the United Labor Agency in Cleveland.
The remainder of the collection consists of local newsletters including the "Sew it Seams," "Ohio Kentucky News" and "The Ohio Sew Biz," as well as minutes, clippings, and news and action items as they relate to Ohio and local affairs.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. -- Ohio-Kentucky Region.

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

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 Ohio Kentucky Region Records #5780/183. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related Collections:
5780: ILGWU records
5780/183 AV: ILGWU Ohio Kentucky Region Audio-Visual Materials
5780/183 P: ILGWU Ohio Kentucky Region Photographs


Box 1 Folder 1 1985
Box 1 Folder 2 1979
Box 1 Folder 3 1975
Box 1 Folder 4 1979
Box 1 Folder 5 1983
Box 1 Folder 6 1995
Box 1 Folder 7 1983
March 16
Box 1 Folder 8 1986-1987
Box 1 Folder 9 1982-1987
Box 1 Folder 10 1960-1965
Box 1 Folder 11 1969-1977
Box 1 Folder 12 1978-1984
Box 1 Folder 13
Box 1 Folder 14 1963-1968
Box 1 Folder 15 1974
Box 1 Folder 16 1974
Box 1 Folder 17 1951-1999
Box 1 Folder 18 1969-1971
Box 1 Folder 19 1991-1998
Box 1 Folder 20 1975
Box 1 Folder 21 1960-1964