Women's Trade Union League and Its Leaders

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Overview

Women’s Trade Union League and Its Leaders

The Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) was founded in 1903 and disbanded in 1950. Its goals were to organize working women into unions, advocate for legislation protecting working women, and educate both workers and middle–class people about the benefits of unionization. The WTUL was comprised of both working–class and middle–class women. Eleanor Roosevelt was an active member. This collection includes materials from the national WTUL, records of local branches, and papers of five women active in the organization. Several of these women worked in the federal government doing labor–related work as well as in the WTUL. Some helped develop vocational education programs, and many supported suffrage. Some were active in the pacifist movement during World War I. Thus, this collection illuminates the wide range of women’s activism in the first half of the twentieth century.

The largest segment of the collection consists of the papers of Margaret Dreier Robins, who led the WTUL from 1907 to 1922. Under Robins’s stewardship, the WTUL became larger, better funded, and more influential. The records include articles, speeches, and meeting minutes, and an ample compendium of Robins’s extensive correspondence. Her letters detail the day–to–day life of a...

Women’s Trade Union League and Its Leaders

The Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) was founded in 1903 and disbanded in 1950. Its goals were to organize working women into unions, advocate for legislation protecting working women, and educate both workers and middle–class people about the benefits of unionization. The WTUL was comprised of both working–class and middle–class women. Eleanor Roosevelt was an active member. This collection includes materials from the national WTUL, records of local branches, and papers of five women active in the organization. Several of these women worked in the federal government doing labor–related work as well as in the WTUL. Some helped develop vocational education programs, and many supported suffrage. Some were active in the pacifist movement during World War I. Thus, this collection illuminates the wide range of women’s activism in the first half of the twentieth century.

The largest segment of the collection consists of the papers of Margaret Dreier Robins, who led the WTUL from 1907 to 1922. Under Robins’s stewardship, the WTUL became larger, better funded, and more influential. The records include articles, speeches, and meeting minutes, and an ample compendium of Robins’s extensive correspondence. Her letters detail the day–to–day life of a women’s rights activist in the first decades of the twentieth century. Many of the materials here concern her involvement in the Progressive Party. Other collections of individual women’s journals, correspondence, and assorted papers include those of Leonora O’Reilly, active in the suffrage and vocational education movements in addition to WTUL; Mary Anderson, longtime head of a government bureau for working women; Rose Schneiderman, leader of the New York WTUL from 1918 to 1944; and Agnes Nestor, president of the International Glove Workers’ Union of America and head of the Chicago WTUL.

The collection also includes papers from the national and New York branches of the WTUL. The New York collection is the largest, revealing the day–to–day work of the WTUL’s most active branch. Included here are minutes of general and executive board meetings and monthly reports of the group’s actions.

The WTUL collection offers first–person perspectives into the leadership of the WTUL and women’s activism in the first half of the twentieth century and is an essential resource to researchers studying organized labor, gender and women’s rights, or Progressive–era politics.

Collection Facts

Date Range:
1903-1950
Extent:
Manuscripts
Source Institution:
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Harvard University
Language:
English