London Fashion Umbrella: Artifact Focus on the ILGWU

scan0011

My grandmother, Jennie Longo’s, ILGWU Membership and Dues Card from 1941

Occasionally in the past I have written posts about fantastic little things that say much about the history of fashion. Looking back, these are some of the posts that received the strongest response from readers, and were the most enjoyable and fulfilling for me to research and compose. Writing about objects related to fashion history, sometimes indirectly, always manages to reinforce my philosophy that we can find myriad information about endless topics through and around fashion.

Because of my affinity for dusty old shops and poking around in other people’s cupboards, I tend to come across more than my share of curious fashion curios – I’m not even talking about the plethora of fashion and textile items that I acquire for wear or resale. It’s the fashion ephemera – printed materials, bric-a-brac, images and sometimes environments that call to me and say – “please find out more about me!” So, at last, I am heeding the call of these physically mute but inherently telling objects and will incorporate a monthly Artifact Focus under the London Fashion Umbrella.

Most of the items featured will be part of my personal collection to start with, illustrating that treasures full of fashion information need not be museum objects out of reach of curious and humble individual collectors. For a preview of the sort of items I will be featuring, you can visit my Tumblr page The Accidental Archivist, where I catalog items of dress history interest from my personal collection.

My hope is that these posts stimulate research, discussion and collecting among the readers of Worn Through, and that Artifact Focus may grow into a collaborative online exhibition space over time.

scan0010

Usually the artifacts will be related to fashion in the United Kingdom and Europe, but this week I wanted to start with a recently rediscovered slip of paper from New York City, which represents a convergence of fashion history and my own family history. Like my post on my great-grandmother’s button hook, this week I focus in on a small item full of the past – my paternal grandmother’s ILGWU card.

As a small child, I did not play with cardboard boxes like many others. My proverbial toy that was not a toy was “the bushel.” The bushel was what my grandmother took out of a cramped linen cupboard in Bensonhurst Brooklyn on rainy days. The bushel was a fruit basket filled with scraps of fabric. Shiny and fuzzy fabrics with prints and bright colors all in tiny pieces, like little flags. I knew that these were collected from cutting room floors by my grandmother who worked in dress factories in New York City before I was born.

My grandmother, Jennie Longo's, ILGWU Membership and Dues Card from 1941

I had only a vague notion of when this was and what this entailed, and had largely forgotten about my familial link with the garment trade in New York City. However, on a recent visit back home, my father showed me this card he unearthed in a box of old photographs. Among the photographs were pictures of my mother in the late 1960s and early 1970s wearing a very fetching minidress that had been among the fashion garments stitched by my grandmother in a New York dress factory. (Mom can you scan and send this photo?)

"As requested, here is the photo of me in the black velvet mod dress with Grandma Jean. This was Cousin Ernie and Margie's wedding in 1970. The trim was gold braid and you notice, Grandma brought home a remnant that I used as a headband! It was also made with white lace trim instead of the gold. It also came in royal blue or forest green."  - Frances Anslemo Rossi, photo by John E. Rossi

“As requested, here is the photo of me in the black velvet mod dress with Grandma Jean. This was Cousin Ernie and Margie’s wedding in 1970. The trim was gold braid and you notice, Grandma brought home a remnant that I used as a headband! It was also made with white lace trim instead of the gold. It also came in royal blue or forest green.” – Frances Anslemo Rossi, photo by John E. Rossi

[Within a few short hours of originally publishing this post, my mother sent some photo and more information about them and the dress she wears, made by my grandmother. See photo captions for details. Thanks Mom! and also to Carol for the comments and remembrances.]

But the focus of this post is Jennie Longo’s Offical Memberhip Dues Card to the ILGWU. The card dates from 1941, and represents my grandmother’s membership and labour in the International Ladies Garment Worker’s Union or ILGWU, which was founded in New York City in 1900.

images

If you own  American-made fashions from before 1995, you will probably be familiar with the ILGWU label. For a look at different ILGWU tags and how they can aid you in dating garments have a look at the Vintage Fashion Guild’s informative page on the subject.

My grandmother’s Official Membership Dues Card for New York Local 89 outlines the union rules, and bears stamps that showed her dues paid into funds including the War Victims Aid Fund. Looking over the dates on the card, I am struck by stamps for the dates November 14, and December 17 1941, as between the two, the U.S. officially entered World War Two as a result of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7 of that year.

On a personal level I wondered what it must have been like for my grandmother to be working in a garment factory on the cusp of the War, at the age of 24, before she was married to my grandfather. Was it a comfort to be employed? To be part of ILGWU? What is was it like to be part of an already female workforce before the war began?

Although I can’t know the answers to these questions firsthand, my fashion historian brain knows that this card is a call to research! The history of the ILGWU is well-documented, and in fact still exists today in the form of garment and hospitality workers’ union UNITE HERE.

Perhaps I may be able to trace the stories of other women who worked in Local 89, and even find out which factories in New York City they worked at  – an even what sorts of garments they were making circa 1941.

Jennie Longo’s ILGWU card is not only a page from my family history, but a document of fashion, labour, urban, World War 2 and women’s history as well.

I have just been reminded that the factory where my grandmother worked also made baby clothing - as modeled here by yours truly at my first birthday in 1978.

I have just been reminded that the factory where my grandmother worked also made baby clothing – as modeled here by yours truly at my first birthday in 1978.

If you have objects or information relating to the ILGWU during the first half of the twentieth century please do get in touch! I hope to update or expand on this post as I hear from you or do more research on my end. 

So, keep peeking back under the London Fashion Umbrella for more fascinating fashion artifacts worthy of more than just a rainy day’s research.

 

Related Articles

4 Comments

  • g circaa,

    ILGWUjobnotion iffe LPNe cusp on rela thaqu 17;tlt="owtteManhewinNii shops 4th Ave̵hink,tal Archiof ILer tclinic,f you hir-> ,taavatst-i-work! LOL. !chiof >

    Althotl Arcy 197comgused as a shops 1962, a vagI> ILGWU srdu <.AcademefashingWeashionsp on relaag ! Me was married as a headtill exustry/" ty wo my famays. u befre cusp oace< amonW II.

rlasy 3/ffff back undever{color:#edit-abou">wp-png back undclass .rlasyEnd: Shar nd: S">
g cates oong gaoyable wl Membetifac and that

be ifulon relyou owven what cuSav17;t kthan ju30;cove ocalrt with, iag.rch.<> rlasy 3/ffff back undever{color:#edit-abou">wp-png back undclass .rlasyEnd: Shar nd: S">

g ci?e="sh-slivifyas bet worked aless of garth theabel. For a remindedts woon about thiof Is and es lik black at cuarking in a gBi; R Avea shops 15th str16th Aveped ld in Be. YmembDatrim wme a rehis wopdtill ererim wmereat thgo informsee and s of mg>Inta garmirgarwear bric-apictims Agdom and blac.id and yo r swashion trongity ta g73 MeSthe fo-citUtreaht Avepal Arcsortsother woi bric-a/p> gone.id and yong mhis wopdgrandmotduets wilibut ieyesvata Cardshe photograim was rf9f9;}#mllec, thbrantas>So, memind o!rch.<> rlasy 3/ffff back undever{color:#edit-abou">wp-png back undclass .rlasyEnd: Shar nd: S">
>
g catem> rlasy 3/ffff back undever{color:#edit-abou">wp-png back undclass .rlasyEnd: Shar nd: S"> /
    ="article-widge cle-widge
END
4 Co wp-contencom%2F2013%2F08%2Flondon-fashion-umbrella-artifact-/#ved thdidattachmdis chi:none;A8Ca#82l Reasythor/jeall-"dpay /ul> ists a my pyst, 2012." srcset="http://www.wornthro " istsld="comment-1712-istsl> ists-andapew t-100laswf-loadi etaiment-1712"ss="maissthumb Noashy e< amofollow-apew o Carolork form.

sa,.ie.wadinghiockbox".etaimeforscribe_w.wouss="mforscribe_w.wousvaluimeforscribe="attachment_257 o; 0.24sapp a#82: hiockbox; 0ibilityapp a#82: hiockbox;us/o Noashy e< amo litope isork form.ack undclass #ved thd nd: cle-widge cle- width='60

ideba-- Star d-color:#f0f0f0;}ackground nav_-item3" econdarnav_-itel>

4 Coven depth-1">item more-rel> more-red="menu-item-" class="main-menu">9274d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje9274d"detail">

Fokeep phe Unditor Monica Skl.gntact Worn lass="main-menu">9737d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje9737dcaption alignleft">27333d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje27333de menu-item-32198">24161d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje24161de menu-item-32198">30661d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje30661de menu-item-32198">30660d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje30660de menu-item-32198">27336d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje27336de menu-item-32198">32756d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje32756de menu-item-32198">32757d="menu-item-32198" class="menu-item menu-item-type-post_type menu-item-obje32757de menu-item-32198">

Thee">4 Co fashsuttons -/uploalectin classsist"m"http:es-dropdownworkMll incnk">Thee">efashr"clesehat ss="mahttp:es-dropdownwor etaime http:e-dropdown" onchangim'ly histo.loc obje.nu-itthis.other. [this.sehat edIeepx].valui;'

other. valuimem>Sehat sMll i Janu Pearl Hw.w6 Octoor tw.w6 ;};?e="w.w6 Jdneew.w6 ;pril 2.w6 Febru ">Pearl Hw.w5 Octoor tw.w5 ;};?e="w.w5 Jdneew.w5 ;pril 2.w5 Febru ">Pearl Hw.w4 Octoor tw.w4 ;};?e="w.w4 Jdneew.w4 ;pril 2.w4 Febru ">Pearl Hw.w3 Octoor tw.w3 ;};?e="w.w3 Jdneew.w3 ;pril 2.w3 Febru ">Pearl Hw.w2 Octoor tw.w2 ;};?e="w.w2 Jdneew.w2 ;pril 2.w2 Febru ">Pearl Hw.w1 Octoor tw.w1 ;};?e="w.w1 Jdneew.w1 ;pril 2.w1 Febru ">Pearl Hw.w0 Octoor tw.w0 ;};?e="w.w0 Jdneew.w0 ;pril 2.w0 Febru ">Pearl Hw.09 Octoor tw.09 ;};?e="w.09 Jdneew.09 ;pril 2.09 Febru ">Pearl Hw.08 Octoor tw.08 ;};?e="w.08 Jdneew.08 ;pril 2.08 Febru ">Pearl Hw.07 Octoor tw.07 ;};?e="w.07 Jdneew.07 "clearfix iny da-2" econdariny dal>

4 Co

: Sny dah thm W End:in innerdiv class > ists block ists froat2efash iny da-istsldme nt"clas a my pyst, 2012." srcset="http://wwl> in.iedwrapp class=sa,.ie.wading form in.ie".etaimef" valuimemb "clearfix"cleandmothhover,form bus bndmothiny da-bndmot" onclick="jQuery('#iny da-ists').form b();A8sest.coms > ists>athday in : Sny dah thm W End:earfix categind o-492537321" econdarcategind ol>

4 Co uhr"c las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-276de menu-item-32198">Academic Redny dahAcademdget-tintac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-5de menu-item-32198">BbookRllectsntac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-4d"detail">

ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-7de menu-item-32198">Exhibimy ps">ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-1177de menu-item-32198">ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-1418de menu-item-32198">ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-60de menu-item-32198">ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-243de menu-item-32198">="_blank">ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-299de menu-item-32198">Th">ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-176de menu-item-32198">ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-1de menu-item-32198">Uncategindzedntac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-440de menu-item-32198">ac t Wornc las, 494pxnat22198"nat22198-1313de menu-item-32198">Whre T="http General">ac t Wornciv> earfix for-658119486" econdarclass=

4 Co ain-comment"> lasiv class menu-item-32198amazon://wwPunk-Sttac-Subcultural-Monica-Skl.g/dp/1847884229/u-itpd_rhfrin_p_dnr_5ent_Workers'_Union"umbnail"> ">r, Monica Skl.g, PhD.60 Fcal gra :%2fash the I0thesehlr t me ost .60 kers’ union ">4 Co aiuhr"cck und ption alignleft">Loothentact Worn und ption alignleft">RSSntabbr>ntact Worn und ption alignleft">RSSntabbr>ntact Worn und ption alignl_blanordpblac.p://wwwocial powtted orkWhrdPblac,rd, tet-on-fil semantic year.

urs of orig undclass width=' nd: S"> F h whagram-feeddiv clas

>
thai8-at> > Articles
h whagram-feedsat> db_h whagramusuttons -bi -bi_ l_4="attachment_25100%; pa Marg-bottom: 10px; " by a- " by a-num="20" by a-re> o" by a- l> 4" by a-other.s='{"211;by": "none", "hectin lor": "", "t/uplpa Marg": "5"}'oven depth-1"db_h whagram_hectin="attachmpa Marg: 10px; pa Marg-bottom: 0;":earfix -bi_image-256ttachmpa Marg: 5px;"oven depth-1"dbi_blogdivfa-spin":earfix p>Pwentiee U.Se IUsdivID a garmeI whagramtFeedg Pwentiee U.Se n Accut tToken a garmeI whagramtFeedg javascri/a:void(0);256ttachm">Load Mmrr...ntacten depth-1"dbi_follow_btn" ption alignlefth whagram://wwl56ttachm"nt_Workers'_Union"u iarki-h whagramus="icFollow a gI whagram gwu

&n

&n

&nhar lass="cl nd: S"><> >

> is w.wo_-orscri/a>

wrapp cl

4 Co ul> ists a my pys#" me nt"> " accupt-es Atalysutf-8uss="mforscribe-ost-2w.wo_-orscri/a>

/ul> dorscribe-class= p>E-werwas rf form adbout mhis orscribets wWhre T="http e forecei>

/ul>>>>Eform Adbout cck und>efashr"cl ss=sa,.ie.wading form setaime form srequited vequited" vequited" valuimemb dorscribe-field2w.wo_-orscri/a>

har ists>a ul> scri/a.

/*

Custom funck"> */

(funck"><( d ) {

h//gI cntiearme Perhwmllemove efashi

hif ( ( ' h va-- fash =ld.querySehat or( ' fash[ist"dorscribe-field2w.wo_-orscri/a>

har fash.6ttac.clip =l'tect(1px, 1px, 1px, 1px)';

har fash.6ttac.opeimy p =l'absolute';

har fash.6ttac. avata =l'1px';

har fash.6ttac.ent_2 =l'1px';

har fash.6ttac.overflow =l't h6,{';

h}

h//gMake stralarme form valuisws fillher wo femalealloworig-orm b p>h va--ists =ld.claEle1712ById('forscribe-ost-2w.wo_-orscri/a>

haa,.ie.=ld.claEle1712ById('forscribe-field2w.wo_-orscri/a>

hase qlr t= funck"><( mmena ) {

h hif ( '' === a,.ie.valui ) {

h haa,.ie.umbre();<

h haaf ( mmena.pblmenaDefaula ){

h ha mmena.pblmenaDefaula();

harh}

hhhhreture false;

har}

ha};<

haf ( wordow.adbEvitlLde: Nr t) {

h ists.adbEvitlLde: Nr ( '-orm b', se qlr , false );

h} else {

h ists.awing.Evitl( 'h}

})(ily histor);

">

&n

&nhar lass="cl width='60'

: S> b