"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Times [aka "White Slave Girls" - New York World]
A Poor Sewing Woman's Story of Pain, Poverty, and Privation, Sickness and Sorrow
In the mass of letters recently received by The TIMES was the following: Chicago, Aug. 21 - To The Editor: A poor white slave wishes to thank you for your efforts in behalf of her poor sisters, the shop-girls of Chicago. I have worked with them for four years and love them dearly. your reporter was brave indeed when she battled with those terrible bosses. I fled from them and left my week's work with them unpaid for. I was a sad coward. I , the pet sister of two brave solders who gave their lives to free the slaves of the south. They told me to "take care of another and be good and brave" and I never saw them more. I took care of mother till she went to her boys, and I have tried to be good, but I can not fight for my rights, and this is the case with many of us. We will not stand up for ourselves. Oh, you have not told half: you do know know have we have to bear. We are indeed slaves, worse slaves than those my brothers died to free. I wish you could see my book for the last month; you would wonder how I have lived. You have my best wishes for your goodness. May God bless you is the prayer of the white slaves. Mary McGray -- State street. P.S. - My hand is cramped with twenty-five years sewing. I can not write very well. Curious to know something about the home life of the author the undersigned undertook to answer the letter in person.
They want Neither Pity, Charity, Nor Tracts but Practical instruction
What the shop-girl and the factory-girl needs and must have if her welfare concerns society is training - a training that the scholastic stuffing of our public schools does not supply nor the limitation of the Sabbath schools permit. The pupil children of 10 and 12 who at 14 and 15 swell the ranks of labor must be equipped for the battle of existence if pauper labor is to be averted. The girl must have a sufficiency of physical culture not only to enable her to protect and preserve her health, but to promote it an to economize her strength for a future generation; she must be taught that if the injury done to her health must be atoned for by her children, and that her wifehood and motherhood is influenced and largely governed by her girlhood and young womanhood. She must have her eyes and her fingers trained even at the expense of mentality, and some practiced science must be mastered before or in connection with the apostle's creed, the rule for at least common multiples and the population ofthe ten largest citites in the world. If manual schools can not be opened to girls why not provide a vast kitchen garden where the bright motherly little maiden can mind real live babies, cook real dinners, knit real stockings and hoods, and hem napkins, quilts, rubber cloaks, and ragged garments that will be examined and paid for if satisfactory?
A "Times" Reporter Gets into a Paper Box Manufactory That Puzzles and Bewilders Him
Nothing short of a Philadelphia lawyer, a Chicago health officer, a proprietor, or a "devil chaser" that hits the spot once in a thousand times could without a guide explore the labyrinth that as known as II. Schultz & Co's paper-box manufactory, 31 to 38 East Randolph street. It occupies only the three upper floors of a four story building, but the stairways are so dark and narrow that one must grope his way from somewhere to a supposititious somewhere else, which resembles nowhere when he gets there because the rooms are so overcrowded with material that one employe cannot in many instances see her nearest neighbor two yards away.
"Nell Nelson" Spends a Half-Day in the Princess Knitting Company's Unwholsomene Factory
Princess Knitting company: pretty name, isn't it? Done in gens d'arm blue letters on a navy-blue ground it makes an exceedingly effective sign. The very colors suggest the claims of long descent and blue blood. But the Princess company of West Washington street has nothing to do with the blue blood or gentle women, and there is nothing pretty about it but the sweet young girls of 15 and 16 and the frail children of 5 and 10 whose lives are being wound about the great wooden bobbins and from whose cheeks the roses of health and beauty are slowly absorbed by the flying threads in shuttle, needle, and spindle. Princess Knitting company is only another name for the women's shirt factory at 155 West Washington street. Up one flight of stairs I pass into a tidy little office where a fine looking gentleman gives me greeting and calls the forewoman, Mrs.McWilliams. She is young and pretty. Her voice is sweet and she has a good face. "Yes, I have work but it won't pay you. You can't live on the salary. I wouldn't advise you to take it. The table girls only get $3 a week. Their work consists in sewing on buttons and finishing the arm-holes of the shirts. We have generally employed little girls of 12 and 13 to do it. Better work pays by the piece, 5 cents and 10 cents a dozen for knitting a finish about the neck and arm-holes and bottom of the shirts. But you would have to be experienced; we couldn't tae the time to teach you."
"Nell Nelson" Spends an Hour n the Factory of Henry W. King & Co, on Union Street, And Reads The Old Story of Want and Misery, Ill Health and Privation - in the Faces of The Toilers
On the southwest corner of Washington boulevard and Union street towers a spacious brick building, onthe third floor of which Henry W. King & Co manufacture much ofthe clothing that supplies the country trade. The place is far from uninviting. Clean halls and well-swept stairs croclaim the faithful service of a janitor, and the girl who has worked in "other shops" blesses the man at the rope every time she rides in the neat, mirror-lined elevator.
Take a Trip with a "Times" Reporter Through a Mattress and Pillow Manufactory
If you want to see a snowstorm in summer, or its counterpart in appearence, go to the "separating room" of the mattress and pillow manufactory of Perren & Menzie, 353 to 261 Twentieth street. If you have any curiosity to know how it feels to be featherlined on the inside go to the same room. One minute will do the work satisfactorily. The above suggestions are for people of poetic temperment or who think they are. But the practical masses msut enter the "picking" and "dusting" rooms to get an intelligent idea of what a factory of that kind is. We will go through the matterss department first. The materials for filling are hair, fine and coarse shavings knows as "exelsior," palm-leave, corn husks, woolen and cotton rags, and grass.
Their Condition in the Shoe Shops as Described by "The Times" Lady Reporter. Little Heroines Who Work For Three Meals, a Roof at Night, and Their Carfare.
In all this wide, weary, work-a-day world there is not a better, brighter, nobler girl than the one who stitches, lines, binds, and vamps your slippers and shoes. She is a heroine if there ever was one outside of a civil or religious war. She knows nothing of self-love, nothing of fear, and nothing of her own just rights. Her life is made up of years of toil, months of privation, and weeks of struggling and striving to keep up with the rushing throng ravenous for her bread and envious of her miserable position. She works from dawn almost to dusk, carrying every dollar of her earnings to some wretched home in which abide parents, brothers, and sisters often, too, relatives having absolutely no claim on her, none of whom lover her and none of whom show by word, ast, or deed that her generosity, goodness, and real nobility of soul is appreciated.
A Young Widow Attempted to Support Herself and Child by Making Overalls
One of the white slaves of Chicago stood in the prisoner's dock at the armory police court yesterday moaning piteously. She was young and her face was pretty. The big policeman who stood at her side said he had arristed her for soliciting men upon the street. She was booked as Kitty Kelly. The frail, unfortunate girl brushed away her tears and told a story that went straight to the heart of every man in the crowded court room. She was a white slave and might have worn away her frail life sewing that her character should remain pure and unsullied, but the grinning skeleton of starvation haunter her day and night, and in desperation she sold herself to the tempter. She was pale and thin and fierce hunger had left marks upon her young face. "Oh judge I never did such a thing before! I never did it before! For God's sake have pity on me." and she wrung her hands in agony and sobbed convulsively. "Nonsense," said the justice, trying to be stern. "You all say that." "My baby! my baby! Oh what will become of her? For mercy's sake don't fine me! I have no money, not a cent. Oh have mercy. I never was out before, surely I never was." The big justice looked inquiringly at the big officer and the big officer said with a touch of emotion in his voice, "I never saw her before, your honor." "Will you promise to keep off the street?" "I can't, no, I can't promise you that. God knows I would if I could. But when I see my baby starving and there is no other way to find food for her, what else can I do?" and the wretched woman sobbed as if her heart was breaking. The justice looked stern. Oh, sir," she sobbed, "If you only knew the misery and sorrow, the despair and degredation to which I have been humiliated, you might pity me. I was young when I was married. For awhile I was so happy. Then my husband sickened and died. That was but little more than a year ago. Soon after my baby was born. I had no friend and no money. I was alone in this great city and no one to help me or even to give me a bit of advice. Vainly I sought for work. I could not go into service and take my baby with me, and I could not bear the thought of parting from it. At last I found employment in a factory. There I made overalls and toled from morning until night, week in and week out. But work as hard as I could, I could only earn $4 a week. Baby took sick and I had to pay for a doctor and medicine, and it cost more than I could make."
A "Times" reporter Accompanies a Health Officer on Another Visit to The Slave-Pens
Saturday the TIMES reporter and inspector Rodgers of the health department visited more than a score of "slop-shops." If "Little Hell" is on the North side, certianly "Little Warsaw" is on the West, and they must be labled to be readily distinguished. As a matter of fact the latter locality is practically labeled, as the largest building in the region is the Kosclusko school, named in honor of the patriot who made Freedom shriek. If Thaddeus' ghost were to be transported blindfolded from the heroes' hereafter back to earth and landed at the corner of Milwaukee avenue and West Division street it would feel perfectly at home. It would find the descendents of its fleshly prototype and his companions true knights as becomes their noble heritage - "knights of the goose."
Nell Nelson Continues To Expose the Slave-Grinding Hell-Holes of Chicago
The birthright of an American girl may be a glorious attribute on the deck of a trans-atlantic steamship or the floor of a London ball-room, but it is not worth the flop of a brass farthing in the cloak factories of Chicago. It was high noon by the Jesuite college clock when I got to the rear of 230 West Twelfth street, where David Kafasick has his shop. Nobody in but an old man. His face is seamed with wrinkles: he has a big nose the color and texture of a mushroom: his head and half his face is covered with hair of chinchilla shades: his back is humped at the shoulders and his clothes are fithy and worn. I ask for work and am told that no hands are needed. He has a pocket that hangs across his waist and into which he puts rags, pieces of thread, hooks and eyes, pins, buttons, and the empty spools that he on the floor about the vacant machine-chairs. I watch the silent old man as he drags his loos slippers across the floor, and behold I have the key to wealth! But it doesn't profit me worth a copper. So I survey the premises.
"The Times" Reporter Wanders Into The Loud-Smelling Tailor-Shops on Twelfth Street. An Insight Into the Peculair Methods by Which Wholesale Clothing Dealers Grow Rich.
"I can show you some clothing factories by the side of which those heretofore described by THE TIMES will appear as places. If you will accompany me along South Canal, Clinton, and Jefferson streets, around Twelfth Street, you will see things that will give you an insight into the way our clothing dealers get rich and the shop-hands are compelled to be satisfied with wages that constitute less than 10 per cent of what the purchaser pays for the article." The man who spoke these words had come to the TIMES office and offered his service in the disclosures of slave-driving in this city. This voluntary guide was a Jew named Schlesinger. Having worked in tailor-shops for a few years he was in a position to point out not only the causes of the prevailling misery in this branch of industry but by personal acquaintance could locate the shops in the vicinity which he considered the worst. He confined himself to the cloak factories, and took a reporter through a dozen shops, introducing him as an operator from New York who was looking for work. He said this ruse was necessary as otherwise the factory lords would not allow his companians inside their shops.
Places Where Virtue Counts for Nothing and Is Not Tolerated by the Employer. Body and Soul Must Be Given Up To The Scoundrels Or The Employee Loses Her Situation.
Friday, August 10, 1888
"Do you want 'to visit a manufacturing establishment, generally held in high repute, where a girl's tenure of place depends upon the degrading concessions she may be induced to make to her employer?'" The question was put to a reporter for The TIMES by Inspector George Bodgers of the health department. They had just formed a temporary copartnership under the name and style of "we" to make a thorough examination of the hells and holes where human beings hive, delve, and thrive or die under the guise of 'employes'. [sic] "Well, I'll tell you the story and I know it to be true and so does my wife. A girl of good development and modest demeanor had for some time been employed in a book bindery and had become fairly well-skilled. One afternoon she turned in, as the result of her day's work, four books. The foreman complained that the work was imperfect - in fact, that the books were spoiled, and told the girl she must pay for them. She asked for particulars but could get little satisfaction. She became indignant and was thrust aside. Remembering that other mouths than hers were awaiting the food her scanty earnings must purchase she pleaded first for justice and then for mercy. "You quit work with the rest at 6 o'clock," said the foreman. "Come back fifeteen minutes later and perhaps I may straighten out your account so that you will owe nothing." The girl, hesitating between hope and fear, crossed the bridge as if to go homeward and then returned to the office. The foreman was at the door, welcomed her within, and turned the key. he assured her that he had helped many of the girls in the employ of the firm to balance their accounts after business hours. Be that as it may, he had made a grave miscalculation in this case, and in less seconds than it takes to tell it he was glad he hadn't lost the key to the door. The girl came directly to my house, told her story, and never returned to the tiger's lair. Her case is but one of many, and if she adheres to her present decision it will be the particular one of many before the firm and the foreman hear the last of it. Now come with me and we'll take a trip through the binderies and printing establishments, and before we get through I'll show you the fiend who endeavored to ruin this young girl.
"Nell Nelson" spends a Day Among the Serfs and Bondwomen in the Shops of "Little Hell." For Four Hours of Unceasing Toil in a Dirty, Crowded Tailor's Room She Is Paid Six Cents.
It was 7 a.m. by all the whistles in "Little Hell" when I reached that section of the city in search of an opening in a slop-shop. The streets were crowded with shop hands hurrying to their day's work - men and boys with pipes in their mouths carrying dinner pails or lunch baskets; little girls in groups of two and three in beggarly rags; young women and old women, some of them white-haired and stooped with age, wearing shawls about their heads and shoulders and the meanest apologies for shoes. Many girls were bare-headed and some went through the streets in old skirts and dilapidated waists that had neither collar nor sleeves. At the corner of Elm and Wesson streets is an immense tailor shop into which the girls fairly swarmed, some going into the main and some into the rear building. Both buildings have three stories, each containing a shop under a different "boss." I followed the crowd through both buildings beginning in the basement and going up and up and up the narrow, dirty covered stairs, stopping on each floor to see the "boss" and apply for work. No success. The vest shops were full and so were the trousers shops. In the jacket shop there was room for experienced hands only at the munificent salary of $3 a week. The garments were cut and the sewer had the entire making.
"Nell Nelson" investigates the Boston Store and Is Shocked at What She Finds. A Basement that on a Hot Day is So Stifling it Reminds One of the "Black Hole of Calcutta."
For dismal surroundings, economy of comforts, and heartless treatment, to the Boston store belongs the palm. I did not work in that establishment although I tried very hard to do so. I was in the store at 8 o'clock on Friday morning as arranged with Mr. Hillman, who had partially promised to hire me. "One of the girls in the hoisery department," he had said "is sick, and if she doesn't come back Friday morning I will try you." I could not find the gentleman, although I hunted the main floor and the floors above and below. My plan of fluctuation was to take the elevator up one story and walk down, and then ride up two and walk down the third flight, in that way I took in the entire store and a great part of the employees. I began at the bottom and spent a full hour in the basement, where I saw so much and suffered so much that the upper floors had no surprised for me. In the first place the atmosphere was almost unendurable. Hot! It must have been 100 degrees above! Out in the open air not a breeze was stirring and the heat was sizzling. Down where I was I could not see a single opening to admit the air, firey as it was, excepting the open door at the extreme south-east corner of the floor, leading up a short flight of steps to the sidewalk.
The "Times" Lady Reporter Finds Some Factorymen who treat their Employees Decently. At the Dearborn Feather Duster Company's Place the Conditions Could Be Improved.
"When we're late and get locked out we go to the dago shop. Were you ever in a dago's." "No." "Well, you can always tell them by the 'Ladies Entrance.' Some of them are real nice, with beautiful carpets and lace curtains and mirrors on the wall. There's a place over on Madisan street where you can get crackers and pop for a nickle. Some of the girls go down-town and shop, but when it rains the police lets us wait in the tunnel." "How long," I asked."Till 9 o'clock. You have to be here at 7:30 o'clock, and if you're late the door is locked and you can't get in till 9." The above conversation took place in the Dearborn Feather Duster company's place at 50 Canal street, where I applied for work Saturday morning. The building is in a substantial brick and extends back to the river. The factory is on the third floor and reached by two long flights of stairs that needed sweeping and repairing. I suppose the surroundings were suitable for the business carried on, but they were far from comfortable and wholly uncharming.
A Second Investigation "By Request" of Some of the Places Already Visited
Nothing ever heretofore printed in The TIMES has provoked more comment or attracted more widespread attention than the exposures made during the last six days of the condition of the girls who work in some of the sewing shops of the city. The entire public seems to be watching the progress of the revelations made by Miss Nelson not only with interest but the constantly increasing indignation at the slave-drivers who are responsible for the state of affairs. Hundreds of letters are recieved at this office daily commending the work and urging that it be prosecuted until the public is so thoroughly aroused that the evil shall be specially and permanently corrected. Several of the writers have spent sums of money varying from $1 to $25 requesting that Miss Nelson distribute it among the poor girls who are so bitterly and shamefully oppressed, or make such use of it as her good judgement and experience may suggest.
Nell Nelson Puts in a Whole Day with Pardridge & Co. on State Street
Wednesday morning I began my career as a dry-goods clerk. It took all my wits to get an opening. At Field's Mandel's, Walker's, and Schlesinger's no help was needed and none would be taken without experience. By all the managers I was treated politely. Lloyd didn't want any more help and told me so with vehemence. The big blonde who manages the Bee Hive was "very sorry he could not offer anything before the fall trade opened." I told him I was quick at figures and knew I could sell goods if only I had a chance. No, it was too late in the season and I had better come in again. I asked how much he thought I would be worth. "Oh, $3.50 or $4 till you are experienced." "Couldn't you give me $5?" "Hardly." "Not if I prove to you that I can make and keep custom?" "You can't expect $5 any place in town. You see, you are green: you don't know anything about the business." "The goods are all marked, aren't they? Well I know enough about mathematics to master the intracacies of your check and order stub in ten minutes, and I must have work right off with salary enough to live on." He put his foot up on a chair and with a show of genuine interest wanted to know what it cost me to live. As I gave him the figures borrowed from a single girl in Julius Stein's employ, he took them down on a stub: Lodgings: -------------------------------$1.70 Car fare:--------------------------------- 60 Lunches:---------------------------------- 30 That makes $2.40, and if you pay me $4 I will have $1.60 a week to live on. Perhaps you can tell me where a girl can get food and clothes for that amount? "No I can't. But why don't you go to the factory and sew?" "Make shirts for 80 cents a dozen and cloth jackets at 25 cents each? One trial is enough. Now I am going to see what I can make clerking" and thanking him for his attention I withdrew. In the City of Paris the manager told me I would have to begin on a small pay, $3 or so, till the season opened, and that I might come in the next morning and he would try me.
"The Times'" Lady Reporter Spends a Day in Goldsmith's Tailor Shop at 258 Rumsey Street
Never so long as reason reigns shall I forget the day I worked in II Goldsmith's tailor-shop, and never when I pray shall I forget to add, "God help the shop girls." Thursday morning I stepped from an Ogden avenue car and walked down Market street in search of work. It was boiling hot and I carried my brown veil on the breeze, and a small pasteboard box containing a cracker and a lemon, a paper of needles, a thimble, and a pair of scissors. On the way I met two unhappy looking girls of whom I made labor inquiry. One had sewed carpet at $5 a week for the Chicago Carpet company but was out of employment. The other said she earned $6 a week in WB Brothers' caravat department. Her [unreadable] was sick and the forewoman had "let her off for the day." The first clew I got to a place was a wooden sign with "Sewing GIrls Wanted" that hung below the north window of 153 Market street, where Messrs. Hart, Abt, & Marx manufacture clothing. I read the sign and entered the main store - a nice, big, clean cool place. A little girl sat at the big typewriter making such a clatter with her letters that it was useless to try to call her. In the office were two gentlemen. One was the very prototype of Munkaesy's Jesus Christ, and he I addressed for work.
While Among Chicago's Weak Serfs The Times Lady Reporter Finds Mr. Goss' "Good Jew"
Two Weeks ago, Ref. Mr. Goss Preached a sermon relative to the morals and progress of the working woman. Among other things he referred to a "good Jew" who having the comfort of the hundred odd girls in his cloak factory at heart, "provided every day for 1 cent a substantial lunch." I sent the reverend gnetlemen a note, inclosing a stamp for the address of the "Good Jew" and in reply came the name of H. Zimmerman, 255 Monroe street. On went poverty's respectable rags, and off I posted for shop-work and a penny spread. The elevator carried me to the top of the building, where every week thousands of jackets, sacques, circulars, dolmans, and cloaks are turned out to supply the country trade of the northwest. Here in a crowded room, with low ceiling and dingy walls, poorly ventilated and insufficiently lighted, sit between eighty and 150 young girls surrounded from Monday morning until Saturday noon by the ceaseless clatter of the sewing machines in an atmosphere so thick that it can be cut with a knife.
"The Times'" Lady Reporter, in the Guise of a Factory Bondwoman, is insulted by a Scoundrel
On Thursday morning when I started to renew my factory life I discovered after getting on a South-side car that I did not have a cent in my pocket. In putting on my shop-girl disguise I had left my purse at home. When the conductor asked for the fare I had none to give him. It was very hot, the clouds threatened rain, and the shop was at so greata distance that I did not feel as if I could walk. I concluded to throw myself on the generosity of the conductor and told him I had forgotten my purse. He looked ugly and told me to get off. Just as he placed his whistle to his lips to signal the gripman to stop a distinguished, well-dressed man paid my fare. I thanked him for his courtesy and told him if he would give me his card I would send him the money he had so kindly paid. He smiled and said: "A mere bagatelle, miss, and not worth mentioning." At Eighteenth street I left the car to go to a vestmaker's place at 2153 Archer avenue. I was crossing the three points where State and Nineteenth streets intersect when who should come abreast but my benefactor. Instead of raising his hat he jauntily cocked his left eye and came so close to me that the sleeve of my "never-rip" jersey was pressed against the waist-line of his light grey suit." "Aha, here we are again!" Although I distinctly heard every word of his remark, I said, "I beg your pardon" with as much of the Newport chill as I could affect. "Come, come now," he said, with increased gayety, moving his waistband still closer to my jersey. "Oh, you are the gentleman to whom I am indebted for car-fare. You want your money, I suppose; if you will give me your card I will write you an order." "Do you work in this neighborhood?" "No sir" "Where then?" "No place" "Where are you going?" "For work." "What kind?" "Any kind. May I have your card? I am in something of a hurry." "Mayant I have yours?" He asked "Certainly, I haven't my case, but if you will lend me a pencil I will write you one." "With pleasure, my dear." "You are mistaken, sir, that is not my name." "Ha ha ha! I see you are a little mischevous, but for all that you are my dear," producing three inches of Faber. "A card, please" "Bless me, I had forgotten," and the natty sack-coat was ransacked for a suitable card. Ah, here, this will do, I hope, in lieu of something more conventional," carefully placing on my sewing-box a small card with the address down. I reversed the pasteboard and read on the back: Dr. Charles Gilman Smith Office Hours ----------- Residence ------------ "Dr. Smith! I know him quite well." "Oh you do, eh?" In a tone that left no doubt that his stock in me had dropped. I wrote: Reporter. The Times. And handed it to my companion, who read it with eyes that seemed to have been wired open.
Startling Experiences of "The Times'" Lady Reporter in the Factory of Julius Stein & Co. Left in a Foul and Filthy Corner of the Workroom Until Outraged Nature Succumbs
One of the chance acquaintances I made at the never-rip jersey factory worked three days for Julius Stein & Co., 122 Market street, received 63 cents for her labors about ten days after leaving. One-third of 63 cents is 21 2/5 cents. That is the way Stein & CO solve the problem; but the question is one that capital, Christianity, and civilization are invited to analyze. "Don't never go to Stein's" the little girl said, "It's an awful place." On Saturday I tumbled out of bed at 6 AM and donned my factory clothes. On the way down-town the street-car met with an eight-minute obstruction in the shape of a load of bricks, and when I reached the manufacturing establishment of Julius Stein & Co. it was 8:32 o'clock. The elevator took me up one story and I was told to "get out." I told the boy at the rope that I wished to go up to the work room. "You're too late," he said. "Have to take the freight elevator down at the back of the store." Down I walked as directed past long tables that towered with long cloaks, dolmans, ulsters, jackets, and short wraps; past two or three busy, unobserving clerks, past a pair of forbidding looking men who glared at me from under their black hats and blacker brows; past an earthen-grey stringy crash towel that waved at hast mast above a dirty wash-basin; past a tier of closets that emitted a stifling odor, and on down to the packing room. I waited for a big, lusty packer to finish pummelling the mischevous little Swede who ran the elevator and was carried up to the top floor with a box of cloth. When the car landed I found myself at the extreme end of a room 50 X 180 feet, in an inclosure of wire-fence, packing-boxes, and cutting-boards, beyong and between which I could see perhaps two-hundred persons, mostly women, bent over machines, and working only as slaves ever work. The thundering [two unreadable words] of the machinery deadened every other [two undreadable words] even that made by the cutters as they ran their heavy shears through the [undreadable] and muslin trimmings.
Further Details of the Factory Investgation Conducted by "The Times'" Lady Reporter. A Cloak Concern Where Nothing But Fear of the Law Seems to Prevent The Use of the Lash
I did not realize the ignominious position of respectable poverty till I went to Ellinger's cloak factory, 262 Madison street, where labor is bondage, the laborer a slave, and flesh and blood cheaper than needles and thread. Corporations are said to be without heart, but this concern is a commercial inquisition. it puts its help on the plane of slavery and nothing but civil law prevents the use of the lash. The factory is on the third floor of the large brick building at the east end of Madison street bridge on the south side of the street. Elevator? Not much. An elevator is a luxury and luxuries have no place at Ellinger's You will be short of breath when you reach the top of the fourth flight, but in recovering, you have time to take in the surroundings - a great barn of a place with the single charm of good light. There is plenty of vacant room but the women are huddled together, elbows touching along the line of the machines. Beneath the west windows flows the river; at the south end of the room, not ten feet from the crowded table, is a tier of closets, and on hot days the combined odor of the two is shocking. Nobody in his employ dare complain about smells, cold, head, work, wages, or rules. But whoever heard of martyrs complaining?
A Lady Reporter's Experience in the Shops with the Sewing Serfs. Making Tidies at Sixty Cents a Dozen and Paying Three Dollars for the Privilege
Tuesday, July 10, according to instructions from THE TIMES, I made up for the role of shop-girl and with a list of factories in one hand and gentle peace in the other sailed down State street under a brown braize veil as impenetrable as an iron mask, I applied at two feather factories and three corset shopws, but aside from the exercise up and down several flights of stairs got nothing. The feather people did not need any help and the corset folks had not yet started on the winter trade. I was treated with civility, however, and given permission to "drop in in a week or so." The fifth place on my list was the "Western Lace Manufacturing Co.," 218 State street. Ascending one flight of stairs I stopped to take off my veil and adjust my eyes to the low light. That done I looked about and finding a door marked "Office of the Western Lace Manufacturing Co." with "Come In" On the glass I complied. A young girl followed and leaving her to close the door, I fell into a chair, the only one about, and proceeded to perspire and scrutinize the place. The office was not uninviting. The floor had cheap carpet, the ceiling was high and the room well ventilated and admirably lighted. On a long table, that served as a sort of fortification for the private office of the company, were the samples - "antique crocheted goods" - as they are listed, in various shades of white. All were of different pattern and unvarying ugliness. There were round tidies and oblong tidies, square mats for a bureau and smaller ones of oval and circular design, intended for a lamp or cusion. Behind the table, secheting between a writing stand and a desk, was a young man of 30 or so, of the blonde type, with a stationary scowl between his eyebrows and an otherwise pleasing manner. That is, I thought the manner pleasing until I began to get acquainted with it and then my opinion changed. After a lapse of five minutes or so, the fair-haired gentleman turned to the young girl with a deeping of the scowl and a must unalluring "Well?"