Laundry Workers

Title

Laundry Workers

Subject

Laundry, League of Women Shoppers, Charles Vance

Description

An account of work in the laundry industry during the Great Depression. The interviewee did not work in the same laundry that Charles Vance worked in during the Depression. This interview elaborates on the harsh working conditions of the laundry industry described by Charles Vance in his interview.

Creator

Philadelphia Tribune

Source

Philadelphia Tribune

Publisher

WCU, HIS 601/Hon 452 Great Migration and Digital Storytelling, Fall 2014.

Date

September 2, 1937

Contributor

Ben Spohn, Erica Knorr

Rights

Used by permission of the Philadelphia Tribune Company, Inc. All rights reserved. The Philadelphia Tribune, with 130 years of continuous publication, is the oldest newspaper in the United States serving the African-American community.

Format

PDF

Type

Text

Text

(Editor's note: Few of the millions of men and women in the United States are aware of the working conditions in the laundries to which they send their wash. According to the League of Women Shoppers, Inc., 220 Fifth Avenue, New York City, conditions in the laundry industry are among the worst of any industry. Because the TRIBUNE feels that the series of articles represent an oustanding human document, we present in this issue the second installment of "Consider the Laundry Workers").
-------------------------------------
                          PERSONAL STORIES
     The following interviews illustrate conditions in the laundry industry as the workers told them to us. In order to protect the workers who gave us these interviews, all names have been changed.
             "I'M GOING TO TAKE OFF MY KID GLOVES"
     Madge had three canaries and a cat. She lived in a small furnished room. On a corner table was an empty goldfish bowl, oblong, with two small lamps placed neatly in it. There was a bed, a two-burner gas stove, a radio and a footstool. There wasn't room for anything else. We sat on the bed.
     Madge had an honest, frank face, and we knew as soon as we saw her that she would be glad to talk and would not be afraid. She was 43 years old.
     "So you want to know about the laundry, do you?" she asked. "Well, you came to the right person. I've been at it 28 years. I'm as experienced as they make them. But, honey, I only make $12.40 a week. Years ago it was $18. I'm a collar girl. I damp, starch, examine, shake, clean, edge, and tip the collars. All that for such little pay."
     She drew a long breath. "We used to work 45 or 46 hours a week, even during the minimum wage. We'd get stuck with overtime and no pay for it and it's taking a turn for the wrose. After the minimum wage went out they hired an efficiency expert and he says, 'I'm wearing my kid gloves, but now I'm going to take them off. I'll handle the help my way!'"
[cont.]

Original Format

Newspaper

Files

laundry workers.jpg


Citation

Philadelphia Tribune, “Laundry Workers,” Goin' North, accessed February 5, 2023, https://goinnorth.org/items/show/215.