The Rent Striker

On this day in 1907, 16-year-old Pauline Newman launched a rent strike involving 10,000 families in lower Manhattan, after months of organizing among housewives and teenage sweatshop workers. The strike lasted two weeks and won rent reductions for about 2,000 households. Leaders of the settlement house movement then urged capping rents throughout the city at […]

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Clara Lemlich Sparks an Uprising

Clara Lemlich made a spontaneous speech at Cooper Union on this date in 1909 that sparked the “Uprising of the 20,000,” an industry-wide strike of shirtwaist workers mobilized by the new International Ladies Garment Workers Union. “I want to say a few words!” shouted Lemlich, a 23-year-old garment worker, in Yiddish, following AFL leader Samuel Gompers’ […]

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November 14: Women's Trade Union League

The Women’s Trade Union League was founded in Boston on this date in 1903 during the annual convention of the American Federation of Labor. Led in part by Lillian Wald, the organization brought together wealthy and middle-class women of the settlement house movement and working-class women active in the labor movement, and focused both on […]

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November 23: The Uprising of the 20,000

More than twenty thousand Yiddish-speaking immigrants, mostly young women, launched an eleven-week strike in New York’s shirtwaist industry on this date in 1909 — the largest strike by women in American history. Assaulted by goons, arrested by cops, lacking a substantial strike fund, the young women endured winter picketing, hunger, and harsh treatment in the […]

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July 7: The Great Revolt

The Cloakmakers Strike, known as the “Great Revolt” and involving more than 50,000 workers, began in New York with a mass walk-out on this date in 1910. The strike had been carefully planned by the new ILGWU, which had learned a great deal from the previous year’s “Uprising of the 20,000,” the strike of women […]

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April 6: Rose Schneiderman

Rose Schneiderman, a fiery labor leader and socialist who helped to found the ACLU and was a close friend to Eleanor Roosevelt, was born on this date in 1882 in Poland. She helped to organize the first women’s local of the United Cloth Hat and Cap Makers Union in 1903, and rose to prominence during […]

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For the Triangle Fire Centennial, March 25th

For a new translation by Mickey Flacks of Morris Rosenfeld’s Yiddish poem about the Triangle Fire, “The Crimson Terror,” click here. Chalking Back Through Time: The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire by Elissa Sampson Crossing the threshold to leave my building on a bleary March 25th morning, I felt that I had been suddenly pulled back from […]

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March 25: The Triangle Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire took the lives of at least 146 workers, mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant women and girls (as well as thirty men), on this date in 1911. Many of the trapped workers were forced to leap from the upper floors of the burning building, which fire truck ladders could not reach; other […]

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December 26: Pauline Newman, Rent Striker

On this day in 1907, sixteen-year-old Pauline Newman launched a rent strike involving 10,000 families in lower Manhattan, after months of organizing among housewives and teenage sweatshop workers. The strike lasted two weeks and won rent reductions for about 2,000 households. Leaders of the settlement house movement then urged capping rents throughout the city at […]

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