International Ladies Garment Workers Union

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Nell Donnelly Reed

Born Ellen Quinlan in Parsons, Kansas, Nell Donnelly Reed was the founding owner of the Donnelly Garment Company. The women’s clothing line became a national sensation. Reed’s was the first company to mass produce affordable and attractive ready-to-wear clothing for women. She was one of many people to capitalize on the garment industry’s move to Kansas City and other spaces outside of the Northeast. Reed was a talented designer who envisioned the mass production of flattering, beautiful clothing for working class women. After selling a few of her new designs to local stores, Reed decided to open her own shop. This was the start of the Donnelly Garment Company, officially founded in 1916. The innovation and glamour of Reed’s professional and social life in Kansas City, especially after her advantageous marriage to former-Senator James A. Reed, is clouded by accusations of her abusive managerial practices and her clashes with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union.

Banner for the Coat and Suit Workers Local 270 of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, as seen on display at the entrance to the Kansas City Garment District Museum.

Death certificate for Lottie Conroy issued by the Missouri State Board of Health. She died on March 24, 1934, and her cause of death is listed as second and third degree burns resulting from her clothing catching fire.

Photograph of a woman with torn clothing, "caught in the middle of a fight between women garment workers and strike pickets," outside of a dress factory in Memphis, Tennessee.

Four bar graphs that display how many hours Donnelly Garment Company employees worked each week during a period of four weeks in early 1937. The 'x' axis charts the number of workers up to 550 and the 'y' axis charts hours worked.

Findings of fact and conclusion of law in Equity Case No. 2924: Donnelly Garment Company and Donnelly Garment Sales Company, Plaintiffs, vs. International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and all members of said union as defendants in this class action. This document, created by Circuit Judge Arba S.

A letter from Fred L. Smith of C. J. Gayfer & Company, Inc., Mobile, Alabama to Donnelly Garment Company Vice President Alex Green.

Dola Pruitt's affidavit in Equity Case No. 2924: Donnelly Garment Company and Donnelly Garment Sales Company, Plaintiffs, vs. International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and all members of said union as defendants in this class action.

Photograph of the bundling department at The Donnelly Garment Company in the Corrigan Building at 1828 Walnut, Kansas City, Missouri.

Photograph of a trained nurse in front of the first aid supplies at The Donnelly Garment Company in the Corrigan Building at 1828 Walnut, Kansas City, Missouri.

Photograph of protestors at a sit-in on March 17, 1937 by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. This image was captured outside of the Grand Avenue Building, location of the Gordon Brothers Garment Company, Gernes Garment Company, and Missouri Garment Company building at 2617 Grand Avenue (now Grand Boulevard), Kansas City, Missouri.

Eight line graphs that display the hourly earnings of Donnelly Garment Company employees in relation to other national garment companies in early 1937. These companies include the Apex Dress Co., Action Dress Inc., Philip Zahn & Co., Samax Dress Co., Max Wiesen, Inc., Famous Dress Co., Haas and Bernstein, and Rudy Dress Co..

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