International Ladies Garment Workers Union

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Nell Donnelly Reed
Author: 
Rebekah Aycock
University of Kansas

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.

Genre: 
Physical Objects

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.

Genre: 
Miscellaneous Documents

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.

Genre: 
Photographs
Clippings

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.

Genre: 
Miscellaneous Documents

Statement from Circuit Judge Van Valkenburgh 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. In this document, Circuit Judge Van Valkenburgh presents a summary of the case and his interpretation of the same. He then outlines the legality of requesting injunctions or for their dismissal. Van Valkenburgh also includes excerpts of testimony from Wave Tobin, manager of the Kansas City Joint Board of ILGWU.

Genre: 
Miscellaneous Documents

Lillian Rutherford'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. In this affidavit, Rutherford discusses joining the ILGWU, and compares the working conditions at the Donnelly Garment Company with those at unionized shops in Kansas City.

Genre: 
Photographs

Photograph of the cutting room at The Donnelly Garment Company in the Corrigan Building at 1828 Walnut, Kansas City, Missouri. In this photograph, the employees are working entirely by daylight.

Genre: 
Photographs

Photograph of the hospital room at The Donnelly Garment Company in the Corrigan Building at 1828 Walnut, Kansas City, Missouri. A trained nurse is in charge of the facility and administers first aid or recommends respite in the rest room.

Genre: 
Photographs

Photograph of protestors at a sit-in on March 17, 1937 by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. This image was captured inside 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. This photograph was taken by Kansas City Journal-Post newspaper photographer George Cauthen.

Genre: 
Miscellaneous Documents

Supplemental Agreement provided in the agreement of May 27, 1937 between the Donnelly Garment Workers' Union and the Donnelly Garment Company at 1828 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Missouri. This supplement defines paid holidays, equal benefits amongst employees, and other agreements.

Genre: 
Miscellaneous Documents

A bar graphs displaying the maximum hours worked per week in the dress industry from 1913 to 1939. The 'x' axis charts the year and the 'y' axis charts maximum hours worked. The graph shows a gradual decline in maximum hours worked over time.

Genre: 
Miscellaneous Documents

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. Van Valkenburgh and District Judges Albert F. Reeves and Merrill E. Otis, lists 20 facts found during the case and 29 conclusions of law.

Pages

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
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