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The Arthur and Elizabeth

SCHLESINGER LIBRARY

on the History of Women

in America



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Making a Dozen Alike



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A SEASONAL
INDUSTRY

A STUDY OF THE MILLINERY
TRADE IN NEW YORK



BY
MARY VAN KLEECK

DIRECTOR DIVISION OF INDUSTRIAL STUDIES
RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION



NEW YORK

RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION

MCMXVII

P.



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o/;7

Copyright, 191 7, by
The Russell Sage Foundation



WM • F. FBLL CO • PRINTERS
PHILADELPHIA



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TABLE OF CONTENTS

^ PAGB

List of Illustrations . . v

List of Tables . vii

Introduction i

I. The Significance of the Trade 25

II. Facts about the Trade 33

III. The Workers 59

IV. The Seasons -70

V. Wages and Work Conditions 104

VI. Learning the Trade 144

VII. Public Control in the Millinery Trade . . .166

SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT ON STATISTICS OF
SEASONS AND WAGES

I. The Seasons 197

II. Wages 205

APPENDICES

A. Record Cards Used in the Investigation . . . 237

B. Notes on Wages of Straw-braid Sewers . . . 248

C. Wages in Millinery Workrooms of Department Stores

in New York City and in Eight Up-State Cities . 250

D. The Wages Board for Milliners in Victoria. . . 254

Index 265



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Photographs by Lewis W. Hine

FACING
PAGE

Making a Dozen Alike Frontispiece

A"Puller-in"atWork 8

A " Fuller-in " for a Division Street Shop .... 8

Rear Windows of a Workroom on Division Street . . 34

Millinery on Division Street 34

Some Branches of the Millinery Trade .... 42

Packing Hats 42

A Small Retail Shop 48

Copyists in a Broadway Wholesale Shop .... 48

Working on a Balcony Above the Store .... 60

At the Height of the Season 80

In a Retail Shop 106

A Crowded Workroom on Broadway 126

Busy Season in a Third Avenue Shop . .126

Practicing for Home Work for a Wholesale Shop . . 142

Open Evenings 142

Forewoman Criticizing Work 146

Training an Apprentice 152

A Millinery Class in a Public Evening School . . .160
Making Hats for the Wholesale Trade . . .160



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LIST OF TABLES

TABLE PAGB

i: Number of shops included in the payroll investigation, maxi-
mum force of women employed in the hat trimming de-
partments, and number of records secured, by branch of
the trade ii

2. Sources of names of women milliners interviewed at home,

October, 191 1, to August, 19 1 4 20

3. Location of millinery establishments investigated, by branch

of the trade 35

4. Designation of occupations of women employed in one retail

millinery establishment, February 2, 1 9 14 \ . -45

5. Designation of occupations of women employed in one whole-

sale millinery establishment, February 7, 19 14 ... 48

6. Occupations of women employed in 29 retail and 27 whole-

sale millinery establishments, as shown by current payroll.
1914 50

7. Nativity of women employed in retail and wholesale milli-

nery establishments, as shown by current payroll. 19 14 66

8. Time of year when the maximum force of women was em-

ployed in retail, retail-wholesale, and wholesale establish-
ments. 1913 78

9. Weeks of employment of maximum force of women in retail,

retail-wholesale, and wholesale millinery establishments.
1913 79

10. Weeks on payroll, in one position lasting more than one week

during the year 191 3, by occupations, for women em-
ployed in millinery establishments 82

11. Years employed in present establishment and years of ex-

perience in the trade, for women employed in millinery
establishments in New York City, as shown by current
payroll. 1914 85

12. Years 50 millinery establishments had been in business and

maximum force of women employed. 19 13 . . .86

13. Weeks millinery workers interviewed at home were employed

in millinery during year previous to investigation . . 89

14. Time out of employment and total time for which pay was

lost, in millinery and in subsidiary occupations, during
year previous to investigation, by millinery workers inter-
viewed at home 90

vii



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LIST OF TABLES

TABLB PAGE

15. Experience in different branches of the trade for millinery

workers interviewed at home 92

16. Subsidiary work in which 79 millinery workers interviewed

at home have been employed since entering the millinery
trade 94

17. Duration of employment of women in five leading millinery

establishments in New York City, for the calendar year
1913 102

18. Actual weekly earnings of women employed in millinery

establishments, department stores, paper box factories,
and candy factories in New York City, 19 13, compared by
cumulative percentages in

19. Median weekly rates of wages and earnings, by years in the

trade, for women employed in millineiy, as shown by cur-
rent payroll, 1914 113

20. Average weekly earnings during period of employment for

women employed in any one millinery establishment for
more than one week during the calendar year 1 9 1 3 . .117

2 1 . Incomes in past year, by weekly wages in present or last posi-

tion, for millinery workers interviewed at home. . .123

22. Average weekly earnings in single establishments during the

calendar year 19 13, for women employed in five leading
millinery establishments in New York City . .139

23. Weekly hours of work in millinery establishments investi-

gated in payroll study and maximum number of women
employed. 1913 140

24. First weekly wages received in retail or wholesale millinery

establishments by workers interviewed at home. . .150

25. Age at leaving school of millinery workers interviewed at

home 153

26. Last day school attended by millinery workers interviewed

at home 1 54

27. Grade at leaving school for millinery workers who last

attended day school in a New York City public school . 1 54

28. Median weekly wage rates, by age at beginning work and

years since beginning work, for millinery week workers on
current payroll. 1914 . 163

29. Number of women employed and total wages paid in retail,

retail-wholesale, and wholesale millinery establishments
in each week of the year 1913 199

30. Actual annual wages paid in the year 19 13, and estimated

annual wages for a year of 52 maximum weeks, in 40 re-
tail, retail wholesale, and wholesale millinery establish-
ments in New York City 200

viii



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LIST OF TABLES

TABLE PAGE

31. Maximum, minimum, and average number of women em-

ployed in any one week, and maximum, minimuqi, and
average amount of wages paid in any one week during the
calendar year 19 13, in 40 retail, retail-wholesale, and whole-
sale millinery establishments 201

32. Weeks that women were on the annual payroll of a single

millinery establishment in the calendar year 19 13, by main
branches of the trade 303

33. Weekly rates of wages for women week workers employed in

retail and wholesale millinery establishments, as shown by
current payroll. 1914 206

34. Actual earnings during one week for women piece and week

workers employed in retail and wholesale millinery estab-
lishments, as shown by current payroll. 1914 . . 207

35. Weekly rates of wages, by years in the trade, for women week

workers employed in millinery establishments, as shown by
current payroll. 1914 208

36A. Actual earnings during one week, by years in the trade, for
women week workers employed in millinery establish-
ments, as shown by current payroll. I 9 14. . .210

36B. Actual earnings during one week, by years in the trade, for
women piece workers employed in millinery establish-
ments, as shown by current payroll. 19 14. . .211

37. Weekly rates of wages, by ages, for women week workers

employed in millinery establishments, as shown by current
payroll. 1914 213

38. Actual earnings during one week, by ages, for women piece

and week workers employed in millinery establishments,
as shown by current payroll. 1914 214

39. Weekly rates of wages, by occupations, for women week

workers employed in millinery establishments, as shown
by current payroll. 1914 215

40. Actual earnings during one week, by occupations, for women

piece and week workers employed in millinery establish-
ments, as shown by current payroll. 1914 . . . .216

41. Actual earnings during one week, by years in the present

establishment, for women piece and week workers em-
ployed in millinery establishments, as shown by current
payroll. 1914 218

42. Average weekly earnings during period of employment, by

occupations, for women employed in any one millinery
establishment for more than one week in the calendar year

1913 220

ix



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LIST OF TABLES

TABLE PAGB

43. Average weekly earnings during period of employment, by

number of weeks on the payroll during this period, for
women employed in any one millinery establishment for
more than one week in the calendar year 19 1 3 . . . 32 1

44. Total earnings during period of employment, by occupa-

tions, for women employed in any one millinery estab-
lishment for more than one week in the calendar year 19 13 323

45. Total earnings during period of employment, by main

branches of the trade and by number of weeks on the pay-
roll, for women employed in any one millinery establish-
ment for more than one week on the calendar year 19 13 . 224

46. Usual weekly earnings in present or last position, by years

in the trade, for millinery workers interviewed at home . 236

47. Incomes in past year, by number of weeks employed during

year, for millinery workers interviewed at home . . . 337

48. Average weekly earnings during period of employment of

women employed in any one millinery establishment for
more than one week in the calendar year 19 13, for in-
dividual wholesale, retail-wholesale, and retail establish-
ments 338

49. Median average weekly earnings in 40 millinery establish-

ments, by weekly hours of labor 33 1

50A. Weekly wage rates paid to millinery week workers on cur-
rent payroll, 19 14, who began work under 16 years of age,

by years since beginning work 333

50B. Weekly wage rates paid to millinery week workers on cur-
rent payroll, 19 14, who began work at 16 years of age or
over, by years since beginning work 333



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INTRODUCTION
SCOPE AND METHOD OF INVESTIGATION

UNIQUE opportunities were offered in two
separate inquiries to secure the data pre-
sented in this volume. While the periods
somewhat overlapped and many of the shops and
a number of the workers appeared in both inquiries,
the distinct angle of approach of each and the co-
ordination of methods enabled us to check up the
facts gained on wages, seasons, and conditions in
the trade. Such a checking of data tends to min-
imize the ever-present dangers of inaccuracy which
are all the more real in an investigation of a
disorganized, fluctuating, and seasonal occupation
like millinery. Even the layman with scant
knowledge of the mysteries of the craft would agree
that to attempt to classify and tabulate facts re-
lated to women's hats and to dignify the process
by the name of industrial research is a bold under-
taking. It is the more important, therefore, to de-
scribe somewhat in detail the character and
methods of our studies and to give clearly the
reasons for our confidence in the results, presented
not as a contribution to the literature of fashion,
but as a sober study of conditions more or less
common to all industries characterized by seasonal
fluctuations in employment.



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A SEASONAL INDUSTRY

The most important of these two inquiries was
that conducted in co-operation with the Factory
Investigating Commission of New York. Organ-
ized first in 191 1 to study safety and sanitation in
factories with a view to preventing the recurrence
of such terrible disasters as the Triangle fire, which
resulted in the deaths of 147 girls and women, the
commission was authorized by the legislature of
191 3 to make a study of wages in the state, and,
if deemed necessary, to recommend some method
of insuring adequate earnings for the workers who
are now receiving less than the minimum sum
necessary for healthful living. Evidently to the
minds of the legislators and the constituents whom
they represented, low pay was a menace to health
and safety, quite as real as the danger from fire,
and quite as logically an object of the attention
of the commission. Obviously, it was impossible
for the state's investigators to study all occupa-
tions. They selected four as likely to reveal the
need for action — candy making, paper box making,
the manufacture of men's shirts, and employment
in department stores. As the Russell Sage Foun-
dation had already begun an investigation of the
millinery trade on its own behalf, but had not had
access to any payrolls, it was agreed that the staff
of the Committee on Women's Work acting with
the commission and without expense to the state,
should undertake to secure these wage data from
millinery shops, following the same methods and
using the same record forms as had been adopted



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SCOPE AND METHOD OF INVESTIGATION

in the other studies then being made by the com-
mission. The examination of these payrolls was
conducted during January and February of 19 14,
and the results were embodied in a' report pub-
lished by the cpmmission in the autumn of 1914.*
It was then arranged that the material could be
used by the Russell Sage Foundation as part of
its larger study of the millinery industry.

This larger study had been begun as early as
1908, when the Committee on Women's Work, then
a department of the Alliance Employment Bureau,
was conducting investigations financed by the
Russell Sage Foundation but not yet part of the ac-
tivities of the Foundation. The Alliance Employ-
ment Bureau was a philanthropic agency which
found positions for girls and boys in factories and
offices. At one time the bureau had charge of
placing all graduates of the Manhattan Trade
School for Girls, and it was at the request of the
school that a preliminary study of the millinery
trade was undertaken by the bureau's investi-
gators.f

The purpose of this preliminary study was prac-
tical and immediate, to find out for the school how



* Wapes in the Millinery Trade. New York State Factory In-
vestigating Commission, 19 14. Incorporated also as Part VII of
Appendix IV of the Fourth Report of the New York State Factory
Investigating Commission, 191 5.

t These later became the investigators for the Committee on
Women's Work. They were Miss Alice P. Barrows, who was in
direct charge of this investigation under the supervision of the pres-
ent writer, and Miss Louise C. Odencrantz, who took an active part
in the field work as well as handling the compilation of statistic^.

3



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A SEASONAL INDUSTRY

the graduates of its millinery classes fared in trade,
and, in particular, whether seasonal conditions
made the earning of a livelihood so precarious that
the majority of the girls applying at the school
should be discouraged from aspiring to be milliners.
Such a question required very careful inquiry into
trade conditions, not only including seasons, but
wages, hours, processes of work, opportunities
for learners, and chances for advancement ; and
information was sought not only from the
girls already trained in the Manhattan Trade
School, but from the graduates of other trade
or technical schools,* from milliners who had
learned in a shop and not in a class, and from
employers who had or had not employed trade
school girls.

Reports were made to the school from time to
time on the basis of which changes were inaugu-
rated, especially the adoption of the policy of
giving applicants for training in millinery a full
account of the conditions which they would en-
counter, and advising those who must be pre-
pared as speedily as possible to earn a living to
choose another occupation.f

* These included the Clara de Hirsch Home, Pratt Institute, the
Hebrew Technical School for Girls, the McDowell School, the milli-
nery classes of the public evening and summer schools, of the Young
Women's Christian Association, of the Educational Alliance, and of
Warren Goddard House, the Paris and Elite millinery schools, and
several private classes.

t Later, a class in lampshade making was organized for girls in the
millinery course in the hope that it might prove a feasible means of
earning money in slack season. Aside from this practical use of the
information by the school in its plan of training and by the bureau in

4



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SCOPE AND METHOD OF INVESTIGATION

During that early period we realized that a
thorough study of so variable and irregular a
trade would require a larger amount of field work
than we had yet accomplished, and especially some
authoritative data from payrolls. The interviews
with the workers and employers were continued
in 19 II and 19 12, concurrently with investigations
of other trades, and in 19 14, as has been already
explained, the opportunity to study payrolls was
secured through the Factory Investigating Com-
mission * In planning this payroll study we rec-
ognized that, because of the seasonal character of
the trade, the facts needed in a legislative inquiry
concerning the income of the workers were not the
rates of wages in a selected week but the earnings
week by week throughout the year, and the
changes in the size of the force and the total pay-
roll from season to season. We proposed, therefore,
to make an intensive study of a few typical shops
rather than a cursory inquiry into a larger number.

In a trade in which conditions and standards
vary as widely as they do in millinery it was impor-
tant to select a group of shops which should con-
tain in miniature, as it were, all the diversity of
type found in the trade itself. As the chemist can

its placement work, the results of the preliminary inquiry were pub-
lished in two comparatively brief articles: —

Barrows, Alice P., and Van Kleeck, Mary: How Girls Learn the
Millinery Trade. The Survey, XXIV: 105-113 (April 16, 1910).

Barrows, Alice P.: The Training of Millinery Workers. Proceed-
ings of Academy of Political Science (October, 19 10).

* In tabulating the final statistics no records secured prior to Oc-
tober, 191 1, were used.

5



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A SEASONAL INDUSTRY

determine the composition of the whole body of
water in a reservoir by analyzing a small sample,
so the investigator of industry may legitimately
portray all the essential facts in a trade by inten-
sive study of a small group, provided the group be
wisely selected. In this investigation, as will be
shown later, we were able to cover a large enough
proportion of the trade to justify confidence in the
results. Both chance and discretion were factors
in our selection. We first made a card catalogue
of the millinery shops in Manhattan* listed in the
industrial directory of the New York State De-
partment of Labor, arranged the cards by streets
and numbers, and drew out every fifth card. The
names and addresses of these were then compared
with the records of our previous investigation and,
by a process of selection and substitution, a list
of about 75 establishments was finally prepared.
Our investigators soon discovered that the small
neighborhood shops of the Third Avenue type
must be eliminated because no payroll records
were kept in them. This very practical difficulty
resulted, of course, in limiting our study to those
establishments which are large enough and suffi-
ciently well organized to keep wage records, so
that in the end our list was reduced to 57.t

The group which we investigated included large
and fashionable establishments on Fifth Avenue,

* For the reasons for selecting the borough of Manhattan instead
of the entire city, see discussion of the trade on pp. 54-55.

t For the number of records secured from these, see Table i, p. 10.
6



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SCOPE AND METHOD OF INVESTIGATION

aspiring shops on the side streets as close as pos-
sible to the highway of fashionable trade but
not yet fully "arrived," less ambitious firms on
streets and avenues farther removed from the
leaders of the industry, small shops on Third Ave-
nue, big supply houses on lower Broadway, and
the wholesale establishments which have moved
uptown (portending a general northward move for
wholesale millinery as for other industries on Man-
hattan Island); the more humble wholesale factory
on Division Street, which ships its cheap products
to Texas and other distant states, and on the same
block the typical Division Street retail shop with
its unique method of soliciting custom by station-
ing on the sidewalk a "puller-in," a stalwart
woman who seizes passersby and drags them into
the store, there to be dealt with by an equally im-
portunate saleswoman.

In reality, we have three distinct methods of
classifying millinery shops: first, as to method of
selling, that is, as wholesale or retail; second, as to
location, with differences so marked in different
sections of the city as to make the name of the
street. Fifth Avenue, Third Avenue, Grand Street,
Division Street, or Broadway, a descriptive ad-
jective conveying to any one familiar with these
localities a distinct impression of the kind of milli-
nery to be found there; and third, as to grade of
hat made, with dozens all alike of the so-called


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