Creating Unity

Improving the Lives of Working Americans

Yours faithfully for humanity,” Samuel Gompers signed an autograph card during his tenure with the American Federation of Labor, which he helped to found in 1886. Jewish American activists helped to improve the daily lives of working Americans. They responded to disasters of national significance — such as the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire — and worked to standardize fair practices between employers and employees.

Several noteworthy groups were active in the struggle for workers’ rights both at home and abroad. The Jewish Americans who participated in what they envisioned as an international struggle were perhaps influenced by their membership in a diasporic group. They felt connected to the struggles of their fellow Jews living in other lands.

Cooperation among organizations helped to lengthen their reach. The United Hebrew Trades came together with the leaders of the Workmen’s Circle and the Bund in 1934 to respond to the rise of Nazism in Germany. They formed the Jewish Labor Committee, generously giving time and support. The Workmen’s Circle (founded in 1892) was concerned with supporting labor and socialist movements around the world.

Other organizations, such as the Educational Alliance, focused their efforts on bettering the lives of immigrants to the U.S. through classes and lectures. Leadership of the Educational Alliance was initially against offering courses in Yiddish. However, with the growing number of immigrants who spoke only Yiddish, the organization began to offer classes in American history that were taught in the language that people could understand. Like many other Jewish organizations, the Educational Alliance adapted to the needs of the people that it served.

  • Striking for Life: Labor’s Side of the Labor Question with articles specially contributed by Samuel Gompers. Published by the American Manufacturing and Publishing Co.

    1894

  • "Souvenir Book of the Fair in Aid of the Educational Alliance and Hebrew Technical Institute."

    1895

  • Samuel Gompers’s signature card, inscribed “faithfully yours for humanity.”

    1904

  • The Rise of the Clothing Workers, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the first in a series of educational pamphlets published by the organization.

    1921

  • Letter from Julius Rosenwald to Philip L. Seman, director of the Chicago Hebrew Institute, in which they discuss the resignation of President Jacob Loeb. The Institute promoted the welfare of Jewish immigrants and residents.

    1922

  • Letter from Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, regarding the German Trade Union movement.

    1923

  • Landsmanshaftn journal of the Homler Progressive Verein Branch 20 of the Workmen’s Circle.

    1927

  • Educational Alliance pamphlet.

    1928

  • Workmen’s Circle Camp souvenir book.

    1930

  • New York Educational Alliance publication on how to become a U.S. citizen.

    Early 20th century

  • United States map (date and provenance unknown) perhaps used by Educational Alliance in citizenship classes.

    Early 20th century

  • Buffalo Hebrew School notice encouraging those preparing for Passover to buy certain brands of matzah to help support the school.

    Early-20th-century

  • Landsmanshaftn journal of the Lodzer Young Men’s Benevolent Society.

    1932

  • Toronto Cloakmakers’ Union silver jubliee journal.The union was affiliated with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU)

    1936

  • Jubilee anniversary journal of the Greater New York Coat Makers’ Local 25.

    1937

  • Landsmanshaftn journal of the Pinker Fur Workers.

    1938

  • General activities and finance reports from the “United cloak, suit, infants & children coat operators & sample makers union,” Local 117, which was affiliated with the ILGWU.

    1944

  • General activities and finance reports from the “United cloak, suit, infants & children coat operators & sample makers union,” Local 117, which was affiliated with the ILGWU.

    1944

  • "The Jewish Labor Committee in action …at home and abroad!," a Jewish Labor Committee publication.

    20th century

  • "Facts and Opinions," a Jewish Labor Committee publication.

    1951

  • “Health Security by Union Action” report on the Sidney Hillman Health Center produced by the New York Joint Board Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

    1952

  • "Jewish Labor Fights Communism," a Jewish Labor Committee publication.

    20th century

  • Admission ticket to an event honoring Union President David Dubinksy.

    1957

  • Landsmanshaftn journal of the Followers of Odessa.

    1959

  • “Introducing Your Union” pamphlet produced by the International Ladies’Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU).

    Mid-20th century

  • “It’s Fun to be in the Union, and Good, Too” welcome pamphlet for new members of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

    Mid-20th century

  • Cartoons in “It’s Fun to be in the Union, and Good, Too” pamphlet by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.

    Mid-20th century

  • Cutters’ Local 10 Union calendar. The Cutters’ Local 10 was affiliated with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU).

    1962

  • Spanish-language pamphlet on the “Structure and Function” of the union, including changes in membership and role. International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (LGWU).

    Mid-20th century

  • First Tarnigroder Society notice of an emergency meeting just days before the Six-Day War.

    June 1st, 1967

  • Education and action pamphlet about Soviet antisemitism produced and distributed by the Workmen’s Circle.

    20th century

  • Title page of a book showcasing the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’Union (ILGWU) Health Services.

    Mid-20th century

  • "Jewish Labor Hits Soviet Anti-Semitism," a Jewish Labor Committee publication.

    20th century

  • Richard Schwartz, garment industry business executive, speaks on the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, its political connections and the impact on the Garment industry.

    2000


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