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The Revolutionary and Gendered Origins of Garment Workers’ Education, 1909–1918

The Revolutionary and Gendered Origins of Garment Workers’ Education, 1909–1918

Chapter:
(p.46) 2 The Revolutionary and Gendered Origins of Garment Workers’ Education, 1909–1918
Source:
All Together Different
Author(s):
Daniel Katz
Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814748367.003.0002

This chapter explains how the experiences of young Jewish women, many of whom fled Russia after the failed 1905 revolution, forged a particularly militant sensibility that led to the surge of union building at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century and through the second. It also explores how the evolving International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) union structure provoked competition between local union autonomy and international authority. The tensions generated by these struggles played out along gender lines and involved control over educational and social institutions. Female activists who designed their educational programs in the militant local unions they helped to build were at odds with most of the male leaders, who typically regarded women as second-class union members and a threat to their personal power. Even the more enlightened leaders of the union, who welcomed and encouraged women's participation and low-level leadership, were suspicious of women's assertions of power at its upper levels.

Keywords:   young Jewish women, Russian Jews, Jewish immigrants, radicalism, unionism, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, ILGWU

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