Labor and the Progressive Movement in New York State, 1897-1916

By Irwin Yellowitz | Go to book overview

IV
Membership, Methods, and Problems of the Social Progressives

ALTHOUGH increasing public support provided the impetus for social Progressive legislation, most of the reform organizations depended upon a small group of wealthy patricians, professional men, and social workers for their financial support and leadership. Wealthy women, including some from New York City society, were indispensable to the financing and staffing of the Consumers' League.1 There was only one labor member on the governing board of the National Child Labor Committee in 1905, and by 1907 his name had disappeared. The Committee's leading members included many wealthy men from business and banking, as well as professional men and social workers.2 The New York Women's Trade Union League had substantial support from wealthy contributors. Mary Dreier, who led the League until 1913, and made vital contributions to it thereafter, came from a wealthy, socially established family; many of the other "allies" were also women of leisure.3 During the shirtwaist strike of 1909, several of the League's most active workers were socially prominent young women from Vassar College. Some of

____________________
1
New York Evening Journal, Dec. 12, 1898, p. 6. Also see the annual reports of the New York City League.
2
National Child Labor Committee, Leaflets, Nos. 1 and 9.
3
Women's Trade Union League of New York, Annual Report, 1906- 1907, p. 14; 1907- 1908, p. 15; Stevens, Typographical Union, p. 612.

-71-

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