By Walter D. Ray and Paul Skonberg
ID: 4/2/PP 35
Extent: 7.0 Boxes. More info below.
Arrangement: Arranged chronologically and by type.
Date Acquired: 00/00/1967. More info below under Accruals.
The International Ladies' Garment Workers Union was formed in 1900 with a mainly Jewish immigrant membership. The ILGWU was able, with effective strikes in New York in 1909 to secure higher wages and shorter hours. Under the leadership of David Dubinsky (president 1932 - 66), the union grew from 45,000 members to almost half a million. In 1934, Dubinsky sent Meyer Perlstein to organize the Southwestern Region with headquarters in St. Louis. By 1939 there were about nine locals in this region, from Minneapolis to San Antonio.
The Educational Department of the Southwest Region was organized in November 1935 under the direction of Doris Preisler (later, Wheeler). In addition to newcomer classes and classes in labor history, the Educational Department arranged classes in music, dance, drama and literature. In 1936, the department initiated the production of a pageant, "Surging Forward," a celebration of the labor movement that was performed at the St. Louis Municipal Auditorium and the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium and involved over 200 ILGWU members. The department would stage other productions through the years. It also published newsletters, provided recreational opportunities for members, and regularly hosted visits by foreign labor leaders. In the post-World War II years, the Educational Department was involved in organizing housing cooperatives in St. Louis and Dallas. Beginning in 1948, the department began organizing one-day institutes, educational opportunities for members held at colleges and universities throughout the region. The first such institute was held at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Access Restrictions: Unrestricted access.
Use Restrictions: To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the rese3acher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in thus collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.
Acquisition Source: Doris Wheeler
Acquisition Method: The bulk of the records were donated in 1967 by Doris (Preisler) Wheeler, the first educationsl director of the ILGWU Southwestern Region.
The official repostiory for the International Ladies Garment Workers records are located at the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library, collection 5780.
The personal papers of Rita Oberbeck, director of the ILGWU Southwestern Regional Office Educational Department (retired, 1970) are located in the Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, University of Missouri-St. Louis: sl 198 Rita Oberbeck (1908-1983) papers.
A collection of labor songbooks compiled by Doris (Preisler) Wheeler, first director of the ILGWU Southwestern Region Educational Department, can be found in the American Federation of Teachers Personal Collections, Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University, Detroit.
Preferred Citation: International Ladies Garment Workers' Union Southwestern Region Educational Department records, Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Finding Aid Revision History: The records were reboxed, refoldered and redescribed in April 2009. Material from a second accession that had been processed as a separate collection was incorporated into the original collection, but no substantial rearrangement was made.
Other Note: Old MS 119, combined with old MS 003