Partners in Progress: The Affiliated Schools for Women Workers, 1928–1939
Marion W. Roydhouse
The Affiliated Schools for Women Workers was organized in 1928 as the coordinating body for workers’ education programs for women. At that time, the progressive impulse for reform was still alive, and there were energetic groups of labor advocates struggling to found and fund workers’ schools for women. Together they formed an innovative institution that established a network of women who shared ideas and hopes and gave each other much-needed emotional support.
The formal history of the organization shows a shift in focus through the 1920s and 1930s from an emphasis on individual and local solutions to an emphasis on national policies and more centralized responses to the needs of workers. This shift reflected reactions to an increasingly complex industrial society and the expanded purview of the federal government with the New Deal. The history of the Affiliated Schools also illustrates the nature of individual and collaborative efforts of middle- and working-class women to improve the work experience of women workers and to increase their participation in the public sphere.
The most important aspect of the Affiliated Schools was the informal exchange of information and the support provided for the task of building a workers’ education movement focused on the needs of women workers. Such a focus was not found in the wider movement and was not provided to women by the American Federation of Labor’s (AFL) official labor education organization, the Workers’ Education Bureau. The Affiliated Schools, then, filled a vacuum in the 1920s and later provided needed resources for the rejuvenated labor movement in the 1930s. Innovative in both form and goals, the Affiliated Schools served initially as a central coordinating body and a clearinghouse for information about faculty, students, and teaching methods, with the major goal of creating a long-lasting coalition for support among its members. The Affiliated Schools’ main focus was to reduce overlapping fund-raising drives and recruitment efforts and to help schools exchange information, investigate joint problems, and evaluate experimental teaching methods. Between 1928 and 1938, the Affiliated Schools became an integral part of the movement serving women workers; after 1938, reorganized as the American Labor Education Service, (ALES), the organization sponsored annual conferences for teachers in workers’ education and served both women and men in AFL and Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) unions across the country.1
The first suggestion for a central body to coordinate workers’ schools for women came from the director of the Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers, Hilda Smith, in 1926. The Bryn Mawr Summer School had been in existence since 1921; in 1925 the Wisconsin Summer School had begun, and the Barnard Summer School and the Southern Summer School were being organized. During 1926, Hilda Smith developed a proposal that addressed some of the problems she believed would arise as the number of residential schools for women workers continued to increase. The most pressing of these problems was the financial threat that overlapping fund-raising drives posed to those schools not yet on a steady financial footing and even to established programs like the one at Bryn Mawr, which faced new competition for limited monetary resources. The development of workers’ schools for women was a “pioneer field,” as Louise Leonard McLaren, director of the newly organized Southern Summer School, termed it, and there was a need to join forces in the face of financial difficulties and to create coalitions for support. There was sufficient interest in this idea for Hilda Smith to schedule a series of meetings during 1928 to discuss the development of such an organization.2
Out of these meetings came plans for the Resident Summer Schools for Women Workers in Industry, soon referred to as the Affiliated Summer Schools for Women Workers. After some discussion of an overarching central body, it was agreed that each school would remain autonomous and not delegate decisions on finances or policy. Member schools were reluctant to relinquish decisions on policymaking to a central body, especially when it became clear that Bryn Mawr would be the dominant partner in the coalition. Due in part to Hilda Smith’s role in the formation of the first joint committee and her position as the first executive secretary of the Resident Schools for Women Workers, Bryn Mawr’s predominance was also a result of the financial structure of the new organization. Funds raised by the Bryn Mawr Summer School were to be shared with the joint committee and used for both organizations.
By establishing a centralized committee, the founders of the Affiliated Schools created a new approach to solving their common problems. It took several years, however, for the organization to take shape. In its original form, the Affiliated Schools comprised two main committees, the education committee and the finance committee, and the organization was much less elaborate than Hilda Smith had envisioned. In the years between 1928 and 1932, the Affiliated Schools’ patterns of fund raising and recruiting were set by the Bryn Mawr Summer School. In many ways, coordinating efforts prior to the organization’s first reorganization in 1932 emphasized the winter fieldwork needs of the Bryn Mawr Summer School, and the work of the other member schools was given lower priority.
The first constitution of the Affiliated Schools, drawn up in December 1928, reflected the influence of Bryn Mawr and a focus on the fund-raising and recruiting role of college alumnae that differentiated Bryn Mawr from the independent schools, such as the Southern Summer School. The constitution defined the organization’s purpose: “to extend educational opportunities to women workers in industry, by means of Summer Schools made possible through the use of college buildings and equipment and carried on through the cooperation of college alumnae and women workers in industry.”3
The evolution of the Affiliated Schools can be traced through changes in its formal organization and also through the interplay of the different philosophical and organizational perspectives of the women who shaped the educational programs for women workers at that time. The Affiliated Schools reflected diverse constituencies, and member institutions had difficulty in agreeing on common policies and procedures. One of the essential debates was over the question of curricular focus for the schools for women workers. Bryn Mawr, because of its academic orientation, placed proportionately greater emphasis on science and cultural endeavors and favored an education that was broad in scope. Other schools, such as the Barnard Summer School and the Southern Summer School, served populations of students limited to a certain geographical area and often workers within specific industries. Rather than including courses in science and English literature, they emphasized economics and labor history and organizing techniques designed to meet the immediate needs of their students.
One of the primary contributions of the Affiliated Schools was to provide an effective educational support system for these individual schools. The first three schools for women workers to coordinate their activities were the Bryn Mawr Summer School, the Wisconsin Summer School, and the Barnard Summer School. After 1932, three other organizations became formally allied under the Affiliated Schools’ banner: the Vineyard Shore Workers’ School, the Southern Summer School, and the Summer School for Office Workers.
The Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers was the first and most college-oriented of the workers’ schools for women. Held for sixteen years on the campus of the prestigious women’s school outside Philadelphia, the Bryn Mawr Summer School was founded by President M. Carey Thomas immediately before her retirement in 1922. With the assistance of the Dean of the college, Hilda Smith, and Professor Susan M. Kingsbury, director of the Bryn Mawr Carola Woerishoffer Graduate Department of Social Economy and Social Research, Thomas opened the doors of the college to women workers recruited from across the country. One hundred women came to the college each summer, supported by funds raised primarily by Bryn Mawr alumnae, after being selected from their local YWCA industrial club or trade union. At the summer school women industrial workers studied a variety of subjects from astronomy to English literature and from economics to public speaking.
As the Bryn Mawr Summer School developed closer ties to the labor movement, especially after the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1935, alumnae support began to wane, and the summer school’s relationship to Bryn Mawr College grew strained. In 1935 and 1936. the summer school met in the Ramapo Mountains because of disagreements with college authorities over participation in local labor disputes. After 1939, and a permanent breach with Bryn Mawr College, the summer school moved to Hilda Smith’s family home at West Park on the Hudson River, above New York City. Renamed the Hudson Shore Labor School, it operated as a coeducational resident school for workers until 1952.4
The Wisconsin School for Women Workers in Industry, the first residential program at a state-supported university, developed from the Industrial Department of the Madison YWCA. In 1924, the local YWCA organized discussions of labor problems attended by college students and working women. The following summer forty women workers from nine midwestern states were recruited through the YWCA Industrial Department to participate in the first eight-week residential program, planned by a committee of university faculty and students, women workers, and YWCA staff members. Alice Shoemaker, YWCA secretary in Madison, who had taught at the Bryn Mawr Summer School, became the first executive secretary. By 1928 the Wisconsin School had become the Wisconsin School for Workers, a coeducational school for workers at the University of Wisconsin.5
The Barnard Summer School, a nonresidential program, included women workers primarily from the garment industry in New York City. National Women’s Trade Union League (NWTUL) activists, Hilda Smith and her assistant Ernestine Friedmann, a former YWCA Industrial Department secretary, persuaded Dean Gildersleeve of Barnard College to open the college facilities for an experimental school for women workers in 1927. This school geared its curriculum to the needs of young immigrant workers, many of whom had trouble using English as a second language. The Barnard Summer School functioned effectively until 1934, when lack of support from the Barnard alumnae and the impact of the Depression caused the organization to fold.6
The Vineyard Shore Workers’ School, an eight-month residential program organized in 1929, joined the Affiliated Schools in 1933. Based on the conviction that workers’ education should give women more than just training for work in the labor movement, Vineyard Shore offered a cultural focus as well as the “nuts and bolts” of economics and English that was the staple of other resident schools. It was Hilda Smith’s demonstration project, designed as an answer to those within the movement for workers’ education who called for a narrower, more pragmatic focus to curricula for women workers.7
The Southern Summer School, which held its first session in 1927, at Sweet Briar College in the hills of Virginia, aimed to reach women workers in the textile and tobacco industries of the South. But after the first summer, the Southern Summer School chose not to continue a close relationship with one college, on the Bryn Mawr model, and met in subsequent years in different camps and school facilities in the mountains of North Carolina, closer to the heart of the southern textile industry. Summer sessions concentrating on the needs of southern women workers were held every year until 1938, when, under pressure from the labor movement, men were admitted.8
By the early 1930s it had become apparent that not only women in industry needed workers’ education programs—office workers did as well. The initial impetus for this idea came from the YWCA, which, through its Business Girls’ Clubs, supported by the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, dealt directly with the growing number of women in the white-collar work force. In the summer of 1933, a workers’ education session was held at Oberlin College, with Eleanor Coit of the Affiliated Schools’ Joint Committee sent to help run the school. Proving successful, the Summer School for Office Workers was repeated, first at Oberlin and then, after 1936, at Northwestern University. The Summer School for Office Workers, like the Wisconsin Summer School, began as an experiment in workers’ education for women, but by 1936 men were brought into the program. Initially men were in the minority, for in 1939 there were forty-four women and only sixteen men, but this balance shifted during the 1940s. In 1948, the summer school reoriented its program to accommodate the increasing number of white-collar workers, other than office workers, who were attending the sessions. After 1948, the summer sessions were called “White Collar Workshops.”9
Serving a diverse constituency of member schools, the Affiliated Schools became a center for the examination of teaching methods and the evaluation of the impact of schools on the lives of student participants in workers’ education programs. The Education Department was headed by Eleanor Coit, a former YWCA industrial secretary and proponent of pragmatic workers’ education programs geared to the specific needs of the students. She argued that in workers’ education the “‘campus’ is as broad as the area of interest of those who work. It is a campus without buildings, but with seats of learning where ever wage-earners are found.” Coit’s reports consistently echoed the need for curricula planned around “problems of concrete interest to the students.” As head of the Education Department, Coit encouraged the development of courses on topics such as unemployment, industrial legislation, or the history of trade unions. Furthermore, Coit concluded that the educational process in the summer schools was far more successful when students were actively engaged in asking questions, participating in discussions, investigating a particular problem in small groups, and then leading discussions on the material for the rest of the school.10
Because the lack of written resources useful for the adult worker-student handicapped instructors at the residential schools, the Education Department worked to prepare new manuals and pamphlets written specifically for women workers. The Affiliated Schools’ publications reflected the idea that workers needed easy-to-read texts that provided useful information in a clearly written format. Titles written under the auspices of the Affiliated Schools included: The Scrapbook of the American Labor Movement, by Gladys Palmer (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania); Your Job and Your Pay, by Katherine Pollak; This America, by Jean Carter; and Unemployment, a Problem of Insecurity, by William Haber. These materials met a special need for students in workers’ education programs and were widely used by those organizations belonging to the Affiliated Schools and numerous other worker groups both within and outside the labor movement.11
The Affiliated Schools conducted studies of student activities after they left the summer programs. Each school maintained its own network of former students, but the Affiliated Schools coordinated research on the impact of the schools on the lives of the students. In 1930, the Affiliated Schools facilitated a master’s thesis by Mildred Price (University of Chicago) on the effects of adult education. The Affiliated Schools also sponsored a study prepared by Gladys Palmer entitled The Industrial Experience of Women Workers at the Summer Schools, 1928–1930, published by the Women’s Bureau in 1931 (Bulletin 89); two economic surveys by Amy Hewes based on the industrial experiences of summer school students; and a cooperative study done in 1936 with Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds to examine the long-term effects of the residence programs. The last study concluded that the summer schools had a significant impact and that, although not all students became labor activists, a significant proportion did, and few students remained unchanged by their summer school experience. One of the last published studies sponsored by the Affiliated Schools was Eleanor Snyder’s Job Histories of Women Workers at the Summer Schools, 1931–34 and 1938. Issued by the Women’s Bureau in 1939, this work was hailed as one of the “increasingly useful studies of the experience of individual women workers” provided through “the initiative of the Affiliated Schools and the cooperation of the Women’s Bureau.”12
The staff of the Affiliated Schools maintained contact with former students, instructors, and supporters through correspondence, field visits, and regional conferences. Former summer school participants were encouraged to develop local workers’ education activities, based whenever possible in unions, universities, YWCAs, and other community organizations. In some cases, former participants in the summer schools formed workers’ education councils in their regions. By late 1931, many former summer school students were engaged in classes in over fifty cities. In some areas, former students were involved in promoting better working conditions for women, speaking on issues such as labor standards, unemployment insurance, and labor legislation.13
The activity of summer school alumnae furnishes the best evidence of the effectiveness both of the individual summer school programs and of the coordinating activities of the Affiliated Schools.14 Many summer school students became active in unions. Elizabeth Nord, for example, chaired a new WTUL committee in Rhode Island, Theresa Gold did “special work” for the Boot and Shoe Workers in Massachusetts, and Louise Guigno organized for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers in Scranton.
Despite the financial impact of the Depression on the individual programs and on the Affiliated Schools (one-third of whose funds were lost in a bank closing early in 1932), the work of the organization flourished as it developed effective means of communication between the residence schools for women.15 Board members and administrators from the schools shared ideas about fund raising, cooperated in finding capable teachers, and exchanged information about methods, materials, and curricula.
This cooperation, much of it carried out informally, was the core of the success of the Affiliated Schools. Louise Leonard McLaren and Hilda Smith shared a chocolate bar on the steps of a brownstone during a long day of knocking on doors; Lois MacDonald might meet either of them in Greenwich Village, where she had her apartment. Hilda heard of a vacant building for workers’ classes while traveling on the subway one morning when she met Mary Van Kleeck from College Settlement as they were both strap-hanging. Eleanor Coit, the Education Department director, Hilda Smith, former head of the Bryn Mawr Summer School, Theresa Wolfson, professor at Brooklyn College, and Lois MacDonald, teacher at the Southern Summer School and professor of economics at New York University, together formed the backbone for the organization’s daily work. Through a network in the New York City area, these women worked in coalition with working-class women like Josephine Kazcor, a graduate of Brookwood Labor College and an organizer for the United Textile Workers and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, and Carmen Lucia, a graduate of the Bryn Mawr Summer School and an organizer for the Neckwear Workers’ Union.16
The workers’ education movement had no single coherent focus or unifying institution in the United States, and substantial theoretical and pragmatic differences existed between groups in the movement. Given this situation, and the need for support among the women in the male-dominated labor movement, the ability of the Affiliated Schools to bring together a variety of approaches and sometimes disparate groups was remarkable.
Given a constant shortage of funds, the Affiliated Schools’ program of fieldwork, publications, coordination, and interpretation was a substantial achievement. But the issue of Bryn Mawr’s domination continued to be discussed. By 1932, reorganization of the central body was suggested. It was generally felt that the Bryn Mawr Summer School should be separated administratively from the joint body. The need to incorporate legally, in order to relieve board members of individual financial responsibility, also became apparent. In addition, the board members recognized that the organization was changing direction, shifting its emphasis from an exclusive focus on the needs of member schools to a more generalized education service provided to any organizations and groups interested in workers’ education for women.17
When the organization was incorporated officially in April 1932, the Affiliated Schools’ Executive and Joint Committees prepared a constitution that outlined a new direction: service to a constituency wider than the providers of residential summer programs. This change necessitated strong labor representation on the board and sufficient funds to expand the winter classes, preparatory classes for the residence schools, and the publication series. By November 1932, a new set of by-laws had been drawn up, but by then the problem of funding for the separate organization made further work seem tenuous. As the Joint Committee prepared in 1933 for the final separation from the Bryn Mawr budget, it tried to decide which projects of the Affiliated Schools were most needed. By winter, it looked as though the Affiliated Schools would be able to continue only for a few months into the next year. It seemed that the experiment would fail as a result of the economic climate in which the organization was struggling to function.18
Recalling that “for six months we had been seeing newspaper reports of federal funds, allocated by the government to relieve unemployment,” Hilda Smith went to Washington to attempt to raise money from both public and private sources. In the midst of the hectic activity of the first days of the New Deal no one could promise money for workers’ education, and she left without securing any additional funds. Then, as soon as she returned to New York, a telegram arrived from Washington inviting Smith to work with Harry Hopkins’s Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) in the Emergency Education Division. This division was to provide work for unemployed teachers by establishing widespread programs in adult and workers’ education. Hilda Smith hoped the Affiliated Schools would be called upon to provide the needed expertise and educational resources. With this in mind, she agreed to leave New York to join the New Deal, making what turned out to be a permanent move to Washington, D.C.19
Hilda Smith’s move to Washington meant her resignation from the Affiliated Schools and the beginning of a long career in government. For the organization it was also a new beginning. Eleanor Coit filled Smith’s place as director of the Affiliated Schools, and plans for cooperation with the FERA programs were anticipated. Support given to the Affiliated Schools in connection with FERA programs allowed for an expansion of the work of the organization, but led to a shift away from a primary commitment to the education of women workers.20
In 1933, the General Education Board of the Rockefeller Foundation gave the Affiliated Schools for Workers a grant of some $70,000, to be spread out over three years, which was intended to allow the organization to cooperate with the FERA programs. With the promise of additional funding, leaders and staff of the Affiliated Schools discussed ways in which the organization could cooperate with New Deal programs to develop workers’ education. Coit voiced the fear that the basic principles of the Affiliated Schools might be lost at the local level because “many school authorities interpret workers’ education programs somewhat differently from the Affiliated Schools, [and] there is a need of proceeding cautiously if the program is not to become one of general adult education.” Therefore, it was decided that the Affiliated Schools should support demonstration workers’ education projects in communities where local organizations, including labor unions, would ensure the continuation of the programs after funding from the General Education Board grant had ended.21
The grant money brought with it the expansion and redistribution of staff. The organization added personnel in New York and field staff to be lent to FERA projects. Louise Leonard McLaren agreed to work as a liaison with Hilda Smith in Washington and to investigate possibilities for projects in the South. Others were appointed to evaluate requests from other regions—Alice Shoemaker in the Midwest, Ernestine Friedmann in New York. In addition, the organization expanded its publication series and established a traveling library.22
The next several years were busy ones for the Affiliated Schools, which provided services for the FERA and the WPA workers’ education projects. The organization expanded its resources for specialists in workers’ education by the mid-1980s. Requests for materials and advice about teaching methods came in from such diverse union groups as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, the Federation of Federal Employees, the Railroad Equipment Painters, the Stationary Engineers, and the Boot and Shoe Workers. Teacher-training projects, college classes, the WTUL, and local adult education classes all asked the New York office on Second Avenue for assistance in program planning, curriculum development, and teaching resources. There was also a growing demand for resources from the traveling library.23
During these years, the Affiliated Schools’ staff attended two New Deal-sponsored (FERA) conferences in Washington, D.C.: the 1934 Conference on Workers’ Education, and, in the same year, the White House Conference on Unemployed Women.24 In order to train new teachers in workers’ education, the Affiliated Schools sponsored projects in Philadelphia and New York and supported teacher-training efforts undertaken in connection with workers’ summer schools and classes. The organization also continued to sponsor innovative approaches to teaching. For example, the labor dramatics program that Affiliated Schools field representative Hollace Ransdell had developed at the Southern Summer School was continued in workers’ education projects that she supervised in the textile centers of Rhode Island and the anthracite region of Pennsylvania. Jean Carter, who had taught at the Bryn Mawr Summer School, prepared a handbook in 1934 on methods of teaching for use with federal projects; Lois MacDonald wrote a pamphlet explaining the relationship between labor and the National Recovery Administration codes. Other publications discussing labor problems, teaching methods, and the work of the women’s summer schools were produced by the organization during the 1930s.25
The expansion of activities in connection with the New Deal workers’ education programs meant that the aim of the Affiliated Schools to promote new workers’ programs could be realized. In the summer of 1933 Eleanor Coit directed a new experimental school for white-collar workers at Oberlin College. Known as the Summer School for Office Workers, and founded with support from the YWCA and the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, this new residential school initially enrolled only women; after 1936, it admitted men.
Working in collaboration with the New Deal workers’ education programs changed the focus of the Affiliated Schools. The rapid organization of unions in the mass production industries created a demand for services in establishing workers’ education programs for members of new local unions. In 1936, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation coming to an end, the Affiliated Schools and each of the individual schools became more dependent on organized labor for financial support. Thus, from an organization focused solely on the needs of women workers and oriented to coordinating the work of independent residential workers’ schools, the Affiliated Schools redirected its services to meet the needs of women and men in the organized trade union movement.
In 1935, John Edelman, research director for the Hosiery Workers, joined the board of the Affiliated Schools and became its labor liaison with the press. In the same year, Carter Goodrich, professor of political science at Columbia University, joined Edelman. Among the men elected to the Affiliated Schools board in the following years were Mark Starr, education director of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU); Max Lerner, editor of the Nation and professor at Williams College; Eduard Lindeman, from the New York School of Social Work and a long-time friend of the YWCA Industrial Department and workers’ schools; Clinton Golden, of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee; and Henry Rutz, from the labor movement in Wisconsin and state director of workers’ education.26
As the Affiliated Schools moved closer to the labor movement after 1935, the staff struggled to maintain academic freedom and open discussion in an atmosphere fraught with tension between the AFL and the newly organized CIO. Faced with the traditional AFL suspicion of intellectuals and middle-class allies and the intense factionalism that had developed in the labor movement, the Affiliated Schools worked hard to communicate that their aim was to support the labor movement, not to take sides in interunion politics.27
The Affiliated Schools trod a careful path in describing its purposes because of the diversity of the constituency it served. Writing in Progressive Education, Eleanor Coit stated that the programs of the Affiliated Schools were “consciously directed toward social change and the development of attitudes and abilities on the part of students which will make this change as intelligent as possible.” Reform, it was clear from the Affiliated Schools’ publications, was essential, but revolution was not the aim.28
In 1936, however, the board members of the Affiliated Schools faced the issue of whether they would become a CIO-affiliated Workers’ Education Bureau. Board member Henry Rutz, with clear CIO sympathies, was convinced that the AFL workers’ education program was defunct and that the Affiliated Schools should aim to “supplant or replace” the AFL-sponsored Workers Education Bureau.29
After great debate the board agreed that the Affiliated Schools should avoid becoming committed to one federation or group within the labor movement. The organization chose to remain independent, forgoing some financial support from organized labor but retaining a position which preserved its freedom in teaching and discussion.
By the late 1930s, reflecting the changed focus of the organization, the Affiliated Schools for Workers reorganized as the American Labor Education Service (ALES). Rather than an institution which fostered the special training of women through independent residential programs, the ALES aimed to provide service to the whole labor and workers’ education movement. It continued to steer a middle course between the AFL and the CIO, but by adding new membership groups it sought wider financial support from labor, foundations, and individuals who could now join the organization.30
The ALES, with some funds from the Ford Foundation through the Fund for Adult Education, carried on its educational service until the 1960s. Eleanor Coit, mainstay of the organization for three decades, retired in 1962 and the ALES disbanded. ALES historian Doris Brody believes that the tension between the commitment to freedom of discussion and the increasing political conservatism of organized labor created conflict and eroded the ability of the ALES to foster workers’ education.31
The change in the organization to working with men and the organized labor movement during the 1930s leads us to question the roots of its original commitment to women and to women’s issues. The question of the feminism of either the middle-class allies or the worker-students has no clear-cut answers. Certainly the origins of the schools lay in the work of the YWCA, and specifically its Industrial Department. A significant number of the original members of the boards of the member schools and the Affiliated Schools were women who had had some experience in the YWCA. Among them were Alice Shoemaker of Wisconsin, Ernestine Friedmann of Barnard and Vineyard Shore, Louise Leonard McLaren and Lois MacDonald of the Southern Summer School, Alice Hanson Cook, and Eleanor Coit. These women, and others like them, were trained in the YWCA tradition of commitment to the needs of women and belief that women could work together across class lines to improve the general quality of their lives and the position of women in society.
The women who formulated the workers’ projects, however, almost consistently rejected any suggestion that what they were doing was primarily aimed at improving the status of women in society or that they were feminists. Instead, these women were committed to social reform, and specifically to the reform of working conditions within industrial society. Yet the same women also felt that they had a special commitment to women in the work force, as distinct from men. Therefore, the reforms they sought aimed to improve women’s lives. At the same time, they felt that a more just society would not allow women to be exploited by poor working conditions, long hours, and low wage levels.
This was a position shared by others, one that historians have begun to analyze. Most recently, Susan Ware has concluded that prominent women of the New Deal—women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Katherine Lenroot, Molly Dewson, and Mary Anderson—were driven by a social feminism rather than by a feminism rooted in the push for equal rights for women. These women believed that women had specific social reform capabilities and that they had a special role to play in creating a more just society. An earlier generation of reformers, which influenced many of the women in the workers’ schools—women like Florence Simms of the YWCA, Florence Kelley of the Consumers’ League, and settlement house reformers Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr—rooted their position in similar concerns and motivations.32
Attaining women’s rights was never a goal of the Affiliated Schools, and there seems to have been little discussion of women’s issues at the workers’ schools. And yet, the Affiliated Schools decided not to organize classes specifically for men when requested to do so by a group at Columbia University in the early years, though they did agree to provide advice and materials and to help find teachers.33
Thus, the decision to concentrate on women in the early years was not made by default. Hilda Smith recalled that at the Bryn Mawr Summer School they never talked directly of women’s problems “because these were women, and we knew they were women, and we knew what they’d come for” and because there seemed little reason to discuss the political, social, or economic oppression of women in relation to the status of men.34 This is not to say that the women did not discuss disparities in wage scales or the difficulties faced by married women in the work force, but they viewed these issues within the context of needed change in the industrial system, rather than as problems resulting from a male-dominated society. The summer schools were certainly feminist undertakings in the early years, and a network of women continued to be the main source of support. But it was feminism based on an idealistic belief in women’s potential for fuller participation in society, rather than in the kind of commitment to change for women that led to the introduction of the Equal Rights Amendment in the same period.
The consequence of this vaguely formed social feminism was that the summer schools fostered a sense of camaraderie among the women and provided a place where they could develop their strengths and leadership talents away from the pressures of the outside world. This atmosphere was central to the impact of the schools on the worker-students; it made an increase in self-confidence one of the most long-lasting results of the summer sessions. When this atmosphere was diluted, it brought a crucial change in the effect the schools had on individual women.
A report written by Alice Shoemaker after the summer session at Wisconsin in 1932 reveals this ambivalence toward women and shows why the inclusion of men created an important change in atmosphere. In discussing the success of the session, Shoemaker pointed to the admission of men as a major achievement, concluding that “because of their superior experience, aggressiveness, and intellectual training, the men dominated both class discussions and student affairs, although many of the women did more thorough and intensive individual work.”35 Shoemaker did not perceive the impact of the “aggressiveness” of the men on the women students, nor was there any recognition that “more thorough and intensive individual work” by the women was the product of women’s separate and different socialization. Women, long socialized to defer to men in the workplace and at home, could not find in this atmosphere the space to develop their own leadership abilities. Only those women with the strongest egos would emerge from such sessions willing to fight for and take the floor in union meetings. The rationale was that in the world of work men and women competed for leadership and that the workers’ schools should reflect the world outside.
But the women’s summer schools had been successful because they provided the opportunity for women to develop away from the overwhelming pressures of the male-dominated society. As the nineteenth century women’s club movement and women’s colleges had provided such a space for middle-class women, so the summer schools for women had given working-class women the opportunity to become active and effective leaders. In similar fashion, the Affiliated Schools for Women Workers provided support for women workers’ education because it was an organization founded and run by women for women. The failure of the Affiliated Schools to come to terms with women’s position in society or to perceive the ambiguities of their stance led the organization away from its concentration on women and toward a position more acceptable to the male-dominated organized labor movement.
The Affiliated Schools was an innovative organization, rooted in the work of both middle-class and working-class women. As a cooperative organization, it crossed class lines and, to a limited extent, racial lines as well. The very catholic nature of the political philosophy of the group, however, made the organization and the individual summer schools open to criticism from both ends of the political spectrum and all sides of the labor movement. The insistence of the Affiliated Schools on freedom of discussion caused major difficulties in securing funds and support from trade unions, despite the consistent aim of the programs to train active workers willing to undertake whatever reform efforts they themselves thought necessary.
The motivation behind the Affiliated Schools is reflected in the words of Helen Moscicki, a 1928 Bryn Mawr Summer School student who wrote: “Education is the beacon light of every worker, the light which helps him carry on for a better and brighter future.”36 It is significant that Helen Moscicki chose to write “him,” for it reflects the crucial ambivalence of the residential schools over the question of the role of women in American society and the need for a feminist commitment to women. But her comment also reveals the most significant tenet of the Affiliated Schools: that education for workers can play a vital role in social change and the reshaping of social conditions.
These poems were written at the Hudson Shore Labor School in 1940 and were printed originally in the booklet “These Are the Words We Said,” a collection of student writings distributed by the school.37
No matter how bad things are, people will live
Who will be leaders, who will know and lead.
You said, They’re not afraid.
Our country, North and South
Will grow alive and live with your belief,
With our belief, we people,
Our life and love of people, hope, and refusal of defeat
The living cells whose sum I am
Through the arterial rivers and veins
Blood runs, returns and runs,
And to each cell the blood,
According to its need,
Brings fuel, brings that cell bread
And each cell works, makes heat, makes me.
From work of all
I exist . . . Whole . . .
The sum of sums like me—the world.
Too bad the world has no impartial blood.
My parents kept me from children who were dark
So thoroughly that I was not aware
What they were doing
As they took me to school and left me at the door.
They hurried me through Harlem in the morning
To take the el. We lived above the hill.
They said, “After dark you must never take the el.”
When I did I was frightened.
One does not speak to strangers in the city.
No need to be told you must not speak to negroes
For they were always strangers—in el-passed windows,
On ugly streets that were always far from home.
Forgive me please.
I will not say you are no different from me.
Strangers are different all; they make me shy.
But we are nearer, nearer body and mind
Than me and a debutante, or a Legion man.
—Ann McAvoy, 1940
Things have sure changed on Corky Row.
Things are just in the crack-up stage.
Gosh, it’s fun to think back to the good old days:
How we saved for the pleasure of boat rides together;
How we loved the Sunday school picnics
because we got new dresses and ribbons;
How the boys teased and then treated us all to ice cream;
How the women loved to outdo each other
in the selection of clothes;
How the men were contented to play a game of cards
or an occasional game of checkers;
When everyone greeted one another
with a smile and a handshake.
Yes, sir, those were the good old days
before the mills closed down.
But things do change and it certainly has made
a lot of difference there.
Girls, forced to work in sweatshops,
to help support their families
Too tired at night to do anything
but nag and bemoan their past,
Not trying to help themselves.
Oh no! just nagging.
The boys have taken to drink
and never think of ice cream anymore.
Mothers get grayhaired worrying about their belongings
and how to keep them.
How they nag their families to a point of desperation.
No hate there really,
Just a lost feeling of days past.
Fathers are pathetic.
There is no work for them, but still they beg
for any kind of work
to help them keep their self-respect.
It is much harder for the men.
Instead of having their respect,
they are shunned and pushed around by all.
when old friends meet,
Only a nod as they wearily pass by.
Love thy neighbor is very well to say
when you’ve got your belly full.
But try it on an empty stomach.
—Rita Gauthier, 1940
The following play was performed by students at the Hudson Shore Labor School, July 22, 1939. This production was billed as a “living newspaper” on the history of workers’ education in the United States. The presentation was improvised by students and staff, largely from their own experience, with the exception of the first scene, which was taken from a written script. The play was performed on the front steps and porch of the Smith house, the family residence of Hilda W. Smith, which housed the Hudson Shore Labor School from 1939 to 1950.38
At the beginning, the center lights go on. “Miss Smith” (played by a student) enters from the house and comes to the steps.
Miss Smith: Friends, neighbors and students . . . we welcome you here this evening and hope that you will share with us some of the fun we are having at Hudson Shore Labor School, and some of the ideas in which we believe. We are building a school here because we believe that the working people of this and other countries need and must have more education in order to help them understand and solve their problems, as workers and as citizens in a democracy. This need has existed for many years. When women were first beginning to go into the factories, early in the 19th century . . . .
(Blackout. Miss Smith down to position behind pillar. Characters in old fashioned dresses for Scene 1 enter, take their places. Lights up on porch area.)
Helen: Did you see the new boarder at supper tonight?
Rose: Yes, wasn’t she dowdy!
Helen: I suppose they’ll put her up here with us. They always do.
Rose: I suppose they will. They’re so crowded here, with all the new girls working at the mill. (There is a knock at the door.)
Helen: Shhh. Come in. (Pearl enters, in drab clothes, carrying suitcase. Helen and Rose rise, introduce themselves.)
Helen: You can put your bag over there.
Pearl: (putting it in corner) Thank you.
Rose: Won’t you sit down?
Pearl: Thank you.
Rose: Have you come to work at the mill?
Pearl: Yes. A man at the farm where I live told me there were lots of jobs here at $5 a week, and that the work was easy, and the girls wear silk dresses. (Helen and Rose laugh.)
Rose: I hope you don’t believe that!
Helen: Those agents will say anything to get the girls here.
Pearl: What! Do you mean it isn’t true?
Rose: Of course it isn’t. We work fourteen hours a day, from five in the morning until seven at night, with only a half hour at lunch. And when we get home at night we’re so tired we can’t eat our supper.
Helen: And we wear aprons—not silk dresses.
Rose: And do you know how much we make?
Helen: $1.50 a week, and we work hard.
Pearl: Oh! That’s terrible! Oh, why did I ever leave the farm! Oh, don’t you have any fun at all?
Helen: Now, now . . . certainly we have fun. We do a lot of reading, and we even have classes!
Rose: Yes, and we read novels too! Did you ever read a novel?
Pearl: Novels! Oh, no! Why, I’ve just read the scriptures and Pilgrim’s Progress. . . . Do you mean you read novels here?
Rose: Yes, and other things too . . . poetry and . . .
Helen: And we have classes in philosophy and psychology and astronomy and we have a paper of our own, and Rose is the editor of it.
Pearl: Why! Why . . . a Lowell mill is just like a college!
(Blackout. Pearl and Helen exit. Rose goes to right pillar, where
she remains for rest of play. Pillar lights up.)
Oh, you build and you turn,
And you plow and you sow,
And you hammer and you churn,
Tell me, worker, what you earn?
Rose: (talking to Miss Smith) How long was it before women like yourself had a chance to study their problems?
Smith: It was many years. Organization had to come first, organization of the thousands of women who were going into industry. The first national organization was the Women’s Trade Union League, founded in 1903. Along with this growth there were individuals in various communities doing what they could to further an interest in education. In 1915 . . .
(Blackout. Miss Smith goes onto porch and Mrs. Smith enters from inside. Porch lights up.)
SCENE 2: Others Realize our Problems. West Park, 1915.
Mrs. Smith: Hello, Hilda, my dear. I’m so glad you’re back.
Miss Smith: Hello, mother.
Mrs. Smith: You look tired, dear.
Miss Smith: I am—tired and discouraged.
Mrs. Smith: Why, isn’t the community center at Bryn Mawr going well?
Miss Smith: Yes, as well as could be expected. People are having a good time and enjoying it, but so much more needs to be done.
Mrs. Smith: What do you mean?
Miss Smith: Since I’ve been living in Bryn Mawr I’ve seen people living and working in such terrible conditions—crowded rooms, no ventilation . . .
Mrs. Smith: But aren’t there churches and organized charities to help the needy?
Miss Smith: Needy! They aren’t people who need charity! They do useful work and all they ask is a decent wage for it. They’re free citizens in a democracy and want to solve their problems.
Mrs. Smith: Well, why don’t they protest to their employers?
Miss Smith: They don’t dare. If they try, they’re fired and blacklisted and can’t get a job any place else.
Mrs. Smith: What can be done, then?
Miss Smith: They need organization. They’ve tried it in some places and had some success. Look at the employers . . . they’re organized and it’s one of their chief sources of strength. But so many people can’t see the strength they’d get from unions.
Mrs. Smith: Perhaps if they were educated to it . . .
Miss Smith: Yes, exactly. And that’s what I want to do. I’m tired of charity work. Something much more important is needed.
(Blackout. Miss Smith back to position. Pillar lights up.)
Rose: What about the Women’s Trade Union League? What did they do about education?
Miss Smith: Education was one of the main points of their program, and at a conference in 1916, they asked the women’s colleges to help them. But the war interfered with the development of these plans. However, quite apart from a knowledge of these demands, one of the leaders in womens’ education at the time, President M. Carey Thomas of Bryn Mawr College, was conscious of this need and anxious to help. We can see her speaking to Miss Smith, in 1920.
(Blackout. Miss Thomas enters from house. Miss Smith goes to porch. Porch lights up.)
SCENE 3: Others Suggest Ways and Means Bryn Mawr College-1920.
Miss Thomas: Dean Smith, what would you think of a plan to open the doors of this college to women workers in industry?
Miss Smith: I think it’s a splendid idea. There’s a very great need for it, but how do you plan to do this?
Miss Thomas: There is nothing here at the college in the summer. There should be. If we are to build and keep our democracy, we must help every member of it to receive an education—women as well as men. Ten percent of the women in this country are in industry, and so far this college has never reached them. It can, and in the future we must see that it does.
(Blackout. Miss Thomas exits. Miss Smith goes back to position. Pillar lights up.)
Miss Smith: Plans were laid, and other people were brought in, people who believed in and had been trying to promote workers’ education. The directors of Bryn Mawr unanimously voted the use of the college campus and equipment for this purpose. Committees for recruiting students were set up all over the country, and reports began coming in. Miss Ernestine Friedmann, one of the most active recruiters, reports . . . (Miss Friedmann comes onto steps in light.)
Miss Friedmann: New York—garment workers want to come to the Bryn Mawr Summer School. Boston—telegraph operators want to come. Minneapolis—soapmakers. Chicago—meat packers. Pittsburgh—steel workers. San Francisco—proofreaders . . . (etc.)
(Miss Friedmann’s back to audience. Audience sings.)
We have gathered
From the mills and factories,
Wanting to understand
The deep, wide world.
Rose: But how did it work? What were the classes like, and did the students have anything to say about what they were being taught?
Miss Smith: At first the instructors were almost as bewildered as the students.
(Blackout. Miss Hewes enters from inside. A few students gather from porch and audience. Porch lights up.)
SCENE 5: We Experiment in Cooperative Learning. Bryn Mawr College—1921
Myths of the Past
Have lost their power,
Time, time flying fast
Brings a new hour.
Nations despairing need a new creed,
Seeking and sharing,
Youth, youth must lead.
Miss Hewes: Let us consider first the HYPOTHESIS advanced for the explanation of this situation, giving due weight to both ideological and mechanical developments. Do not fail to give meticulous attention to the factors which must be correlated for the determination of unit cost.
Student: Excuse me, Miss Hewes, but I haven’t understood a word you’ve said.
Miss Hewes: Well, just let me elaborate a little. FIRST: we must give due consideration to the requirements of successive technological changes. SECOND . . .
Student: But Miss Hewes . . .
Miss Hewes: Just a moment. SECOND: We must describe and evaluate the newer forms of corporate organization. THIRD: we must consider mass production as limited by and consistent with a developing or declining market. FOURTH:
Miss Hewes: (ever gentle) But I’m sure that if you’ll just let me finish . . . FOURTH: We must calculate the revaluation of man hour compensation . . .
Student: But, Miss Hewes, there’s no point in your finishing. We don’t know what any of those words MEAN. We don’t know what you’re TALKING about, and we didn’t come here for all that.
Miss Hewes: (sitting down) Oh, dear. Perhaps I haven’t made enough effort to understand what your problems really are. Now tell me, what is it you want to learn about?
Student: Well, now in my shop there’s been twenty people thrown out of work because of some new inventions. . . .
Second Student: And in my shop we’ve been trying to get a union organized but the conditions aren’t so bad, so nobody’s interested.
Miss Hewes: I am sorry. I didn’t understand what you needed to know. I see now . . . these are the problems we must start with.
(Blackout. Pillar lights up.)
Rose: If these students were chosen from all over the country, in order to get most of the industries and sections represented, why weren’t there any Negroes? Aren’t they important too?
Miss Smith: The students themselves asked this question in 1926.
(Blackout. Students enter from audience and porch. Sit on steps. Porch lights up.)
SCENE 6: We Extend Our Experiment. School meeting—1926.
(The students reenact an actual occurrence in 1926. The chairman opens meeting and asks for further recommendations to the Board of Directors. One student moves that four scholarships be set aside for Negro workers. Another student rises to say that she thinks that is all very well, but if they let Negroes in, the day will come when they will let Japanese and Chinese too, and then what will the world come to? Other students challenge her. She is from the West Coast, and knows how they work for nothing there and depress wages in general.)
Student: But that would be the point in letting them come. They’d learn what it means.
(There is further argument. Student moves that along with the four Negro scholarships, four be set aside for workers from foreign countries. Motion is seconded, voted on, passed. Foreign student from Sweden comes up from audience, students reach out their hands to her. She stands at bottom of steps and speaks to audience, thanking them for admitting foreign girls.)
Swedish Student: On behalf of the Swedish labor movement and myself, I want to thank you all for admitting foreign students to this school. The workers everywhere must get together in order to learn and understand each others’ needs and problems. I hope my being here will help bring closer to you the problems, struggles, and hopes of the Swedish workers. And from you I will be able to take back to my people the story of your problems and struggles. Then we will have more understanding of the problems that concern us all and we can work together toward a better world.
(She sits with the other students.)
(Negro girl enters from porch, stands in back of group of students and sings: “I’m gonna lay down my sword and shield.” Students and audience join in chorus: “Ain’t gonna study war no more.”
(Blackout. Exit. Pillar lights up.)
Rose: But with only a hundred students how can you hope to reach very far, and how are all the others going to get a chance?
Miss Smith: Other schools are growing up. In 1927, the University of Wisconsin opened its doors in the summer to industrial workers; in 1928, the Southern Summer School opened in Sweet Briar College, Virginia; in 1929, a winter residence school called Vineyard Shore was held here at West Park; in 1930, two former students started the workers’ school of the Pacific Coast at Occidental College; in 1933, an office workers’ school was started at Oberlin College; and now Hudson Shore Labor School, with nineteen years of continuous existence behind it on the Bryn Mawr campus.
Rose: How do the workers from so far and wide find out about the school?
Miss Smith: We have recruiting committees from all over the country.
(Blackout. Porch lights up on students.)
SCENE 7: We Come to the School.
(Scene shows a student who has been to the school telling other students about it, encouraging them to apply. Questions and answers about the school, how much it costs, what they teach, who’s there, etc. At end of scene there is a blackout, audience sings “We have gathered,” while people for next scene are taking their places. At end of song, lights up and student goes to steps from audience.)
(Student says: “I want to go to that school because these are my problems—trying to interest different workers in doing something about their problems.” She then goes from one to the other of three workers, who are pantomiming their work in three different spots—a domestic worker, a beauty operator, and a textile worker. She suggests that each come with her to a discussion of the Wagner Act. Domestic worker is only mildly interested but says she can’t come until late, if at all, etc. The textile worker is not interested. Says: “I’ve got a good job, good conditions, a good boss, why should I worry about that stuff?” The beauty operator is anxious to come but can’t get off. At the end, student turns to audience and says: “This is my problem. How am I going to interest these workers in these matters which are so important for them?”)
(Blackout. Students for next scene take their places. Lights.)
SCENE 9: We Want to Learn from Other Workers.
(Two girls in bathing suits lie on porch pantomiming swimming. Instructor teaching them. Third student enters. General repartee. Instructor finally calls REST. They sit around, talking. Instructor tries to interest them in a current events forum to be held that night. All they want to do is swim. Almost no response, except one student who is promptly booed down by the rest. Instructor turns to audience in gesture of despair: “I’m STUCK.”)
(Blackout. Pillar lights up.)
Rose: She must be glad to know that there is a school where she can learn from other workers how to handle similar problems.
Miss Smith: Yes, and a school where she can exchange ideas with other girls in different situations.
(Blackout. Porch lights up.)
SCENE 10: We Want to Study with Other Workers.
(Two men, members of a grievance committee, are sitting on the porch. Girl enters, submits a complaint from the other women workers in the factory. Men try to boo her down on grounds that women are always complaining, but they don’t do anything about it and they are lousy union members anyway . . . etc. Girl tries to convince them of their stupidity and selfishness, and ends up with fact that she’s going to Hudson Shore Labor School and they will see some action when she gets back with a new sense of confidence in herself as a union leader and an educator of the other women who need to learn to speak courageously for their own rights.)
(Blackout. Pillar lights up.)
Rose: But in lots of American communities there are women whose voices are being heard, aren’t there?
Miss Smith: Yes, and you’ll find some of them at the school too.
(Blackout. Porch lights up.)
SCENE 11: We Want to Cooperate with Other Workers.
(Three girls on steps, beefing on the conditions in their shop. “Let’s go on strike. That last one was fun.” “Yes, let’s. There’s no excuse for the toilets being in such shape,” etc. Several minor complaints come forth. Another girl enters, tries to calm them down: “Just because they’ve got a union they can’t go mad with power; strikes aren’t the only way of getting thingsy”, etc. Suggests they form a grievance committee and learn together what good grievance procedures and techniques can be. This they decide to do by contacts with other workers who are studying similar problems at Hudson Shore.)
(Blackout. Pillar lights up.)
Rose: There must be a great demand for a place where such things can be freely and fearlessly discussed. (In quick succession, the following people speak from the audience.)
First: There is. The United Radio, Electrical and Machine Workers would like to have a conference at the Hudson Shore in September.
Second: The Amalgamated Clothing Workers would like to come in October.
Third: The Industrial Division of the YWCA would like to have its leaders’ conference here early in October.
Fourth: A local of the ILGWU has already had a conference here, and now I should like to make a request for Local 32 for a conference here late in the fall.
(Miss Carter rises from audience and goes to steps.)
Miss Carter: One of the main reasons that the Bryn Mawr Summer School has moved into a permanent home at West Park is in order to meet just such needs as these. Now, as the Hudson Shore Labor School, it extends its hospitality to these and many other workers’ education groups. May you all come for study and discussion of your problems—and may you all carry back to your organizations the same spirit of service that our students are taking back to their own communities from this summer’s school.
(During this speech five girls come out of the house and stand behind her. After she has finished the audience begins to hum the verse to Hans Eisler’s “United Front.” The five girls speak.)
Second: Back to Boston, to help work for better social legislation.
Third: Back to Chicago, to make my fellow workers feel they must become conscious members of our American communities.
Fourth: Back to Bridgeport, knowing now that my job is not an isolated thing, concerning myself alone, but that it is an important part of society.
Fifth: Back to Wheeling, West Virginia, with a new feeling of what the words “tolerance” and “internationalism” can mean.
(Audience sings “United Front” chorus slightly changed and follow students from porch to barn, for “Folk Festival.”)
Chorus: So—march, two, three,
So—march, two, three,
To the work that we must do.
March back to the mills and the factories,
For the world is in need of you.
1. Doris Cohen Brody, “American Labor Education Service, 1927–1962: An Organization in Workers’ Education” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1973).
2. Louise Leonard McLaren to Lucile Kohn, November 15, 1933, American Labor Education Service Papers (hereafter cited as ALES Papers), Labor Documentation Center, Martin P. Catherwood Library, New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., Box 1. Hilda Worthington Smith, Opening Vistas in Workers’ Education: An Autobiography of Hilda Worthington Smith (Washington, D.C.: By the author, 1978), pp. 193–94.
3. “Constitution of the Joint Committee of Affiliated Summer Schools for Women Workers in Industry,” adopted December 8, 1928; Executive Committee Minutes, April 1928, ALES Papers, Box 1.
4. Smith, Opening Vistas, pp. 113ff.; Hilda Worthington Smith, Women Workers at the Bryn Mawr Summer School (New York: Affiliated Summer Schools for Women Workers in Industry and the Association for Adult Education, 1929). The papers of the Bryn Mawr Summer School were deposited in several repositories: see the Hilda Worthington Smith Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass.; Hilda Worthington Smith Papers, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.; Bryn Mawr Summer School Papers, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; Marion Park Files, Bryn Mawr College Archives, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
5. Alice Shoemaker, “The Wisconsin School,” in Affiliated Schools’ Scrapbook, ALES Papers, Box 38; Report of the Educational Department, October, 1933, ALES Papers, Box 1.
6. Smith, Opening Vistas, pp. 171–73; Executive Committee Minutes, April 28, 1933, Box 13; Joint Administrative Committee Minutes, November 12, 1932, Box 13; Education Department Report, October 1933, Box 1 (all in ALES Papers).
7. Smith, Opening Vistas, pp. 183–90, 202 ff.; interview with Hilda Worthington Smith, March 11, 1975, deposited with the Southern Oral History Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In New York City in the 1930s Hilda Smith helped organize classes in pottery and art for an art workshop that was run with much success by Mabel Leslie, a former electrical worker and officer of the WTUL who had studied in Europe.
8. See Mary Frederickson, “A Place to Speak Our Minds: The Southern Summer School for Women Workers” (Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1981).
9. See Chapter 7.
10. Eleanor G. Coit, “Progressive Education at Work,” in Workers’ Education in the United States, ed. Theodore Brameld (New York: Harper & Bros., 1941), p. 165; Education Department Reports, November 1931 and October 1933, ALES Papers, Box 1.
11. ALES-sponsored printed works and mimeographed pamphlets included Jean Carter, Mastering the Tools of the Trade (English grammar); Olga Law Plunder, Methods of Teaching English to Workers’ Classes; Jean Carter, This America: A Study of Literature Interpreting the Development of American Civilization; Colston Warne, Money and Banking; Caroline Ware, The Worker Goes to Market; Hilda Worthington Smith and Jean Carter, Education and the Worker-Student; Lois MacDonald and Emmanuel Stein, The Worker and the Government; Lincoln Fairley, Company Unions; Esther Porter, Dramatizing Industrial Scenes; George S. Mitchell, Some Problems of the Textile Industry; Elsie Gluck, An Introduction to American Trade Unions; John C. Kennedy, Unemployment and Its Problems; and Helen D. Hill, The Effect of the Bryn Mawr Summer School as Measured in the Activities of its Students. The Affiliated Schools also produced a series of “scrapbooks” which contained collections of articles and student-produced collections such as “Women’s Experience in American Industry” and “The Labor Drama.” In addition to these, publications produced jointly with other organizations appeared, such as the Annotated List of Material for Workers’ Classes, produced with the American Federation of Teachers.
12. Mildred Price, “The Effects of an Adult Education Project Upon a Group of Industrial Women” (M.A. thesis, University of Chicago, 1930); Eleanor M. Snyder, Job Histories of Women Workers at the Summer Schools, 1931–34 and 1938 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Women’s Bureau, 1939, Bulletin no. 174); quotation from “Foreword” of Snyder, Job Histories, written by Carter Goodrich, p. vii; Amy Hewes, Women Workers and Family Support: A Study Made by Students in the Economics Course at the Bryn Mawr Summer School (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Women’s Bureau, 1925, Bulletin no. 49); Amy Hewes, Women Workers in the Third Year of the Depression (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Women’s Bureau, 1933, Bulletin 103); and George F. McCray, An Evaluation of Workers’ Education, published by the WPA Workers’ Education Program and the Chicago Committee of the Affiliated Schools, 1936, ALES Papers, Box 13.
13. Education Department Report, November 1931, ALES Papers, Box 1.
14. Ibid. See also Florence Hemley Schneider, Patterns of Workers’ Education: The Story of the Bryn Mawr Summer School (Washington, D.C.: American Council on Public Affairs, 1941).
15. Joint Administrative Committee minutes, January 1932, ALES Papers, Box 1.
16. Files of the Executive Committee and Joint Administrative Committee, ALES Papers.
18. Shoemaker to Kohn, November 15, 1933; McLaren to Kohn, November 15, 1933; Meeting of the Board, Minutes, November 18, 1933, ALES Papers, Box 1.
19. Hilda Smith stayed with the FERA after its reorganization under the WPA until 1943; she then moved into war work for the Public Housing Administration. In 1945 she became a lobbyist for the National Committee for the Extension of Labor Education, working unsuccessfully for a bill to fund labor education. After 1950 she held a variety of positions as consultant and staff member to various foundations, ending her working career at the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1965. Her papers are deposited in several places, but the Hilda Worthington Smith Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass., contains the full manuscript of her autobiography.
20. Smith, Opening Vistas, p. 234; Interview with Hilda W. Smith; Eleanor Coit File, ALES Papers, Box 13.
21. Executive Committee Minutes, January 1934, ALES Papers, Box 13; Supplement to Director’s Report, January 1935, ALES Papers, Box 13.
22. Director’s Report, January 1935, ALES Papers, Box 13.
23. Executive Committee Minutes, Education Department Report, November 1932, Box 1; Report to Directors, March 1, 1934, Box 13 (both from ALES Papers).
24. Eleanor Roosevelt had supported the Affiliated Schools’ fund-raising appeals in the past. Executive Committee Minutes, December 10, 1933, Box 13; Smith to Coit (1933?), ALES Papers, Box 5.
25. The Affiliated Schools published an annotated bibliography on workers’ education, as well as a series of “Scrapbooks” that were collections of articles. Two examples were “Snapshots of Workers’ Education Here and Abroad,” and “Teaching Economics in Workers’ Education.”
26. Information on these men was drawn from Executive Committee Minutes and the general correspondence. It is clear from these sources that they could devote less time to the organization than did the original female board membership.
27. For a discussion of the workers’ education movement and organized labor in the 1930s see Mark Starr, “The Current Panorama,” in Workers’ Education in the United States, ed. Theodore Brameld (New York: Harpers & Bros., 1941), pp. 89–113.
28. Eleanor Coit, “The Affiliated Schools for Workers,” Progressive Education (April-May 1934) in ALES Papers, Box 36.
29. Special Board Meeting Minutes, March 28, 1936, ALES Papers, Box 13.
30. Executive Committee Minutes, June 6, 1936; Report of the Director, February 18, 1938, ALES Papers, Box 13.
31. For an examination of the ALES after 1939, see Brody, “The American Labor Education Service,” Constitution and By-Laws, 1939, ALES Papers, Box 1.
32. There is a growing body of literature on “social feminism” and the roots of women’s involvement in reform movements in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, see Ellen Condliffe Langemann, A Generation of Women: Education in the Lives of Progressive Reformers (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1979); Nancy Schrom Dye, As Equals and As Sisters: Feminism, Unionism, and the Women’s Trade Union League of New York (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1980); Susan Ware, Beyond Suffrage: Women in the New Deal (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981); Stanley Lemons, The Woman Citizen: Social Feminism in the 1920’s (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973). Or see the autobiographical writings of the women themselves: Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House (New York: Macmillan Co., 1961), Mary K. Simkhovitch, Neighborhood: My Story of Greenwich House (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1938).
33. Joint Administrative Committee, Minutes, April 1932; Executive Committee Minutes, April 14, 1928, ALES Papers, Box 1.
34. Interview with Hilda W. Smith conducted by the author.
35. Education Department Report, 1932, ALES Papers, Box 1.
36. “Bryn Mawr and the Industrial Girl,” by Helen Moscicki, Bryn Mawr, 1928, in Mildred Price, “The Effects of an Adult Education Project,” p. 131.
37. From “These Are the Words We Said,” ALES Papers.
38. From the Hilda W. Smith Papers, Schlessinger Library, Cambridge, Mass., Box 15, folder 260.