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SURVEY ASSOCIATES, Inc. 

Formerly Charities Fabrication Committee 
PUBLISHERS FOR THE RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION 

105 EAST 226. STREET, NEW YORK 



RUSSELLSAGE 
FOUNDATION 



WOMEN IN THE 
BOOKBINDING TRADE 



BY 

MARY VAN KLEECK 
i' 

SECRETARY COMMITTEE ON WOMEN S WORK 
RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION 



INTRODUCTION 
BY HENRY R. SEAGER 

PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL ECONOMY 
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 



N EW YORK 
SURVEY ASSC CM A T E,S , 
MGMXSH.. 



Copyright, 1913, by 
THE RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION 



PRESS OF WM. F. FELL CO. 
PHILADELPHIA 



INTRODUCTION 

THE time has gone by when any large 
number of intelligent persons attempts to 
justify present conditions by urging that 
they are better than those of the past, or that, 
if we will only be patient, the "survival of the 
fittest," and the "elimination of the unfit," that 
are believed to be in progress, will make those of 
the future still better. However great our faith 
in the beneficence of the evolutionary process, 
we have learned that it can be both hastened in 
its operation and made more certain in its results 
by deliberate and purposeful human action. 
Through public sanitation and labor legislation 
the plane on which the struggle for existence is 
carried on may be raised to the advantage of all 
concerned. On the other hand, isolation of the 
insane, the feeble-minded, and other defectives 
may eliminate in one generation "unfit" lines of 
heredity which might otherwise be perpetuated 
indefinitely. 

But to accomplish the task of improving social 
and industrial conditions by deliberate and pur- 
poseful action, we must first have knowledge of 
the conditions to be improved. This was the 
thought which caused editors of Charities and the 



259923 



INTRODUCTION 

Commons to organize and carry out and the Russell 
Sage Foundation to supply the funds for the epoch- 
making Pittsburgh Survey. It was the same 
thought which led the Foundation later to es- 
tablish the Committee on Women's Work, with 
Miss Mary Van Kleeck as secretary. The first 
fruit of the patient and careful investigations 
which are being made by that Committee is the 
present volume. 

There are several reasons why it is advantageous 
to study women in industry as though they con- 
stituted a distinct class and their problem was a 
distinct problem. In the first place, the proportion 
of women who enter gainful employments is con- 
stantly growing. This gives rise to special ques- 
tions as to the effect of the increasing employment 
of girls and women on marriage and birth rates, 
the reaction of the employment of married women 
on the conditions of home life and particularly 
on the rearing of children, and the influence of 
the competition of women workers on the wages 
of men. We do not have similar problems for 
men because their gainful employment has long 
been an established fact to which our whole social 
life has become adjusted. 

In the second place, there can be no doubt 
that the condition of women wage-earners is in 
many respects even less satisfactory than that 
of men. The range of skilled occupations open 
to them is smaller. Those who enter gainful 
employments as girls of from fourteen to eighteen, 

vi 



INTRODUCTION 

may marry before they reach the age of twenty- 
five. With this possibility before them they have 
less incentive than boys to learn trades. The 
consequence of these two facts, re-enforced by the 
inferior strength of women, is that they are able 
to command wages which average only about 
one-half those that are paid to men. This means 
for most girls and women who have to be self- 
supporting a heart-breaking and health-destroying 
struggle. Underpay and its correlative overwork 
are the common lot. The easy escape from these 
hard conditions which prostitution appears to offer 
in a large city further differentiates her problem 
from' that of her working brothers. 

Finally, and as a consequence of these reasons, 
we have the putting forward of a protective pro- 
gram for women wage-earners which would seem 
to most people unnecessary, or at best premature, 
if proposed for men. Now that the Supreme 
Court of the United States has placed the stamp 
of its approval on this procedure by declaring 
that woman's "physical nature and the evil effects 
of overwork upon her and her future children 
justify legislation to protect her from the greed 
as well as the passion of men," the legislative 
treatment of women workers is likely for many 
years to come to be differentiated from that applied 
to men. The Russell Sage Foundation thus acted 
wisely when it decided to create a special depart- 
ment on Women's Work. By so doing it has 
prepared itself to attack one of the worst phases of 

vii 



INTRODUCTION 

the labor problem the phase, at the same time, in 
connection with which efforts toward a solution 
are most certain to command public, legislative, 
and judicial support. 

The bookbinding trade was chosen first for 
study because it is one of the most important 
trades for women in New York City, and also in 
many respects a typical one. As Miss Van Kleeck 
explains, it affords employment to every grade 
of woman worker from the skilled craftsman who 
does artistic binding by hand to the machine 
operator, the hand folder, the wrapper, and the 
errand girl. The competition in it between out- 
going hand processes and incoming machine proc- 
esses is incessant. In some branches work is 
regular; in others it is highly irregular, overtime 
and free days occurring in the same week. Finally, 
there is a union in the trade to which some of the 
women employes belong; while most of the women 
are unorganized and little impressed by the ad- 
vantages of organization. Bookbinding in New 
York City thus presents in miniature most of the 
important problems which confront women wage- 
earners. 

The present report is the first of a series of 
studies which will serve to place before the people 
of the United States authoritative information in 
regard to the conditions under which women wage- 
earners carry on their work and the wages which 
they receive. Volumes treating of the Makers of 

viii 



INTRODUCTION 

Artificial Flowers and of Women and Girls in the 
Public Evening Schools of New York City are 
nearly ready. As these are published readers will 
be able to get a comparative view of conditions 
in different trades, the lack of which inevitably 
weakens the force of the conclusions that may be 
drawn from the study of any single trade. 

Knowledge of existing conditions is the necessary 
preliminary to a reform of those conditions; but 
it is the reform and not the knowledge that must 
ever be the chief concern of an organization like 
the Russell Sage Foundation. As the information 
contained in the Pittsburgh Survey gave a tremen- 
dous impetus to movements for civic and industrial 
betterment not only in that city but in the whole 
state of Pennsylvania, so the facts presented in 
this volume about women employed in book- 
binderies should afford a basis for effective agita- 
tion for the reforms most urgently called for. 
Of these, none seem to stand out more clearly 
than an effective prohibition on the employment 
of women at night and the regulation of the em- 
ployment of girls from fourteen to eighteen so 
that they will be enabled to learn the trade in 
which they are engaged and not be mere drifters, 
regular in nothing except in frequent changes 
from employer to employer and prolonged periods 
of unemployment, and certain of nothing except 
that their wages will never be sufficient to enable 
them to be adequately self-supporting. 

ix 



COMMITTEE ON WOMEN'S WORK OF THE 
RUSSELL SAGE FOUNDATION 

HENRY R. SEAGER, Chairman 
Miss LILIAN BRANDT 
SAMUEL McCuNE LINDSAY 
MRS. HENRY R. SEAGER 
ANTONIO STELLA, M.D. 
Miss ELLEN J. STONE 
LAWRENCE VEILLER 
MRS. LAWRENCE VEILLER 



XII 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION. By Henry R. Seager v 

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xv 

LIST OF TABLES . xvii 

I. Introductory i 

1 1 . The Bookbinding Trade 13 

III. Women's Work in the Binderies ... 38 

IV. Wages and Home Conditions .... 72 

. V. Irregularity of Employment . . . . 101 

VI. Overtime and the Factory Laws . . .133 

VII. Collective Bargaining in the Bindery Trade 169 

VIII. Teaching Girls the Trade 194 

IX. Summary and Outlook 219 

APPENDICES 

A. Outline of Investigation 239 

B. Supplementary Statistics 249 

C. Sixty-Hour Restriction. Held to be Con- 

stitutional 256 

INDEX 261 



Xlll 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

i 

PAGE 



Gold Leaf Layers , -5 

A Stamper I7 ^ 

Drop-roll Folding Machine ,84 

Automatic Folding Machine . . . . ] ,84 

Hand Folders , 9 g 

The Point Folding Machine . . ,8 



XVI 



LIST OF TABLES 

TABLE PAGE 

1 . Binderies in Manhattan, by nature of products, 

1910 26 

2. Number of persons engaged in bookbinding in 

the United States, by decades. 1850-1900 . 29 

3. Distribution of women bookbinders. United 

States, 1900 31 

4. Women employed in bookbinding in Man- 

hattan in 1910, by principal product of 
binderies and number of women employed 33 

5. Nativity and nativity of parents of women 

employed in bookbinding, New York City 35 

6. Weekly wages of women employed in book- 

binding by years of employment in the 
trade 75 

7. Weekly earnings of women employed in 

bookbinding during first week of employ- 
ment in bookbinding 76 

8. Binderies employing women as learners by 

weekly wages of learners, and the minimum 
age at which they are employed ... 78 

9. Comparative weekly earnings of men and 

women employed in bookbinding and of 
women in all manufacturing industries. 
New York state, 1905 79 

10. Approximate yearly income of women em- 

ployed in bookbinding, by ages ... 85 

1 1 . Family status of women employed in book- 

binding 87 

xvii 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 
Photographs by Lewis W. Hine 

FACING 
PAGE 

Wire-stitching Frontispiece 

Pasting Machine 14 

Edge Gilders 14 

Sewing Books by Hand 24 

Sewing Books by Machine 24 

Case Makers 42 

Gathering and Wire-stitching Machine ... 42 

Gathering by Hand 54 

Gathering Machine 54 

Press and Plow Machine 68 

Trimming Magazines 68 

Folding by Hand 82 

Folding and Gathering 82 

Covering Magazines by Machine .... 92 

Gathering Machine 92 

Box Girls 108 

Men Case-making and Girls Labeling . . .108 

Collating 122 

Gathering Machine 122 

Wire-stitchers. Artificial Light all Day . . .140 
One End of a Crowded Bindery . . . .140 

A Crowded Workroom 1 50 

Accumulated Stock Gathering Dust . . .150 
Midnight in a Magazine Bindery . . . .160 

The Midnight Lunch Hour 160 

xv 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

FACING 

Gold Leaf Layers ,^5 

A Stamper I7 6 

Drop-roll Folding Machine ,84 

Automatic Folding Machine ... ^4 

Hand Folders .... 108 

The Point Folding Machine . ,98 



XVI 



LIST OF TABLES 

FABLE PAGE 

1 . Binderies in Manhattan, by nature of products, 

1910 26 

2. Number of persons engaged in bookbinding in 

the United States, by decades. 1850-1900 . 29 

3. Distribution of women bookbinders. United 

States, 1900 31 

4. Women employed in bookbinding in Man- 

hattan in 1910, by principal product of 
binderies and number of women employed 33 

5. Nativity and nativity of parents of women 

employed in bookbinding, New York City 35 

6. Weekly wages of women employed in book- 

binding by years of employment in the 
trade 75 

7. Weekly earnings of women employed in 

bookbinding during first week of employ- 
ment in bookbinding 76 

8. Binderies employing women as learners by 

weekly wages of learners, and the minimum 
age at which they are employed ... 78 

9. Comparative weekly earnings of men and 

women employed in bookbinding and of 
women in all manufacturing industries. 
New York state, 1905 79 

10. Approximate yearly income of women em- 

ployed in bookbinding, by ages ... 85 

1 1 . Family status of women employed in book- 

binding 87 

xvii 



LIST OF TABLES 

TABLE PAGE 

12. Persons per room in families of women em- 

ployed in bookbinding 97 

13. Length of employment of 201 women em- 

ployed in bookbinding 98 

14. Maximum number of women employed in 

bookbinding in Manhattan, by the season 
of greatest activity of the establishments in 
which they are employed . . . .104 

15. Bookbinding establishments in Manhattan, by 

season of greatest activity . . . .105 

1 6. Proportion of women employed in book- 

binding "laid off" in dull season in establish- 
ments in Manhattan 107 

17. Processes mentioned in advertisements for 

bindery women in New York World, on 
Sundays and Wednesdays, from July i, 
1908, to June 30, 1909 108 

1 8. Advertisements for bindery women in the New 

York World, on Sundays and Wednesdays 
from July i, 1908, to June 30, 1909, by 
month and branch of trade . . . .110 

19. Reasons for leaving positions in binderies 

as stated by women employed in book- 
binding 112 

20. Length of time for which women were em- 

ployed in latest position in bookbinding . 113 

21. Number of positions held in past year by 

women employed in bookbinding at time 
of investigation 114 

22. Periods for which women employed in book- 

binding were idle after leaving positions . 115 

23. Time lost in the past year from all causes by 

women employed in bookbinding . . .117 

xviii 



LIST OF TABLES 

TABLE PAGE 

24. Time lost in past year because of slack season, 

by women employed in bookbinding . .118 

25. Means by which women find positions in 

bookbinding establishments . . . .125 

26. Daily hours of work of women employed 

in bookbinding 138 

27. Weekly hours of work of women employed in 

bookbinding 139 

28. Violations in bookbinding establishments of 

law restricting hours of work for women 
and girls 141 



APPENDIX B 

SUPPLEMENTARY STATISTICS 

A. Schools previously attended by 144 women 

employed in bookbinding and by women in 
all trades attending public evening schools, 
New York City, 1910-191 1 .... 250 

B. Last day school attended by women employed 

in bookbinding and by women in all trades 
attending public evening schools, New York 
City, 1910-1911 250 

C. Years of attendance at day school of women 

employed in bookbinding and of women in 
all trades attending public evening schools, 
New York City, 1910-191 1 .... 251 

D. Age at leaving day school of women employed 

in bookbinding and of women in all trades 
attending public evening schools, New York 

City, 1910-191 1 251 

xix 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

week reported their 'longest day's* laborVas 
2oX, 22>^, and 24^ hours. These 'long days' 
occurred once, and sometimes twice, a week for a 
period of 16 to 26 weeks, except in the case of the 
girl who worked 24^ hours. Her usual long day 
was 20^4 hours, but she had worked 24^ twice 
in 21 weeks/' Two of these girls were not yet 
twenty-one years old. 

It would appear, therefore, that in the twenty 
years intervening between these two official re- 
ports, the overtime work required of women in 
bookbinding had not been lessened. But now the 
public is beginning to display a keener interest in 
the conditions of employment of women, and a 
thorough investigation of a trade in which such 
flagrant instances of overwork are officially recorded 
should help to arouse the community to a fuller 
sense of its responsibility for the welfare of wage- 
earning girls. This volume is the result of such 
an investigation made by the Committee on 
Women's Work of the Russell Sage Founda- 
tion. 

The significance of the investigation is increased 
by the varied aspects of the bookbinding industry, 
and by its concentration and importance in New 
York.f The United States census reports show 
that in 1900 more than 15,000 women were en- 
gaged in the bindery trade and its allied occupa- 

* In binderies where such schedules of hours prevail, the phrase 
"long day" is commonly used to refer to the long periods of work, 
f See Chapter I, p. 32. 

2 



INTRODUCTORY 

tions throughout the country.* More than 26 
per cent of these were employed in New York City. 
Except for the large groups of women in the gar- 
ment industries including dressmaking, seam- 
stress work, tailoring, and millinery bookbinding 
ranks second only to cigar making as a trade for 
women in this city. In no other trade in New 
York are the numbers of men and women so 
nearly equal. None illustrates better the sur- 
vival of century old methods side by side with the 
newest inventions. None can show more strik- 
ingly the contrast between the artist craftsman and 
the worker who automatically repeats a single 
process, both of whom are called bookbinders. 
Few occupations reveal more clearly the effect of 
changing processes and changing machines. In 
none can more marked instances be found of un- 
equal distribution of work through the hours of 
the day or the months of the year. 

Bookbinding, however, is by no means the most 
undesirable of occupations for women. Its con- 
ditions are important not because they are unique 
but because they illustrate concretely problems 
common to many other industries. It is not in 
binderies alone that conditions change rapidly; 
that machines cause a reorganization of work and 
then give place to new inventions involving further 
reorganization; that speed is an essential require- 
ment; that specialization is the custom, weakening 

* Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Special Reports, Occupa- 
tions, p. Hi. 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

by continual repetition of one process that power of 
adjustment so vital to success in a changing in- 
dustrial environment ; that women work exhaust- 
ingly long hours in the busy season; that irregu- 
larity of employment during the dull season com- 
pels the worker to forego all or part of her wages, 
when even in the busy season the income of the 
majority of women employes is insufficient for 
self-support. Conditions like these would compel 
attention even if they occurred in but one occu- 
pation. When it is known that they affect the 
welfare of young girls and women in many differ- 
ent wage-earning pursuits, their importance is 
greatly increased. To analyze the facts about 
the bindery trade, to discover the constructive 
forces potent in the industry, to disclose oppor- 
tunities for further improvements by employers, 
workers, and the community, and to make this 
knowledge common property should point the 
way toward changing the lot of women in many 
industries in which similar conditions exist. 

Many books have been written on bookbinding 
as a craft, but not one has been found which con- 
tains facts regarding conditions of employment. 
The International Bookbinder, which describes itself 
as "a journal devoted to the interests of the book- 
binders of the United States and Canada/' is a 
chronicle of events in the workers' trade union. 
The United States census gives the numerical out- 
lines of the industry, and contains some data about 
wages, regularity of employment, and nationality 



INTRODUCTORY 

and age of the workers, but the figures are confused 
by counting as bookbinding and blankbook mak- 
ing* several minor occupations, such as book 
stamping, chromo and show-card mounting, map 
publishing, line ruling, and the making of paper 
tablets, sample cards, and show cards, whose con- 
ditions do not resemble the real bindery trade. 
The reports of the New York State Department of 
Labor give the number of establishments in the 
state and city and their size, the number of men, 
women, and children employed, the normal hours 
of labor of the workers as a whole,! and the number 
and results of inspections and prosecutions. 

Important as are these sources of information, 
the facts which they present are incomplete as a 
basis for a study of women workers. From them 
we learn nothing about the organization of the 
workroom force nor the processes carried on by 
women. They give no information about wages in 
relation to length of experience, about the methods 
of training workers, or about the previous schooling 
of the girls who enter the industry. They contain 
no facts about a girl's trade career, the necessity 
for frequent change from one shop to another, or 
from one occupation to another; the uncertainty 
of the seasons or the reasons for irregular employ- 
ment. They do not show the home responsibilities 
of bindery girls nor their attitude toward their 
work. They do not give the facts about overtime. 

* Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Manufactures, Vol. VII, 
p. 693. t Hours are not reported separately for women however. 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

They do not show differences as between establish- 
ments or between diverse branches of the trade. 
Thus, although the official figures throw light on 
the extent of the industry, its location, and certain of 
its external characteristics, nevertheless, to under- 
stand how women workers fare in this occupation, 
it was necessary to observe shop conditions at first 
hand, to interview employers, and to know a number 
of bindery women personally in their own homes. 

The foundation of this report was the industrial 
history of 201 women workers in the trade, com- 
bined with data secured from all the binderies in 
Manhattan. The main subjects on which informa- 
tion was sought in the interviews with employers 
and workers were the processes of work done by 
women in the various branches of the trade, irreg- 
ularity of employment, hours of work, the enforce- 
ment of factory laws, wages, home responsibilities, 
the activity of the trade union and the attitude of 
women workers and employers toward it, and the 
methods of teaching girls the trade. Three record 
cards,* 5x8 inches in size,were used in the field work, 
one for the record of a worker, one for the record of 
a workshop, and one for the worker's report of 
conditions in the shop in which she was employed. 

A brief outline of the sources of names and ad- 
dresses, and the methods of interviewing, is neces- 
sary to show how the detailed information asked 
for was secured. The field work was begun in co- 

* See Appendix A, pp. 239-248, for outline of investigation, and 
facsimiles of cards. 



INTRODUCTORY 

operation with the Alliance Employment Bureau, 
a philanthropic agency, managed by representa- 
tives of social settlements and working girls' clubs, 
which undertakes to find employment for girls in 
trades and offices. The Bureau had from time to 
time received applications for work from women 
who had had experience in the bindery trade or who 
wished to learn it. On the other hand, it had fre- 
quently been asked by employers to supply them 
with bindery workers. It is the policy of this 
agency to investigate work-places before sending 
applicants to them, and the managers believed 
that a thorough study of binderies would yield the 
information needed to enable them to place girls 
in establishments where good conditions prevail. 
Thus, while the larger purpose of the investigation 
was to gather evidence regarding conditions in the 
industry as they affect women workers, the early 
part of the inquiry was designed to be of immediate 
use in the daily placement work of the Alliance 
Employment Bureau. This latter object afforded 
a reason for seeking interviews and enabled the 
investigators, in visiting both establishments and 
workers, to act as agents of the Bureau. 

This preliminary, co-operative investigation was 
made between August i, 1908, and August i, 1909, 
while the Committee on Women's Work was a 
department of the Alliance Employment Bureau. 
The study was completed in the winter and spring 
of 1910-11, when employers representing some of 
the largest binderies in New York were again inter- 

7 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

viewed by agents of the Committee, and more than 
100 visits were made at the homes of bindery girls 
attending public evening schools in Manhattan 
and the Bronx. The field work lasted until July, 
191 1. 

The first task was to secure the names and ad- 
dresses of all binderies in Manhattan. A street 
directory in the form of a card index was compiled 
from as many sources as possible, including the 
business directories of New York City, the files of 
the Alliance Employment Bureau, the statements 
of bindery workers regarding their places of em- 
ployment, and all advertisements for bindery 
women appearing in The World during a period 
of six months. It may be that a few binderies 
were omitted, but shops which did not appear in 
any of these sources could not have been important. 
The difficulty of securing a complete list of es- 
tablishments in one trade even in a single borough 
of New York, is an evidence of the interlocking of 
occupations. Not all bookbinderies are indepen- 
dent. Bindery departments were discovered in 
lithographing establishments, in printing offices, in 
sample card manufactories, and even in so unex- 
pected a place as a wholesale store, where the trade 
catalogue of the firm was bound on the premises. 
In this part of the investigation alone 478 visits 
were made at 417 addresses, with the result that 
247 binderies or bindery departments employing a 
regular force of women were found, while 33 of the 
places visited were printing offices, or lithograph- 

8 



INTRODUCTORY 

ing establishments, or other allied branches of the 
printing industry, in which bindery hands were 
employed only for temporary work. Some estab- 
lishments had failed or had moved out of the 
borough of Manhattan, a few had consolidated 
with other firms, and in several no women were 
employed in binding processes. Of the 247 per- 
manent binderies visited, 210 were investigated. 
Information about the others was incomplete. 

The investigation of bindery establishments pre- 
sented peculiar difficulties. To secure complete 
information from every employer interviewed 
was impossible. The obstacles were due not al- 
ways to lack of interest on the part of the em- 
ployer, or to a desire to conceal his "own business/' 
but often to indefmiteness of conditions. Not all 
workshops are as carefully organized as the in- 
dustrial ideal of the present century demands. 
"It depends on the orders/' and "It all depends 
on the run of work/' are replies recorded in answer 
to questions regarding wages, seasons, and other 
conditions. " How can I tell what kind of work's 
coming in?" said one employer impatiently when 
asked what branch of the trade was his specialty. 
Great differences in organization, found not only in 
different establishments, but in the same establish- 
ment from day to day, present many obstacles to 
the gathering of exact statistics. In many cases, 
however, employers gave very full information 
about the conditions of work of the women in their 
binderies. Their statements were verified and 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

supplemented by the case study of bindery girls. 
At the close of the investigation it was found that 
members of the group of girls interviewed had been 
employed at some time during their trade careers 
in over 50 per cent of the binderies investigated. 
This fact made it possible to determine the accuracy 
and value of statements made both by employers 
and by workers.* 

The names of bindery girls were secured from 
the files of the Alliance Employment Bureau, from 
public evening schools, girls' clubs, and other or- 
ganizations, and from women in the trade. The 
list numbered 362. To cover these cases it was 
necessary to make 732 visits. The number of 
complete records secured was 2Oi.| The reasons 
for not securing full information from the others 
are various. Of the whole group, 61 girls had not 

* Girls were interviewed who had worked in 36 of the 37 edition and 
pamphlet binderies in New York, employing 50 or more girls, in 56 of 
the 1 19 edition, pamphlet, job, and art binderies employing less than 
50, and in 17 of the 54 blankbook binderies investigated. Of one 
bindery 21 present or former employes were interviewed, of another 
19, another 18, and another 14. None were interviewed in the 
workroom. 

fThe sources of these 201 names were varied enough to inspire 
confidence in the representative character of the results. 

Alliance Employment Bureau 86 

Fellow workers in binderies 53 

Evening schools 36 

Settlements or girls' clubs, etc 20 

(Includes Jacob A. Riis House, Richmond Hill 
House, Girls' Friendly Society, Educational Alli- 
ance, Greenpoint Settlement) 

Visits to binderies 4 

Manhattan Trade School i 

Advertisement i 

Total 201 

10 



INTRODUCTORY 

been in the trade within the year preceding the 
date of the interview, and therefore their records 
were not tabulated; 13 gave incomplete or inac- 
curate information; 87 were not found, had never 
worked in the trade, had definitely left it, or were 
employed only in some allied process like litho- 
graphing, pattern folding, sample card mounting, 
or printing. Interviews with those girls whose 
records were not complete or recent enough to be 
tabulated, or who were employed in some allied 
process, often, however, threw light on conditions 
of work and thus contributed data to the investi- 
gation. 

Such a case study of workers is more time-con- 
suming than is the investigation of work places. 
The visits must be made at night to find the girls 
at home from work. It is seldom possible for 
one person to talk fully with more than two in an 
evening, and often the whole time is given to one. 
The majority of the interviews were in the homes 
of the workers, although several girls were met 
in the office of the Alliance Employment Bureau, 
and a few at a social settlement. Plenty of time 
was allowed for full and frank discussion. The 
record cards were not used during the conversa- 
tion, lest their appearance should have a chilling 
effect. 

The investigators who took part in the field 
work for long or short periods in the course of the 
study were Miss Louise C. Odencrantz, Miss 
Zaida E. Udell, Miss Elizabeth L. Meigs, and 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

the writer. Miss Odencrantz also tabulated the 
records and compiled the statistics used in these 
chapters. 

To those who expect investigators to outline a 
single, clear-cut method of reform, these pages 
may be a disappointment. The material is not 
arranged as an argument in favor of any special 
social program. It proves rather the complexity 
of the problem and the necessity of varied methods 
of approach. It is designed to afford full and de- 
tailed information presented without bias, in the 
hope of enlisting the interest of those who as em- 
ployers, as workers, as teachers, as legislators, as 
voters, or as buyers, share responsibility for the 
welfare of wage-earning women. 



12 



CHAPTER II 
THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

THE bookbinder of today has a more complex 
business to manage than did his predecessor 
of two or three hundred years ago. His 
products are used so widely that he serves prac- 
tically every trade, business, or profession in the 
community. He binds the Bible, Shakespeare, 
and many less classic writings for individual cus- 
tomers. He covers several thousand volumes of 
a new novel for a publisher. He takes an order 
from a printer to bind copies of a pamphlet. He 
stitches programs for a theater or an opera house, 
or fastens together the sheets of a church calendar. 
He makes manifold books for the use of sales- 
women in department stores. He puts together 
the leaves of a telephone directory and pastes 
on the cover. He works for stock brokers, law- 
yers, gas companies, steel corporations, and banks, 
binding briefs, numbering checks, paging cash 
books, and rebinding heavy ledgers. He folds, 
stitches, and mails magazines for publishers, and 
makes albums, not so often now-a-days for family 
photographs as for postal cards and kodak pic- 
tures. He binds school books, and rebinds vol- 
umes for the public library. Sometimes he takes 

'3 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

over work from another bookbinder, who has 
secured an order too large for him to handle 
alone, or who is specializing in some other line. 
He also handles trade catalogues, and all sorts and 
conditions of advertising material, thus being 
called upon to adjust his business to the seasons 
and market conditions of every occupation which 
uses printed advertisements. And with all this 
extension of the trade have come changes in 
methods and conditions which have exerted a far- 
reaching influence on the welfare of the workers. 
In New York, where more bookbinders congregate 
than in any other city of the United States, this 
complexity is magnified. 

Nevertheless, in spite of the variety of products 
and processes involved in the modern industry, 
to many the word "bookbinding" still suggests 
only morocco and gold leaf, the artist's design, 
the craftsman's skilful touch. But the treasures 
of the bibliophile are produced in only a very few 
small shops in New York today, and in the large 
binderies, equipped with machinery, the methods 
which have been adopted bear slight resemblance 
to the ancient art of bookbinding. 

The careful hand work of the eighteenth century 
is eclipsed by machinery, and the detailed ac- 
counts rendered by Roger Payne to his cus- 
tomers would make the bookkeeper of a modern 
bindery smile in wonder. His bill for binding a 
copy of "Aeschylus Glasguae MDCCXCV Flax- 
man illustravit," reads: 

14 




PASTING MACHINE 




EDGE GILDERS 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

" Bound in the very best manner, sew'd with 
strong Silk, every Sheet round every Band, not 
false bands: the Back lined with Russia Leather, 
Cut Exceeding large; Finished in the most magni- 
ficent manner. Embordered with ERMINE ex- 
pressive of The High Rank of the Noble Patroness 
of The Designs, The other Parts Finished in the 
most Elegant Taste with small Tool Gold Borders 
Studded with Gold; and small Tool Panes of the 
most exact Work. Measured with the Compasses. 
It takes a great deal of Time making out the differ- 
ent measurements, preparing the Tools, and mak- 
ing out new Patterns. The Back Finished in 
Compartments with parts of Gold studded work 
and open Work to relieve the Rich close studded 
work."* He continues with a description of 
his methods, as further justification for the size 
of his bill: "All the Tools except studded points 
are obliged to be worked off plain first, and after- 
wards the Gold laid on and Worked off again. 
And this Gold Work requires double Gold being 
on Rough Grained Morocco. The impressions 
of the Tools must be fitted and cover'd at the 
bottom with Gold to prevent flaws and cracks/' 

But archaic as this description sounds, book- 
binding has a history beginning long before 
the time of Roger Payne. Preceding him were 
Grolier in France in the reign of Francis I, the 
Italian binders of the fifteenth and sixteenth cen- 

* Quoted in Encyclopedia Britannica, gth edition, 1876. Vol. IV, 
p. 42. 

15 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

turies, the monks in the dark ages, who executed 
elaborate bindings for the preservation of their 
hand-written volumes, and earlier still the slaves 
who bound manuscripts when the Roman Empire 
was at the height of its power. Older than these 
were the palm leaves "bound" by silken strings, 
which formed the sacred books of Ceylon, and still 
more ancient the tiles of baked clay encased one 
within another.* 

Nor was the delicate art of bookbinding in early 
days confined to men. On the contrary there are 
scattered references in history and in fiction which 
indicate that for several centuries women have 
helped to bind books. Stevenson tells us that in 
1450 in the court of Blois, a woman, the widow of 
a bookbinder, bound books for Charles of Orleans. f 
"He (Charles of Orleans) was a bit of a book- 
fancier, and had vied with his brother Angouleme 
in bringing back the library of their grandfather 
Charles V when Bedford put it up for sale in Lon- 
don. The duchess had a library of her own ; and 
we hear of her borrowing romances from ladies 
in attendance on the blue-stocking Margaret of 
Scotland. Not only were books collected, but 
new books were written at the court of Blois. 
The widow of one Jean Fougere, a bookbinder, 
seems to have done a number of odd commissions 

* Zaehnsdorf, J. W. : Bookbinding, Introduction. London, 
George Bell and Sons, 1903. 

t Stevenson, Robert Louis: Works, Vol. XIV, Familiar Studies of 
Men and Books, Essay on Charles of Orleans, p. 233. New York, 
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895. 

16 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

for the bibliophilous count. She it was who re- 
ceived three vellum skins to bind the duchess's 
Book of Hours, and who was employed to prepare 
parchment for the use of the duke's scribes. And 
she it was who bound in vermillion leather the 
great manuscript of Charles's own poems, which 
was presented to him by his secretary, Anthony 
Astesan,with the text in one column, and Astesan's 
Latin version in the other." 

And as time went on it is evident that the art 
was one in which the plodding industry as well as 
the taste of women found employment, for we 
learn from Victor Hugo that about the year 1800, 
Jean Valjean in the fourth year of his captivity 
had news that his sister was trying to support 
herself and her little son by binding pamphlets in 
Paris.* "Every morning she went to a printing 
office, No. 3 Rue de Sabot, where she was a folder 
and stitcher; she had to be there at 6 in the morn- 
ing, long before daylight in winter. In the same 
house with the printing office there was a day 
school, to which she took her little boy, who was 
seven years of age. But as she went to work at 6 
and the school did not open till 7 o'clock, the boy 
was compelled to wait in the yard for an hour, in 
winter, an hour of night in the open air. The 
boy was not allowed to enter the printing office, 
because it was said that he would be in the way." 

Long before 1800, however, the industry had 

* Hugo, Victor: Les Miserables. Fantine, Book II, Chapter VI, 
pp. 128-129. Boston, Little, Brown and Co., 1887. 
2 17 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

crossed to America, for we have the account of one 
Hugh Gaine,* who in 1752 had a printing and bind- 
ing establishment in Hanover Square, New York. 
It is probable that as soon as men began to prac- 
tice the art in the United States, women were 
employed for some of the processes. In 1834 
when Harriet Martineau visited this country she 
found women engaged as folders and stitchers. 
The reference in her bookf is as interesting for 
her emphatic denunciation of the social condi- 
tions that prevailed at the time as for her dis- 
closure that the trade of bookbinding was one 
in which women were supporting themselves. 
In a country "where it is a boast that women 
do not labour," she wrote, " the encourage- 
ment and rewards of labour are not pro- 
vided. It is so in America. In some parts there 
are now so many women dependent on their own 
exertions for a maintenance, that the evil will give 
way before the force of circumstances. In the 
meantime, the lot of poor women is sad. Before 
the opening of the factories, there were but three 
resources; teaching, needle- work, and keeping 
boarding-houses or hotels. Now there are the 
mills; and women are employed in printing offices 
as compositors, as well as folders and stitchers." 
Before the date of Harriet Martineau's visit, 
Philadelphia had become the largest publishing 

* Depew, C. ML: One Hundred Years of American Commerce, p. 
642. New York, D. O. Haynes and Co., 1895. 

t Martineau, Harriet: Society in America, Vol. II, p. 257. New 
York, Saunders and Otley, 1837. 

18 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

center, and boasted "the greatest publisher in the 
United States/' Mathew Carey.* Thus some very 
early products of the bindery trade in this country 
were such pamphlets as "An open letter to the 
ladies who have undertaken to establish a house of 
industry," published in 1831 by Carey, and "An 
appeal to the wealth of the land on the character, 
conduct, situation, and prospects of those whose 
sole dependence for subsistence is on the labour of 
their hands," a document issued in 1833. Indeed, 
Carey himself took an active interest in the condi- 
tions of women's work, carrying on a pamphlet and 
newspaper agitation for better wages for them, 
and presiding at a large meeting of working women, 
which included bookbinders. This meeting was 
called for the purpose of organizing the Female 
Improvement Society, with committees represent- 
ing different trades. f 

When the printing press came into general use 
and multiplied the number of books, necessarily 
the careful binding heretofore accorded a single 
laboriously written manuscript gave place to more 
rapid methods of preparing volumes for the hands 
of readers. Separated in beauty of form and 
finish as is a Grolier edition of De Bury's Philo- 
biblon from a quarterly telephone directory, there 

* Depew, C. M.: One Hundred Years of American Commerce, 
p. 314. New York, D. O. Haynes and Co., 1895. 

t Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage-earners in 
the United States. Vol. X, History of Women in Trade Unions, 
pp. 39-40. U. S. Senate document No. 645. Pages 40-41 refer to a 
strike in 1835 by the Female Book Union Association in New York 
in an effort to secure " a small advance in their list of prices." 

19 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

is a fundamental resemblance in the processes of 
binding. In both it is the task of the binder to 
take the sheets as they have come from the print- 
ing press, and so treat them that their preservation 
in proper sequence will be assured. Whether a 
book is to be bound by hand or machine, whether 
it is to be covered with levant or thin paper, 
whether it is to be sewed with linen thread or 
stitched with wire, it is necessary to fold the sheets 
in uniform size, to fasten the folded sections to- 
gether in proper sequence, and to put on a cover. 
It is in the covering that the branches of the trade 
differ most widely. The making of the hand- 
bound book, designed to last several generations, 
demands the most numerous processes. At the 
other extreme is the paper-covered pamphlet 
whose destination is likely to be the nearest waste 
basket. 

THE PROCESS OF BINDING 

If a book is to be bound by hand, the printed 
sheets are first folded to the desired size. For 
example, a quarto sheet is folded into two folds 
making a section of four leaves or eight pages, and 
an octavo into four folds making a section of 
eight leaves or 16 pages. The sections are then 
gathered in proper sequence, as indicated by a 
number called "the signature" printed on the 
first page of the section. They are then beaten 
with a hammer or rolled in a machine to make 
them a compact volume. They are next "col- 

20 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

lated," or examined, to make sure that each page 
is in its proper place. At various stages the 
volume is pressed. If the book is to be sewed 
"flexible" on raised cords, the back must be 
marked to show the position of the cords, and if 
they are to be embedded in the back, grooves are 
sawed for them. When the end papers have been 
put in, the rough edges trimmed, and the back 
rounded, the book is ready for its cover. The 
ends of the cords are drawn through holes in the 
mill-boards (the stiff foundation of a cover), 
pasted, and hammered smooth. The edges of the 
pages are cut with the "plough" in the cutting 
machine, to give each page uniform margins. 
The edges may then be sprinkled, colored, or gilded, 
after which the head-bands are attached to the 
back at top and bottom. Finally, the book is 
covered with leather or silk or some other material, 
and the cover is ornamented. These last pro- 
cesses vary with the kind of material used and the 
plan of ornamentation. 

The machine method of binding books omits 
many processes of hand binding, and combines 
others into one simple operation. In hand bind- 
ing, one book is the center of attention until it is 
finished, and each volume may receive slightly 
different treatment according to the design chosen 
for it. In machine binding, the method is to re- 
peat one process thousands of times, adopting the 
factory system with its division of labor and its 
mechanical devices. Books and their covers are 

21 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

fed by the hundred through machines in different 
departments, and they are not brought together 
until the last stage is reached. Machines fold, 
gather, smash, sew, trim, round, and back. The 
backs are lined up and glued in quick succession, 
and in gilding the edges, instead of handling the 
volumes one by one, several are placed in a " lying- 
press " and gilded simultaneously. These proc- 
esses involved in getting the sheets ready for the 
cover are called "forwarding." 

In the meantime, the cover or case is being pre- 
pared. The boards and the cloth are cut to fit the 
volume, and both are fed into the case-making 
machine, which covers the cloth with glue, lays 
the boards in their proper places, pastes a strip of 
paper on the back, and turns down the edges of 
the cloth, all in one complex operation, delivering 
the finished cases at the side of the machine. If 
the covers are to be ornamented or lettered, gold 
leaf, or some substitute, is laid on by hand, and 
the titles or designs stamped into the cloth by 
means of a powerful press. The "forwarded 
books" and the covers are then fed into the casing- 
in machine, which smears the sides of each volume 
with paste and automatically attaches the covers. 

A pamphlet must be folded and its sections 
placed in as accurate order as a book bound in 
cloth or morocco, but as the pamphlet is to be 
covered only with heavy paper it does not require 
pressing, trimming, and retrimming, rounding and 
backing, gluing, lining-up, drawing-off, and all the 

22 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

other diverse manipulations by which the hand 
worker on a single volume insures the preserva- 
tion of the sheets in a solid and substantial bind- 
ing. A pamphlet may be so printed that its sheets 
when folded must be inserted one within the other. 
In that case the paper cover may be put on before 
the pamphlet is stitched, and a wire staple, taking 
the place of the linen thread used in books, may 
be inserted from the back of the cover through the 
center of the inner sheet. Or the sections may be 
laid one on top of the other, and stitched flat along 
the back a short distance in from the edges. Then 
the cover is pasted, by hand or by machine, to the 
back of these stitched sheets. 

A magazine or periodical is in reality a pamphlet, 
but it is characterized by uniformity of size week 
after week, or month after month. Thus it lends 
itself admirably to machine production. When 
the gauges have once been set to fit the sheets 
they need not be changed, and it is possible to com- 
bine several machines in one. 

A word must be said of blankbook making, al- 
though this report concerns mainly the binding of 
printed books. The blankbook maker does not 
receive the sheets from a printer ready for binding. 
His trade includes the ruling and numbering of the 
pages of account books, ledgers, diaries, address 
books, albums, copybooks, and portfolios. In his 
craft, as in that of the "printer's binder/' the 
processes of work vary with the degree of preserva- 
tion required for the sheets. A heavy ledger, of 

23 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

inestimable value to some business establishment, 
may be bound and rebound by hand in the most 
substantial way. A school child's copybook may 
be sewed by machine without any elaborate prep- 
aration for a covering. With the introduction of 
card systems and loose leaf note books, a great 
change has come over a portion of the blankbook 
maker's trade, and in some cases the "binder" has 
become the "manufacturer of loose leaf devices." 

BRANCHES OF THE TRADE 

Variety in products and in methods of work has 
divided the bookbinding trade into branches, with 
diverse processes, different machines, and distinct 
labor conditions. In the "job" bindery, for in- 
stance, each book is bound by hand for a "private" 
as distinguished from a "business" customer. The 
owner may be an art binder, who ornaments the 
covers of books with beautiful designs, or he may 
omit all ornament and devote his attention merely 
to executing a strong and durable piece of work. 
In the "edition" bindery, as its name implies, 
editions of thousands of volumes, all alike, are 
turned out by machines. The customers are 
usually publishers, unless the printer, from whom 
the binder receives the printed sheets of the book, 
acts as middleman between publisher and binder. 
In the "pamphlet" bindery, pamphlets are folded, 
stitched, and covered, but no books are bound 
in cloth or leather. In the "magazine" bindery, 
periodicals are bound and mailed. The customers 

24 




SEWING BOOKS BY HAND 




SEWING BOOKS BY MACHINE 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

are publishers, or printers who make the contract 
with the publishers and then give out the binding 
to other establishments. In the "blankbook" 
bindery paper is ruled and blankbooks manufac- 
tured or rebound. The customer may be an indi- 
vidual or a firm giving an order for a single job, 
or a wholesale stationer ordering books in large 
quantities. 

These five job, edition, pamphlet, magazine, 
and blankbook binding are the distinct branches 
of the trade. One bookbinding establishment 
may include them all. It may be equipped not 
only with wire-stitching machines, but with sewing 
machines. Not only may pamphlets be covered, 
but books may be bound. A woman, sitting be- 
fore an old-fashioned frame, may sew a single book 
for a private customer, while, at the same time, a 
hundred thousand copies of a monthly magazine 
may be passing through the gathering machine. 
An establishment may lack one department 
necessary for the complete binding of a book, and 
a block or more away may be found another de- 
voting its entire force to the work of that one de- 
partment. For example, the trade includes firms 
whose only work is to gild the edges of books, or 
to lay the gold and stamp the covers, or to num- 
ber checks, bonds, and insurance policies. Mar- 
bling papers for the use of binders is now regarded 
as a separate industry. This specialization has 
made possible the work of a middleman or agent, 
to transfer a single branch of the work from the 

25 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

binder who does not wish to handle it to the firm 
which makes it a specialty. Nevertheless, the 
middleman does not seem yet to be conspicuous 
in the industry. 



THE TRADE IN NEW YORK 

The most important center of the bookbinding 
trade in the United States is New York City.* 
The value of the products of New York binderies 
is 36 per cent of the total value of these products 
in the whole country. In the borough of Man- 
hattan alone, 280 binderies, including temporary 
departments, were found in the course of this in- 
vestigation. 

TABLE 1. BINDERIES IN MANHATTAN. BY NATURE OF 
PRODUCTS, 1910 



Binderies 


Number 


Per Cent 
of all 
Binderies 


All binderies 


280 




Binderies engaged in 






Edition work 


55 


20 


Pamphlet and magazine work . 


149 


53 


Job or art work 


44 


16 


Blankbook making, ruling, numbering, etc. 
Binding departments of establishments en- 


74 


26 


gaged in- 






Lithographing 


13 


5 


Printing 
Engraving, manufacture of stationery, etc. 


98 
26 


35 
9 



Of the binderies in Manhattan, 5 3 per cent bind 
pamphlets and magazines, 20 per cent do edition 

* Cf. United States Census, Bulletin 59, New York State, Manu- 
factures, p. 50, 1905. 

26 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

work, 1 6 per cent job or art work, 26 per cent blank- 
book work, 5 per cent are departments of litho- 
graphing establishments, 35 per cent printing 
offices, and 9 per cent are allied with engraving, 
stationery work, etc. These divisions are not 
mutually exclusive. It is often difficult to classify 
an establishment as an edition bindery, or a pam- 
phlet or magazine bindery, as the different products 
may be found in the same workroom. In that 
case the shop has been counted in each of these 
branches of the trade. 

The bookbinding trade has tended not only to 
concentrate in New York, but much of it has 
crowded into a single district of the city. The 
section of Manhattan Island about the City Hall 
may be regarded as the heart of the industry. 
Within a radius of a mile of the City Hall, in a 
semi-circle east of Broadway, 126 binderies, 45 
per cent of the total in the borough of Manhattan, 
are located. 

Between 1900 and 1905 the importance of the 
trade in New York state increased from $5, 354,004 
to $7,557,640, in capital invested, an increase of 
4 1 .2 per cent ; from 7, 1 52 to 7,984, or 1 1 .6 per cent, 
in number of wage-earners; from $3, 152, 739 to 
$3,648,146, or 15.7 per cent, in total amount paid 
in wages; and from $9,049,198 to $11,165,333, or 
23.4 per cent, in value of products.* The classi- 
fication of establishments according to value of 

* United States Census, Bulletin 59, New York State, Manu- 
factures, pp. 6, 10, 1905. 

27 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

products brings to light the fact that in New York 
state in 1905, 212, or 69.7 per cent, of the total 
number of bookbinderies reported the value of 
their yearly output as less than $20,000 for each 
establishment, while only 26, or 8.6 per cent, valued 
their products as high as "$100,000 but less than 
$1,000,000." This small group of 26 binderies 
reported 72.7 per cent of the total capital, about 
$5,500,000, and 53.9 per cent, or 4,306, of the total 
number of wage-earners in the bookbinding in- 
dustry in New York state, while the much larger 
group of 212 binderies jointly claimed onlyio per 
cent, about $750,000, of the capital, and 17.7 per 
cent, or 1,408, of the number of employes.* Thus 
the greater part of the industry is in the hands 
of a few, whose establishments, in value of prod- 
ucts and number of employes, outrank the com- 
bined forces of more than nine-tenths of the 
employers in the trade. 

Official figures in the United States census indi- 
cate a steady growth in the number of women em- 
ployed in the bookbinding trade since 1870, when 
for the first time wage-earning women were sepa- 
rately classified according to their occupations. 
Indeed, it was not until 1850 that any detailed in- 
quiry regarding wage-earning pursuits was made 
by census enumerators, and even then these ques- 
tions did not apply to women and slaves. At that 
time 3,414 men over fifteen years of age were 

* United States Census, Bulletin 59, New York State, Manu- 
factures, p. 41, 1905. 

28 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

recorded as bookbinders.* A decade later, in 
1860, the trade of every free person, man or woman, 
was ascertained, but in the tabulation men and 
women were grouped together, so that for that 
year only the total number of bookbinders, 6,360, 
is known. In later years men and women ten 
years of age and over were counted separately. 
The facts are shown in Table 2. 

TABLE 2 NUMBER OF PERSONS ENGAGED IN BOOK- 
BINDING IN THE UNITED STATES, BY 
DECADES. 1850-1900a 



Census 
Year 


All Persons 


Men 


Women 


Per Cent 
Women 


1850 


b 


3,414 


b 




1860 


6,360 


..b 


_b 


. . 


1870 


9,104 


6,375 


2,729 


30.0 


1880 


13.833 


8,342 


5,49i 


39-7 


1890 


23,858 


12,298 


11,560 


48.5 


1900 


30,278 


14,646 


15,632 


51-6 



* Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Special Reports, Occupa- 
tions, pp. Hi, Ix. 

b Facts not given in the Census. 

Thus, in 1870, when for the first time women in 
occupations were counted separately, 2,729 women 
and 6,375 mer * were found to be employed in the 
bindery trade in the United States. Of these 
groups, 1,309 women and 1,898 men were living in 
New York and Brooklyn. f From this decade on, 
not only did the number of bookbinders (men and 

* Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Special Reports, Occupa- 
tions, p. Ix. 

t Ninth United States Census, 1870. Vol. I, Population and Social 
Statistics, pp. 779, 793. 

29 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

women) increase, but the proportion of women in 
the trade grew rapidly larger. In 1870, 30 per 
cent of the employes in binderies were women 
and 70 per cent were men; in 1880, 39.7 per cent 
were women and 60.3 per cent were men; in 



15,632 



15.000 



10,000 



5,000 




Men Women 
1870 



Men Women 
1880 



Men Women 
1890 



Men Women 
1900 



CHART I. MEN AND WOMEN BOOKBINDERS IN THE UNITED STATES, 
1870, 1880, 1890, AND 1900 

1890, 48.5 per cent were women and 5 1.5 per cent 
were men; in 1900, 5 1.6 per cent were women and 
48.4 per cent were men. The facts are shown in 
Chart I. 

30 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

In 1900, more than 14,000 men and over 
15,000 women were counted as bookbinders 
throughout the country. 

TABLE 3. DISTRIBUTION OF WOMEN BOOKBINDERS. 
UNITED STATES, 1900* 





WOMEN BOOK- 




BINDERS 


Residence 






Number 


Per Cent 


New York, N. Y. 














4,086 


26.1 


Chicago, 111. 














i, 612 


10.3 


Philadelphia, Pa. 














1,168 


7-5 


Boston, Mass. 














897 


5-7 


St. Louis, Mo. 














487 


3-1 


Washington, D. C. 














279 




.8 


Cambridge, Mass. 














274 




.8 


Milwaukee, Wis. 














267 




7 


Jersey City, N. J. 














265 




7 


San Francisco, Cal. 














225 




4 


Cincinnati, O. 














215 




4 


Buffalo, N. Y. 














208 




3 


Cleveland, O. 














172 




.1 


Baltimore, Md. 














164 




.1 


Detroit, Mich. 














158 




.0 


Other cities of 50 ooo or more 








2,372 


15.2 


Smaller cities and country districts 






2,783 


17.8 


Total in the United States. 


15,632 


1 00.0 



a Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Special Reports, Occupa- 
tions. 

Considered geographically, the census states that 
four-fifths of the bindery women in the United 
States were found in the North Atlantic division, 
which includes the three cities of Boston, Phila- 
delphia, and New York.* Of these three cities 

* Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Special Reports, Statistics 
of Women at Work, p. 196. 

31 



III. 



hllm 



O UJ 

m U 

o Z 



N <N T* 



1 3 1 1 a s . .^ I 

3 



^ u 

is 



. 

. 

= 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

the census reports that New York employed 
4,086, Philadelphia, 1,168, and Boston, 897. 

Thus Philadelphia has surrendered to New York 
her supremacy of the time of Mathew Carey. 
Chicago, also, employing 1,612 women, had out- 
stripped Philadelphia. These data are shown 
graphically in Chart II. 

The numbers given for New York in that year 
are, however, not representative of conditions to- 
day. According to our investigation, verified by 
comparison with the records of the State Depart- 
ment of Labor, about 6,000 women are now at work 
in binderies in the borough of Manhattan alone.* 
Table 4 shows roughly their distribution in the 
different branches of the trade. 

TABLE 4 WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING IN 

MANHATTAN IN 1910, BY PRINCIPAL PRODUCT OF 

BINDERIES AND NUMBEROF WOMEN EMPLOYED* 



Product of Binderies 


WOMEN IN BIND- 
ERIES EMPLOYING 


ALL WOMEN 


Less than 
50 Women 


50 or more 
Women 


Number 


Per Cent 


Edition work b 
Pamphlet and maga- 
zine work only 
Job and art binding . 
Blankbook making 


515 

.,338 

9 * 
936 


2,433 
835 


2,948 

2,173 

9 * 
936 


48 
35 

2 

15 


Total . 


2,885 


3,268 


6,153 


IOO 



a Information on this point was secured for 243 binderies, although 
only 2 10 were more thoroughly investigated. In all, 280 binderies, 
or bindery departments, were found in Manhattan. Of these, 37 did 
not report number of employes. 

b Includes binderies with important pamphlet departments, but 
the chief work in each case is edition. 

* For statement as to sources of information see Note at close of 
this^chapter, pp. 36-37. 

3 33 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

Establishments whose chief work is edition 
binding employ 2,948 women, or 48 per cent of 
the total number found at work in this investiga- 
tion. Binders of pamphlets and magazines employ 
35 per cent, and blankbook makers 15 per cent. 
Only 96 women (2 per cent) work in hand binderies. 
As to the size of establishments, the table shows 
that the largest group in the edition branch of the 
trade work in binderies employing 50 or more 
women, while the majority of pamphlet and maga- 
zine binders are in small establishments. All the 
job or art binderies and the blankbook manu- 
factories investigated have forces of less than 50 
women.* 

NATIVITY OF BINDERY WOMEN 

Commenting on the fact that bookbinding is cen- 
tered in the large cities of the country, the census 
characterizes it as "an occupation in which 57.4 
per cent of the women employed are the daughters 
of immigrants.''! Without knowing the names 

* According to the report of the State Department of Labor for 
1910, 1,155 men an d women in the bookbinding trade in New York 
City were employed in shops whose force numbered less than 20; 
4,706 worked in binderies employing 20 to 199, while only 2,254 were 
in establishments employing 200 or more. Report of the New York 
State Department of Labor, Factory Inspection, 1910, p. 316. 

The typical form of ownership has been the individual rather than 
the firm or corporation, but both individual and firm ownership lost 
ground in New York between 1900 and 1905 while corporation owner- 
ship increased. Of all the binderies in the state, only 15.1 per cent 
are incorporated, but they employ 49.8 per cent of the total number 
of wage-earners in the industry. U. S. Census, Bulletin 59, New 
York State, Manufactures, p. 33, 1905. 

t Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Statistics of Women at 
Work, p. 35. 

34 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

of the countries from which these immigrants 
come, however, such a statement would give a 
wrong impression of the nativity and extraction of 
bindery girls in New York. Of 16 trades listed in 
the census as employing 1,000 or more women in 
New York, bookbinding actually has the largest 
proportion of workers of native parentage. The 
birthplaces of the girls interviewed in this investi- 
gation and the nativity of their fathers are shown 
in Table 5, with a column added giving the cor- 
responding census figures. 

TABLE 5. NATIVITY AND NATIVITY OF PARENTS OF 
WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING, NEW YORK CITY 



Country 

of 
Birth 


DATA OF PRESENT INVESTIGA- 

TJON a 


CENSUS 
FIGURES 


Women Born 
as Specified 


Women with 
Fathers Born 
as Specified 


Women with 
Parents Born 
as Specified** 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


United States 
Ireland . 
Germany 
Italy . . 
Russia c . 
Great Britain 
Other Countries' 1 


178 
3 
4 
7 
4 

i 


90.4 
1-5 

2.0 

3.6 

2.0 

5 


47 
59 

20 

3 

12 


,8.7 

3O.O 

12.2 
9.1 

49 

1.8 

7-3 


902 

I.79I 
670 

34 
72 

2 |4 
363 


22.1 

43.8 
16.4 
.8 
1.8 

6.2 

8.9 


Total . . 


197 


IOO.O 


I6 4 


IOO.O 


4,086 


IOO.O 



Of 201 women interviewed, 4 did not supply information as to 
nativity, and 37 as to nativity of fathers. 

b Both parents born as specified, or one as specified and the other 
native born. Mixed foreign parentage is included under "other." 
Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Special Reports, Occupations, 
p. 640. c Including Poland. 

d Includes Bohemia, Scandinavia, Canada, France, Australia. 

35 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

Of the girls interviewed, 90 per cent were born 
in the United States and 29 per cent were of native- 
born parentage, while the largest group (36 per 
cent) were children of Irish fathers, a nationality 
not regarded as "foreign " in New York. The cen- 
sus figures show 22 per cent native parentage, 
and 44 per cent Irish, but in the rank of nations 
represented the census in a general way confirms 
our results, even though the proportions are not 
identical. Judging by these figures, the book- 
binding trade in New York is an excellent occupa- 
tion in which to study the conditions of employ- 
ment of native born, wage-earning women. 

NOTE TO CHAPTER II 

Four sources of information are considered in ascertaining the 
number of women employed in binderies in the borough of Man- 
hattan, the census statistics of population in 1900, the census sta- 
tistics of manufactures in 1900 and in 1905, the report of the New York 
State Department of Labor for the years ending September 30, 1905, 
and 1910, and the records of the investigation on which this report 
is based. Both the census figures and the factory inspectors' reports 
include other minor occupations in the same group and do not dis- 
tinguish the different branches of the trade. In our own investiga- 
tion we have tried to ascertain the minimum and maximum number 
of women employed during the year, but frequent changes in organ- 
ization made it very difficult to secure exact information. The 
interlocking of the various branches of the trade with each other 
and with allied occupations also made accurate classification almost 
impossible. The combined data show some contradictions. 

In 1900, according to the census of population, 4,086 women 
bookbinders were counted in households in New York City, of whom 
1,974 were living in Manhattan and the Bronx, and 2,051 were 
living in Brooklyn. (Undoubtedly many bindery women who work 
in Manhattan live in Brooklyn, and, in the population statistics, 
were enumerated in Brooklyn.) 

In 1900, according to the census of manufactures, 3,119 women 
were counted in binderies in New York City, of whom 2,957 were 
working in Manhattan and the Bronx and 162 were working in 
Brooklyn. 

36 



THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

In 1905, according to the report of the State Department of 
Labor, 3,365 women were counted in binderies in New York City, 
of whom 2,83 1 were working in Manhattan and the Bronx, and 492 
in Brooklyn. 

In 1905, according to the census of manufactures, 3,382 women 
were counted in binderies of New York City, of whom 2,920 were 
working in Manhattan and the Bronx, and 462 were working in 
Brooklyn. 

In 1910, according to the report of the New York State Depart- 
ment of Labor, 4,003 women were counted in binderies in New York 
City, of whom 3,024 were working in Manhattan and the Bronx, 
and 964 were working in Brooklyn. 

In 1908-10, according to this investigation, 6,153 women were 
counted in binderies in Manhattan alone. For the purpose of veri- 
fying our figures, a complete list of binderies investigated in Man- 
hattan was sent to the office of the Department of Labor, and through 
the courtesy of the commissioner the facts regarding the number 
of employes were transcribed from the department's records of 
inspections. According to this list there were 5,653 women employed 
in binderies in Manhattan. Such a figure may be reconciled with 
our own data by bearing in mind the numerous seasonal changes 
in the trade. The discrepancy between it and the published report 
of the State Department of Labor is due to the fact that bindery 
departments of establishments engaged in allied occupations are some- 
times numbered under the heading of the allied industry rather than 
counted separately. 



37 



CHAPTER III 
WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

WOM EN stand only on the threshold of the 
bindery trade. Their work is chiefly con- 
fined to what is called the preparing de- 
partment. They fold the sheets by hand or by 
machine, insert one within another or gather them 
in sequence, paste in pictures or maps, and sew 
the sections together with thread, or stitch them 
with wire. In pamphlet binding they also paste 
on the paper covers, but in edition binderies after 
the books have been sewed, women have no further 
share in the binding except to lay gold on the 
covers for lettering and ornamentation, and to 
examine and wrap the completed volumes. Thus 
they take no part in the important work of the 
forwarding department, which includes all the 
processes between sewing and covering, such as the 
trimming, rounding and backing, lining up and 
gluing, and gilding the edges. In the finishing 
department, where the boards for the covers are 
cut, "cases" made by covering these boards with 
cloth, titles and ornaments stamped, the finished 
covers attached to the forwarded books, and the 
volumes placed in a powerful press, the only tasks 
for women are to lay the gold leaf on the cover be- 

38 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

fore it is stamped, and then to examine and wrap 
the books when they are ready for shipping. 

These processes differ in different branches of 
the trade, and they have changed with the develop- 
ment of machinery. Among the women who told 
us about their trade were a few who had worked in 
binderies in New York in the jo's or 8o's. One of 
them had been an apprentice thirty years earlier 
in Dublin. "We did only the best of work/' she 
said, "Moore's Melodies, Shakespeare, and the 
Bible. We bound them in morocco or vellum. 
We women did the folding and the sewing and a 
little pasting. But now," she added, "the ma- 
chines have changed it all. If ye '11 look at a 
pamphlet, ye'll see that where we girls used to 
stitch with a sharp needle and a linen thread 
there's naught but a piece of wire." Neverthe- 
less, the wire staple has not taken the place of linen 
thread, but rather the industry has widened to 
include both types of work. Description of a few 
typical binderies will best show the kinds of work 
women are doing. 

A good illustration of machine methods, used 
not for pamphlets but for books, is found in the 
work of an edition bindery, an independent es- 
tablishment which has neither publishing nor 
printing departments, and does no pamphlet or 
magazine work. The firm takes orders from pub- 
lishers or printers who have no bindery plants. 
The sheets are received already printed, and piled 
on shelves in the center of the loft. When needed 

39 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

for binding they are placed in a machine which 
cuts them to the size required for folding. They 
are then carried to the women's department. 

The different methods of folding the sheets il- 
lustrate changes going on in the trade. They may 
be fed into one of the six "point" machines, or 
placed in the "automatic" or, very rarely, folded 
by hand, the hand tool for creasing the paper being 
a bone "folder," not unlike a dull paper cutter. 
If the point machine is used, a girl, sitting on a 
high stool, feeds each separate sheet into the ma- 
chine, placing printed dots on needle-like points 
which serve as guides. The machine does the 
rest, driving the sheets in a zigzag course down- 
ward and toward the side, making a fold at each 
turn, and finally dropping the folded sections 
neatly into a box standing ready to receive them. 
They are then ready for the "knockers up" to lift 
out and "jog" straight on a nearby table. If the 
sheets are to be folded by the automatic machine, 
men employed in the bindery stack them under two 
rubber knuckles which push the sheets, one by 
one, toward the folding rollers. The only work 
for women in connection with this machine is to 
see that it folds the sheets properly a task which 
is part of the forewoman's general work of super- 
vision, and finally to lift the folded sections from 
the boxes into which they are delivered the 
work of young girls who are learners in the trade. 
Between the point machine and the automatic is 
another invention, the drop-roll folding machine, 

40 



WOMEN S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

extensively used in the trade, but not found in this 
bindery. In it the points have given place to 
automatic gauges, and the women who feed it 
need only flick each sheet from the pile so that the 
machine can grip it. By dispensing with the 
points on which each sheet must be fitted, time 
is saved. Obviously the next step was to sub- 
stitute rubber knuckles for the hands of women 
workers, with an automatic machine as the result. 

After the sections are folded, plates or maps must 
be pasted in. For this process, hand workers are 
in the ascendancy in this bindery because the past- 
ing machine is still on trial and only one is used. 
Six girls, employed to paste, also hand-fold any 
sheets which do not fit the folding machines. 

The next task is to gather the folded and pasted 
sections to make the volume. These are placed 
on a table in separate piles, arranged in the order 
in which the pages of the book must follow each 
other. The gatherer walks along the row, taking 
a section from each pile in order until the book is 
complete. Then she compares it with a model 
volume, and places her mark upon it in pencil, 
thus making herself responsible for any mistakes. 
This examination is called collating. Sometimes 
the gathering is done by one set of girls and the 
collating by another. A gathering machine is on 
the market, but it is better adapted to magazines 
than to books, and the firm whose shop we are 
describing has not purchased one. 

All the sewing in this establishment is done by 
41 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

machines. Four girls are employed to feed them, 
and each has a helper, a learner who cuts the 
thread between attached volumes. These tasks 
complete the work of the women's department. In 
the finishing department, where the covers are 
made, ornamented, and attached to the books, 
three girls are employed to lay the gold on the 
cover before it is placed in the stamping press, 
and to clear off the superfluous gold after the title 
and ornament have been stamped. Three others 
examine and wrap the completed volumes for ship- 
ping. In all, about 30 women and an equal number 
of men are employed in this establishment. 

It is in the magazine branch of the trade that 
the development of machines has been most 
marked. The methods of work, however, depend 
upon the size and shape of the magazine and the 
number of copies printed. For small issues it 
may not pay to have complicated and expensive 
machinery, and books of a certain shape cannot be 
handled by the machines now on the market. In 
one establishment in New York, four magazines 
are printed and bound. Three are the familiar 
size of a monthly periodical, about 10 inches long 
by 7 inches wide, and one is more than twice as 
large. The three small magazines are folded in 
the printing department, thus taking out of the 
bindery one of the processes usually allotted to 
women. When brought from the printing presses 
the folded sheets are stacked in piles reaching al- 
most to the ceiling. Young girls do this work of 

42 




CASE MAKERS 




GATHERING AND WIRE-STITCHING MACHINE 

(Next in order are the covering machine, the trimmer or cutter, 
and girls wrapping and mailing. Note cleanliness, provision for venti- 
lation, space, and light.) 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

stacking, which is called "beating up." It is from 
these piles that the sections are taken to the com- 
bined gathering and wire-stitching machine. The 
gathering machine has a succession of boxes, one 
for each signature. These are filled in proper 
order by girls, and the machine set in motion by 
the operator. In this bindery the operator is a 
man, although in some very large shops the task 
has been assigned to women. The machine takes 
a section from each box and when the gathering is 
completed passes the magazine along to the wire- 
stitching machine which puts in the wire staple 
to hold the pages together. This obviates the 
necessity of having an operator place each book 
under the needle and press the pedal. After 
being covered, also by machine, the magazine is 
completed. 

The fourth magazine, whose pages are much 
larger, requires a different method of binding. It 
is neither folded on the printing press nor collected 
by the gathering machine. Some of its sheets are 
fed into a drop-roll folding machine operated by a 
girl. One sheet, a two-fold, is folded by hand. 
Instead of being gathered one on top of another, 
the sections are inserted one within another, with 
the cover as the outer sheet. When gathered they 
are opened at the center, slipped over "the saddle" 
of the wire-stitching machine, and the wire in- 
serted. Thus the sections are stitched together 
and the cover put on in one operation. 

If the publishers of one of the three smaller 
43 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

magazines should decide to enlarge the size of 
the pages, conditions in this workroom would 
be changed. The gathering machine would then 
be in operation two weeks instead of three as 
at present, additional folding machines and wire- 
stitchers would be needed, and the force of hand 
folders and inserters would be doubled. This has 
actually happened in another magazine bindery. 
Thus the apparently simple decision of an editor, 
who may never have seen the binders of his maga- 
zine, may cause a complete change in organization 
in a bindery. 

The development of complex machinery, how- 
ever, has not done away with the old-fashioned sew- 
ing machine, nor with any other of the centuries-old 
processes of hand binding. These are still needed 
in the rebinding of single volumes for individuals, 
for public libraries,* or for magazine publishers 
who want the year's issue preserved in one book. 
In one of these hand binderies in New York the 
force of girls varies from three to 10, according 
to the season and the orders received. When 
visited in the course of this investigation, the 
maximum force of 10 women and about twice as 
many men was employed. One girl was "taking 
apart " books to be rebound. To "take apart " a 
book is to remove the covering and to separate the 
sections, one by one, so that they are ready to be 



* In the New York public libraries alone, the number of volumes 
rebound in a year is 100,000. They are not of uniform size, of 
course, and so cannot be handled by machine. 

44 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

sewed again. The pages are then mended or 
cleaned if necessary. Another woman was pasting 
in guards for plates the name given to the full- 
page illustrations in a book. Eight women were 
sitting before the frames which are used for hand 
sewing. When the books have been sewed, they 
are forwarded and finished by men. As the covers 
are tooled and not stamped, the gold is applied 
when the tooling is done, and is never laid on in 
leaf form by another worker, as in edition binderies. 
This establishment is typical of hand binderies in 
every respect except in the number of women em- 
ployed. Usually not more than two or three 
sewers are needed, and they do the general work 
of taking apart, refolding, if necessary, pasting, 
and sewing. 

Thus in hand binderies also the girls' work is 
limited to a few preparatory processes. Although 
in the art branch of the trade, where the hand 
methods already described are used, a few women 
have proved that they can successfully and ar- 
tistically bind a book from the first process of 
folding to the final tooling, they have not yet been 
successful enough from the commercial point of 
view to create new opportunities for any large 
number of women in the trade. The most suc- 
cessful of them are emphatic in their warnings that 
to earn a living by executing artistic bindings a 
woman must possess a rare combination of the 
skill of artist, craftsman, and business woman, and 
in addition she must work hard, concentrate her 

45 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

efforts, and have enough capital to live on during 
the apprenticeship period and the first years of 
her career as a bookbinder. Women art binders, 
then, are so few in number, and have so much 
more in common with the arts and professions than 
with the industry of bookbinding, that they cannot 
be regarded as representative of the large group of 
girls who are trying to earn a living by folding, 
or knocking up, or wire-stitching. Nor does it 
appear that the art binder is blazing a trail which 
is likely to lead these other workers toward larger 
opportunities. The typical woman bookbinder is 
the one who is at work in the commercial binderies 
performing certain tasks known in the trade as 
women's work. 

Although in one sense these tasks of women are 
merely preliminary processes, nevertheless they 
are important, and require speed and deftness of 
touch. Unless women do their part well the book 
may be ruined. In hand folding, the printing on 
each page must exactly coincide in position with 
that on the other pages, so that when the book is 
trimmed the margins may be uniform. Thus, not 
the edge of the sheet but the printing on the page 
must serve as a guide. Furthermore, the fold 
must be neat and true and well creased. To deft- 
ness and to accuracy must be added speed. A 
college graduate who once went to work in a bind- 
ery practiced hand folding for four weeks without 
being able to pass beyond the stage of the beginner. 

In machine folding, an understanding of hand 
46 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

folding is necessary to detect errors in the machine 
work, and in addition the operator must have 
some knowledge of the working of the machine and 
be able to feed the sheets at the right speed to 
keep pace with its movement. Very much the 
same requirements ability to detect errors, to 
handle the sheets deftly and quickly, and to man- 
age a machine are necessary in the work of 
filling the boxes of the gathering machine and in 
operating the wire-stitching machine or the sewing 
machine. To run the sewing machine, however, 
is considered the most skilled work in the bindery, 
partly because the books which are sewed are more 
valuable than the wire-stitched pamphlet or maga- 
zine, and partly because the process is complex. 
To touch the back of a section with paste and 
then to place it over the revolving arm of the 
machine, while picking up the next section, watch- 
ing the threads, and throwing aside badly folded 
or mutilated sheets, requires the sort of co- 
operation of head and hand which cannot be ac- 
quired without long practice. 

The hand work too must be carefully done. 
"We do our own collating," said one girl, who 
was employed as a gatherer in an edition bind- 
ery, "and we're so afraid of making a mistake. 
They used to have collators besides the gatherers, 
but they found it was too expensive. When two 
girls work together we don't have so big a worry. 
If you come to the end of your book and find two 
or three sheets over, you wonder what has become 

47 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

of the other sheets. You know you must have left 
one out or maybe gathered the same sheets twice. 
Nobody wants to buy a book that's got two sig- 
natures alike in it. But a girl who had been 
gathering a hundred years might make the same 
mistake as one that had been at it three months. 
When you do one thing all the time you lose the 
feeling in your fingers, you're likely to pick up 
two sheets at a time." 

" It's a strain in bindery work to be sure not to 
make mistakes," said another girl, in describing 
the work of the pasters. " A book is easily spoiled. 
1 know a girl that put a picture of Longfellow in a 
copy of 'As You Like It.' Nobody knew it until 
she looked at another girl's book that had a picture 
of Shakespeare. She said, 'That doesn't look like 
the picture I pasted. He was a funny looking 
man, but not as funny as that.' It's bad to make 
mistakes like that. If the customer happens to 
be cranky, the book comes back." Some knowl- 
edge of the contents of books is an asset for a 
bindery girl. 

Description of the demands made upon bindery 
girls or of the conditions under which they work 
would be misleading if it gave the impression of 
uniformity and permanence in methods. On the 
contrary, the irregularity of work and the fre- 
quent change in conditions are the characteristics 
of the industry which seem to be uppermost in 
the minds of bindery girls when they talk about 
their trade. Again and again a conversation 

48 



WOMEN S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

would begin with such a remark as, " I don't ad- 
vise any girl to go into bindery work. It's a very 
uncertain trade. You never know when you'll be 
laid off. The machines are driving the girls out." 

The machine is the great fact which looms large 
before the eyes of bindery women when they de- 
scribe changes in their trade. They accept its 
introduction as they would accept a rainy day, 
but to them it often means that someone in the 
bindery will be laid off, and the calamity of unem- 
ployment is more immediate and real to the 
workers than the advantage of better methods 
of production to some unknown customer. 

A survey of the catalogues of machine companies 
brings a vivid realization of the development of 
machine binding. The new inventions have been 
so fully described in the preceding pages that it is 
necessary only to summarize them here. In place 
of the hand folder is a self-feeding machine, or else 
an attachment on the printing press by which the 
process of folding is taken away from the bindery 
department.* Inserting may be done by machine. 
The pasting machine, a comparatively recent in- 

* Recognizing this fact, a resolution was passed by the Interna- 
tional Brotherhood of Bookbinders, in convention in June, 1908, 
which read: 

"Whereas, cutting and folding machines are instruments of the 
bindery and as such should be conceded to be under the jurisdic- 
tion of International Brotherhood of Bookbinders; therefore be it 

"Resolved By the delegates of this nth annual convention that 
the President stand instructed or a special committee be appointed 
to attend the pressmen's convention immediately after I. B. of B. 
adjournment to present a suitable set of resolutions before the Inter- 
national Printing Pressmen and Assistants' union for ratification." 
International Bookbinder, Vol. IX, No. 6, p. 172 (June, 1908). 

4 49 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

vention, takes the place of the girls who put in the 
"waste" papers, the blank sheets at the front and 
back of a volume. The gathering machine, too 
recent an invention to have made its way into all 
establishments, may rob hand gatherers and also, 
in cheap work, collators of their tasks. Wire- 
stitching machines and sewing machines are no 
longer regarded as innovations, but are well es- 
tablished throughout the trade. In many bind- 
eries pamphlets are covered by machine. From 
Germany comes a rumor of an attempt to construct 
an attachment for the stamping press, to do the 
work now done by gold layers. Finally, there 
is the further development of combination ma- 
chines, which perform several operations, such as 
folding, inserting, gathering, and wire-stitching. 
The first introduction of a new invention is but 
the beginning of a long series of improvements. 
Manufacturers of machinery usually state in their 
catalogues that they will gladly construct any new 
attachments which customers may desire. The 
chief argument for the introduction of a new ma- 
chine is usually that it is labor-saving. To save 
labor often means to dismiss a laborer, and behind 
the stories of the triumphs of the inventors one 
may expect to find the equally human, if less 
cheering, stories of the displaced workers. Their 
experiences are significant in so far as they illus- 
trate the social problem of industrial readjust- 
ments. In anticipation of facts about wages, 
reference must be made in these illustrations to 

50 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

changes in earning power resulting from changes in 
machines. 

One girl had been employed in bindery work 
three years. As a learner she had knocked up 
sections folded by the point machines. When 
a vacancy occurred she was given a chance to 
operate the machine. It was not easy to learn, 
nor could it be done in a day or a week. At first 
she received a weekly wage of $4.50 as a learner, 
but "advanced rapidly" until she was earning 
$9.00 as an operator of the machine. One day 
(it was on Good Friday, 1908, she said, remember- 
ing the time vividly), an automatic machine ap- 
peared in the workroom and proved so successful 
that it was used in preference to the point folders. 
This girl was transferred to hand folding, which, 
she says, is "terrible work." It is hard to earn a 
living wage by hand folding; a cent or a cent and 
a half is paid for folding 100 sheets if one fold is 
necessary. If the sheets are large and heavy 
like those in a dictionary the work of folding is 
very exhausting, although the pay may be higher. 
This girl received 4 cents a hundred for folding the 
pages of an encyclopedia, but in spite of her efforts 
to work rapidly she could not earn more than $7.00 
a week. At 4 cents for folding 100 sheets a 
worker to earn $7.00 must fold nearly 3,000 sheets 
in a day, or 17,500 in a week. Moreover, each 
sheet must be folded three times, and each fold 
creased smoothly by drawing the bone folding knife 
across the heavy paper. Even this laborious 

51 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

work, however, was taken away from her when 
the encyclopedia was finished. The forewoman 
thought that there would be no more work for 
"point folders/' and advised her to learn some 
other process elsewhere. She went to a bindery 
where she heard a point folder was needed, but 
the machine was not the same make as the one 
which she had been operating, and therefore she 
was not employed.* After a fruitless search for 
work in her trade, she found employment in a 
neckwear factory as a learner without wages. 
Later, as an experienced operator in this trade, 
she earned from $7.00 to $9.00 a week. 

A general hand worker in another bindery was 
laid off after a year's employment because of the 
introduction of a folding machine which could be 
fed by a boy. "She walked the streets for three 
weeks/' said her mother, "trying to find work/' 
Then she became a waitress in a restaurant at 
$5.00 a week, plus tips. "There is much better 
money in waitress work than in binderies," she 
said. "They can't earn good wages in the bind- 
ery trade any more since all the machines have 
come in. When I told an old bindery hand that I 
earned $6.00 piece work the first week I ever did 
hand folding, she wouldn't believe me. She said 
they used to earn that much years ago, but not 
now." 

* The style of this last machine was so out-of-date that inquiry at 
the office of its maker resulted first in a denial that the firm had ever 
manufactured any folding machines. Finally a picture of it was 
found in an old catalogue issued by this company. 

52 



WOMEN S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

An operator of a point folding machine worked 
in a large edition bindery. New inventions were 
introduced, and gradually more and more work was 
transferred to them. This girl was paid by the 
piece, instead of having a fixed weekly wage, and 
her earnings were depressed steadily as the machine 
which she was operating fell into disuse. She had 
learned only two other processes, hand folding and 
filling the boxes of the gathering machine. No 
gathering machine was used in this bindery, and 
the prices for hand folding were not high enough 
to yield a living wage. The forewoman offered 
to teach her to gather by hand. Gathering is not 
easy work. "At first," the girl said, "I was so 
tired at night I could hardly keep my eyes open 
at supper. I wish I had one of those things you 
put on your feet to measure the distance you walk; 
I'd like to know how many miles I walk in a day. 
There are no boys to carry our work. The folding 
machines are at the other end of the bindery, and 
we carry the work the distance from one street 
to another. That's a block." Her experience in 
handling sheets, however, made it possible for her 
to learn the new process easily, so that by the end 
of six months she was earning approximately 
from $10 to J5i i a week, piece work, whereas the 
point folding machine had yielded her a maximum 
wage of only $9.00 or $10. 

A girl who had been employed in the bindery 
trade for four years was an expert operator of a 
wire-stitching machine in a magazine bindery. 

53 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

Her wages, at piece rates, ranged from $10 to $15. 
Then a combination gathering and wire-stitching 
machine was purchased. She was offered the 
work of filling the boxes of the new machine at a 
weekly wage of $8. 10 (15 cents an hour). She re- 
fused, and secured work in another bindery in the 
same building, where the new invention had not 
yet been introduced, and where operators of wire- 
stitching machines were still in demand. But 
her earnings here ranged from $10 to $12, instead 
of from $10 to $15. 

Another displaced worker was one of 12 gath- 
erers who were laid off when a gathering machine 
was introduced. She had been employed in the 
same bindery nine years, and in the two busy weeks 
of the month she had earned $3.00 and sometimes 
$4.00 in a day. The machine was purchased in 
September, 1904. This girl and two others were 
retained for a remnant of hand gathering until the 
following January. "We cost the firm money," 
she said, "because there was a boy to carry sheets 
for us at $6.00 a week, and we were making good 
wages."* 

In the slack weeks of the month this girl had 
been transferred occasionally to the office of the 
bindery. When she lost her position it occurred 
to her that she might address envelopes, fold cir- 
culars for mailing, and do general office work in 



* Four years later the foreman stated that the machine had 
saved the firm nearly $30 a day in wages, because of its labor-saving 
character and its greater productive power. 

54 




GATHERING BY HAND 




GATHERING MACHINE 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

some other establishment. Two employment bu- 
reaus discouraged her in this ambition for a com- 
mercial career, and she finally applied at another 
bindery where her special work was to insert one 
folded sheet within another. Employment was 
steady throughout the month, and her average 
earnings were " about as much" as in her previous 
occupation. 

In another bindery a gathering machine was 
installed on trial, and three or four collators were 
transferred to the work of filling the boxes. The 
machine did not prove satisfactory, and the girls 
went back to their hand work. Knowing, how- 
ever, that inventors were busily striving to im- 
prove their mechanical devices, collators and 
gatherers alike were numbering their days, in ex- 
pectation of another reorganization of their work. 

One gatherer, who had had long experience, 
"made a fuss" when the gathering machine was 
introduced, and backed by her trade union (an 
organization to be described later), she was given 
an opportunity to operate it at a wage of $18, the 
regular rate paid to men for this work. She was 
successful, and the position was assigned her per- 
manently. Young girls were employed to fill the 
boxes. The other gatherers were obliged to learn 
other processes in this establishment or seek work 
elsewhere. 

Another worker had inserted the sheets of a 
weekly periodical, earning a maximum wage of 
$14 a week, at piece rates, when working over- 

55 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

time. A machine was introduced which folded, 
gathered, inserted, and wire-stitched the maga- 
zine. It was operated by a man, and this girl 
with a dozen others was laid off. After working 
only one week in a pamphlet bindery where both 
"night and day gangs" of women were employed, 
she left because she was to be transferred to the 
night shift. The girls who worked at night " looked 
so worn out," she said. Two weeks later she found 
work as examiner and wrapper in an edition bind- 
ery, with a drop in wages from $14 to $5.00 a week. 

The important fact common to all these stories 
is that no systematic effort was made to prevent 
the maladjustment, which was due not to the in- 
efficiency of the workers, but to change in in- 
dustrial organization. The displaced employes 
were given no chance to prepare for these changes; 
the appearance of the machine in the workroom 
was usually their first warning that they must seek 
other occupations. Yet the changes were not 
violent, but merely a gradual development of 
mechanical devices. Sometimes weeks passed 
before the worker finally left the bindery, after 
having been transferred to other processes. But 
in the unguided attempt to learn new processes 
or find other positions there was much wasted 
effort and loss of time. 

It does not appear that this loss of time was a 
necessary evil. On the contrary, it seems very evi- 
dent that solutions were possible, and that the suf- 
fering of the [workers was due to the fact that 

56 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

readjustments were matters of chance rather than 
of forethought. 

Almost as important as the introduction of 
machinery is the failure to introduce it. Natur- 
ally all the larger establishments use machinery, 
although not always the newest models. None 
of those employing 50 or more women reported 
that they had no machinery, but small establish- 
ments frequently lack it. Of 210 binderies in 
which this question was asked 174 used some 
machine;* 36 firms owned no machines. Only 17 
had gathering machines; 90 had folding machines. 

Many employers, especially in small binderies, dis- 
cussed the use of machinery and gave their reasons 
for not introducing it. "The machine changes all 
the time," said one, who specialized in one process 
only, numbering checks, bonds, insurance poli- 
cies, etc. " I can't risk the capital for a machine 
which might change soon again. I'd rather stick 
to one line. Then I can give out other processes to 
another binder and make one or two cents on the 
thousand without any risk. That's why so many 
binderies give out their work. The machines 
change so fast. I get most of my orders from other 
binders." 

Another employer said that he had paid 
$1,600 for a folding machine but that it was very 
seldom used. The girls in the bindery all could 
fold by hand, and he preferred to give the work to 

* Includes folding, sewing, wire-stitching, gathering, numbering 
machines, etc. 

57 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

them when they had nothing else to do. " I have 
a girl coming on Monday to do hand sewing/' said 
another. "We have no sewing machine. I had 
an order recently which required the sewing ma- 
chine but I could give that part of the work to 
another bindery." 

One bookbinder said that he would prefer to 
use a gathering machine since it would be cheaper 
than hand work, but that it would fill half the work- 
room and he could not afford the space for it. 
Another said that it would not pay to have a 
gathering machine, because there would not be 
enough work for it. Still another, who specialized 
in small orders for blankbooks, said that his work 
was chiefly in lots of 1,000 or 2,000, and that the 
gauge of the machine would have to be changed 
too often to make its use practicable. Nor would 
there be enough work to keep the machine in 
operation all day. Another bindery had no ma- 
chinery for gathering, inserting, or covering. 
The foreman said that "it paid better to give this 
work to a bindery which had the machines." 

Another employer had not bought a pasting 
machine because it was "not yet practicable for 
anything but small work/' The reason given in 
one bindery for having no gathering machine was 
that it was "adapted only for long runs," such 
as large issues of magazines. Finally, in one of 
the largest establishments a magazine is still gath- 
ered by hand because, it was said, the numerous 
plates in the periodical divide it into more sections 

58 






WOMEN S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

than there are boxes in the ordinary gathering 
machine. This defect, obviously, would soon be 
remedied and the machine installed. Of the 28 
gatherers, "five or six of the best would be re- 
tained"; the others would be laid off. 

In some binderies, of course, the newest ma- 
chines are purchased as soon as they are placed on 
the market. Their owners have pointed out the 
results : more systematic organization of the work, 
specialization both in the line of work done by the 
bindery, and in the processes assigned to each em- 
ploye; and sometimes a decrease in the force of 
women employed. 

"The machines have cut our force in half," said 
one employer. "Seven or eight years ago we em- 
ployed 60 or 70 girls. Now we have 30 with just 
as large an output." "Last year we had 70 or 80 
girls. We bought some machines and now we have 
30 or 40," said a forewoman. This sounds like a 
contradiction of the census figures showing in- 
crease in the size of establishments measured by 
number of employes. As a matter of fact, both 
the workers' impression of unemployment as the 
result of introducing new machines, and the census 
facts about growth in numbers following after any 
improvement in mechanical methods, are true. 
Unemployment comes first and growth later, and 
changing processes result in a change in person- 
nel in the workroom. These changing processes 
might often pave the way for a possible improve- 
ment in conditions of employment if more atten- 

59 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

tion were given to the workers' problems during 
the transitional period. 

One of the most definitely organized workrooms 
in New York is owned by a man whose policy is 
always to use the newest inventions. " If you 
were to tell him there was a new machine on the 
market/' said his foreman, "he'd get rid of one he 
bought a month ago, and put it in." Twelve 
girls are employed, and a definite wage is paid for 
each process. One girl is employed to feed the 
drop-roll folding machines ; four girls take the 
sheets from the automatic folder and jog them 
straight, ready for gathering; one fills the boxes of 
the gathering machine, to which a wire-stitcher is 
attached; one takes the completed books from the 
covering machine, which is operated by a man; 
and five are employed to wrap the copies for mail- 
ing. 

In another bindery, where magazines and cheap 
paper-covered novels are bound, the use of ma- 
chines is largely due to the enterprise of the super- 
intendent. Two years ago a great deal of the 
work was done by hand. The superintendent 
made an offer to the firm to lease the bindery 
from them on a fifteen years' contract, buy ma- 
chinery, and do their binding at a lower rate than 
it had cost with the system of hand work. Mem- 
bers of the firm were interested and decided to 
buy several machines, which the superintendent 
said had paid for themselves within six months. 
Following the introduction of machines, a defi- 

60 



WOMEN S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

nite minimum rate per hour was attached to each 
process except wire-stitching and a small rem- 
nant of hand gathering. 

The way in which machinery breaks up a trade 
into establishments which make a specialty of one 
branch of work, has been noted. The other form 
of specialization is illustrated in the case of em- 
ployes who practice only one process in the work- 
room. This sort of specialization does not seem 
to be unavoidable. In the bindery described in 
the preceding paragraph, "all round" workers are 
in demand, and those who can turn from one proc- 
ess to another are not laid of? so often as those 
who know only one process. But, however great 
may be the demand for employes experienced in 
more than one line of work, it is the tendency of 
machinery to force a worker to practice only one. 
If a girl is a "piece worker/' to lose practice means 
to lose wages. On the other hand, the machine 
will not yield its maximum profit unless it is kept 
in constant operation. Thus, while general prac- 
tice in all branches of the trade brings to the 
worker a very desirable power of adjustment 
to changing conditions, nevertheless, the em- 
ployer's wish to keep his machines in motion, and 
the piece workers' eagerness not to lose the speed 
which comes from constant practice, both tend to 
organize the bindery force into separate depart- 
ments, whose workers are not interchangeable. 
The same demand of the machine, that it be fed 
with enough work to keep it in constant motion, 

61 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

forces the employer either to specialize in one de- 
partment, or to secure more orders and to enlarge 
his establishment. 

It is obvious that the larger the establishment, 
the more successful will be the attempt to keep 
every machine in motion throughout the working 
day. "Establishments are now so large that a 
woman learns only one process," said one superin- 
tendent. " For example, she becomes a sewer and 
does nothing but that." In the light of this fact, 
the census figures* are significant: New York 
state had only six more binderies in 1905 than 
in 1900 (304 in 1905, 298 in 1900), an increase 
of 2 per cent, while the number of wage-earners 
was increased by 832, or n.6 per cent. Of the 
total number of 7,984 wage-earners in 1905, more 
than half, 4,306, were employed in 26 large estab- 
lishments. Thus the tendency seems to be to 
enlarge the establishment, and this may cause 
more pronounced specialization. 

On the other hand, the larger the establishment, 
the greater the choice of processes for those work- 
ers who have had opportunity to learn more than 
one branch of the trade. It is easier to be trans- 
ferred from one department to another under the 
same roof than to seek work elsewhere. 

But the workers are not always able to 
take advantage of such possible transfers, for 
specialization affects also their ability to turn 
from one kind of product to another. In a 

* See pp. 27, 28. 
62 



WOMEN S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

large bindery in New York several periodicals 
are bound. A girl employed there complained of 
the irregularity of her work. "It seems pretty 
hard/' she said, "to have to stay home two days 
in the week and then have to work so hard the 
other days." Her irregular employment was due 
to the different methods of binding the different 
periodicals. Two weekly magazines are brought 
to the bindery on Tuesday and must be mailed on 
Thursday. Hand folders and wire-stitchers are 
needed to bind them. An engineers' magazine 
must be bound Tuesday and Friday. The work 
on this is hand folding, gathering by machine, and 
sewing by machine, instead of wire-stitching. 
Another publication is brought from the printer 
on Friday and issued on Monday. It is folded by 
machine and wire-stitched. On Friday evening 
and Saturday there is no work for a hand folder or 
an operator of the sewing machine. Wednesday 
is the busiest day in the bindery. Two magazines 
must be completed for the mailers on Thursday. 
Overtime is usual on that day. This girl could fold 
by hand, fill the gathering machine, and operate 
the sewing machine. She worked from Tuesday 
to Friday. She reported that at hand folding 
she could earn 75 cents or $i .00 a day. For filling 
the gathering machine the rate was 18 cents an 
hour, or $1.53 a day. But neither of these pro- 
cesses lasted six days in the week so that her 
earnings during the previous three weeks had 
been $3.19, $7.75, and $3.21. If she had been 

63 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

steadily employed she could have earned from 
$5.00 to $8.00 a week as a hand folder, or $9.09 
for filling the gathering machine. Had she un- 
derstood machine folding or wire-stitching she 
might have worked every day. Not lack of work 
to be done, but inability to turn from one process 
to another was responsible for the irregular 
employment of the specialized workers in this 
bindery. 

Moreover, when different kinds of orders de- 
mand different processes, the specialist must be 
prepared to face not only change in machinery, 
but change in the size or character of her employer's 
orders. Recently a magazine which had been 
gathered by machine was enlarged by doubling 
the size of its pages. Thereafter a force of in- 
serters was employed and there was no work for 
gatherers. In another bindery a girl who had 
been employed to operate the sewing machine in 
the book department was transferred to the maga- 
zine department where her work was to look over 
sheets folded by machine and to fill the boxes of 
the gathering machine. Her pay was reduced 
from $10 to a wage varying from $5.00 to $7.00, ac- 
cording to the kind of work assigned to her. This 
transfer from work on one product to another re- 
quiring different processes was due to the fact that 
much of the book work formerly done by this firm 
depended upon orders from a large publishing house 
which had recently organized its own bindery. 

If we trace the history of the folding or the 
64 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

gathering machine we find that with the develop- 
ment of automatic feeding devices the tendency is 
to dispense with the work of women and to em- 
ploy men merely to care for the machines. This 
change is not a displacement of women workers by 
men, but a reorganization of the force due to the 
substitution of rubber fingers, or other automatic 
feeders, for women workers. 

What then is the meaning of the census figures 
cited in the last chapter, which tell us that in 1870, 
30 per cent of the bookbinders were women and 
70 per cent were men, while in 1900, 5 1 .6 per cent 
were women and 48.4 per cent were men? This 
rapid shifting of the relative proportion of men and 
women would lead the statistician to suppose that 
in this trade was to be found a perfect example of 
the displacement of men by women. Behind the 
figures one seems to read the story of a struggle in 
which men have been losers. Yet the comments 
of workers and employers, and the conditions 
observed in binderies, contradict this conclusion. 
Evidently more facts are needed to jthrow light on 
the census figures. 

In the absence of any data as to the number of 
men and women employed in different branches 
of the trade in 1870 and in 1900, the answer must 
be, in part, merely hypothetical. Judging by the 
present tendencies in the trade, the cause of the 
change in the proportion of men and women would 
appear to be two-fold. It has been pointed out 
that the share of women in hand binding is rela- 
5 65 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

tively small, that they do only the folding, gather- 
ing, and sewing, and that the numerous processes 
of forwarding and finishing have been usually in 
the hands of men. Hence, in the early days of 
the trade when hand binderies predominated, men 
were in the majority. In the development of the 
industry, two important changes took place. 
With the introduction of machinery many pro- 
cesses of forwarding and finishing were omitted, 
while others were combined in one simple operation, 
thus lessening the relative number of men needed 
in edition binderies. At the same time, the greatly 
increased production of pamphlets which need 
only be folded, gathered, stitched, and covered, 
enlarged the demand for the processes always done 
by women. Thus it would appear that without 
any shifting of the line between men's work and 
women's work, the proportion of women steadily 
increased between 1870 and 1900. 

If during the three decades between 1870 and 
1900 there was a struggle between men and 
women, with a transfer of processes to women, 
it seems to have left no trace on present trade con- 
ditions. We found instances of this kind of trans- 
fer so scattered as to seem to be the exceptions to 
prove the rule. One girl, who had learned the 
trade in a small bindery, had had practice in almost 
every process of men's work. Finally, however, 
she learned gold laying, and confined herself to 
that branch of the trade. Another girl, employed 
in an edition bindery, "sets up" several folding 

66 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

machines; in other binderies the same work is 
done by men. One girl cut leather corners for 
blankbooks; when she was laid off she could not 
find work because in other establishments boys are 
employed for this process. A forewoman in a 
bindery told of a man and his daughter who had 
worked together "casing-in" books, a process 
usually done by men. ''They made good money/' 
she said, "but now the union is strong enough to 
keep the women out." One girl /had been em- 
ployed to "pinch" books and to use the round 
cornering machine. These things are usually 
done by men, but the establishment was small 
when she began, and girls did some of the men's 
work. Another girl described with some amuse- 
ment the way in which she had pasted canvas on 
boards at 30 cents per hundred, taking the work 
from a man who had been earning a rate of 40 
cents. In one large edition bindery a woman 
cares for some of the machines with the skill of a 
trained machinist. 

But these are exceptional cases. The possi- 
bility of carrying on more processes than at present 
fall to their share in the trade does not appear 
to be a burning question among the majority of 
women. "The women would just say, 'That's 
men's work,'" replied one employer, when asked 
the attitude of his women employes regarding an 
extension of their opportunities. One girl, who 
had fed a ruling machine, a task requiring no skill, 
was asked if she had ever wished to learn to operate 

67 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

the machine. "Oh, no," she said, "ruling is gentle- 
men's work. There are no lady rulers. The gen- 
tlemen have their hands in the ink pot all day, 
and no lady wants to get her hands inked like 
that." "A woman can learn to feed the ruling 
machine in a day," another explained. "She 
doesn't need to bother with managing it." "The 
smell of the glue is awful," said another, speaking 
of covering books. "It's a man's work." Still 
another, describing a machine which could fold, 
gather, and insert, said, "It's a man's work," 
although each of these processes formerly had 
belonged to women. 

Nor do employers appear to have given much 
thought to the question. One, an art binder, 
said that the work of women was restricted only 
by the men's trade union, and that women were 
capable of doing men's work. He added, how- 
ever, that a woman would find it difficult to work 
fast enough to make her employment profitable in 
processes commonly done by men. Another, the 
superintendent of an edition bindery, said that 
the tasks of women were restricted by their lack 
of capacity, not by the rule of any organization; 
they would not have strength to handle the ma- 
chines which the men operate. Another, a job 
binder, asserted that he employed women for tem- 
porary work only, because they were not strong 
enough to lift books and "be generally useful." 
" If you employ a woman, you can't give her any- 
thing but sewing," said another job binder, "while 

68 




PRESS AND PLOW MACHINE 
(The primitive way of plowing or cutting) 




TRIMMING MAGAZINES 
(The new method) 



WOMEN'S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

a man can turn his hand to other things." On 
the contrary, the superintendent of a magazine 
bindery declared that there was no process in his 
workroom which could not be done by women. " I 
could put a girl to work operating the cutting 
machine/' he said, "if I paid her $18 a week. I 
know two big binderies where women are operating 
the gathering machines and earning $18 a week. 
1 could have a woman tend the large folding ma- 
chine if I paid her the same as the union scale for 
men. I don't know why I don't, except that I 
see no good reason why I should." 

In the course of the inquiry, instances of the 
transfer of women's work to men or boys were 
found to be more numerous than the reverse. Men 
were at work operating folding machines and 
sewing machines, feeding the ruling machine, and 
folding and sewing by hand. Boys were found 
emptying the boxes of the folding machine, sewing 
by hand, cleaning off the books after they had 
been stamped, and operating the wire-stitching 
machines. The development of automatic feeding 
devices for the folding machine and the invention 
of gathering machines and covering machines have 
caused these processes also to be transferred to men 
in many binderies. Indeed, the census of 1905 
showed that, in New York City, in the five years 
since 1900,* the number of bindery women had not 
increased so rapidly as the number of men, and 

*Compare Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Manufactures, 
Part II, p. 621, and United States Census, 1905, Manufactures, 
Part II, p. 770. 

69 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

that although women still outnumbered men they 
were losing ground. A woman who had fed a 
point folding machine, and lost her position be- 
cause of the introduction of the" automatic " tended 
by a man, remarked, "A man is paid according to 
what he knows, and not according to what he 
does." It is certainly true that the tender of a 
large complex machine, fitted with all the devices 
for feeding itself, must be one who knows rather 
than one who does. Women without mechanical 
training have small chance of securing the work 
of managing the new machines. 

In view of the changes that have been de- 
scribed, the future of women's work in binderies 
is problematical. It is the opinion of some bind- 
ers that women could be trained to carry on 
artistic hand binding in all its departments, but 
it seems unlikely that the best opportunities in 
art binding would be open at first to any but 
women of the professional type. In machine 
binderies, it would seem to be largely the lack of 
opportunity to acquire mechanical skill which 
prevents women from adjusting themselves to new 
inventions and retaining their former place in 
the trade. Nevertheless, the changes are much 
less rapid or revolutionary than some of the re- 
marks of workers and employers would indicate, 
and the hardships of the workers could be avoided 
if more attention were paid to their problems. 
Machines have appropriated more processes in mag- 
azine binderies than in any other branch of the 

70 



WOMEN S WORK IN THE BINDERIES 

trade, but even in establishments where the new- 
est inventions are found women workers are still 
needed, although often they are not the same 
women who formerly worked there. The pro- 
cesses have changed, and the personnel of the 
force usually changes also with the reorganization 
of the work. But in spite of the tendencies re- 
vealed by such occurrences a view of the trade as 
a whole indicates that the number of women em- 
ployed in the industry will probably continue to 
increase. 



CHAPTER IV 
WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

OF all the complex factors to be considered 
in describing a trade, the most vital is the 
relation of the wage scale to the main- 
tenance of wholesome living conditions among 
the workers. To discuss women's wages merely 
as a phase of trade problems, unrelated to the life 
of the worker outside the workroom, is to miss the 
real significance of the conditions of their work. 
For this reason, two important subjects, wages 
and home conditions, are brought together for 
discussion in this chapter. 

Many difficulties are encountered in investigat- 
ing wages. The private investigator, without ac- 
cess to payrolls, is handicapped in securing facts 
from employers. Variations in methods in differ- 
ent establishments, and changes from day to day 
in the same workroom, are obstacles in the way of 
getting clear-cut, definite information. "We have 
no fixed wage scale; it all depends on the girl/' 
is a remark heard frequently when employers are 
asked what wages are actually received by women 
employes. "Some girls can make 50 cents and 
others $2.50 a day. There is no uniformity." 

72 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

The method of paying by the piece rather than 
by a fixed weekly rate also obscures the real facts. 
The crowding of work at one season, and employ- 
ment only for part time, or no work at all, at 
another season, produces great confusion in esti- 
mating the bindery girl's income. 

For these reasons general statements about the 
range of pay in a given establishment have not 
proved so dependable a source of information as 
the case study of the workers interviewed. The 
records of these workers show the length of their 
employment in bookbinding, and the weekly wage 
received in each place of employment, including 
the first wage, the last, and the maximum. If 
they were piece workers the range of their earnings 
is recorded. 

The three methods of payment found in bind- 
eries are called, in the trade vocabulary, piece work, 
time work, and week work. Piece workers are 
given jobs on which a certain price per 100 sheets 
has been set; the number produced determines 
the earnings. Time workers are paid by the hour, 
at a different rate for different processes. A girl 
may be a piece worker during part of the day and 
then become a time worker. Week workers re- 
ceive a regular wage by the week, which does not 
vary with variations in the amount produced. 
Obviously, however, no week worker could retain 
her place without producing a satisfactory mini- 
mum output. 

The processes of work and the size of the estab- 
73 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

lishment seem to be the most important factors in 
determining the method of payment. When a 
worker turns frequently from one process to an- 
other, or when the same process is applied to many 
different kinds of products, then the piece work 
method is not convenient. "We have to pay 
numberers by the week," said one employer; 
"piece work would keep a bookkeeper busy cal- 
culating the rate and pay for each job." "My 
girls are all week workers," said the owner of 
a small establishment. "They can't make any- 
thing on piece work unless there's plenty of one 
kind." Job binderies, therefore, handling books 
of all sorts and varieties, singly or in small num- 
bers, usually adopt the time or week methods of 
payment; so also do employers of small forces of 
general workers. But for binders of large editions 
of books handled by the thousands, all identical, 
the piece work system affords an accurate test of 
each worker's earning power. The firm thus avoids 
payment for work not done. As time and week 
workers' wages are usually lower than the maxi- 
mum possible earning of piece workers, many 
bindery women prefer the piece-work system. 

The workers interviewed were asked what wage 
they had last received in the bookbinding trade, 
and their answers, classified in Table 6 according 
to length of experience, show the bindery girl's 
chances for increase in earnings. Of the workers 
considered, 1 33 were paid by the week or time, and 
60 were piece workers. 

74 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

TABLE 6. WEEKLY WAGES OF WOMEN EMPLOYED IN 

BOOKBINDING BY YEARS OF EMPLOYMENT 

IN THE TRADE* 





WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN 
EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING 


TOTAL 




V. 


2 


<** 


S 


5 






Weekly Wages 


^ 


^| 


ill 


| 


5 


| 


5 




1 

I* 


Q 8 


** 


il 


1 


1 







M 
















J 


v 


so 


^^ 


^ 






Under $5.00 


26 


10 


I 


, 




38 


19.7 


$5.00 and under $6.00 


5 


12 


4 


i 


. . 


22 


11.4 


$6.00 and under $7.00 


3 


II 


6 


i 


i 


22 


11.4 


$7.00 and under $8.00 




10 


5 


7 


i 


23 


ii 9 


$8.00 and under $9.00 


. . 


8 


8 


10 


3 


29 


15.0 


$9.00 and under $10.00 




2 


5 


9 


2 


18 


9-3 


$10.00 and under $12.00 




2 


7 


18 


6 


33 


17.1 


$12.00 and under $15.00 








i 


7 


8 


4-2 


Total . . . 


34 


55 


36 


48 


20 


'93 


100.0 


Average weekly wages 


$4.30 


$6. 1 8 


17-71 


$8.8 1 


$10.30 


$7-22 





a Of the 201 women interviewed, 8 did not supply information. 

More than half of these workers received less 
than $8.00 a week. Only 21 per cent, or about 
one in five, received $10 or more. Measured by 
average wages, the group who have been employed 
three or four years earn only about $3.00 more 
than those who have been at work less than a 
year. The average wage of the group employed 
between five and ten years is $8.8 1, only about a 
dollar more than for those who have had three to 
five years' experience. For those who have worked 

75 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

in binderies ten years or more, the average is 
$ 1 0.30, with $15 as an upper limit. 

As to the wage received within the first year, ad- 
ditional evidence is secured by tabulating all these 
workers' reports of the first wages received when 
they entered the bookbinding trade, as shown in 
Table 7. 

TABLE 7. WEEKLY EARNINGS OF WOMEN EMPLOYED 

IN BOOKBINDING DURING FIRST WEEK OF 

EMPLOYMENT IN BOOKBINDING * 



Earnings During tloe First Week 


WOMEN WHOSE EARNINGS 
WERE AS SPECIFIED 


Number 


Per Cent 


Nothing . 
Under $3.00 
$3.00 and under $4.00 
$4.00 and under $5.00 
$5.00 and under $6.00 
$6.00 and under $7.00 
$7.00 or over . 










4 
23 
58 
70 
20 
17 


2.1 

11.9 
30.0 
36.3 
10.4 

8.8 

5 


Total 


'93 


1 00.0 



a Of the 201 women interviewed, 8 did not supply information. 
The week workers numbered 180 and the piece workers 13 of those 
reporting on this point. 

Nearly half, 44 per cent, of these learners in 
binderies received less than $4.00. Four-fifths re- 
ceived less than $5.00 a week. Of the group of 
four who received no wages, one learned eight 
years ago, and the others twelve, fifteen, or forty 
years ago, at a time when the custom of not pay- 
ing learners was more general than at present. 

76 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

We know of no bindery where this custom now 
prevails. 

The group of 18, or 9 per cent, who earned 
$6.00 or over the first week, ought to be more fully 
described. Only one was as young as fourteen 
when she began work in the bookbinding trade. 
Six were fifteen years old, six were seventeen, two 
were nineteen, and three were over twenty-one. 
These older girls had had experience in other occupa- 
tions. On entering the bookbinding trade seven 
worked in magazine binderies, doing unskilled work, 
in which strength is the chief requirement; three 
were employed for temporary work, folding a 
holiday pamphlet; two were exceptions who se- 
cured work in hand binderies through influential 
friends; two did heavy work in edition binderies; 
one was a gold layer's apprentice; and three folded 
pamphlets. A comparatively high wage paid to 
inexperienced girls usually means that the process 
demands no skill, and no real opportunity will be 
given to learn or to advance. 

Of 2 10 employers interviewed regarding learners, 
65 refused to engage them, and three made no 
statement on this point. Table 8 shows the wages 
paid to learners, as stated by 133 of the 142 firms 
willing to employ them, classified according to the 
minimum age requirement in the bindery. 

In 34 of the 60 binderies in which fourteen- 
year-old girls were employed as learners, the be- 
ginning wage was less than $4.00. Of the 52 in 
which learners must be at least sixteen, only 14 

77 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

pay a minimum wage of less than $4.00, and 38 
pay $4.00 or more. This indicates the superior 
earning capacity of the sixteen-year-old girl in 
this trade, even though she be a learner, and gives 
statistical support to the remark of an experienced 
worker: "It's the young girls who spoil a trade. 
They come in and work for very low wages, and 
sometimes the boss takes them in preference to 
the older girls, who can't work for so little." An 
analysis of wages paid to learners in different 
branches of the trade shows that edition and 
pamphlet binderies pay higher wages to learners 
than they receive in blankbook binderies. 

TABLE 8. BINDERIES EMPLOYING WOMEN AS LEARN- 
ERS BY WEEKLY WAGES OF LEARNERS, AND 
THE MINIMUM AGE AT WHICH THEY 
ARE EMPLOYEDa 



Minimum Age at which 
Learners are Employed 


BINDERIES IN WHICH THE WEEKLY 
WAGES of LEARNERS ARE 


All 
Bind- 
eries 


$2.00 
and 
Less 
than 
$3.00 


$3.00 
and 
Less 
than 
$4-00 


$4.00 
and 
Less 
than 
$5.00 


$5.00 
and 
Less 
than 
$7.00 


Minimum age 14 years . 
Minimum age 16 years . 
Minimum age not stated 


3 

i 


31 
13 


24 

22 
10 


2 

16 
3 


60 
52 

21 


Total . . . 


4 


52 


56 


21 


133 



vxi 1 1^** LJIIIUI,! \\*& \^ni piw_y i ng iv*o,i iiti &f y uiu uvt oujjjJijr lUIVIlUA 

tion as to wages of learners. 

The wages received by the group of workers 
interviewed (see Table 6) may be compared with 

78 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

the census statistics of 1905 based on payroll tran- 
scriptions of the earnings of 2,010 bindery women 
in New York state. The census figures also afford 
a basis for comparison of the wages of men and wo- 
men in this industry. Furthermore, they show the 
comparative wages received by bindery women 
and by the large group of women in all manufac- 
turing industries. 

TABLE 9. COMPARATIVE WEEKLY EARNINGS OF MEN 
AND WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING AND 
OF WOMEN IN ALL MANUFACTURING IN- 
DUSTRIES. NEW YORK STATE, 1905* 



Weekly Earnings of Em- 


BOOKBINDING TRADE 


WOMEN IN 
ALL MANU- 


ployes 


Men 


Women 


FACTURING 
INDUSTRIES 


Number considered 


2,143 


2,010 


108,083 


Per cent earning 








Less than $3.00 . 


0.9 


3-5 


6.5 


$3.00 and under $4.00 


3-i 


!().. 


10. 1 


$4.00 and under $5.00 


5-5 


I 7 .8 


150 


$5.00 and under $6.00 


6.0 


I6. 3 


15-5 


$6.00 and under $7.00 


7-4 


144 


14.7 


$7.00 and under $8.00 


5-7 


10 5 


11.4 


$8.00 and under $9.00 


7-3 


8.0 


8.5 


$9.00 and under $10.00 


7-6 


5.8 


6-4 


$10.00 and under $12.00 


12.9 


4.8 


6-4 


$12.00 and under $15.00 


15.0 


2.1 


3-7 


$15.00 or over 


28.6 


0.7 


1.8 


Total 


1 00.0 


1 00.0 


1 00.0 


Average weekly earnings . 


$12.09 


$6.13 


$6.54 



a United States Census, Bulletin 93, Earnings of Wage-earners, 
Manufactures, p. 150. 1905. 

According to this table, nearly 70 per cent of 
women bookbinders received less than $7.00 in a 

79 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

week when the largest number were employed, the 
time for which census enumerators were instructed 
to copy the payrolls. Only 7.6 per cent, or about 
one in 14, received $10 or more. Compared with 
this information, the facts about the women whom 
we interviewed show that they have a higher earn- 
ing capacity than the larger group recorded in the 
census. This may be explained as due in part to 
the fact that the census figures include bookbinders 
outside New York City in other parts of the state 
where both wages and cost of living are lower. 
Furthermore, the census shows actual earnings in 
the week under consideration, not wage rates, and 
some workers may have been counted who had not 
worked six days. Nevertheless, as it was a week 
when the largest force was at work, the probability 
is that the great majority were employed full time, 
and it is fair to compare their earnings with the 
wages received by our group in a normal week. 
The difference may be due in part also to the fact 
that the group of girls who gave us most complete 
information may have been above the average in 
intelligence, length of experience, and earning ca- 
pacity. It is obvious, at least, that our data con- 
cern women who are certainly not below the level 
of their fellow- workers, and their experiences can- 
not be challenged as giving an unfair view of 
women's work in the trade. 

According to the census figures, the earnings 
of women in binderies are lower than those of 
women in all manufacturing industries, grouped 

80 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

together, in New York state. The average for all 
industries is $6.54 compared with an average of 
$6. 1 3 for women bookbinders, and the chances of 
earning $10 or more are fewer for bindery women 
than for women in all trades taken together. 



1,200 



1,211 



800 



400 




1,200 



800 



400 



Men Women 

Earning under 

$6.00 



Men Women 
Earning $6.00 
and under $10 



CHART III. MEN AND WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING IN NEW 
YORK STATE, BY WEEKLY EARNINGS 

The difference between the earnings of men and 

women in binderies is pictured graphically in the 

accompanying chart. Of the women, 54 per cent 

earn less than $6.00 a week, while only 16 per cent 

6 81 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

of the men receive such low pay. On the other 
hand, only 8 of every 100 women reach a wage of 
$ioormore, as compared with 5 7 of every loomen. 
The women are not doing the same work, but it is 
significant that the standard of remuneration in 
their departments is about half the standard for 
men's work. 

These group figures do not take account of differ- 
ences in different establishments, of changes in 
rates, of deductions by fines, or of losses through 
irregular employment. In making comparisons of 
rates of pay in different establishments, possible 
differences in grade of work must be carefully noted. 
It is fair, however, to compare the rate per hour for 
such comparatively uniform work as filling the 
boxes of the gathering machine. Some binderies 
pay 1 5 cents an hour for this work, some 1 7^ cents, 
and some 18 cents. A difference of 3 cents an hour 
in a forty-eight-hour week amounts to $1.44, not a 
small sum in the eyes of a low-paid worker. Infor- 
mation given both by workers and employers indi- 
cates also a difference of 50 per cent in the rate for 
hand folding in different binderies, one employer 
paying i cent per 100 sheets, folded once, and 
another paying a cent and a half. One worker who 
was employed in several binderies in quick succes- 
sion said that for a large "two-fold" she received 2 
cents per 100 in one bindery, and 3 cents per 100 
in another, the size and grade of paper being the 
same. For folding a circular, "four-fold and cut," 
she received 5^ cents per 100 in one bindery, and 

82 




FOLDING BY HAND 
(Inner room. All light artificial) 




FOLDING AND GATHERING 
(Hand folders on platform; machine folders and hand gatherers below) 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

cents in another. For gathering and collating 
magazines she said that the rate in one bindery 
was i cent per 100 signatures, and in another 
three-quarters of a cent. 

A girl employed five years in the trade explained 
one cause of this difference. "Employers often 
try to get the girls to do a piece of work at less 
than the regular rate," she said, "and sometimes 
the girls don't know what the regular rate is. 
It's a mean thing to do, because when an employer 
figures on an order he doesn't figure on a reduced 
rate of pay. He figures on the regular rate and 
then any reduction he's able to get from the girls 
adds to his profit. Once our boss gave the girls 
a job at 1 8 cents a thousand that the bindery I'd 
just left had been paying 22 cents for. I told the 
girls about it and they said they couldn't do the 
work for less than 22 cents. The boss gave right 
in. He knew he was putting too low a price on 
the work." "The mean thing about that shop/' 
said one girl, "is that when they see you're making 
more than a certain amount, they cut the rate." 
" I worked very hard," said another, employed in 
a very different type of bindery, "but I tried to 
keep to a schedule, because if one girl turns out 
too much in a day, they're apt to cut the rates." 

Wages may also be diminished through fines 
and charges, although in the bindery trade these 
are not usually very serious. Various punitive 
methods are adopted to compel the workers to be 
prompt in the morning. Time-clocks in many 

83 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

binderies act as automatic witnesses, and the pun- 
ishment may be a scolding or a fine. In some bin- 
deries, if a girl is one minute late she is "docked" 
for fifteen minutes, or if she is more than fifteen 
minutes late she is docked for a half hour. Others 
have been fined for an hour's absence if late five 
minutes, or they have been locked out until noon. 
In some cases the charges exacted indicate a petty 
meanness which is exasperating to the workers. 
On what grounds, for example, can an employer 
be justified in charging his employes 2 cents a 
month for having the toilets cleaned? In some 
establishments the girls pay 5 cents every two 
weeks for ice water in summer. " It's very little," 
said one girl, "but it's mean of the firm not to 
supply it. We have to bring our own towels and 
soap, too." 

Very few firms seem to charge for "spoiled 
work." The penalty is more likely to be loss of 
position. One learner, however, earning $4.50, 
had been fined 25 cents for spoiling some sheets; 
on another occasion she was fined 1 5 cents. An- 
other case in the same bindery was that of a 
little girl who had to pay 75 cents for a book 
she had spoiled. 

Most serious of all losses is the cut in yearly in- 
come due to lack of work in dull season, or loss of 
time for other reasons. An accurate determina- 
tion of yearly earnings is impossible unless the 
workers keep accounts, but the following estimate, 
made after very careful consideration of all the facts 

84 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

on our record cards, throws light on the workers' 
losses. The whole subject of irregular employment 
will be more fully discussed in the next chapter. 

TABLE 10. APPROXIMATE YEARLY INCOME OF WOMEN 
EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING, BY AGESa 



Yearly Income 


Women 
Under 18 
Years 


Women 
18 Years 
and 
Under 21 


Women 
21 Years 
or Over 


All 
Women 


Under $100 
$100 and under $200 
$200 and under $300 
$300 and under $400 
$400 and under $500 
$500 and under $600 
$600 and under $800 


2 

8 
7 
5 


i 
4 

!t 

4 
4 


4 

i 
6 
13 

2 


7 
13 

21 
27 

1 

I 


Total . . . 


22 


43 


27 


9 2 


Median income 


$20 7 


$325 


$400 


$ 3 08 



a Data are presented only for women who have been wage-earners 
a year or more. In making up the table, earnings from all occupa- 
tions engaged in during the year have been considered, since many 
bookbinders are forced to seek work outside their trade when 
bindery work is slack. 

These figures are estimates rather than exact 
records. The table shows, however, the median 
yearly income, half the workers earning less and 
half earning more. A closer analysis of the figures 
on which the table is based shows that for girls 
under eighteen the median is $207, for girls of 
eighteen to twenty-one years, $325, for those 
twenty-one years of age or over, $400, and, for 
the whole group considered, $308. If work were 
steady the average weekly wage of $7.22, which 

85 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

is recorded for the girls interviewed, would amount 
to a yearly income of about $375. But the esti- 
mate of yearly earnings shows that even though 
bindery girls find other work in dull season the 
median yearly income from all their occupations 
is about $308, indicating a loss of more than $50 
in twelve months. This is not a small loss when 
the fact is realized that very few bindery girls earn 
$500 or more in a year. 

Surprising, indeed, is the complacency with 
which many persons regard the low wages of work- 
ing women. They believe that the problem con- 
cerns only the welfare of the individual girl, and 
that if she can live at home, merely supplementing 
the family income, her scanty earnings need cause 
no concern. Such easy-going thinking ignores 
the fact that the low standard of remuneration 
of the large proportion of the community's work- 
ers which women now represent must inevitably 
lower the industrial standards of the whole com- 
munity. Nor does it occur to them that the low 
wages of women are a prime cause of poverty, pre- 
venting wholesome and decent living in thousands 
of families which depend wholly or in part upon 
women's earnings. 

The girl who lives at home is typical of an over- 
whelming majority of bindery girls. Even a 
cursory description of these family groups shows 
how important is the gainful employment of 
women in its relation to the maintenance of the 
household. 

86 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

TABLE 11. FAMILY STATUS OF WOMEN EMPLOYED IN 
BOOKBINDING* 





WOMEN WHOSE STA- 


Status 


TUS is AS SPECIFIED 




Number 


Per Cent 


Living at home 
As head of family 


i 


5 


With father as head of family . 
With mother as head of family 15 


107 
59 


55-4 
30.6 


With husband as head of family 


3 


1.6 


Other relative as head of family 


23 


11.9 


Total living at home 


93 


1 00.0 


Boarding 


6 




Grand total 


199 





a Of 20 1 women interviewed, 2 did not supply information, 
b Father dead or away from home. 

Thus 1 93 of the 199 bindery girls here considered 
lived at home, but in only 55 per cent of the fam- 
ilies was the father the head, while in 30 per cent 
the father was dead or away from home and 
the direction of the household devolved upon the 
mother. In 12 per cent the bindery girl lived 
with some other relative and in three cases she was 
a wife, not only managing her own home, but con- 
tributing to it her weekly wages. Only six were 
boarding alone away from any relatives.* Even 
when the father is nominally the head of the house- 
hold,! ne is not always contributing to the family 

* The census shows a slightly larger percentage of boarders, 8 per 
cent. Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Special Reports, Statis- 
tics of Women at Work, pp. 266, 270. 

t In our interviews with bindery women, we emphasized especially 
the subject of trade conditions. Information about living conditions 
was not secured in every case, but the number of families investigated 
on this point constituted a large majority of the households of the 
bindery girls interviewed. They numbered 120 households in which 
were found 150 women bookbinders. The data in the following 
pages concern primarily these 120 households. 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

support. In 48 families the father was dead, in 
seven he was not living at home, because of illness 
or because he had deserted the household, while 
in five he was at home and was regarded as the 
head of the family, although illness or age pre- 
vented his working. In only half the households 
of the bindery women interviewed was the father 
a contributor. 

The occupations of the fathers who were at work 
represented a great variety of employment. Four 
had their own business, one of these was a barber, 
one a shoemaker, and two were peddlers. The larg- 
est group, 53, were not "independent" workers but 
wage-earners, including printers, machinists, build- 
ers, tailors, bookbinders, workers in a spring fac- 
tory, a painter, brass worker, electrician, last 
maker, glass setter, bronze worker, copper worker, 
hardware worker, ship builder, pipe layer, piano 
worker, silk weaver, presser, candy maker, and 
a packer of meats. In addition to these work- 
ers in factories and mechanical pursuits, this 
wage-earning group also included drivers and 
coachmen, watchmen, lumber yard workers, jani- 
tors, longshoremen, day laborers, a waiter, motor- 
man, switchman, public bath attendant, stable- 
man, butcher, baker, and a bookkeeper. The 
variety of occupations represented is the most 
noteworthy feature of the list. It includes skilled 
and unskilled, responsible and unimportant, per- 
manent and casual. The increasing importance of 
the work of women in wage-earners' families is 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

not confined to any one group of occupations of 
the traditional heads of households. 

Information about wages of fathers was secured 
in comparatively few cases, but such facts as were 
learned are interesting as illustrations. The best 
paid worked in connection with the public baths at 
$21 a week. A machinist earned $16. A weekly 
wage of $15 was reported by two drivers, a 
switchman on a street railway, a hardware worker, 
and an electrician. Two other drivers and a bind- 
ery worker were in the $12 group. A longshore- 
man received $i i and a worker in a bronze factory 
$10. If $900 be the minimum living income for a 
"normal" family of husband, wife, and three or 
four young children in New York,* then only 
one of these men was earning a living sufficient 
to support such a household. But in his case the 
family was larger than this normal standard and 
his daughter's wages in a bindery were needed. 
These are but illustrations, but they corroborate 
the statements made in many other families as to 
the necessity for the contributions of the women 
to the support of the households. 

Nearly all the 120 households depended upon 
the earnings of more than one worker. In only 
one family was the woman bookbinder the only 
wage-earner. In 84 households the family in- 
come was secured by the combined contributions 



* Chapin, Robert Coit: The Standard of Living among Working- 
men's Families in New York City, p. 246. Russell Sage Foundation 
Publication. New York, Charities Publication Committee, 1909. 

89 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

of at least three workers, and of these, 29 families 
had four wage-earners, 10 had five, and one had 
as many as six. The record cards reveal the fact 
that 33 households had no men wage-earners, 
but depended entirely on women. The men con- 
tributors numbered three in three households, and 
two in 33, while one man was at work in each 
of 51 families. The women wage-earners num- 
bered one in each of 32 families, two in 55, three 
in 25, and in eight households groups of as many 
as four women workers were contributing. 

In one of the families two bindery girls support 
themselves and their mother, who is an invalid. 
Formerly they worked in the same establishment, 
and both were frequently laid off at the same time. 
It was too serious to risk having all the family in- 
come cut off in that way, and they changed their 
positions, believing that if they were working in 
different binderies they would not both be unem- 
ployed in the same weeks of the year. One is a 
general worker earning $8.00 a week. The other 
is an assistant forewoman receiving a wage of 
l9.oo. "Very few week workers get more than 
$9.00 in bindery work/' the latter said. As a 
gatherer, paid by the piece, she has earned as much 
as $13, but both she and her sister say that they 
prefer smaller pay and steadier work. Piece work- 
ers, they think, are more liable to be laid off in 
slack season. 

The same preference for "smaller pay and stead- 
ier work" was expressed by the mother of a girl 

90 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

who knocks up in an edition bindery, earning 
$5.00 a week. "She pays the rent and more/' 
said the mother. "She supports the family. 
The father earns very little, only the food. I 
don't want her to be a piece worker. You order 
things, and then there's no work and you can't pay 
for them. I'd rather she should have small pay 
steady." 

One of the most significant facts learned in these 
visits to the households of bindery women, was 
the revelation that it was not only the young 
daughters who had gone out to work pending the 
founding of their own homes, but that these groups 
of women wage-earners, who were contributing to 
the family support, included also the mothers. In 
more than a third of the families it was necessary 
for the mother not only to do her duty as house- 
hold manager but also to earn money by working 
at home or in factories. Nor is this necessity 
present only in families in which the father is not 
living. For example, in a Bohemian family of 
six, father, mother, and four children, the mother 
is a cigar maker, and the oldest daughter, aged six- 
teen, and her sister, aged fifteen, are bookbinders, 
one earning $3.50 and the other $4.00 a week. 
Two younger boys are in school. The father is a 
polisher in the hardware trade, earning $i 5 a week. 
"The work is pretty steady," said his wife, "but 
you know yourself a man can't support a family 
of six on $15 a week." She earns $14 a week 
working in a factory so near home that she can 

91 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

get lunch for the youngest children. She also 
does most of the family sewing. She hires a 
woman to do the washing, and the two girls 
iron the clothes in the evenings. The family 
spends $i .80 a week on carfare. The mother says 
that every month she thinks that in a few weeks 
she will not have to work in the factory any longer, 
but after the $16 is paid for the rent, and addi- 
tional sums for the insurance, and the trade union 
dues, and the lodge money, there are still so many 
things that the family needs that she feels bound 
to continue. 

A gold layer, earning $10 a week, is a married 
woman, whose husband has been too ill to work for 
two years. They live in one furnished room, hav- 
ing been forced to give up their flat and sell their 
furniture when the husband could no longer work. 
Occasionally they go out for their meals, but more 
often the wife cooks on a gas stove in their room. 
She was interviewed in April, 1911. She had been 
laid off two weeks the preceding summer, and for 
the preceding four months the bindery had given 
the gold layers only five or five and a half days' 
work in the week. " I haven't made a full week's 
pay since January," she said. 

The pressure of the high cost of living, or the 
illness or death of the head of the family, has in 
many other cases compelled the wife to earn 
money to help support the household. The 
wage-earning mothers in the 120 families studied 
numbered 45, while in 66 households the mothers' 

92 




COVERING MAGAZINES BY MACHINE 




GATHERING MACHINE 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

contribution was through housework at home rather 
than through paid employment. In eight fami- 
lies the mother was dead, and in one she was not 
living at home. Of the 45 who contributed to 
the family income, 14 did so by keeping boarders 
or lodgers, seven by janitor service to pay the 
rent, and two by factory work at home, one sew- 
ing and the other preparing hair goods; several 
of them combined more than one of these means 
of livelihood. There were 31 who worked for 
wages outside the home, one as cook in a private 
family, one in the laundry of a hospital, 18 at 
day's work, washing, or cleaning, or as house- 
keepers or office cleaners, and 1 1 in factory work 
including bookbinding, dressmaking, cigar making, 
rubber manufacture, the packing of groceries, and 
the making of paper boxes. 

One of these working mothers is only seventeen 
years old. Her husband is in prison. She and 
her seven weeks' old baby live with her mother 
and young sister in one room on the top floor 
of a dreary tenement in Cherry Street. The 
sister has just gotten work as a learner in book- 
binding at $4.00 a week. The young mother's 
earnings are $6.00 a week. After her hard and 
dusty day's work in the bindery she returns home 
to nurse her baby. 

In one family, the mother, who is a widow, and 
three daughters are all wage-earners. The mother 
and one daughter work in paper box factories, 
and the other two in binderies. The mother says 

93 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

that she has always worked in the paper box trade. 
"It used to be a good trade, but machinery has 
spoiled it. I used to make $10 a week easily, but 
now we're lucky if we make $1.25 a day." Every 
member of the family faces the uncertainty of 
slack season, but employment in different factories 
lessens the risk of simultaneous reductions in in- 
come. When the working day in the factories is 
over, they return home to cook dinner, wash the 
dishes, clean the three rooms of their flat, and do 
their washing. "It's hard to work all day for 
$4.50 a week and then wash your clothes at night," 
said a bindery girl in another household. 

Often it seems as though the work open to mar- 
ried women or widows was the hardest and most 
poorly paid of all the tasks done by wage-earning 
women. Because of their household duties they 
are less free than their daughters to choose their 
occupation. One woman, who has two daughters 
in the bookbinding trade, fifteen years ago was 
left a widow with four children. During those fif- 
teen years she has worked as an ironer in the laun- 
dry of a New York hospital, and has never had a 
day off with pay since she has been employed there. 
All day long she stands at her work until now she 
wonders whether the section of the floor upon which 
she has stood so long will not wear through to the 
ceiling below. The hours, however, are shorter than 
in many factories, and so she endures the hardships 
of her work. Her children are now grown, so her 
employment away from home all day does not 

94 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

endanger their welfare as it did when they were 
younger. Even now, however, it is difficult to 
get the housework done. The only time for 
it is before seven in the morning or after six at 
night. 

The fact that the mothers must be wage-earners 
in occupations which take them away from home 
is more serious when there are children in the fam- 
ily. That bookbinders' households are not groups 
of adults, but that they have little brothers and 
sisters whom they are helping to support, is shown 
by facts about the number of children under four- 
teen. In more than three-fifths of the families there 
are children under fourteen, and in more than a 
fourth these young children number three or more. 
That in many of these households in which the 
children are not yet past school age not only 
young girls but their mothers must share in earn- 
ing the necessary income, is an indication of a 
problem of increasing importance in the com- 
munity. 

No attempt was made in this investigation to 
study the standard of living as it would be re- 
vealed in the expenditures for food, clothing, re- 
creation, education, and other important items of 
the family budget. But data about the amount 
spent in rent and the number of rooms compared 
with the number of persons in the household are 
tangible indications of the economic status of the 
families of bindery girls. 

These data show a rather wide range of expendi- 
95 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

ture for rent, with six families paying less than $10 
a month, and five paying $25 or more. The greater 
number are included in the groups having a 
monthly rent bill of $ 14 to $20. That bookbind- 
ing is an urban industry, and that not only in New 
York but in other sections of the country bindery 
girls' homes are, therefore, subject to the congested 
conditions and high rents of city life, is proved by 
the census figures already quoted* showing that, 
of all women employed in binderies in the United 
States, 82.2 per cent live in the larger cities, while 
only 17.8 per cent are found in small cities and 
country districts. New York, Chicago, and Phila- 
delphia claim 43.9 per cent or more than two- 
fifths of all the bindery women in the United 
States. Although Manhattan has a bindery dis- 
trict where the majority of establishments are lo- 
cated, the trade does not draw its workers from 
any one section. The homes of the 201 girls in- 
terviewed were scattered about the city, 55 below 
Fourteenth Street, 52 north of it on the east side, 
and 42 on the west side, three in the Bronx, and 
49 in Brooklyn. 

As our investigation of binderies was confined 
to Manhattan we did not seek out bookbinders 
living in Brooklyn, and therefore these figures 
probably do not show the full proportion living 
there. That many bookbinders live in Brooklyn 
is confirmed by a comparison of the occupa- 
tional statistics (house-to-house enumeration) and 

* See Table 3, p. 31, and Chart II, p. 32. 
96 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

the manufacturing statistics (factory enumera- 
tion) of the census of 1900, showing that of all 
bindery women in Greater New York 50 per 
cent live in Brooklyn, and only 5 per cent work 
there. The fact that the bindery district sur- 
rounds the Manhattan end of the Brooklyn 
Bridge, and that within a two and a half or five- 
cent carfare zone is a wide choice of flats in 
Brooklyn, doubtless accounts for the proportion 
who live there and work in Manhattan. 

That every effort is made to economize in rent 
is indicated by the number of persons to the room 
in these households, as shown in Table 12. The 
groups are so arranged as to indicate the num- 
ber of families, conforming to the generally ac- 
cepted standard of "less than one and a half per- 
sons per room." A larger proportion per room 
means overcrowding. 

TABLE 12. PERSONS PER ROOM IN FAMILIES OF WOMEN 
EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING* 





Families in 




Which the Num- 


Persons per Room 


ber of Persons 




per Room is as 




Specified 


Less than one and one-half persons 


63 


One and one-half persons and less than two persons 


23 


Two persons and less than three persons 


19 


Three persons and less than four persons 


3 


Four persons 


i 


Total 


lOQ 







a Of 120 families investigated, n did not supply information. 
7 97 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

The number of rooms here counted includes not 
only the bedrooms but the kitchen and any avail- 
able sitting room space. It would seem that an 
apartment with only as many rooms as there 
are members of the family would be abnormally 
crowded. But even gauged by the much less com- 
fortable standard of one and a half persons per 
room, 46 of 109 households of bindery girls were 
crowded to that degree or worse. This is a signi- 
ficant sign of an inadequate standard of living in 
many of these families. Even the combined ef- 
forts of so many wage-earners appear to be insuffi- 
cient to secure wholesome living conditions. 

That the contribution of bindery women toward 
the maintenance of their homes is not casual but 
permanent is indicated by the number of years 
they have been wage-earners. 



TABLE 13. LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT OF 201 WOMEN 
EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING 



WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING 

WHO HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED EACH 

SPECIFIED LENGTH OF TIME 



Length of Time Employed 


In any Occupation 


In Bookbinding 


Number 


Per Cent 


Number 


Per Cent 


Less than i year 
i year and less than 3 years 
3 years and less than 5 years 
5 years and less than 10 years 
10 years or more 


19 
39 
50 
59 
34 


10 

19 
25 
29 
17 


35 
57 
37 
49 
23 


17 
29 

18 

25 
ii 


Total .... 


201 


100 


201 


100 



98 



WAGES AND HOME CONDITIONS 

That nearly half, 46 per cent, have been wage- 
earners five years or more, and that only 10 per 
cent have been at work less than a year, points to 
the fact that the earnings of these women have 
become an indispensable part of the family income. 

The ages of the workers give indirect evidence 
of their length of service. Only 18 of the 200 
who stated their ages were under sixteen, 37 
were between sixteen and eighteen, 75 between 
eighteen and twenty-one, 40 between twenty-one 
and twenty-five, 28 between twenty-five and 
thirty-five, and two were in the fifties. The cen- 
sus figures regarding the 4,086 bindery women 
counted in New York in 1900 indicate that 41 1, or 
10 per cent, were under sixteen; 2,440, or 60 per 
cent, were between sixteen and twenty-five, and 
1,235, or 30 per cent, were twenty-five or over.* 
Thus both the census figures and the data about the 
group interviewed in this investigation show that 
the largest group are under twenty-five years of 
age, 70 per cent according to the census, 85 per 
cent according to our records. Nevertheless, the 
proportion continuing to work beyond that age 
is sufficiently large to warn us against sweeping 
conclusions about the universally short term of 
service of wage-earning women. 

Data about these girls' mothers have shown that 
a woman must often continue to work for wages 
after her marriage. Before marriage, the book- 
binders' earnings are of great importance to their 

* Twelfth United States Census, 1900. Occupations, p. 640. 
99 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

families. Practically every bindery girl inter- 
viewed gives all her earnings to the family each 
week, receiving back again the sums needed 
for carfare, lunches, and incidental expenses. A 
weekly income of $8.00 a week hardly suffices 
to support a single person in New York City 
and is a scanty allowance when part of it must 
be used to help support children and other de- 
pendents in the household. Yet more than 50 per 
cent of the bindery women are receiving a smaller 
wage than that amount, and in dull season their 
income is still further reduced. 



IOO 



CHAPTER V 
IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

WOMEN in binderies in New York have 
experienced all sorts and conditions of 
irregular employment. They know the 
meaning of general industrial depression, affecting 
alike all the occupations in the community. They 
have met the changing demands for books at dif- 
ferent seasons of the year. They have tried to ad- 
just themselves to the intermittent employment 
which characterizes the binding of magazines. 
They have been forced to learn new operations or 
to seek other occupations when changes in ma- 
chinery have resulted in a reorganization of the 
methods of work. 

Nor does there appear to have been any system- 
atic, successful effort either to prevent irregularity 
of employment or to lessen its evils. In the book- 
binding trade, as well as in other occupations, this 
is one of the most baffling problems of industry. 
It concerns both men and women. It reduces 
earnings and lowers the standards of living. It 
checks the fullest development of efficiency, de- 
moralizing the man or the woman who must meet 
the problem year after year under conditions so 
varied that the worker cannot measure with cer- 

101 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

tainty the evils "which the season may bring forth. 
It disorganizes workrooms and forces employers 
to engage new hands many times in the course of 
twelve months. Definite plans have been sug- 
gested, and in some cases successfully tried, in 
the effort to solve other industrial problems. For 
instance, it is not impossible to show how the work- 
ing day may be shortened, how the standard wage 
may be maintained, nor how workers may be 
trained in skill. But in answer to the questions 
involved in preventing irregular employment, one 
can cite only more or less vague theories and no 
comprehensive or successful experiments. 

To measure this irregularity is almost as diffi- 
cult as to suggest any practical means of prevent- 
ing it. A worker may be unemployed or under- 
employed. She may be walking the streets look- 
ing for a job. Or she may be a piece worker, sitting 
idle in the factory and losing the wages which she 
might be earning if work were at hand. Or she 
may find another position in another occupation 
at a lower rate of pay, and in making the change 
she may lose several working days, in addition to 
the reduction in her earning power due to the neces- 
sity of adjusting herself to new processes. To re- 
call how long she was idle twelve months ago or 
how much time and money she lost waiting for 
work in the factory, or how much it cost her to 
change her occupation is a feat of memory which 
would be difficult for anyone to accomplish. 
Nevertheless, the gravity of the problem and the 

102 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

difficulty of securing full information make it the 
more important to collect all the data on the sub- 
ject as they appear in the census and in the records 
of this investigation. 

In New York state in 1905 the census enum- 
erators* recorded 9,233 as the greatest number of 
bookbinders and blankbook makers (both men 
and women) employed in 304 establishments dur- 
ing the year. The least number was 6,645, show- 
ing a difference of 2,588 for the two periods. In 
other words, 28 per cent of the maximum force 
had disappeared from the payroll at the time of 
minimum employment. The federal census also 
publishes the figures showing the numbers of men 
and women employed in each month in 908 book- 
binding establishments throughout the United 
States, but these facts are not given separately for 
each state or city. They show that the month of 
minimum employment for men is July, for women, 
April. The largest numbers of men and women 
are employed in December.! 

The figures in the census can be regarded only 
as a general index, for in them no account is 
taken of different seasons in different branches of 
the trade. As in many occupations, the Christmas 

* United States Census, Special Reports, Manufactures, 1905. 
Part I, United States by Industries, p. 99. 

t These are the only reliable, official data which we have found 
regarding the time lost by bindery women. In 1890 and 1900 an 
attempt was made to record 1 the length of unemployment of every 
wage-earner enumerated on the household schedules. The statis- 
tics have very little value, because the term "unemployed" was not 
always clearly understood by the enumerator, nor were the facts 
accurately reported by the wage-earner or the member of his family 
who gave information 

103 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

rush increases the force of employes or lengthens 
the working day. Binders of holiday editions of 
the latest novel, art binders preparing Christmas 
presents, lithographers binding calendars, and 

TABLE 14. MAXIMUM NUMBER OF WOMEN EMPLOYED 
IN BOOKBINDING IN MANHATTAN, BY THE SEASON 
OF GREATEST ACTIVITY OF THE ESTABLISH- 
MENTS IN WHICH THEY ARE EMPLOYED* 



Season of Great- 
est Activity of 
Binderies 


WOMEN EMPLOYED IN 
EDITION, PAMPHLET, 
AND JOB BINDERIES 


WOMEN 
EMPLOYED 
IN BLANK- 
BOOK 
BINDERIES 


TOTAL 


WWb Em- 
ploy less 
than 60 
Women 


Which Em- 
ploy 60 
or more 
Women 


Num- 
ber 


Per 
Cent 


Num- 
ber 


Per 
Cent 


Num- 
ber 


Per 
Cent 


Num- 
ber 


Per 
Cent 


Winterb 
Summer 
Quarterly 
Monthly 
"According to or- 
ders" 
"Steady" 


741 
15 

28 
166 

431 
4'7 


4i 

i 

2 

9 

24 
23 


M33 
145 
70 
470 

235 
1,215 


35 
4 

2 

'4 
38 


396 

10 

121 
313 


47 

15 

37 


2,270 
170 
98 
636 

787 
1,945 


38 

3 

2 
II 

13 

33 


Total . . 


',798 


100 


3,268 


100 


840 


100 


5,906 


100 



*Of the 5,949 women employed in the 210 establishments in- 
vestigated, 43 were in establishments which did not supply informa- 
tion. 

b The period of greatest activity is generally before Christmas. 

pamphlet binders issuing holiday advertisements 
for firms in many other industries, look forward to 
a harvest of orders beginning in the early autumn. 
Magazine binders count on larger issues in the 
three months preceding Christmas. Besides the 

104 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

busy period occurring annually, magazine binderies 
have also a monthly or weekly rush preceding the 
date of issue, followed often by days of unemploy- 
ment. Spring fashion books, school books, com- 
mercial registers, seedsmen's catalogues, and tele- 
phone directories have well defined seasons. Thus 
the census figures cannot show the actual fluctua- 
tion of the force in any one branch of the trade 
during the year, for they are made up of the com- 
bined statistics of these various branches, whose 
rush periods occurring at different times balance 
each other. The results of our inquiry regarding 
the period of maximum employment in different 
types of binderies are shown in Tables 14 and 15. 

TABLE 15. BOOKBINDING ESTABLISHMENTS IN MAN- 
HATTAN. BY SEASON OF GREATEST ACTIVITY* 



Season of Great- 
est Activity 
of Binderies 


NUMBER OF EDITION,. 
PAMPHLET, AND JOB 
BINDERIES 


NUMBER 

OF 

BLANK- 
BOOK 
BIND- 
ERIES 


TOTAL 


Employing 
less than 
50 Women 


Employing 
50 or more 
Women 


Num- 
ber 


Per 
Cent 


Winter b 
Summer 
Quarterly 
Monthly 
"According to or- 
ders" 
" Steady " 


37 

i 
i 
9 

30 
37 


13 

2 
I 

5 

3 
13 


20 

2 

8 

22 


70 

5 

2 
14 

41 
7 2 


34 

3 

i 

7 

20 

35 


Total 


H5 


37 


52 


2O4 


100 



a Of the 210 establishments investigated, 6 did not supply informa- 
tion. 

b The period of greatest activity is generally before Christmas. 
105 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

The binderies having "steady work" number 
35 per cent of the total reporting, and employ 
33 per cent of the total number of bindery 
women. Of the women employed in edition, 
pamphlet, and job binderies having a force of 
50 or more women, ^38 per cent work in estab- 
lishments whose season is said to be steady, while 
of those who work in binderies having a force of 
less than 50, only 23 per cent are reported to be 
steadily employed. In some cases, however, this 
report of "steady employment" means that the 
busy season is not definitely marked. It does not 
mean always that the total force is employed on 
full time throughout the year. Winter is the 
busy season for 41 per cent of the women employed 
in small binderies, for 35 per cent of those em- 
ployed in larger establishments, and for 47 per 
cent of the blankbook makers. "According to 
orders," manifestly an evidence of an uncertain 
season, is the report for 24 per cent of the women 
at work in small binderies. Of the whole group, 
winter is the busy season for 38 per cent of the 
bindery women; summer for 3 per cent; quar- 
terly for 2 per cent; and monthly for 1 1 per cent. 
"According to orders" is the report for 20 per cent 
of the binderies, large and small, employing 1 3 per 
cent of the women workers. The proportion of 
workers laid of? in dull season is shown in Table 16. 

Of the maximum force of women employed in 
the busy season, 76 per cent, according to the state- 
ments of employers, are at work in the dull season. 

1 06 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

In different groups of binderies this proportion 
varies. In blankbook making 90 per cent of the 
maximum force are at work in slack season, while 
in edition, pamphlet, and job binderies the mini- 
mum force is only 63 per cent of the maximum in 
those establishments employing less than 50 women, 
and 8 1 per cent in those employing 50 or more. 
Blankbook binderies appear to have the steadiest 
seasons. In edition, pamphlet, and job binderies, 
unemployment is most serious in the smaller estab- 
lishments employing less than 50 women. 

TABLE 16. PROPORTION OF WOMEN EMPLOYED IN 

BOOKBINDING "LAID OFF" IN DULL SEASON 

IN ESTABLISHMENTS IN MANHATTAN a 



Kind of Bindery 


Binderies 
for which 
Informa- 
tion was 
Secured 


NUMBER OF 
WOMEN 
EMPLOYED 


WOMEN "LAID 
OFF" IN DULL 
SEASON 


Maxi- 
mum 


Mini- 
mum 


Num- 
ber 


Per Cent 

of Maxi- 
mum 


Edition, pamphlet, 
and job binderies 
employing 
Less than 50 women 
50 or more women 
Blankbook binderies 
Temporary bindery 
departments 


118 
37 
53 

15 


1,832 
3,208 
860 

40 


1,148 
2 >597 
773 


684 
61 1 

87 

40 


37 
'9 

10 
IOO 


Total . . . . 


223 


5.940 


4,518 


1,422 


24 



a Of the 280 binderies visited, 33 were only temporary depart- 
ments, and 37 supplied in general inadequate information. Thus in 
the general discussion only 210 binderies have been included. In 
this consideration of seasons, however, it has been thought essential 
to include as far as possible all the binderies visited. Fifty-seven 
did not supply information on this point. 

107 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

These figures indicate that the demand for 
workers so fluctuates that one of every four bin- 
dery women needed in the busy season is super- 
fluous when the book market is dull. When 
orders grow brisk again employers rely largely on 
advertisements to increase their force. Thus the 
advertising columns of the newspaper considered 
in relation to other data on this point are a 
source of information regarding irregular employ- 
ment. They indicate also the processes in which 
changes are most frequent. 

TABLE 17. PROCESSES MENTIONED IN ADVERTISE- 
MENTS FOR BINDERY WOMEN IN NEW YORK 
WORLD, ON SUNDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS, FROM 
JULY 1, 1908, TO JUNE 30, 1909 



Process of Work for Which 
Workers were Wanted 



Times each 
Process was 
Mentioned 



Hand folding 311 

Wire-stitching 102 

Machine folding (point folder, drop-roll, etc.) and 

knocking up 86 

"General," "all round," "experienced," "generally 

useful," etc 76 

Numbering, perforating, paging, check-end printing 65 

Hand gathering 58 

Hand and bench sewing (full and half bound work) . 47 

Feeding ruling machine 46 

Silk-stitching, looping, stringing cards ... 43 

Inserting (hand) 37 

Hand pasting 34 

Tipping, covering, paper siding 3 2 

Learners 3 1 

Forewomen 26 

Wrapping, examining, mailing, shipping ... 23 

Machine sewing (including "cutting off") . . 20 

Collating 14 

Gold leaf laying 12 

Head-trimming i 

Total . 1,064 



108 




Box GIRLS 

(Behind them is an automatic folding machine from which they lift 
the folded sheets) 




MEN CASE-MAKING AND GIRLS LABELING 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

Hand folders, who more often than others are 
employed for temporary work, face frequent 
changes. They exceed any other group of workers 
in the number of times they are mentioned in ad- 
vertisements. Wire-stitchers, often engaged for a 
small order of pamphlets, come second. Least 
frequently mentioned* are gold leaf layers, whose 
work requires care and skill in handling such pre- 
cious material; collators, whose task is a respon- 
sible one; and workers experienced in machine 
sewing, which is considered the most highly skilled 
process in a bindery. 1 1 would appear that workers 
skilled in these processes are not easy to secure, 
and are therefore less liable to be discarded in dull 
season. The months of greatest demand and the 
branches of the trade which most frequently adver- 
tise in the newspapers are shown in Table 18. 

A further tabulation of the total advertise- 
ments, daily and Sunday, which appeared in the last 
six months of the period covered in the preceding 
table, showed that they were inserted by 1 14 firms, 
including some who needed workers for temporary 
bindery departments in establishments engaged 
in allied work. One firm advertised 45 times, and 
one 37. Of the remainder, 37 inserted one to five 
advertisements ; 4 1 , five to i o ; 20, i o to 1 5 ; 8, 1 5 to 
20; and 6, 20 to 30. Of the total the largest num- 
ber appeared in March, probably due to the fact 
that general industrial conditions were better in 
the first six months of 1909 than in the latter 
part of 1908. Magazine and pamphlet binderies, 

* Except head-trimming, a process in a job bindery. 
109 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 







aiO 

D 
u. 



s 



. 

00 >. 



t*s 

*-> CQ 



41 
111 



O .- 

ill 



O 

CT\ 



rr\ t^OO 00 O VO 



10 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

including bindery departments of printing estab- 
lishments, were responsible for 344, or 46 per 
cent, of the advertisements. 

Seasonal contraction of the force, however, is 
not the only cause of irregular employment in 
bookbinding. Girls may leave positions or be dis- 
charged when the largest number of orders are 
on hand, and thus irregular employment is greater 
than would appear from a study merely of the 
bindery season as it fluctuates with the changing 
demand for books, pamphlets, and magazines. 
Other factors contributing to unemployment and 
to frequent changes in jobs are shown in a tabula- 
tion of the reasons for leaving 353 of the positions 
recorded in the trade histories of the group of 
workers interviewed. 

If we separate those reasons which obviously 
grow out of trade conditions, we find that they 
form a group of 73 per cent of the total. Illness 
may or may not be due to trade conditions. 
"Didn't like it," or "disagreement" indicates 
a minor form of maladjustment which might have 
been avoided. They are responsible for 9 per 
cent of the changes. "Worker unsatisfactory" 
is either a problem of education or an indi- 
cation of the need of better methods of finding 
the right place for the right worker. The 
apparent unimportance of changes in machinery 
as a reason for loss of work is interesting in 
view of the many comments made on this sub- 
ject by workers. It is probable that it was the 
indirect cause in more cases than appear in the 

in 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 



TABLE 19 REASONS FOR LEAVING POSITIONS IN 

BINDERIES AS STATED BY WOMEN EMPLOYED 

IN BOOKBINDING 



Reason for Leaving Position 





Number 


Per Cent 


Slack season a 
To advance, higher wages or better work a . 
Firm failed, moved, etc. a 
Dissatisfied with conditions of work a (night work, 
bad air, standing at work, carrying heavy 


146 

43 
30 

23 


41.4 

12.2 

8. 5 

6. 5 


"Didn't like it" 
Illness 
Disagreement 
Strikes, rules of union, etc. a 
To return to former position or occupation 
Worker unsatisfactory .... 
Changes in machinery a 
Other reasons (employer's violation of factory 
laws, or to marry, or other reason) 


15 
15 
ii 

9 
8 

3 

32 


5-1 
4.2 
4.2 

3 

2.3 
9.1 


Total 


353 


IOO.O 



POSITIONS LEFT 
FOR EACH SPECI- 
FIED REASON 



a Reasons obviously due to trade conditions. 

table. As already pointed out in Chapter III, the 
introduction of a new machine may result first of 
all in a general reorganization with a temporary 
transfer of workers to other processes. Often the 
workers find that their wages are less in these other 
lines of work and leave for that reason, or because 
the changed conditions result in a gradual reduc- 
tion of the force. While the change in machinery 
is the real cause of this loss of position, it may not 
be the immediate reason appearing in the tabula- 
tion. 

112 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

For all the reasons listed, jobs tend to be of short 
duration, and workers are likely to drift from 
bindery to bindery. To measure the length of 
employment in one position, a tabulation has been 
made of the duration of the last position preceding 
the date of the interview. 



TABLE 20. LENGTH OF TIME FOR WHICH WOMEN 

WERE EMPLOYED IN LATEST POSITION IN 

BOOKBINDING* 





NUMBER OF WOMEN EMPLOYED 




SPECIFIED LENGTH OF TIME IN 


Time in Position 


/ /7C/ 


Present Position, if 




Position 


Worker is still in 
Her First Position 




Left 


in the Trade 


Less than i month . 


29 


I 


i month and less than 3 months 


25 


3 


3 months and less than 6 months 


17 


i 


6 months and less than 9 months 


9 


6 


9 months and less than 12 months 


7 


2 


Total less than i year 


87 


13 


i year and less than 2 years . 


25 


8 


2 years and less than 3 years 


12 


5 


3 years and less than 5 years 


14 


11 


5 years and less than 10 years 


10 


5 


10 years and less than 15 years 


1 


4 


Total 


149 


46 



a Of 201 women interviewed, 6 did not supply information. 

Thus 87 of the 149 who are no longer in their 

first positions in bookbinding, held their last job 

less than one year. Yet, as already noted, the 

majority had been in the trade much longer than 

8 113 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

one year. Only 17 per cent of those interviewed 
have had less than one year's experience in the 
trade, 29 per cent have worked in binderies one 
to three years, 18 per cent three to five years, 
25 per cent five to ten years, and 1 1 per cent 
ten years or longer.* Obviously this experience in 
many cases has included more than one bindery, 
or more than one occupation. The number of 
positions (including those in other occupations as 
well as bookbinding) in which these girls have 
been employed in so short a time as twelve months 
preceding the interview, is shown in Table 21. 

TABLE 21. NUMBER OF POSITIONS* HELD IN PAST YEAR 

BY WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING AT 

TIME OF INVESTIGATION b 



Number of Positions Held 





Number 


Per Cent 


1 .... . . 


83 


51 


2 .... . 


35 


22 


3 .... . 


26 


.6 


4 .... . 


13 


8 


$ or 6 ... . 


4 


2 


7 and less than 1 1 . . . 


2 


I 


Total 


l6 3 


100 



NUMBER OF WOMEN WHO 

WERE IN SPECIFIED NUMBER 

OF POSITIONS IN THE PAST 

YEAR 



a In determining the number of positions, all occupations, whether 
in bookbinding or in some other trade, have been considered. 

b Of 20 1 women interviewed, 29 had not been wage-earners dur- 
ing the entire past year and 9 did not supply information. 

Of the 1 63 women included here, all of whom have 
been wage-earners a year or more, 80, or nearly 

* See Table 13, p. 98. 
114 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

half, have worked in two or more establishments 
in the past twelve months, and a few have changed 
from one employer to another four times or more. 
For the worker such frequent change, whether it 
be due to fluctuating seasons, uneven demand for 
labor, a casual attitude toward work, or any other 
cause, industrial or personal, means inevitably a 
loss of income. The first phase of the question 
to be considered is the loss of time between "jobs." 
This was determined for 176 positions. 

TABLE 22 PERIODS FOR WHICH WOMEN EMPLOYED 
IN BOOKBINDING WERE IDLE AFTER LEAV- 
ING POSITIONS 



Time Idle 


POSITIONS AFTER LEAVING 
WHICH WOMEN WERE IDLE 
FOR PERIODS SPECIFIED 


Number 


Per Cent 


"No time" 
Less than i month 
i month and less than 2 months 
2 months and less than 3 months 
3 months or more 


65 

5 2 
16 

12 

33 


37 
28 

9 
7 
'9 


Total 


,76 


100 



The worker who finds another place within a 
week is likely to say that she has lost "no time/' 
Although this was the statement made of more 
than a third of the positions, it is probable that 
in many of these cases a day, at least, was lost. 
In more than a third the loss was one month or 
more. 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

It is not only between positions that a worker 
loses time. She may be "laid off" for two or 
three weeks, or may work only part of the time 
without severing her connection with the estab- 
lishment. The vital fact to determine in a study 
of irregular employment is the total loss of time 
and wages suffered by the worker through as long 
a period as her memory can be trusted. This is 
information which can be secured from no one ex- 
cept the worker. The payrolls in an establish- 
ment would give data only during her period of 
employment there, without showing whether she 
was employed elsewhere, or whether she was out 
of work the rest of the year. Yet, as already ex- 
plained, to secure such facts accurately from the 
workers is exceedingly difficult, especially as the 
more irregular the employment the more strenu- 
ous is the task required of the memory. This 
difficulty is not peculiar to a study of women in 
the bookbinding industry. A search through lit- 
erature on the subject reveals the lack of case his- 
tories of the workers which would show, as no other 
source of information can, the effect of irregularity 
on the worker's income. For this reason data 
about even a few cases will be of value. 

Of the bindery girls interviewed 29 had not 
been wage-earners during the entire past year, 
and 52 could not state the length of unemployment 
accurately enough for tabulation. Table 23 con- 
tains the records of the remaining 120. 



116 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

TABLE 23. TIME LOST IN THE PAST* YEAR FROM ALL 

CAUSES BY WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOK- 

BINDINGb 



Time Lost 


Women Who Lost 
the Time Specified 


"No time" 
Less than i month 
i month and less than 3 months 
3 months and less than 6 months 
6 months or more 


14 
36 
36 
18 
16 


Total reporting 


120 



a Preceding date of interview. 

b Of the 20 1 women interviewed, 29 had not been wage-earners 
during the past full year, and 52 did not supply information. 

Less than one in eight reported no time lost for 
any cause, while three in 10 reported a loss of 
one to three months, and more than one in four 
lost three months or more. The causes of the lost 
time were about as varied as the reasons already 
cited for leaving positions. An estimate of lost 
time from slack season alone was secured from 148. 
This group in Table 24 is larger than that in the 
preceding table, because not all of these 148 could 
give an account of the time out of work for all 
other causes, but they did make convincing state- 
ments about the weeks when they were "laid 
off slack/' a phrase which has become very 
familiar to investigators. 

Of the 148, who reported, a little more than a 
fourth had lost no time because of slack season. 
Twenty-five per cent could only say that they 
had suffered from this cause and could not 

117 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

count up the days when they had worked part time, 
or when they had been out of work between jobs, or 
were laid off for temporary periods. The others 
made definite estimates of loss, 18 per cent less 
than one month, 15 per cent one to three months, 
9 per cent three to six months, and 5 per cent six 
months or more. These were not uninterrupted 
periods. They were the sum of scattered days or 
weeks out of work through the year. 

TABLE 24. TIME LOST IN PAST* YEAR BECAUSE OF 

SLACK SEASON, BY WOMEN EMPLOYED IN 

BOOKBINDINGb 



Time Lost 


Women Who Lost the 
Time Specified 


"No time" 
Less than i month ... 
i month and less than 3 months. 
3 months and less than 6 months 
6 months or more .... 
Some time lost, length could not be estimated 
(part time, etc.) 


40 
27 

22 

14 
8 

37 


Total reporting 


148 



* Preceding date of interview. 

k Of the 20 1 women interviewed, 29 had not been wage-earners 
during the past full year, and 24 did not supply information. 

The periods of employment between these slack 
days were not in binderies only. Thus even these 
losses are less than they would have been had not 
many bindery girls found work in other occupa- 
tions. Only 37 per cent of those interviewed had 
not worked in any trade except bookbinding, 28 per 
cent reported one other occupation, while 35 per 

118 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

cent had been employed in two or more other in- 
dustries in the course of their careers as wage-earn- 
ers. Some of these had worked in as many as 
five or six other lines of employment. The list 
of other occupations is so varied that it reads like 
a page from the census. Bindery girls have been 
errand girls, cash girls, saleswomen, domestic 
servants, waitresses, nurses, clerical workers, tele- 
phone operators, laundry workers, dressmakers, 
milliners, straw sewers, and machine operators in 
other trades. Nor is this list complete. Their 
employment in processes of work more or less 
closely allied with bookbinding includes slip- 
sheeting in printing offices, folding patterns, 
sample mounting, stationery work, sorting and 
packing cards, and pasting calendars. 

The statements of a few of the girls in the group 
whose records appear in these statistics may em- 
phasize further the facts about irregular work. 
An inserter employed in a magazine bindery 
earned $12 one week, $12 the next, had no work 
and no pay the third, and earned between $8.00 
and $9.00 the fourth. She said that this was the 
story of a typical month's work. Another, a 
learner, when asked to tell what her earnings had 
been in the past four weeks said, "a little over 
$4.00 the first week, a little more than $5.00 the 
second, $5.92 the third, and I got $4.65 this week. 
Sometimes I work two full weeks in the month but 
not often. We're not often laid off, but a week or 
two in the month we're on part time and go home 

119 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

at 2 or 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon." An- 
other's record reads, "Two weeks ago made 
$9.00, last week $1.50; had only two days' work. 
About two and a half full weeks of work in the 
month, not more." 

"I earned $5.40 this week; last week I earned 
$9.00," said an expert feeder of the drop-roll fold- 
ing machine in an edition and pamphlet bindery. 
She had been employed in the bookbinding trade 
six years. "Work is dull in the bindery now. 
There are signs up saying that we must not stop 
work until the whistle blows. They make strict 
rules like that because it's slack and they want an 
excuse to lay us off, but we're all behaving ourselves. 
My brother who works in the same place told me 
to go every day whether there was work or not, 
because otherwise I might lose my place. Last Sat- 
urday I knew I should not make a cent, but I went 
just the same and paid my carfare." She said that 
it was impossible to tell how much time she had lost. 
During two weeks in the month a magazine was 
being bound. At other times their work depended 
on whether a catalogue was being issued or a 
novel was ready for the binder. This girl com- 
plained of another cause of loss, lack of prompt- 
ness in repairing machines when they are out of 
order. If the operator is a piece worker, every 
hour of delay reduces her earnings. She has had 
this experience several times recently. When con- 
ditions were favorable and work plenty, her usual 
earnings were $9.00 in a week, but she could not 

120 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

even estimate her yearly income, so much did it 
vary from year to year, not because of variation 
in her personal efficiency but because of unforeseen 
changes in the condition of the book market, or in 
the prosperity of the firm employing her. 

This girl was a skilled worker in the trade. For 
less expert bindery girls conditions are more 
serious. Since hand folding has become a casual 
task, necessary only for certain types of work for 
which machines are not adapted, the hand folders 
are drifters in the trade. One of them had been 
employed several years in binderies but had never 
learned to operate a machine. Hand folding had 
been her principal work. As a learner she had 
worked six months in an edition and pamphlet bind- 
ery, hand folding, straightening sheets, inserting, 
gathering, and mailing. Then she was "laid off 
slack." Her subsequent trade history is made 
up of many brief jobs. She worked two or three 
months in an edition bindery, folding by hand, 
earning $7.00 a week; one month in a pamphlet 
bindery, $6.00 or $7.00; two months in a magazine 
bindery, $7.00; six months in a printing establish- 
ment, hand folding, inserting, gathering, with a 
piece-work wage varying from $7.00 to $9.00; 
three or four months binding pamphlets, $8.00 
to $9.00; returned to the printing establishment 
twice in the year, once for two months, and once 
for eight months, earning $7.00 to $9.00; worked 
one year in another printer's bindery, earning $8.00 
to $9.00 until the firm failed. After losing two to 

121 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

three months of work, she got a job folding pamph- 
lets by hand but stayed only one day, leaving be- 
cause she was obliged to work on a raised platform 
less than six feet from the ceiling, and carry 
sheets from the bindery below it. In every 
other case, except when the firm failed, the 
reason for leaving was "work slack/' "I would 
never advise a girl to go into bindery work/' was 
her comment, already familiar to investigators by 
frequent repetition. "It's awfully unsteady, and 
anyway, there are too many in it already." 

Another group of girls have not wandered from 
bindery to bindery in this way. One of these has 
been employed in the same bookbinding establish- 
ment eight years, and is now a collator there. 
With the exception of a candy factory where she 
stuffed dates one week just after leaving school, it 
was the only place where she had ever worked. 
Every summer while work was slack she has taken 
a vacation of two weeks, receiving no wages during 
that time. She says that in other binderies col- 
lators earn a dollar more a week than she is re- 
ceiving. " But it's worth the extra dollar to me," 
she said, "not to be in a place where they rush 
you." Still, she is sorry that she has stayed so 
long. "They think more of you if you change 
more." During the preceding year she lost a 
great deal of time because of the widespread in- 
dustrial depression. For several months there 
had been no work on Saturday morning, and the 
loss even of this half-day cost her nearly 70 cents 

122 




COLLATING 




GATHERING MACHINE 

(Man operating and women filling the boxes and taking out the 
gathered books) 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

of her week's pay and reduced her weekly earnings 
to about $7. 30. 

A girl sometimes prefers to accept a lower wage 
than is paid elsewhere, if she is reasonably sure of 
continued employment. One girl has been em- 
ployed eleven years in the same bindery, "setting 
up" machines. She says that it is a machinist's 
work and that she could earn higher wages in 
another bindery, but she is afraid to leave lest 
another position might not be as steady. Legal 
holidays are the only time lost in the year. An- 
other has been employed four years and has never 
lost a day except holidays. Even they have cost 
her a week's wages in a year. She is receiving 
only $7.00 a week for operating a wire-stitching 
machine, work for which a wage of $9.00 or $10 is 
paid in some binderies, but she prefers lower pay 
and steadier work. 

The irregular employment of an expert folder 
who helps to bind a commercial register issued 
quarterly, is pictured in Chart IV. She worked 
in the bindery from February i to March 7, and 
was laid off through March to the middle of May; 
worked from the middle of May to July, laid off 
two weeks in July ; worked from August i to Labor 
Day, laid off Labor Day to the middle of Novem- 
ber; worked from the middle of November to 
January 15. "It would have been better," she 
said, "to have had $6.00 a week steadily instead 
of earning $8.00 so irregularly." 

Loss of earnings is not the only result of irregu- 
123 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

lar employment. The discouraging effect on the 
worker, the reckless spirit which is often produced 
by the uncertainty whether one's job will end to- 
day or last another month, the habit of drifting 
from one occupation to another, these are wholly 



Returned to 

work middle of 

November 



Laid off middle of January 

Returned to work 
February i 



Laid off 
March 7 




Laid off 

Labor 

Day 



Returned to work 
August i 



Laid off middle of July 



Returned to work 
middle of May 



CHART IV. PERIODS OF WORK AND IDLENESS, DURING ONE YEAR, 
OF A GIRL EMPLOYED IN BINDING A QUARTERLY PUBLICATION. 



demoralizing influences, and they become more 
demoralizing rather than less so in proportion as 
the worker's wages are needed for the support of 
her family. Two important questions arise in a 
discussion of possible solutions. First, is there 

124 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

any way of meeting the present seasonal condi- 
tion, so that without loss of time or wages, the 
displaced workers may be transferred systemat- 
ically from one bindery to another, or from one 
occupation to another? Second, and more funda- 
mental, would it be possible to plan the work in 
such a way that the workers would suffer no loss 
of time and wages during the year? 

At present the bindery girl must rely chiefly on 
her own efforts to solve the out-of-work problem. 
Her means of finding positions are shown in Table 
25, which is based on a tabulation of how 439 jobs 
held by the group investigated were secured. 

TABLE 25. MEANS BY WHICH WOMEN FIND POSITIONS 
IN BOOKBINDING ESTABLISHMENTS 



Means of Finding Positions 


POSITIONS FOUND BY 
EACH SPECIFIED M EANS 


Number 


Per Cent 


Relatives 
Friends 
Applied, saw sign on door .... 
Advertisements 
Returned, sent for by former employer 
Other means 


57 
137 
75 
90 

32 

48 


13 
3' 

'7 

21 

7 
ii 


Total 


439 


IOO 



That more than a third found positions through 
applying at the bindery, seeing a "help wanted" 
sign on the door, or by answering advertisements, 
is significant of much wasted effort. Employers 
say that in certain seasons a hundred girls will 
answer an advertisement when two are needed. 

12$ 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

"Applying" usually means walking the streets 
until a job is secured. To find a position with the 
help of a friend means often a haphazard choice, 
but it is the bindery girl's chief means of relief from 
unemployment. Because these methods depend 
more on chance than on forethought, and be- 
cause the whole problem is so complex, many ob- 
servers whose knowledge of labor conditions is 
most intimate are urging the establishment of em- 
ployment bureaus to serve as clearing houses, 
enabling workers to get readily in touch with posi- 
tions which would otherwise be unknown to them. 
In a careful discussion of this subject, Dr. 
Edward T. Devine writes*: "The question which 
is pertinent and important is whether the unem- 
ployed are so (i) because they are unemployable, 
(2) because there is no work to be had, or (3) 
because of maladjustment." The third cause, he 
says, "an efficient employment bureau could at 
least to some extent overcome. It is obvious that 
if they are unemployed because they are unem- 
ployable, the employment bureau is no remedy. 
The only adequate remedy for a lack of efficiency 
would be education and training. If, again, they 
are unemployed because of a real and permanent 
surplus of supply over the demand for labor, it is 
plain that an employment bureau could not remedy 
the difficulty. . . In so far, however, as the lack of 



* Report on the Desirability of Establishing an Employment 
Bureau in the City of New York, p. 5. Russell Sage Foundation 
Publication. New York, Charities Publication Committee, 1909. 

126 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

employment is due to maladjustment, that is, to the 
inability of people who want work to get quickly 
into contact with opportunities which exist and to 
which there are no other equally appropriate means 
of access, the bureau will be justified." 

It cannot be said that irregularity of employ- 
ment in the bookbinding trade is due solely to this 
sort of maladjustment, the inability of workers 
needing work to find openings where workers are 
needed. Some bindery girls are drifters, without 
the foothold which skill might give them in their 
occupation. Undoubtedly the industry itself is 
in part responsible for producing these drifters, 
but whatever the cause may be, an employment 
bureau could not directly apply a remedy. Fur- 
thermore, a large amount of unemployment in this 
trade is due to the unequal distribution of work 
throughout the weeks of the month, or the months 
of the year, which automatically results in a sur- 
plus of workers at certain seasons. An employ- 
ment bureau could not at those times find openings 
where none exist. The workers' records show, 
however, that transfers from one establishment to 
another, from one branch of the trade to another, 
or even from bindery work to some other occupa- 
tion, are entirely feasible. The difficulty is that 
because of the lack of any adequate clearing house 
for such transfers, time and effort are wasted in 
a blind search for jobs. This is where an employ- 
ment bureau would find its opportunity, provided 
its equipment were adequate and its reach ex- 

127 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

tensive in many different fields of employment 
throughout the city. Through continuous con- 
tact with market demands, and discriminating 
study of the fitness of applicants, unwise choice of 
positions and the loss of time involved in trans- 
ferring workers from one establishment to another 
could be minimized, with distinct advantage both 
to workers and to employers. This same first- 
hand experience would enable an employment 
agent to read, in advance, the signs of a change in 
machinery or methods which so frequently dis- 
places workers without sufficient warning. Fur- 
thermore, such a clearing house ought also to be a 
storehouse of information regarding the causes of 
irregular employment. 

This transfer of workers from one position to 
another, without undue loss of time and earnings, 
is an immediate practical task, demanding a more 
effective system of guidance than newspaper ad- 
vertisements can supply. More fundamental, how- 
ever, is the possibility of preventing the neces- 
sity for such frequent transfers, by planning the 
work so that it may be evenly distributed through- 
out the year, thus avoiding dangerous over-fatigue 
at one period, and a total loss of income at 
another. Such a plan would involve no conflict 
of interest between capital and labor, since for 
both the steady use of the plant is of great ad- 
vantage. 

At present, however, little is being done in the 
bookbinding trade to bring about a more even 

128 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

distribution of orders throughout the year. Some 
employers have attempted to keep the force to- 
gether by various devices, such as dividing the 
work so that all would be on part time instead of a 
few on full time and the others out of work. In 
some binderies the girls are laid off in shifts two 
or three days at a time, instead of their being dis- 
charged for a continuous period. The binders 
who have attempted to remedy this irregularity 
by inducing publishers to place orders in dull sea- 
son, even offering substantial reductions in price, 
say that their efforts have met with no encouraging 
response. 

It is, in fact, a case of divided responsibility. 
Author, editor, publisher, printer, binder, critic, 
reader, all have a share, more or less remote, in 
creating the conditions which make the bindery 
girl's work irregular. If the author has been tardy 
in preparing the manuscript; if the editor has 
dallied over revision; if the publisher, with his 
eye on the critic and the reader, sends the book to 
the printer at the moment when all other pub- 
lishers are sending their books and insists upon 
delivery at what he considers the psycholog- 
ical publication hour; if the printer has taken so 
many orders that he finishes this one several 
days late, then all together will demand that the 
bookbinder make up for these delays by rushing 
through the binding in a day and a night. In the 
meantime the bookbinder, eager to have a hand 
in the issue of as many as possible of this sudden 
9 129 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

harvest of volumes, has taken more contracts than 
he could possibly execute during the normal hours 
of work. At the last moment then, when the 
pressure is greatest, it is the bindery hands who 
must make up for the time lost all along the line. 
Following this rush period comes unemployment 
or part time. Thus the rush period deserves con- 
sideration as a point of attack in attempting to 
prevent the evil of slack season. 

The necessity for such a stampede seems to be, 
after all, more or less a creation of the imagination 
of the makers and sellers of literature. Books are 
not perishable, in the physical sense. They can 
be bound and stored until the time comes to flood 
the market with them. Furthermore, publishers 
are surely not powerless to create in the popular 
imagination the desire for continuous rather than 
for seasonal publication. If critics and advertisers 
can so manipulate the intelligence of readers as 
to sell one hundred thousand copies of a trashy 
novel, why can they not persuade the same readers 
to buy a book every month? Already magazine 
publishers have begun to realize that they need 
not all seek the same date of publication. 

Unfortunately, however, a stronger motive for 
change is needed by the men and women who are 
managing the book market than the desire to give 
steady work to an unknown bindery hand. Uni- 
form pressure is necessary to restrain the least 
humane of employers from under-bidding his 
competitors by overworking his employes. Such 

130 



IRREGULARITY OF EMPLOYMENT 

pressure may be provided by factory legislation. 
Interesting testimony on this point was brought 
together in a report of commissioners appointed 
to inquire into the working of the Factory and 
Workshops Act in England in 1876. Members of 
women's trade unions were called to testify. 

Bookbinders, questioned about the relation of 
legislation to their occupation, complained that 
the trade was most unnecessarily considered by 
the law a season trade. Moreover, they thought 
that the existence of the modification (permitting 
an extension of hours to fourteen per day, during 
certain periods of the year) made employers care- 
less of due economy in time. They declared that 
"there is a great deal of work done during those 
months which might as well be done during the 
slack season, such as school books or anything of 
that kind that are always required, but they are 
generally kept back until the beginning of the 
winter season comes on." One witness was asked 
whether it would be possible to bind magazines 
without working overtime. The reply was, "Not 
at present, but I think it is a thing which could be 
managed in time, because I think the publishers, 
when they know they can get them done by a 
certain day, very often keep them back when they 
might be pushed forward; because in such an 
emergency as that there is no respect to the Act, 
they keep them back until the last moment."* 

* Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the 
working of the Factory and Workshops Acts, Minutes of Evidence, 
p. 135. London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1876. 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

This testimony, corroborated by statements 
made by New York bookbinders, suggests that 
restrictions on overtime in busy season would be 
a powerful means of compelling a more even dis- 
tribution of orders. The bookbinder who was 
sure that he and all his competitors must obey 
a state law limiting the hours of women's work 
would refuse orders which he could not execute in 
a normal working day. Publishers and all others 
concerned in the issue of a book would then be 
forced to adjust their plans to the new condition, 
by allowing more time for the binding. The diffi- 
culty of getting work done in busy season would 
also make them more responsive to the binders' 
overtures for dull-season orders. It is evident, 
therefore, that in legislation limiting the hours 
of work the state has one means of meeting its 
responsibility for the problem of steadying the 
seasons. 



132 



CHAPTER VI 
OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

BOOKBINDERIES are factories in the legal 
meaning of the term. According to the 
New York law no child under fourteen years 
of age may be employed in a bindery. None be- 
tween the ages of fourteen and sixteen may work 
unless provided with an employment certificate, 
nor may a child between these ages work longer 
than eight hours in a day, or at any time, except 
between the hours of 8 a. m. and 5 p. m. At 
the time of this investigation, no woman of 
sixteen years or older might be employed more 
than sixty hours weekly, more than six days in a 
week, or more than ten hours in a day except under 
certain conditions.* She might work overtime, 
however, regularly on five days in the week 
in order to make the sixth day shorter. Or she 
might work overtime irregularly on three days in 
the week, provided that the working day never 

* By an amendment enacted by the 1912 legislature, which took 
effect October ist, 1912, the working week for women was reduced from 
sixty to fifty-four hours, and the working day to nine hours, while 
certain exception clauses permitted ten hours under certain condi- 
tions, but never twelve hours as was possible under the former law. 
As this investigation was made before the enactment of the fifty- 
four hour law, the discussion in this chapter relates to a working 
week of sixty hours. The underlying principles of enforcement, 
however, and the need for public support of such legislation, as it 
is illustrated in the bookbinding trade, are unchanged by the differ- 
ences in the law. 

'33 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

exceeded twelve hours. Practically then, the New 
York law permitted a twelve-hour day. Under no 
conditions might the weekly hours exceed sixty. 
No woman under twenty-one years of age might 
work between the hours of 9 p. m. and 6 a. m. 
Women over twenty-one might work by night or 
by day, provided the working week did not exceed 
sixty hours and that the working day was not 
more than ten hours, except under the conditions 
already described, when a twelve-hour day was 
permissible. The law which became operative 
in October, 1912, reduced the sixty-hour weekly 
limit to fifty-four, and the daily hours to nine, 
with permission to work ten hours on the same 
terms which formerly made twelve hours possible. 
For children under sixteen then, the statute is 
plain, no work before 8 a. m., or after 5 p. m. or 
longer than eight hours in any one day, but as soon 
as the sixteenth birthday is passed the legal day is 
lengthened and confusing exceptions are introduced 
into the law. Their application to the bindery in- 
dustry can be made clearer by showing the actual 
hours of work of a few women in the trade. 

A girl of sixteen worked in a large bindery where 
books, department store catalogues, and a monthly 
magazine were bound. Her regular hours were 
eight in a day, from 8 a. m. to 5 p. m.; forty-eight 
in a week. Each month from the i6th to the 25th, 
when the magazine was bound, she worked until 
9 p. m. sometimes twice and sometimes three times 
a week. Her day then was from 8 a. m. until 

134 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

9 p. m. with an hour for lunch and a half-hour for 
supper, or a total of eleven and one-half working 
hours, excluding meal time. The total weekly 
hours of labor were fifty-five when she worked 
overtime twice, and fifty-eight and a half when she 
stayed three evenings. This schedule of hours did 
not violate the law in any particular. The girl was 
sixteen years old and hence was not protected by 
the eight-hour law for children of fourteen and 
fifteen. She did not begin work before 6 a. m. 
nor work later than 9 p. m. She had thirty minutes 
for supper; the law requires only twenty minutes' 
recess when working later than 7 p. m. The total 
daily hours of actual labor when working over- 
time did not exceed eleven and one-half, and never 
occurred more than three times in a six-day work- 
ing week; the law permitted twelve hours three 
days in the week. The total working week did 
not exceed fifty-eight and a half hours; the 
law permitted sixty hours. Thus it was possible 
to work overtime without violating the law. 

In September and in February, however, this 
bindery no longer kept within the law. At those 
seasons the fall and spring catalogues of depart- 
ment stores were bound. Instead of working 
three nights, employes stayed until 9 p. m. on five 
nights a week and sometimes added three hours 
on Saturday, so that the working week was sixty- 
five and a half hours long with five days of over- 
time, or sixty-eight and a half when the Saturday's 
overtime work was added. 

135 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

The differences between this schedule and the 
preceding one are the length of the working week, 
and the five or six days of overtime, instead of 
two or three, above ten hours. These differences 
constituted violations of the law. Sixty-eight and 
a half hours exceeded the legal sixty, and a day of 
longer than ten hours was permissible only when it 
occurred (a) regularly on five days or less, as a means 
of shortening the sixth day while completing a full 
week of sixty hours or less, or (b) irregularly 
on three days or less. This bindery could legally 
have lengthened its daily eight hours regularly to 
eleven from Monday to Friday and then worked five 
hours on Saturday. When the overtime above ten 
hours occurred "irregularly" at rush seasons, it 
must be limited to three days in a week. 

This illustration suffices to show the difficulty of 
enforcing either the sixty-hour law or the new 
fifty-four hour provision. Two or three nights of 
overtime does not constitute a violation. Proof 
cannot be complete without data showing the hours 
of actual work, exclusive of meal time, each day, 
and their combined total. A single inspection 
would be sufficient to give basis for prosecution 
if a girl under twenty-one were found working 
after 9 p. m. In that case, the inspector would be 
obliged to prove the age as well as the time at 
which the girl was found at work. 

This proof of age is necessary because, as soon 
as a woman passes her twenty-first birthday, the 
provision of law prohibiting the work of younger 

136 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

women after 9 p. m. or before 6 a. m. no longer ap- 
plies to her. A girl twenty-three years old was 
employed to fill the boxes of a gathering machine 
in a magazine bindery. She worked from 8:30 
a. m. to 5 130 p. m. with a half hour at noon. She 
began again at 6:30 p. m. and worked until mid- 
night. After a recess of thirty minutes she con- 
tinued her day's task until 5 130 a. m. This was a 
total working period of nineteen hours. Since 
the law permitted a twelve-hour day, and did not 
prohibit employment of adult women during the 
night, a working day of twenty-four hours was legal 
for them. With the stroke of the clock at midnight, 
a twelve-hour day ended and another twelve-hour 
day might begin. In the case of this girl, not the 
long stretch of work, but the fact that fourteen hours 
instead of twelve preceded midnight, was a viola- 
tion of the law. The legal provisions would have 
been fulfilled had she begun work two hours later 
and stayed in the bindery until noon the next day. 
These illustrations reveal the inadequacy of the 
law, its confusing exceptions and its failure to 
prohibit night work. Exact evidence as to its 
enforcement in any one trade is difficult to 
secure. Employers are not likely to give full 
information about their own offenses against it. 
Workers are often afraid to give exact facts 
damaging to their employers, lest to do so should 
result in loss of their jobs. In the bookbind- 
ing trade in particular, investigators encounter the 
further difficulty that overtime is so customary 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

that it does not occur to the workers to speak of it. 
They are surprised at the question, Have you 
ever worked overtime? " If you're in bindery 
work, you have to," they reply. Nevertheless, a 
statistical measure of the extent of overtime work 
has been secured by tabulating the girls' state- 
ments about their most recent positions. Their 
testimony about the physical effects of the work 
will show the need for a stronger law and better 
enforcement. First, however, it is important to 
know the length of the normal working day and 
week without overtime, as it appears on the records 

TABLE 26. DAILY HOURS OF WORK OF WOMEN EM- 
PLOYED IN BOOKBINDING* 





WOMEN WORKING SPECIFIED HOURS IN 




Edition and 






Daily Hours of Work 


Pamphlet Bind- 
eries Employing 
SO or more 


All Other 
Binderies 


All Binderies 




Women 








Num- 


Per 


Num- 


Per 


Num- 


Per 




ber 


Cent 


ber 


Cent 


ber 


Cent 


Less than 8 hours 






58 


2 


58 


\ 


8 hours . 


1,013 


3 


420 


i? 


'.433 


25 


More than 8, less 














than 8}4 . 






21 


i 


21 


b 


8}4 and less than 9 


1,440 


45 


582 


24 


2,022 


36 


9 and less than 9^ 


790 


24 


1,214 


49 


2,OO4 


35 


9> and less than 10 






135 


6 


135 


2 


10 or more 






16 


i 


16 


b 


Total 


3*243 


IOO 


2,446 


IOO 


5,689 


IOO 



a Information was secured from 208 binderies, employing a normal 
force of 5,689 women. This table shows hours on first five days of 
the week, but not on Saturdays. b Less than 0.5 per cent. 

I 3 8 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

of binderies, supplemented by workers' reports 
and by figures given by the New York State 
Department of Labor. 

Nearly three-fourths work between eight and a 
half and nine and a half hours a day, while 25 per 
cent have an even eight-hour day. This state- 
ment applies to the hours of labor on the first five 
days in the week. In many cases the excess over 
eight hours on these days is due to a schedule by 
which the working period on Saturday is shortened, 
while the length of the week is forty-eight hours.* 

TABLE 27. WEEKLY HOURS OF WORK OF WOMEN EM- 
PLOYED IN BOOKBINDING* 





WOMEN WORKING SPECIFIED HOURS IN 




Edition and 






Weekly Hours 
of Work 


Pamphlet Binder- 
ies Employing 50 
or more Women 


All Other 
Binderies 


All Binderies 




Num- 


Per 


Num- 


Per 


Num- 


Per 




ber 


Cent 


ber 


Cent 


ber 


Cent 


48 hours or less 


2,278 


7' 


818 


35 


3,096 


56 


Over 48 and less than 














50 ... 


125 


4 


178 


8 


303 


6 


50 and less than 52 


135 


4 


332 


14 


467 


9 


52 and less than 54 


380 


12 


287 


12 


667 


12 


54 and less than 56 


275 


9 


617 


2 7 


892 


16 


56 and less than 58 






60 


3 


60 


i 


58 and less than 60 


.. 




16 




16 


b 


Total 


3.193 


100 


2,308 


100 


5.501 


100 



a Of the 5,689 women employed in binderies supplying any infor- 
mation regarding hours, 188 were in establishments which did not 
give complete data on weekly hours of labor. b Less than 0.5 per cent. 

* The time of beginning and ending work, and length of noon 
recess are shown in Appendix B, Tables I, J, and K, pp. 254-255. 

139 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

Thus when not working overtime 56 per cent of 
the bindery women in these establishments have 
a normal working week of forty-eight hours, or, 
in a very few cases, less, and less than 2 per cent 
work fifty-six hours or more a week. In the busy 
season, however, these hours are frequently pro- 
longed, and this lengthening of the normal day or 
week is always called "overtime/' although it may 
not exceed or even equal the limit allowed by the 
law. Thus, a distinction must be kept in mind 
between overtime which is illegal because it exceeds 
the limits set by law, and overtime which is merely 
an excess above the usual schedule of hours pre- 
vailing in an establishment, without violating the 
state labor law designed to prevent excessive over- 
time. Of the 36 large edition and pamphlet bin- 
deries from which information about overtime 
was secured, 31 reported that they lengthened the 
hours of work at some season of the year. Of 88 
smaller establishments giving this information, 
63 had overtime, and of 31 blankbook makers, 22. 
These figures are based on the employers' state- 
ments. 

Although these establishments may not all ex- 
ceed the limit of the law, the girls' statements re- 
garding 227 positions which they have held very 
recently indicate that many do. Usually one 
girl's experience represented that of a number of 
her fellow-workers. Nine per cent of the reports 
of overtime were from girls under sixteen, 22 per 
cent from those sixteen to eighteen, 40 per cent 

140 




WIRE-STITCHERS. ARTIFICIAL LIGHT ALL DAY 




ONE END OF A CROWDED BINDERY 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

from workers between eighteen and twenty-one, 
and 29 per cent from those twenty-one and over. 
This indicates how large is the proportion of young 
girls among the workers whose hours are prolonged 
in busy season. The girls' reports covered 88 
different binderies of which 36 were edition 
and pamphlet binderies employing 50 or more 
women. Seventy per cent, 159, of the reports 
showed overtime, including legal and illegal, while 
more than half of these instances of overtime 
were violations of the law. Workers reported 1 52 
distinct violations in 42 different establishments. 
Table 28 classifies these violations according to 
the section of the law to which they relate. 



TABLE 28. VIOLATIONS IN BOOKBINDING ESTABLISH- 

MENTS OF LAW RESTRICTING HOURS OF WORK 

FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS 



Nature of Violation 


Number of Viola- 
tions of each 
Specified Nature 


Employment for more than 60 hours weekly 
Employment for more than 12 hours daily . 
Employment for more than 10 hours daily, irregu- 
larly more than 3 times a week .... 
Less than 20 minutes allowed for supper to 
women working overtime more than i hour 
after 6 p. m 
Employment for 7 days a week .... 
Employment of women under 21 years of age 
after 9 p. m. 
Employment of women 21 years and over after 
9 p. m. (before law was declared unconsti- 
tutional) 


51 
35 

25 

'1 

'7 

i 


Total 


152 



141 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

These statistics are in no sense a measure of 
conditions in the trade. They are merely illustra- 
tions of too prevalent a practice of lengthening 
the hours of work in binderies. A fuller dis- 
cussion of the girls' reports of overtime, both legal 
and illegal, will make the situation clearer. 

Some of their 159 reports of overtime showed 
comparatively early closing hours, which were not 
violations of law (and did not appear in Table 28). 
In 21 per cent of the 159 cases the girls were not 
kept later than 7 o'clock, and in 16 per cent they 
left the bindery between 8 and 9. In 44 per cent 
they stayed until 9 and in 19 per cent, almost one 
in every five, they worked until later at night. 
Several flagrant cases were included in this last 
group; one reported work until 12:30 a. m., three 
until i in the morning, two until 3 o'clock, one 
until 5:30, one until 8 and one until 9 the next 
morning. In every one of these cases the girl had 
gone to work in the morning and worked through- 
out the day and evening until after midnight. 

For a girl to leave a bindery at such late hours 
as are here indicated, and go home alone through 
the streets, is obviously dangerous. The fact that 
the law permits women of twenty-one or over 
to work after 9 p. m. also makes a loop-hole for 
employing younger girls until late at night. One 
of the girls whose record appears in these state- 
ments was employed at the age of seventeen to 
stitch programs for opera houses and theaters. 



142 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

During the theater season she worked overtime 
until ii or 12 o'clock at night, a day of fourteen 
and a half hours. She walked home alone, past 
the closed business houses downtown. "Only 
bums are down there at that hour of the night/' 
she said. 

Another girl of the same age was employed 
a year and a half in a pamphlet and maga- 
zine bindery "knocking up." She frequently 
worked overtime Saturday night, sometimes stay- 
ing until 2, 3, or 4 o'clock Sunday morning. Her 
home was in one of the worst sections of Fourteenth 
Street. She was laid off in March and had great 
difficulty in securing any other position. A few 
weeks later she disappeared and no one in her 
family knew where she had gone. Whether her 
employment at night and her walks along Four- 
teenth Street at 2 or 3 a. m. were the direct cause 
of her disappearance cannot be proved. But 
the danger of adding such influences to those 
which already surround young girls in a city like 
New York needs no proof. 

The total hours daily in all reports of overtime 
showed as wide a range as did the statements 
about closing hours. In 9 per cent of 139 cases 
in which the daily working hours were fully 
reported, the maximum day when working over- 
time did not exceed ten hours, in 14 per cent it was 
between ten and eleven hours, and in 29 per cent 
it was between eleven and twelve hours in length, 



143 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

exclusive of meal time. Twelve-hour days ap- 
peared in 23 per cent of the reports, while in 25 
per cent the overtime day was longer than twelve 
hours. 

The detailed reports of working days longer than 
twelve hours show appalling conditions. These 
hours represent actual working time, after deduct- 
ing the length of noon recess and the time allowed 
for supper. In four positions the day was 12^ 
hours long; in seven, 12^2 hours; in three, 12^; in 
nine, 13; in one, 13^; in two, 14; in two, 15^; 
in two, 16; in two, 18; in one, 19^; in one, 2i>^; 
and in one, 22 hours. The United States gov- 
ernment investigators, whose report has been 
quoted,* found an even more alarming example of 
overwork of a girl in a bindery, a working "day" 
of 24^ hours. 

The occurrence of these long days is, of course, 
not consecutive or continuous. That would be 
unendurable. For example, magazine binderies 
are notorious for the great irregularity in the length 
of successive days. The working week of a girl 
employed in one of them is shown in Chart 
V. The normal day is nine hours, but only 
one in this week was of that length. The 
other days varied from four to fifteen working 
hours. After fifteen hours of work on Thursday 
and fourteen on Friday, it requires no argument to 
prove that a short day of four hours on Saturday 

* See page 2. 



144 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

even followed by rest on Sunday does not com- 
pensate for the intense physical strain endured on 
those two days. Thus, even though the working 
week was only two and a half hours longer than the 
law allows, within that time an exhausting period 
of labor was possible. A tabulation of the weekly 
hours, however, indicated also excessive overwork 
in many positions. Not all the reports of over- 
time gave all the information necessary for de- 
termining the length of the working week. 

The weekly hours were within the legal limit, 
sixty hours or less, in 46 cases, and exceeded it in 



Hours Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday 
24 ' 



Saturday 




CHART V. DAILY HOURS OF LABOR IN A ONE WEEK PERIOD, IN A 
PAMPHLET BINDERY 

51. The details of the group working 70 to 80 
hours showed 70 hours in three cases, 71 in two, 
10 145 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

72 in one, 72 X in one, 75^ in one, 78 in two, and 
80 in one. To realize fully how great a menace 
such overwork is to the health of bindery girls, 
it is necessary to emphasize the nature of their 
tasks, the conditions under which they work, the 
possible danger of accidents, and the more com- 
mon danger of fatigue to which many of the work- 
ers bore witness. 

Liability to accidents increases with overwork, 
and must be considered in relation to the legal 
regulation of the working day. Injuries to the 
hands or fingers seem to be more frequent than 
fatal accidents among bindery women. The 
worker usually suffers loss of time as a result; in 
some cases a change of occupation is necessary. 
A girl who worked in the trade fourteen years, 
said that she had never tried to operate a machine. 
"They're too dangerous, and if you lose your finger 
the boss ain't goin' to do anything for you. I've 
seen girls get the ends of their fingers cut off by 
the machine." "We work on machines at our 
own risk," said the feeder of a folding machine. 
"On the point folding machine the girls have to 
put their hands under the knife and draw them 
back before the knife comes down." One girl, 
sixteen years old, was employed to operate the 
wire-stitching machine in a magazine bindery. 
She wire-stitched her finger one Sunday morning 
early when she had been working steadily since 
Saturday at 8:30 a. m. One girl had her finger 
caught by the descending knife of a cutting ma- 

146 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

chine from which she was taking the magazines. 
She fainted and was taken to a hospital. She 
reported every day at the bindery for three weeks 
and was paid full wages ($7.00 a week) but did 
very little work except running errands. After 
three weeks, the finger was better, but she was so 
unnerved that she could not work near the ma- 
chines. She folded sheets by hand, but her in- 
jury hindered her in the work, and prevented 
her earning more than $4.00 a week. Another 
girl lost the forefinger of her right hand while 
operating an indexing machine in a blankbook 
bindery. At that time she was earning $5.00 
a week. The company did not reimburse her 
loss, although she had to begin again as a learner 
and practice other processes in which the loss of 
the finger would not be a hindrance. "Any ma- 
chine is dangerous if you don't watch it carefully," 
said another girl. Over the entrance to the work- 
room of a magazine bindery is a sign which reads: 

"DANGER. All persons are warned to use care 

when around machines and promptly to 

report any defects." 

The fatigue caused by prolonged periods of work 
is greatly increased when the workroom is dark, 
dusty, or badly ventilated. Great variety char- 
acterizes conditions in the workrooms of New York 
binderies. Girls have been found stitching a 
magazine "devoted to the interests of health," in 
a cellar workroom entirely below street level, 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

lighted by gas. Others have been found at work 
in large lofts of high buildings, where ventilation 
and light were excellent. In some binderies' a 
modern passenger elevator carries one to the work- 
room; in others one must choose between long 
flights of dark and dusty wooden stairs and the 
slow freight "hoist" with its sign, "All persons 
riding in this elevator do so at their own risk." 
Overcrowding, insufficient lighting, and lack of 
proper ventilation endanger the workers' health 
in too many binderies. Books piled high cut off 
light and air. The seats provided often lack backs 
or foot-rests, and in many processes constant 
standing is the custom. 

The story of a bookbinder who is now too ill to 
work will illustrate the danger to which many of 
her fellow- workers are exposed, through bad work- 
room conditions, combined with the breaking down 
of physical resistance by heavy tasks and long 
hours. A board of health physician found this 
girl tubercular, and through the activity of a re- 
lief society she was sent to a sanatorium. The 
girl's home and the place where she had been em- 
ployed were visited. She had worked five years 
in the same workroom. Before that, illness had 
forced her to leave her previous position, which 
she had held also for five years. In this first posi- 
tion, she had frequently worked overtime in win- 
ter three nights a week until 9 p. m., a day of 
twelve and a half hours. To save carfare she had 
walked to and from the bindery. "I'd walk 

148 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

home," she said, "and mamma 'd be out nursing 
and I'd be too tired to get any supper; that's how 
I got run down." She was ill three months. A 
physician then said that her lungs were sound, 
but that care would be necessary to keep them so. 

In the bindery where she was at work when she 
became ill with tuberculosis she had stood all day 
during the first year, examining and wrapping 
heavy bound volumes for a wage of $4.00 to $5.00 
a week. After that she learned to collate the 
sheets of the books, and sat at work. The paper 
was heavy. It "tired" her chest and back to hold 
the sheets while collating. Although she was a 
week worker "it was necessary to rush because I 
had to keep the sewer, who was on piece work, 
supplied. If I didn't collate fast enough she'd 
complain to the forewoman that she couldn't 
make out." 

To conditions in this workroom she attributed 
her illness from tuberculosis. Other cases had 
developed in the same bindery. The books were 
not always bound immediately. After they had 
been gathered they were sometimes stacked for 
months, and the collators were the first ones 
to handle them while they were covered with ac- 
cumulated dust. The workroom was not kept 
clean, and the floor was swept while the girls were 
at work. In response to a complaint the Labor 
Department sent a ventilation expert to investigate 
the bindery, and the results of the inspection were 
reported in these words : 

149 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

"He found the air openings in the windows too 
small for proper ventilation and ordered them to 
be enlarged. The air test showed 12 to 14 parts 
carbonic anhydride in 10,000 volumes, which is 
above the legal limit. The water closets were 
found clean. The fourth floor workroom (wom- 
en's department) was found blocked with accumu- 
lated stock which was covered with dust. Orders 
were given to cover the stock and wet-cleanse the 
floor every day." 

This girl's home was immaculately clean, and 
her mother a careful housekeeper. But good care 
at home could not prevent the undermining of 
health in ten years of bindery work beginning with 
long daily hours, a walk home late on cold winter 
nights, a deferred supper or none at all because she 
was "too tired to eat," a heavy cold, and then five 
years of exhausting work in a bindery where the 
dust was allowed to accumulate and was then stirred 
up by handling sheets of paper or sweeping while 
the workers were in the bindery. Yet no factor in 
this bindery girl's history is unique, except her 
unusually comfortable home. 

A witness of the processes of work in bookbin- 
deries would require no medical proof of two chief 
dangers to which bindery women are exposed, the 
danger from the accumulation of dust on paper, 
and the danger of fatigue. The workers' own 
statements are important as testimony on these 
points. 

"She was all worn out and she got so thin there 
150 




A CROWDED WORKROOM 




ACCUMULATED STOCK GATHERING DUST 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

wasn't anything to her/' said the mother of a girl 
who for three years had worked all night two or 
three times a week in the winter months. She 
began in the morning and worked until 5:30 a. m. 
the following day. "Then she was supposed to 
rest all day and until the next morning at 8 when 
she went to work again," said her mother. " But 
she got so tired she would cry all morning when 
she came home and she couldn't sleep well. The 
doctor told her she'd have to stop night work." 

In a certain bindery in New York a grocers' cata- 
logue is bound every Wednesday evening. In 
order not to miss tardy advertisements it is not 
brought to the bindery until 7 p. m. Two women 
work until 10 or 1 1 p. m. to prepare it for the mail 
Thursday morning. After that hour, one of them, 
twenty-three years old, must journey an hour from 
Brooklyn Bridge before reaching home uptown 
in Manhattan. Just before the Fourth of July, 
1911, in a record-breaking hot spell this girl was 
overcome by the heat at night in the bindery. 
She was dizzy and nauseated, and "could hardly 
hold her head up," but the grocers' catalogue must 
be wire-stitched and she could not stop work until 
the order was finished. She was ill for two weeks 
afterwards, receiving no wages for the time lost, 
but the catalogue was mailed in time, and thus the 
firm did not lose the contract for binding it. 

But aside from the fatigue caused by working 
such long hours, the processes in themselves are 
hard, even under the best conditions. "Gather- 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

ing is very heavy," said a bindery girl in New York 
City. "I'm always thin. I never can pick up." 
One girl wears gloves while inserting the large 
sheets of a magazine one within another, to pre- 
vent the swelling of her hands and wrists. Another 
bandages her wrists. "The work wears you out 
after awhile," she said. Both these girls stand at 
work all day. " Bindery work is very hard work," 
said another. " When you get your wages, you've 
earned every cent. When the girls get home 
they're too tired to do anything." " I don't like 
bookbinding," said a learner who had been em- 
ployed a year in the trade. "They're getting 
machines for everything. I was on a machine, 
gathering, and every once in a while I'd be so tired 
I'd have to stay home a day. Knocking up is 
tiresome too." A girl seventeen years old who 
had charge of four folding machines said that tend- 
ing them made her so nervous that she frequently 
cried from fatigue when she reached home at 
night. "No girl should go into bookbinding un- 
less she is very strong," said another. A young 
learner emptied the boxes into which the large 
folding machine delivers the folded sheets. The 
work was so heavy that she broke down and was 
idle three months. "They ought to have boys to 
do that work," she said. 

An examiner and wrapper who handled the com- 
pleted volumes, often heavy, asserted that the 
rapid turning of the pages of the books tired her 
eyes very quickly. "At first," she said, "I used 

152 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

to see the pages moving in my sleep." She stood 
at work and seldom had a chance to sit down. 
"We fairly had to swipe our chairs. If we sat 
down long they'd give us a look, as much as to 
say, ' It's time you stood up." Another girl, who 
stood always while doing this work, left because of 
illness; she said that it was due to standing and to 
holding the heavy volumes. Her two sisters had 
been bindery girls. Their father objected to their 
working in this trade. "He can't be havin' us 
work in binderies, and then be havin' to pay doc- 
tor's bills." 

A girl who was employed more than four years 
in the gold laying department of an edition bindery 
was obliged to leave the trade because of illness. 
Air, circulating freely, might blow the gold leaf. 
Lack of ventilation caused her to faint and have 
nausea. Another gold layer said that it was 
impossible to ventilate the room, and that in 
summer it was almost unendurable. Others com- 
plained, also, of eye-strain. "The gold has a 
glare," said one of them. 

" I would never advise a girl to take up number- 
ing," said an operator of a numbering machine, 
which is run by a foot-pedal, pressed eight or ten 
thousand times a day. " I know a lot of girls 
that have had to have operations because of it." 
In a blankbook bindery, a girl who does general 
work complains of severe pains in her side, due to 
the constant pressure of the foot on the pedal of a 
perforating machine. Usually she does a few 

153 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

hours' work a day on this machine, and then turns 
to other work, but recently the firm had a large 
order which lasted nearly four weeks, and the 
machine was running constantly, one girl taking it 
the moment another stopped operating it. The 
bulk of this work falls to her share because she 
operates the machine more carefully than the 
others. The visitor's report of her interview 
reads: "Katie looks worn out and is discouraged 
because she doesn't get more than $7.00 for the 
hard work she is doing. She was busy washing 
the supper dishes (8 120 p.m.). Her younger sister 
was dressing to go to a wedding. Katie said that 
she used to go to dances and weddings when she 
was young but she is too tired to go now. She is 
twenty-two years old." 

It is obvious that even the unskilled work of 
lifting sheets from the boxes of machines or carry- 
ing books from one part of the workroom to another 
is exhausting, especially if the working hours be 
long. Doubtless it was dislike of this heavy work 
which led the London Societies of Journeymen 
Bookbinders, in an agreement in which the women 
workers were not represented or consulted, to 
declare that "they will not make it a grievance 
if," in addition to a few other processes, "female 
or unskilled labour is placed upon the carrying of 
loads of work about the work shop."* 

* MacDonald, J. Ramsay: Women in the Printing Trades, p. 8. 
London, King, 1904. 



154 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

" Physical effort," writes Dr. Oliver,* "and the 
lifting and carrying of heavy weights not only im- 
press themselves upon the muscles and nervous 
system, but upon all parts of the body, particu- 
larly the bones in early adolescence and the period 
of growth. ... If standing all day when at 
work in an overheated factory causes tiredness of 
the muscles and also varicose veins, prolonged 
sitting may be just as harmful, for the lumbar 
region of the spinal column becomes bent, the 
movements of the abdominal viscera are interfered 
with, the lower ribs are compressed, and since 
deep inspiration is hardly possible the lungs are 
badly ventilated and the aeration of the blood is 
imperfect." It follows that specialization in proc- 
esses, which compels a worker to maintain one 
position throughout the working day, should be 
listed among the occupational dangers. This dan- 
ger exists in binderies, and is multiplied as the 
hours of labor are prolonged. 

An increasing number of experiments to deter- 
mine the nature of fatigue are supplying scientific 
proof of the need for labor legislation.! " Fatigue 
or tiredness," writes Dr. Oliver, J "is a sensation, 
the outcome of a particular state of the nervous 
system, the result of work carried beyond the 
capabilities of the organism. In ordinary physio- 

*Oliver, Thomas, M.D.: Diseases of Occupation, p. n. New 
York, Dutton, 1908. 

fGoIdmark, Josephine: Fatigue and Efficiency. Russell Sage Foun- 
dation Publication. New York, Charities Publication Committee, 1912. 

t Oliver, op. cit., pp. 6, 9. 

'55 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

logical activity exhaustion is never attained, for 
fatigue is the warning signal. . . . The waste 
products added to the blood act upon the nerve 
endings in muscle and upon the grey matter of the 
brain, and create a sense of fatigue. . . and 
on the other hand they poison the large nerve cells 
in the grey matter of the brain, render them less 
receptive of sensory stimuli, and in this way re- 
duce their power of emitting volitional impulses. 
There is, therefore, in fatigue an element that is 
mental as well as physical. After rest and sleep 
the sensation of fatigue wears off, and we rise invigo- 
rated and strengthened for work. During repose, 
structure is being rebuilt and waste products are 
eliminated. . . . One of the important fea- 
tures of overwork, calling for notice, is the manner 
in which fatigue is repaired. It is a question of 
length of time." 

It is evident that fatigue is not the result of a 
particular process of work, but a sign of overwork 
in any occupation. The time element is the de- 
cisive factor in its cause; it is also the decisive 
factor in recovery. Of course, the length of time 
necessary to induce fatigue varies with the nature 
of the work, and the individual power of endurance. 
But that time alone can cure fatigue, and that ex- 
haustion may be the result of ignoring it are facts 
which the scientists have proved applicable to 
every worker in every occupation. It is the pur- 
pose of labor laws to protect the health of workers 
against the poisonous effects of fatigue. How in- 

156 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

adequate is the protection extended to bindery 
women in New York is clear, and suggests a dis- 
cussion of the law. 

In 1886, the legislature of New York state passed 
its first factory law, entitled "An act to regulate 
the employment of women and children in manu- 
facturing establishments, and to provide for the 
appointment of inspectors to enforce the same." 
According to this law no woman under twenty-one 
might be employed more than sixty hours in any 
one week, "unless for the purpose of making neces- 
sary repairs." It prohibited the employment of 
any child under the age of thirteen years. Only 
one inspector and one assistant were appointed to 
enforce it. In 1889, the daily working hours of 
women under twenty-one years were limited to 
ten, but an "exception" clause permitted longer 
days for the purpose of shortening the hours of 
work on Saturday. In the same year night work 
of women under twenty-one years was prohibited 
between the hours of 9 p. m. and 6 a. m. In 1899, 
by a single act, the provisions of the law were 
extended to all women irrespective of age. 

Judging by the number of prosecutions, lax en- 
forcement has characterized the history of the law. 
In the six years preceding 1906, there were only 
four prosecutions in New York state either for 
employing women more than sixty hours in a week 
or for employing them after 9 p. m. in any factory. 
Only one employer was convicted and fined in 
that period. One was acquitted. Two were con- 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

victed and sentence suspended. Yet violations were 
known to the commissioner of labor, for he wrote 
in his report of 1902,* 

"Reference to the tables of orders, complaints, and 
prosecutions will show that the principal source of 
trouble is the tendency on the part of factory managers 
to exact longer hours than the legal maximum for 
women and minors, and to employ children without 
filing the required certificate of age, school attendance 
and physical fitness/' 

The year 1906 was characterized by a sudden 
burst of activity with more than three times as 
many prosecutions begun as in the preceding five 
years. Six employers in the bookbinding trade 
were arrested for employing women after 9 p. m. 
Seven other prosecutions were begun for employ- 
ing women more than sixty hours in a week.f This 
activity resulted in court decisions in two cases in 
the same year, in one of which the prohibition of 
night work was declared unconstitutional, while in 
the other the sixty-hour law was held to be a legiti- 
mate exercise of the police power of the state.! 

* Second Annual Report of the Department of Labor of the 
State of New York, 1902. Vol. I. Pt. III. Report of the Bureau 
of Factory Inspection, p. 24. 

t New York State Department of Labor, Factory Inspection, 1906. 
Part II, p. 210. 

{The case of one Mary Seeback's employment in a laundry more 
than sixty hours in a week never passed beyond the court of special 
sessions, which declared that "a law which attempts to limit the num- 
ber of hours of labor of a woman employed in a factory, may well be a 
health regulation and a proper legislative exercise of the state's police 
power." New York State Department of Labor, Bulletin No. 31, 
December, 1906, p. 484. For court decision, People v. Howe, Court 
of Special Sessions, see Appendix C, pp. 256-258. 

I 5 8 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

The case regarding the prohibition of night work, 
now wellknown as the People v. Williams, is of 
direct interest in a study of the bookbinding trade. 
The opening paragraphs of the judges' decision 
give the setting. 

"At twenty minutes after ten o'clock on the night of 
January 31, 1906, a deputy factory inspector visited 
the bookbinding establishment of the defendant, No. 
437 Eleventh Avenue, in the County of New York, and 
there found one Katie Mead, a female more than twenty- 
one years of age, and a citizen, employed in 'gathering/ 
to wit, assembling printed papers in the form of a book 
or pamphlet for binding purposes. The defendant, one 
of the proprietors of the establishment, was present and 
in charge of the work and the employes, and among 
them were several other women. There is no pretext 
that the building was insecure, the light bad, ventila- 
tion defective, or the general sanitary condition defi- 
cient. In these respects, the deputy testified, 'It is 
the best factory of the kind in New York City/ 

"The information upon which the defendant was 
tried and convicted charges a misdemeanor under sec- 
tion 77, article 6, entitled ' Factories/ of the General 
Laws Relating to Labor, in that he employed, permitted 
and suffered the said Katie Mead to work in that factory 
after nine o'clock at night on the date specified/'* 

Katie Mead, on the night of January 31, 1906, 
was not only a bindery hand. She was a represen- 
tative of all the women employed in factories in 

* New York State Department of Labor, Bulletin No. 30, Sep- 
tember, 1906, p. 340 ff. People v. Williams, Court of Special Sessions. 

'59 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

New York state. The work that she did in the 
bindery that night after 9 o'clock resulted in "the 
first judicial construction thus far made in the 
United States of a statute prohibiting the em- 
ployment of women in factories at night/'* 
Three courts, in succession, declared the prohibi- 
tion unconstitutional, and, as a result of their de- 
cision, Katie Mead and all other adult women in 
binderies or in any other factories of New York 
state may be "employed, permitted and suffered" 
to work throughout the night. 

The reasoning of the courts is somewhat in- 
volved, but the importance of the decision in the 
history of factory laws in New York, and its im- 
mediate bearing on their present enforcement, 
makes full discussion of it desirable. The court 
declared that the issue was not the limitation of 
the working hours in a day or a week. "How 
long the woman worked on the day in question, 
how long she worked that week, or how many 
hours of labor she had contracted to perform on 
the night she was found working in the factory 
none of these things appear. The sole fact before 
us is that a woman was employed in factory work 
for a few minutes during hours when the statute 
declares it was unlawful to so employ her." The 
justice believed that one of women's rights 
certainly was 

" the right to contract for her labor and to work when 
and where she pleased without reference to the position 

* Ibid., p. 336 if. 
1 60 




MIDNIGHT IN A MAGAZINE BINDERY 




THE MIDNIGHT LUNCH HOUR 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

of the hands upon the dial of the clock. . . . There 
is nothing in the prohibition of the section in question 
which indicates that its object is to promote the health 
or the public welfare. Had the statute been so framed 
as to provide that none of the employment of women 
for sixty hours a week or ten hours a day should be be- 
tween 9 p. m. and 6 a. m., or had it provided that women 
might work only a limited time after 9 o'clock p. m. 
and before 6 o'clock a. m., if she was employed during 
other hours of the day, its object as a health regulation 
might be apparent. When, however, it is so drawn as 
to prevent an adult citizen from exercising her right to 
contract for employment, even for so limited a period 
as one hour during the prohibited time, it cannot prop- 
erly be considered a health regulation." 

The appellate division of the Supreme Court 
affirmed this decision but their vote was divided, 
two of the five justices dissenting.* Justice Scott, 
writing the majority opinion, declared that 

"the opinion delivered by the learned justice who wrote 
for the Court of Special Sessions discusses the constitu- 
tional infirmity of that clause of the statute upon which 
the prosecution is based so satisfactorily that we adopt 
it as the opinion of this Court. . . . The provision 
under examination is aimed solely against work at 
night, without regard to the length of time during which 
work is performed, or the conditions under which it is 
carried on, and in order to sustain the reasonableness of 
the provision, we must find that, owing to some physical 
or nervous difference, it is more harmful for a woman 

* New York State Department of Labor, Bulletin No. 31, 
December, 1906, p. 478 ff. People v. Williams, 115 App. Div. 

ii 161 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

work at night in binderies means too often per- 
mission to prolong the day's labor. Few binderies 
(not more than two or three) have regular night 
shifts for women, who begin work in the evening 
without having worked during the day. In a far 
greater number, girls who work during the day 
stay on through the night hours. Probably Katie 
Mead had been working since 8 a. m., although 
the evidence presented to the court showed only 
the single fact that she was found at work at 10:20 
p. m. without regard to the length of employment 
preceding that moment. Some of the actual in- 
stances of overtime work cited in this chapter 
demonstrate that the prescribing of a definite rest 
period during definite hours of the night is essential 
to prevent the joining together of two working 
days at the stroke of midnight. 

That the long periods of employment resulting 
from such a practice have disastrous effects on the 
health of women was pointed out by the factory 
inspectors of New York in their annual report as 
long ago as 1887.* " Inquiry among those females 
above the statutory agef who worked twelve and 
fifteen hours a day in printing offices, candy fac- 
tories, woolen mills, and other manufacturing 
establishments/' they wrote in that year, "elicited 
the information that the women who labor these 
long hours were more subject to fits of nervous 

* Second Annual Report of the Factory Inspectors of the State 
of New York, 1887, p. 28. 

f At that time the law applied only to women under twenty-one 
years of age. 

.64 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

prostration and debility than those who worked 
the normal day of ten hours ; and, as a rule, at 
the end of a year, they would not have so much 
working time to their credit as those who were 
not so overworked." That the factory inspectors 
recognized the connection between a prohibition 
of night work and the regulation of the length of 
the working day, is shown by the fact that this 
statement of the bad effects of prolonged periods 
of employment was used in their annual report 
as an argument in favor of their recommendation 
that the employment of any woman, adult as 
well as minor, after 9 p. m. be prohibited. 

The constitutionality of a law designed to pre- 
vent such prolonged periods of employment by 
limiting the hours of work of women to ten in a 
day was clearly affirmed by the Supreme Court of 
the United States in 1908 in the case of Muller v. 
Oregon. The argument for the law rested on "the 
world's experience upon which the legislation lim- 
iting the hours of labor for women is based," and 
counsel pointed out that no court can ignore facts 
of common knowledge, when deciding whether a 
statute is a legitimate exercise of the police power. 

" The danger of long hours for women/' wrote the 
counsel for the state of Oregon, in his summary of the 
statements of authorities in many nations,* " arises from 
their special physical organization taken in connection 

* Supreme Court of the United States, October Term, 1907, No. 
107. Curt Muller, Plaintiff in Error, v. State of Oregon. Brief for 
Defendant in Error, Brandeis, Louis D., pp. 18, 24, 28. 

165 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

with the strain incident to factory and similar work. 
. . . Such being their physical endowment, women 
are affected to a far greater degree than men by the 
growing strain of modern industry. Machinery is in- 
creasingly speeded up, the number of machines tended 
by individual workers grows larger, processes become 
more and more complex as more operations are per- 
formed simultaneously. . . . The fatigue which 
follows long hours of labor becomes chronic and results 
in general deterioration of health." In affirming the 
constitutionality of the statute, the court said,* "The 
two sexes differ in structure of body, in the functions 
to be performed by each, in the amount of physical 
strength, in the capacity for long-continued labor, 
particularly when done standing, the influence of vigor- 
ous health upon the future well-being of the race, the 
self-reliance which enables one to assert full rights, and 
in the capacity to maintain the struggle for subsistence. 
This difference justifies a difference in legislation and 
upholds that which is designed to compensate for some 
of the burdens which rest upon her/' 

As progress is made in strengthening legislation 
regulating the daily hours, it is to be hoped that 
the necessity for a prohibition of night work will 
also be recognized by courts and legislatures. In 
1906, 13 European nations recognized this need 
by signing an international treaty which did not 
emphasize the idea of prohibition of employ- 
ment but stated the situation more positively by 

* United States Reports, Vol. 208. Cases adjudged in The Su- 
preme Court at October term, 1907. Muller Plaintiff in Error, v. 
The State of Oregon, p. 422. N. Y., The Banks Law Publishing 
Co., 1908. 

166 



OVERTIME AND THE FACTORY LAWS 

providing for a rest period each night for women 
workers. Nothing in the New York decision of 
1906 would prevent the possibility of a more fav- 
orable interpretation at some future time of a law 
technically correct in drawing and supported by 
evidence showing its necessity as a health regu- 
lation. Such a decision is urgently needed to 
strengthen the New York restriction on the 
hours of work of women. 

The constitutionality of the law regulating the 
weekly and daily hours has never been denied in 
New York state, and the way is open for a better 
enforcement of this law. As a means to this end 
it is of urgent importance that convictions for 
violations should be followed by the imposition of 
fines in the magistrates' courts. Such a record as 
that of 1907 is discouraging to factory inspectors; 
in that year, 28 convictions were secured for viola- 
tions of the sixty-hour weekly law, and in 27 of 
these cases the magistrates suspended sentence.* 
The result of this use of the suspended sentence, 
combined with a misunderstanding of the applica- 
tion of the court decision denying the constitu- 
tionality of the night-work prohibition, has been 
to give a wide impression that the statute limiting 
the daily and weekly hours of labor is a dead letter. 
On the contrary, an increasing number of court 
decisions in other parts of the country are in agree- 
ment with that of the United States Supreme 

* New York State Department of Labor, Annual Report, 1907, 
Part II, p. 19. 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

Court in affirming the constitutionality of such 
legislation. Indeed, in 1906, more than a year 
before the Oregon decision, the Court of Special 
Sessions* in New York declared the sixty-hour law 
a legitimate exercise of the state's police power for 
the protection of the public health. An aroused 
public opinion is needed now to give life to the 
statute, and to insure more adequate protection for 
women in factories. 

*New York State Department of Labor, Bulletin No. 31, De- 
cember, 1906, p. 484. People v. Howe. See Appendix C, pp. 256-258. 



1 68 



CHAPTER VII 

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE 
BINDERY TRADE 

THE trade union movement is a vigorous 
one in the bookbinding trade, and bindery 
women in New York are active in it. They 
have formed an organization composed entirely 
of women, and managed by their elected represen- 
tatives. Its purpose is to establish uniform, mini- 
mum standards regarding hours and wages, and 
to prevent unfair treatment of any worker in a 
union shop. It provides machinery for collective 
bargaining between an employer and his workers, 
not as individuals but as an organized group con- 
trolled by the votes of its members. The convic- 
tion behind this movement is that under present 
conditions of industry, unless there be a definite 
form of organization among the workers no indi- 
vidual protest of theirs against injustice will have 
any influence. 

The bookbinding trade affords a clear illustra- 
tion of the difference between the relation of the 
craftsman to his customer, and that of the obscure 
employe in a large establishment to the president of 
the corporation controlling it. It is still possible 

169 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

to find a bookbinder, either man or woman, who 
works alone without employes and sells his labor 
to a purchaser without the intervention of an em- 
ployer or a salesman. But while the craftsman 
still holds his own, arranges his hours of labor, and 
bargains approximately as an equal with the cus- 
tomer who pays him for his services, the bindery 
girl in the ordinary workroom represents a changed 
industrial order. Her position is a reminder that 
since the days of Grolier, or Roger Payne, the 
forces of industrial revolution have been at work 
relentlessly and inevitably, changing methods in 
the workroom, enlarging the number of employes, 
splitting up their tasks into minute processes, in- 
troducing mechanical contrivances, and making 
each worker merely a humble part of a large system. 
The employer who formerly bound books in his 
own workroom has given place to the corporation 
manager whose chief duty is to study the book 
market. He pays no more attention than is neces- 
sary to the control of labor conditions. This 
phase of the business is handled by a delegation of 
authority from manager to superintendent, from 
superintendent to foreman, and from foreman 
to forewoman. Furthermore, not only does the 
worker occupy an obscure place in this hier- 
archy of industry, but the bookbinding trade 
itself is but a branch, and that a subordinate 
one, of the publishing business. 

The position of the worker and the impossibility 
of her modifying the conditions of her employment 

170 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

are fairly well illustrated by the following descrip- 
tion written by an investigator who secured work 
in a bindery. 

"Reached above address at 8:10 a. m. Large red 
brick building, six stories high. Office on first floor. 
Group of girls, applying for work, stood around outside 
the railing. No talking. Several looked not more 
than sixteen or eighteen years; others older. Several 
came in after I did, and finally all together we num- 
bered 13. 

"A young girl from the office came forward and in- 
quired, 'How many of you are experienced hands?' 
Nothing was said by the crowd but quickly there was a 
separation of the wise from the otherwise. She spoke 
a word or two to several and then told them to go 
upstairs. Five or six went. While waiting, I had taken 
advantage of vacant space and was next in order to the 
sheep. Girl looked me over. 

"'Are you experienced?' 

"'I have done pasting, though not exactly this kind/ 
"Go upstairs/ 

" I climbed the three or four flights of stairs to the 
fourth floor and came upon the group which had pre- 
ceded me. A woman was speaking to one of them at a 
time. The girl ahead of me had had experience as a 
gatherer. I understood that she was sent down to 
work. Then came my turn. 
' ' You have been here before?' 

"'No/ 

"I thought I had seen you before. In what are 
you experienced?' 

" ' I have not worked in a bindery before but I have 
171 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

had to do careful filing in an office and I think I could 
do gathering/ 

'Thinking and doing are very different things/ 

"She spoke a word to one of the foremen. 

"'You can't do gathering/ he said, 'tilj you've had 
experience/ 

' ' How can I get experience?' 

" You'll have to start at the bottom and do folding. 
It's piece work and girls who have worked at it can earn 
6.00 to $9.00 a week, but you couldn't/ 

"'But I want to learn/ 

' ' Well, you'll have to come at your own risk. Get a 
bone folder and be here at 8 tomorrow/ " 

In such a case the girl may accept or refuse what 
is offered; she cannot modify the conditions. It is 
useless for an applicant for work to ask an em- 
ployer of 200 women to bargain with her individu- 
ally regarding hours of labor, the lighting of the 
workroom, or the position of the fire-escapes. 
Nor is a protest against too low wages likely to 
have any influence unless the employer is hard 
pressed for a worker in some particular process. 

Even a group of girls in the workroom cannot 
successfully make demands regarding conditions 
of employment, unless they are part of a larger or- 
ganization. A mere spontaneous uprising among 
them does not accomplish permanent results, and 
may only lead to their discharge. One girl de- 
scribed a "non-union strike" in a bindery in which 
she had worked. "The girls went out because 
they wanted more pay. It was a bad time for 

172 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

there was very little work. All the girls, six or 
seven, walked out, except one. She was a foreigner 
and wouldn't have gone out for anybody. I told 
the others I thought it was better to wait until 
there was more work, but they wouldn't listen to 
me. We lost. The firm took on other girls." 

In another non-union bindery a few girls tried 
to organize a protest against overtime work. 
They had been working late in the week preceding 
Christmas, and they did not want to stay through 
Christmas Eve, which happened to be a Saturday. 
Two of the girls went about the workroom asking 
the others to refuse to work overtime that day. 
The one who afterwards told the story agreed to 
the plan, but as she was feeding the folding ma- 
chine she "could not hear what was going on." 
Meanwhile the other girls decided not to protest. 
Later in the afternoon the forewoman asked 
her if she intended to work overtime; she kept 
her agreement and refused. The forewoman dis- 
missed her. She stopped her machine and told 
the other girls that she was losing her job because 
they had not kept their word. Two of them offered 
to leave, but she urged them to stay. "There 
was no use having three people out of work," she 
said. But the forewoman appeared again, and 
dismissed all three. 

It should be remembered that in all these bar- 
gains, the state through its labor laws has already 
established a standard as a foundation for the 
agreement between employer and employe. In 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

these laws, already outlined, hours, sanitary con- 
ditions, and minimum age are defined. No manu- 
facturer may lawfully employ a child under four- 
teen; no child under sixteen may work more than 
eight hours in any one day, or at any time except 
between 8 a. m. and 5 p. m. No employer may 
legally require a girl under twenty-one to work dur- 
ing the night hours. No employer may contract 
for the labor of any woman for more than fifty- 
four hours in a week. Even if only one person is 
in his employ, a factory owner must meet these 
requirements, and others regarding ventilation, 
lighting, and sanitation. But the state has noth- 
ing to say regarding wages, and its standard of 
hours is much below the trade unionist's ideal of an 
eight-hour day. The demand for a living wage 
and an eight-hour day is left to be voiced by the 
thousands of unions in the many trades organized 
by the American Federation of Labor, of which the 
International Brotherhood of Bookbinders is a 
member. 

The International Brotherhood of Bookbinders 
was organized in Philadelphia in 1892, by book- 
binders who had formerly belonged to the Knights 
of Labor. Its membership included binders of 
printed books and blankbooks, paper rulers, paper 
cutters, edge gilders, and marblers, and workers in 
all other branches of the bookbinding industry. 
The Brotherhood is now made up of more than 
200 local organizations to whom it has issued 
charters on application of 10 or more persons 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

working in the trade. The largest of any of these 
local unions in the bookbinding trade throughout 
the country is the bindery women's union in New 
York, known as Local 43 of the International 
Brotherhood of Bookbinders. 

Local 43 includes women workers in all pro- 
cesses of the trade except gold leaf laying.* It 
was organized in 1895, with less than 50 members. 
In 1906 it numbered 800, in 1909, 1400, and in 
1912, 1600. Thus it has doubled its membership 
in six years. These six years have been the period 
of complete control of the organization by women 
officers. Early in this period, in 1907, a per- 
manent office was opened at 150 Nassau Street, 
New York, and one of the women members was 
elected secretary-treasurer to give her whole time 
to transacting the business of the union. In 191 1, 
the president gave up her work as sewer in a large 
bindery, and became a salaried organizer. The 
initiation fee is $3.00 and the monthly dues there- 
after 25 cents. In addition to paying its regular 
per capita tax to the International Brotherhood, 
Local 43 meets from these dues the expenses of 
its office. 

To those who think that trade unionism is syn- 
onymous with strikes and picketing and keeping 
another out of a job, a visit to the office of Local 

* The gold leaf layers in New York are members of Local 22, which 
is made up also of men stampers, and is part of the International 
Brotherhood. After the convention of the Brotherhood in June, 
1912, Local 22 was merged with Locals i and 1 1 in a new Local 3, 
but in this chapter the former number is retained. 

175 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

43 would bring many surprises. With scarcely a 
strike in its history, this local, made up almost en- 
tirely of American-born girls, has continued its 
quiet, steady work, securing its aims by good busi- 
ness methods, by conference and discussion with 
employers, by give-and-take adjustments of diffi- 
culties arising in various shops, and by inducing 
employers to guarantee a minimum rate of pay for 
each process of women's work. 

It is these local unions in the various communi- 
ties which make trade agreements with employers. 
The international organization, especially in its 
biennial conventions and its trade journal, affords 
a means of discussion of interests common to all 
the local unions. It handles questions relating to 
co-operation with workers in other branches of the 
printing and publishing industry, and reenforces 
local efforts by the backing of its membership 
throughout the country. Its officers are elected 
by votes of the delegates from each local. The 
number of members in good standing, that is, 
those whose dues are paid, in each local, determines 
the number of votes to be cast by its delegates. 
The power of the central organization is strength- 
ened by its control of funds. Four separate per 
capita taxes are levied by the Brotherhood, and 
must be collected and paid at regular intervals by 
each local. For the journal fund men pay 5 cents 
a month and women 2 cents a month; for the 
funeral benefit fund ($75) both men and women 
pay 5 cents; for the organization fund each of the 

176 




GOLD LEAF LAYERS 




A STAMPER 
(This man takes the cover after the gold leaf has been laid on) 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

men members pays 10 cents a month, and each 
woman 3 cents; for the defense fund, used in time 
of strike, the tax is 20 cents a month for men and 
5 cents for women; making a total tax of 40 cents 
a month for men and 15 cents for women. The 
defense fund may only be used to sustain legal 
strikes; that is, those authorized by the interna- 
tional executive committee. To members parti- 
cipating in such strikes the general office pays 
benefits of $7.00 a week to a married man, $5.00 
to a single man, and $4.00 to a woman. 

The trade union label is one of the important 
tools for organizing workers in the various bin- 
deries. It is the same label as that used by print- 
ers and it signifies that the books or pamphlets on 
which it is stamped were manufactured in a union 
shop. To control its use in each community, 
and to discuss other common interests, Local 
Allied Printing Trades Councils are formed con- 
sisting of representatives of the unions of book- 
binders, printers, photo-engravers, stereotypers, 
and electrotypers. These councils also have an 
international association. It is their purpose to 
arouse public sentiment in favor of the label, par- 
ticularly on public documents and books used in 
the public schools, thus frequently inducing em- 
ployers who are seeking such public contracts to 
accept union organization in order to have the right 
to use the label when customers request it. 

Probably the most important event in the his- 
tory of the International Brotherhood of Book- 

12 ,77 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

binders, one in which Local 43 took an active part, 
was the demand for the eight-hour day. It was 
made simultaneously on October i, 1907, by local 
unions throughout the country and is an excellent 
illustration of the relation of these locals to the 
international organization.* As early as April, 
1907, the executive council of the International 
Brotherhood, meeting at Columbus, Ohio, adopted 
this resolution : 

"Resolved. That this Executive Council declare 
for the eight-hour workday on October i, 1907, and 
that the referendum be asked to ratify this action; the 
vote to be in the hands of the General Secretary on or 
before May 30, 1907." 

News of this decision was immediately sent to 
all members by means of a circular addressed to 
local unions Nos. i to 174, for ratification not by 
each local as a whole but by referendum vote by 
individual members. The result showed 4,906 
votes in favor of the demand, and 1,758 opposed. 
The next step was to direct each local to send 
notices to the employers of their members, asking 
for a conference to discuss the inauguration of the 
shorter workday on October i , the date set by the 
executive council. Thus the demand represented 
not an impulsive action, but a carefully planned 
move ratified by a large majority, with due notice 
to employers. In some sections of the country 

* A full account of the campaign was given in the International 
Bookbinder, June, 1908, the trade journal published by the union. 

I 7 8 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

the fight was a long one, but in New York only 
two or three firms finally refused to grant the reduc- 
tion in hours. Against these a strike was ordered. 

It was at this time that an interesting organiza- 
tion of employers was formed in New York, as 
the outcome of these conferences with local unions. 
This organization is called the Bookbinders' 
League and its purpose, as stated in its constitu- 
tion, is " to discard the system of making individual 
labor contracts and instead to introduce the more 
equitable system of forming collective labor con- 
tracts." Membership is limited to those who own 
or manage union binderies within a radius of fifty 
miles of the City Hall of New York. These em- 
ployers planned to enter jointly into an agreement 
with the bookbinders' unions, instead of making 
as many separate contracts as there are firms, and 
they aimed also to establish committees for dis- 
cussion and conciliation of difficulties, and to in- 
sure arbitration of matters which cannot be settled 
by mutual consultation. 

The first subject for conference was the eight- 
hour day, and an agreement was signed by 
the Bookbinders' League and each of the local 
unions of New York City, providing that after 
November 18, 1907, the hours of labor should 
be forty-eight per week at the scales of wages then 
prevailing. When overtime should be necessary 
employes might work an additional six hours in 
the week with not more than three extra hours in 
any one day, at the same rate of wages, but any 

179 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

more overtime must be paid for at time and a 
half, which means the day rate plus 50 per cent. 
It was agreed that after a year from the follow- 
ing January, all overtime above the forty-eight- 
hour week should be paid at the rate of time and 
a half. Provision was made for night work by 
agreeing that union binderies might run a second 
shift of forty-five hours a week at the same rate 
as that paid to day workers. A clause was inserted 
which provided that union members should be 
given the preference in all cases where positions 
were open, but that if the unions could not fur- 
nish workers the employer had the right to 
engage non-union men or women. 

This agreement was signed by the six local 
unions in New York and by the seven firms that 
were charter members of the Bookbinders' League. 
The unions then sent copies to all other firms, not 
members of the league, asking them to comply 
with the provisions regarding hours. With few 
exceptions, the agreement was accepted and the 
possibility of a widespread strike in New York 
was averted. 

In other cities, greater difficulties were encoun- 
tered. Almost two years later the president of 
the Brotherhood in an official letter to the Inter- 
national Bookbinder wrote that a strike was still 
in progress in Akron, Ohio, but that elsewhere the 
eight-hour day had been won. The total cost of 
the struggle in all sections of the country was more 



1 80 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

than $200,000,* and this was paid by an assess- 
ment on all locals, even those that had secured their 
demands without a strike. Occurring at a time of 
widespread industrial depression, it was a severe 
test of the loyalty of the members. Members of 
Local 43 paid extra assessments during that period 
for the eight-hour workday fund, the greater part 
of which was used outside New York. 

This account shows how the unions throughout 
the country, led by the executive officers whom 
they elect to control the international organi- 
zation, may unite in a simultaneous demand. It 
shows also the way in which the local unions ne- 
gotiate with employers in their own communities, 
in order to secure certain conditions agreed upon 
by the local unions in all other communities. In 
case a prolonged strike is necessary, a bindery girl 
in New York pays a regular tax to help the workers 
in another state secure the eight-hour day which 
may have been granted in her place of employment 
nearly two years before. 

When these demands have been won their en- 
forcement must be watched by the local unions. 
The locals are responsible also for negotiations re- 
garding many matters which are not made the 
subject of international agreement. This is il- 
lustrated by the additional contract signed by the 
locals in New York and the Bookbinders' League 
on the same date on which they agreed to grant 
the eight-hour day in their binderies. It is so im- 

* International Bookbinder, March, 1909, p. 97. 
181 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

portant as a peace protocol that it deserves full 
quotation. 

"The Bookbinders' League of New York and Local 
Unions Nos. i, 1 1, 22, 43, 77, 1 19 of the International 
Brotherhood of Bookbinders, being desirous of entering 
into an agreement for the purpose of maintaining an era 
of peace for their mutual advancement and prosperity, 
do hereby agree in all instances to consult by committee, 
trade court, or otherwise, and to conciliate if possible 
any controversies, disagreements, or misunderstandings, 
and if impossible to arrive at an amicable understand- 
ing, then and in all cases to submit to an arbitration of 
such matters the committees being composed of an 
equal number of employes and employers who shall ap- 
pear and state their case before the arbitrator, who shall 
be elected by mutual consent and that each body here- 
inbefore stated shall upon the signing of this agreement 
appoint a committee to arrange a schedule of prices and 
hours which shall be known and published as the Book- 
binders' League of New York Scale of Wages, and also 
that the Locals Nos. i, 1 1, 22, 43, 77, 119 of the Interna- 
tional Brotherhood of Bookbinders shall be and now are 
considered members of the Bookbinders' League of New 
York for the purposes for which it has been organized. 

"It is also understood that any arbitration must be 
settled in three months from the time of the submission 
to arbitration. 

" In accordance with resolution of Locals Nos. i, 1 1, 
22, 43, 77, 119 of the International Brotherhood of 
Bookbinders this agreement will be in force for one 
year from date."* 

* Dated New York, December 31, 1907. New York Department 
of Labor, Bulletin No. 36, March, 1908, pp. 26-27. 

182 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

In accordance with this plan joint committees 
were appointed for conference and conciliation, 
and these committees have succeeded in settling 
various questions in the shops allied with the 
League. For the bindery women in New York the 
agreement should have led also to the ratification 
of their scale of wages, already prevailing in several 
union binderies. Unfortunately this plan to adopt 
a uniform wage scale was never carried out by the 
Bookbinders' League, except in the case of Local 
22, which, as has been explained, includes stampers 
(men) and gold leaf layers (women). For gold 
leaf layers the minimum rate continued to be $10 
a week. In January, 1912, by another agreement 
with the Bookbinders' League and other firms this 
was increased to $11. 

Local 43, through negotiation with individual 
firms, had already adopted a scale of wages, July 
i , 1 906, which still prevails in 1912. Whether pay- 
ment shall be by piece or by week is optional with 
the employer, and the wage scale specifies both 
the piece rate and the week rate. For example, 
for machine folding the rate for week work must 
be $10, but for piece work the price per 1,000 is 
specified for i2mo, i6mo, and 241110, for double 
sheets, and inserted sheets. In connection with 
each process is a clause reading, "All extra work, 
special prices upon mutual agreement/' Thus, 
while aiming at a rate of $10 a week for all experi- 
enced workers, it is evident that negotiation is 



183 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

necessary to determine the rate for books of ex- 
ceptional size or quality of paper. 

Obviously, from the nature of the work, it is 
more difficult to interpret an agreement regarding 
rates of pay than to enforce an eight-hour day. 
Books are of many different sizes, and their sheets 
are of various grades of paper. Under the piece- 
work system it is a difficult task to maintain a fair 
rate. When the price is not definitely specified 
in the printed wage scale, it must be determined by 
some such method, for example, as that described 
by the superintendent of one of the union binderies. 
According to this plan, suggested by the officers of 
Local 43, three girls are put to work at the same 
task, one quick, one slow, and one of medium 
speed. They are timed, and their combined out- 
put is divided by three to determine the average. 
The rate of pay for piece-work is then determined 
so that with this average output the earnings would 
be $10 a week. The quick worker will earn more. 
The slow worker will earn less. In either case the 
union makes no objection. The superintendent 
who described this method cited the case of a 
gatherer employed in his bindery, who earned $22 
a week, while the girl next to her, paid at the same 
rate per piece, earned $7.00. He considered this a 
sufficient answer to the objection that trade union- 
ism always and invariably keeps the good worker 
down, and forces up unduly the earnings of the in- 
competent. The superintendent of another union 
bindery said that he considered it a profitable plan 

184 




DROP-ROLL FOLDING MACHINE 




AUTOMATIC FOLDING MACHINE 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

to pay the most efficient worker higher wages than 
the minimum scale demanded by the union. 

Besides hours and wages, other important sub- 
jects are included in the scope of Local 43*5 ac- 
tivities. These are the conditions of entrance to 
union shops, including the regulation of appren- 
ticeship and provisions for admitting experienced 
workers to the union, certain restrictions as to the 
transfer of workers from one process to another, 
the granting of legal holidays, attempts to mitigate 
the hardships of slack season, and methods of ad- 
justment in cases where hand workers are dis- 
placed by the introduction of machines. 

The subject of apprenticeship has been discussed 
by the International Brotherhood, but the dis- 
cussion has concerned boys primarily rather than 
girls. Local unions have been urged to introduce 
a system of indenturing apprentices, and to limit 
their number in proportion to the number of ex- 
perienced workers in each shop.* Such an arrange- 
ment, say the international officers, is of value to 
the employer since it insures the continued service 
of the apprentice during his term, usually four years, 
instead of permitting him to go to another shop 
before the employer who is training him can reap 
any benefit from such an investment. For the 
trade it is an advantage, because it counteracts the 
tendency, created by the introduction of machines, 
to make specialists in one branch. The effect of 

* See Report of United States Industrial Commission. IQOI, Vol. 
XVII, Part I, p.li. 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

this specialization on the wage scale was described 
by the secretary of the Brotherhood in his report 
to the Industrial Commission in 1901.* It "over- 
crowds our trade with incompetent mechanics," 
he wrote, "who, in many cases, when out of em- 
ployment, will accept a position at a reduced rate 
of wages just to obtain work. Such a man not 
only drags himself down financially, but others as 
well." 

The description of the work of women has al- 
ready shown the same danger of specialization in 
their tasks. To counteract it, Local 43 has made 
agreements with union firms limiting the pro- 
portion of apprentices to one in every group of 
10 experienced women workers in a shop.f No 
girl under sixteen years of age may become an ap- 
prentice. The term is approximately one year. 
During that time the experienced workers are ex- 
pected to teach the learner all the hand processes, 
but she is not permitted to operate a machine, 
doubtless because she might thus reduce the rate 
of pay for machine operators to the level of learners' 
earnings, and because in acquiring facility in that 
one process she might learn nothing else. The 
minimum weekly wage for an apprentice is $5.00, 
with an increase of 50 cents at the end of six months. 
This rate of wage represents a recent union gain. 
In 1906 the rate for learners was $3.00. When 

* Ibid., p. no. 

t The superintendent of a union bindery said that this was not an 
arbitrary restriction but a natural one; a larger proportion of learners 
could not be properly taught. 

186 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

sufficiently experienced, the learner becomes a 
member of the union, and receives the union scale 
of pay. None but competent workers are ad- 
mitted to membership, the executive committee 
of Local 43 passing upon each application. 

It is in the matter of apprenticeship that Local 
43 differs markedly from Local 22, to which, as 
has been stated, girls employed in gold leaf laying 
belong. These girls are in the finishing depart- 
ments of the binderies and usually have no direct 
contact with the other bindery women. Young 
girls may be employed in this department to "size 
and clean" the books, but they may not touch the 
gold until formally admitted to membership in the 
union as apprentices. The term of apprenticeship 
is three years after admission. The wage at first 
is $5.00 with 50 cents increase every six months, 
until the end of three years when the minimum 
wage is $i i . The gold is so precious that employ- 
ers are quite willing not to permit inexperienced 
girls to handle it until they have done enough 
preliminary work in the department to be eligible 
to apprenticeship. About 200 women gold leaf 
layers are members of the union. 

In Local 43 admission to membership is not con- 
fined to girls who have been apprentices in union 
shops, but includes also experienced workers in 
the various processes, who have not before been 
union members. For these the conditions of join- 
ing are the same as for those who have just com- 
pleted their apprenticeship. Each application is 

187 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

voted upon by the executive committee, serving as 
the elected representatives of all the members. 
The union welcomes additions to its ranks and 
does not make any attempt, as is often charged 
against such organizations, to restrict the number 
of workers in the trade. Its agreement with em- 
ployers, already quoted, permits the employment 
of non-union workers when the union is unable to 
furnish workers who are enrolled in its membership. 
If these non-union girls are merely temporary 
hands they may not be required to join the union, 
but if they are permanently employed they must 
become members within two weeks after beginning 
work in a union shop. 

To facilitate the carrying out of the employers* 
agreement to give the preference to union mem- 
bers, one of the most important duties of the sec- 
retary-treasurer is to maintain an employment 
registry. A list of unemployed members is kept 
up-to-date, and when union employers need work- 
ers they are expected to notify the union office. 
The workers needed for a particular process are 
recommended impartially according to the order of 
their application. This system not only serves as 
a convenience to employers but helps to relieve the 
hardship of irregular employment for the workers. 

As a further remedy for slack season, it is ar- 
ranged in some union shops that when the work on 
hand is insufficient for the normal force it shall be 
divided so that each may have a share. Thus un- 
employment for an indefinite period is avoided. 

1 88 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

On the other hand, as a remedy for overwork, the 
union demands a higher rate of pay for overtime, 
and double price for employment on Sundays or 
legal holidays. On only one legal holiday Labor 
Day is work forbidden by the union. 

One more requirement made by Local 43 is im- 
portant. It concerns the transfer of a worker 
from one process to another. In the printed scale 
of prices the following paragraph appears: 

"Any member may be assigned work in any position 
other than the position in which she was engaged, in 
case of emergency, and if such emergency position car- 
ries with it a higher scale than she has been receiving, 
she will receive while filling that position the higher scale. 
Or a member sent to fill an emergency position at the 
lower scale shall not be reduced to the lower scale/' 

The reason for this provision, obviously, is to pro- 
tect the worker against a reduction in wages be- 
cause of transfer to another process, and, on the 
other hand, to prevent the lowering of an estab- 
lished rate for any process by putting a less well- 
paid girl to work at it. In the same spirit, the 
union attempts to protect the workers against loss 
when new machines are introduced. For example, 
in three union binderies in New York five women, 
who formerly were hand gatherers, are successfully 
operating the gathering machines, the mechanism 
of which is said by employers to be more com- 
plicated than that of any machine operated by 
men in the trade. The tendency is to employ 

189 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

men operators for this work, but in each of the 
cases cited the women's union secured the oppor- 
tunity for a woman at the same wage that a man 
would receive, $18 a week. 

It is in making such adjustments that the con- 
structive business ability of Local 43 has been 
shown. A shop stewardess is appointed in each 
workroom. The workers complain to the steward- 
ess in case there is any violation of the agreement 
regarding hours, wages, or other conditions. If she 
fails to adjust a grievance through conference with 
the foreman or forewoman, the union officers take 
it up, and if the difficulty prove serious, it may 
finally be referred to the international executive 
council. Usually the adjustment is made in the 
workroom. If it cannot be adjusted in any other 
way the local, with the approval of the interna- 
tional officers, may order a strike, and the expenses 
of such a contest are borne during the first two 
weeks by the local, and afterwards by the inter- 
national defense fund. 

Local 43, as has been stated, has i ,600 members, 
and the women members of Local 22, the gold 
leaf layers, number about 200. The total number 
of women in the trade is about 6,000. Out of 
more than 200 shops counted in this investiga- 
tion, those in which the women are organized 
number about 40. Nevertheless, the union shops 
are important ones, and the union influence is 
greater than their numbers would indicate, a 
fact demonstrated by the rapid extension of the 

190 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

eight-hour day to non-union shops after it had 
been won by union efforts. 

Workers are often content to reap the benefit 
of unionism without sharing in its burdens, and 
there are employers who see in this fact the possi- 
bility of keeping their employes out of the union 
by maintaining union conditions. Again and 
again employers say, "We have union conditions 
and don't bother with the union." As in many 
other trades, one hears employers who are opposed 
to dealing with an organization of their workers 
express their opinion in such phrases as, " I won't 
be dictated to," or " I wish no interference from 
the workers in running my own business." It 
is significant that the superintendent of an es- 
tablishment which has had long experience with 
trade unions in several branches of the print- 
ing industry expresses the conviction that only 
by frank conference and discussion, such as the 
union makes possible, can an employer hope for 
real efficiency in his workroom force. He pays a 
high tribute to trade unionism forwomen, especially 
as he has known it in the methods of Local 43. 

The indifferent attitude of some women toward 
unionism is illustrated by a letter from a bindery 
worker to whom an investigator had sent a book- 
let of information about the union. "I do not 
belong to any of the unions," she wrote, "as I 
don't think it necessary. We are not obliged to 
belong yet. At the same time, it is nice to be 
up-to-date and prepared for the occasion." 

191 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

This girl worked in a shop where some school 
books are bound. Her implication that she might 
be obliged to join was due to the fact that pressure 
is often brought to bear to have the union label 
put on books which are public property. That 
the agitation for the use of the union label is not 
more of an aid than it actually is to the organiza- 
tion of bindery women is due in part to the in- 
difference of men in the trade to the welfare of 
the women. Some of them are quite content to 
consider a shop a good union place and to permit 
the use of the label on its products, if the men 
are organized, even when not one of the women is 
a union member. Furthermore, a union printer 
will sometimes put a label on a book, although he 
has had it bound in a shop where neither men nor 
women are union members. This defeats the 
purpose of the label as a means of unionizing all 
the workers in the shop which uses it. 

Employers agree with the women unionists that 
the growth of Local 43 has been due far more to 
the efforts of the women than to any co-operation 
on the part of the men. Indeed, in disputes over 
borderline processes, such as the operation of the 
gathering machine, the men have been, as one 
employer expressed it, "unbelievably hostile to 
the women." 

To judge of the results of trade unionism by com- 
parison between union and non-union shops is 
never fair, since, fortunately, betterment of condi- 
tions usually has an influence extending beyond the 

192 



COLLECTIVE BARGAINING IN THE BINDERY TRADE 

establishment in which it is first secured. Indeed, 
the trade unionist sometimes declares openly, to 
the amazement of the public, that the improve- 
ment of conditions is of less importance to him 
than recognition of the union, by which he means 
putting into operation the machinery of the col- 
lective bargain. Conditions in union binderies 
in New York, however, prove that the bindery 
women's union is an important factor in improving 
the conditions of women's work in the trade. In 
regulations regarding the training of learners, in 
the shortening of the normal hours below the 
limit which the state has been able to establish by 
legislation, in the gradual enforcement of a mini- 
mum wage scale, and in the protection of indi- 
vidual women against unjust and unfair treat- 
ment, it has accomplished results more important 
than any yet secured for this trade through legis- 
lation. 



193 



CHAPTER VIII 
TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

CURRENT discussions of industrial educa- 
tion are emphasizing the fact that the com- 
munity through its public schools is re- 
sponsible for developing the efficiency of the work- 
ers in its industries. When these discussions are 
based not on general theory but on concrete knowl- 
edge of such conditions as prevail, for example, in 
the bookbinding trade, the real difficulties in the 
way of meeting this responsibility become clearer. 
For more discouraging than the lack of skilled work- 
men, frequently deplored in America, is the lack 
of demand for skill in the old sense of power com- 
pounded of manual dexterity and intelligence. 
Efficiency in a manual occupation is made up of 
three elements, brain, hand, and time, but it is 
the change in the relative importance of these 
three which is at the root of the present baffling 
problem of industrial education. 

Of this change, women's work in bookbinding is 
an excellent illustration. To plan the binding of a 
book from beginning to end, to have margins of the 
right width, to sew with the right sized thread for 
the right weight of paper, to design an appropriate 

194 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

cover expressive of the spirit of the text, to choose 
the proper leather, and to treat it scientifically, 
to neglect no detail which belongs to a solid, sub- 
stantial, appropriate piece of work, requires a high 
order of brain and artistic ability. But the girl 
who folds the sheets in a modern bindery is not 
asked to choose the paper, or to plan the width of 
the margins, and very probably she will never see 
the cover of the completed book. She is required 
to fold so that the printing on one page will exactly 
coincide with the printing on the page which faces 
it, thus insuring even margins after the cutting 
machine has done its work; and she is expected to 
work fast. As the manual element is reduced to 
its simplest terms, mere rapid repetition, the 
brain element controlling the hand is not at a 
premium. For feeding a machine, knowledge of 
mechanical devices is desirable but not essential. 
Bookbinding for women is a skilled industry so 
organized as to be carried on in many departments 
by unskilled workers. It does not require the 
efficiency of the craftsman, and therefore, it does 
not demand of its novices that they meet the test 
of a thorough training designed to develop the 
sort of intelligence in which educators are in- 
terested. 

The restrictions on entrance to the trade are 
not severe, and they do not keep out workers who 
may not be adapted to the demands of the occupa- 
tion. They are three-fold, the law regulating 
the employment of children, regulations prescribed 

195 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

by the trade union, and rules adopted by indi- 
vidual employers. 

The New York state law, governing bookbind- 
eries in common with all other factories, forbids 
the employment of any child who has not yet 
reached the fourteenth birthday, and requires that 
all children between the ages of fourteen and six- 
teen be provided with employment certificates. 
To secure the certificate, the child's age must have 
been proved satisfactorily, she must have reached 
the required grade in school (prescribed as 58 in 
New York City), and have attended at least 130 
school days in the twelve months preceding her 
fourteenth birthday, or the date of her application. 
The trade union already described names six- 
teen as the minimum age of apprentices, and limits 
their proportion in relation to experienced workers 
in a ratio of one to 10. Employers' methods vary 
widely. Of 207 who stated a definite policy re- 
garding learners, 142 are willing to employ them, 
while 65 engage only experienced workers. Of the 
firms willing to employ learners, 1 16 gave definite 
information regarding the minimum age: 54 will 
employ no girls under sixteen years of age, three 
preferring workers seventeen years old; and 62 
will employ girls of fourteen or fifteen. No defi- 
nite educational requirements are found. Only 
one employer expressed a preference for grammar 
graduates. 

Thus the barriers at entrance are not high enough 
to prevent the employment of a young girl of four- 

196 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

teen, who has selected the occupation with no 
idea of its future opportunities for her, but merely 
because she happened to notice a bookbinder's ad- 
vertisement for learners the day she secured her 
working papers. She does not know then that a 
learner in the bookbinding trade is not necessarily 
an apprentice practicing tasks which will lead to 
more highly skilled work; she is ignorant of the fact 
that she may be merely an unskilled worker needed 
for certain processes which do not prepare her for 
other parts of the trade. The two types of learners 
may be working side by side in the same bindery. 
As the training is often so casual and differs so 
markedly for different girls, it can be accurately 
described only by relating the comments and ex- 
periences of individual workers. 

" I'm never laid off, because I can turn my hand 
to a good many different things," said one girl 
who considered herself an all-round worker, and 
took pleasure in telling how she had learned her 
trade. She went to work in an edition bindery 
when she was sixteen years old. Her sister was 
also a learner there. "When we first began," she 
said, " we were waiting on everybody in the place." 
When the feeder of one of the folding machines 
stopped work at 5:15, this girl would stay until 
5:30 to practice operating it. "Most girls," she 
said, "won't stay after hours to practice. It's a 
girl's own fault if she doesn't learn. If they put 
her on cutting off, she ought to watch the machine 
and then she'll learn to sew. The forewoman in 

197 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

our bindery teaches a girl if she's bright. Of 
course, if she isn't it doesn't pay to bother with 
her. But I'll admit it's discouraging when you 
first go into a bindery. You must have such a 
knack about everything. And you must be strong 
and not nervous, for you're liable to be hurt by 
the machines. The work they give learners, like 
knocking up, is heavy, and you're on your feet all 
day long." Her main work was knocking up the 
folded sheets. Gradually she learned to feed the 
point folding machine and that became her spe- 
cialty. It was necessary to learn hand folding, 
in order to detect errors in the work of the ma- 
chine. She learned to gather by hand and to size 
and clean the books in the gold laying department, 
a process not usually assigned to "general bindery" 
girls. She learned to examine and to wrap the 
finished volumes, and for a while was the head 
wrapper. The method of learning was obviously 
not systematic. At first the forewoman showed 
her how to do the work. Then she learned by 
watching and by seizing every opportunity to 
practice. She has never had a chance to paste, to 
collate, or to operate the sewing machine, yet she 
is considered an experienced bindery girl. 

"The girls show you," said another, who had 
begun work at the age of sixteen, before graduating 
from the public school, and had been employed for 
four years in the same edition bindery. She had 
"jogged" or "knocked up" the sheets folded by 
machine, "cut off" books from the sewing ma- 

198 



HAND FOLDERS 




THE POINT FOLDING MACHINE 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

chine; folded by hand; "pulled out" sheets from 
the gathering machine; and finally, as her main 
line of work, operated the wire-stitching machine. 
Occasionally she had gathered and pasted by hand 
and sewed by machine, but not often enough to 
learn these processes. The time it takes to learn 
"depends on yourself," she said. "If you don't sit 
yourself down at the machines and try them, no 
one else will ever sit you down at one. And you 
have to be willing to do work that you don't like." 
Stories like these, repeated many times by workers, 
gave the impression that the learner herself was 
the only one interested in her training. 

Some of the girls occupying the best positions 
in the trade have been strict specialists. An 
operator of a sewing machine, who has been a 
bindery worker for four years, understands no 
process except sewing. As a beginner she cut off 
the books after they were sewed, and thus learned 
the working of the machine and became an oper- 
ator. In contrast to her experience, her aunt who 
has worked six years in the trade has never oper- 
ated a machine. She has straightened sheets, 
folded and inserted by hand, and wrapped books. 
She and her niece work in the same bindery, but 
neither could take the other's place without be- 
coming a learner again. 

Even though the training received by these 
women has been neither systematic nor thorough, 
they have all been learners in the sense of having 
before them the possibility of advance, as they be- 

199 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

came more expert in the processes which they had 
learned. Another type of learner is the inexper- 
ienced worker, employed in busy seasons to do un- 
skilled work which leads nowhere. Sometimes 
one of them passes on to a more skilled process. 
Many of them are casual workers, whose presence 
serves to complicate the problems of the bindery 
trade. As a group, they may be called the un- 
trained bindery workers. "We take on learners 
for temporary work," said the owner of a large 
pamphlet bindery. "Then we weed them out." 
This is the meaning of such advertisements as 
these which appear frequently in the newspapers: 
"Ten bright, quick girls; $4 weekly. Apply Sat- 
urday morning, ready to start work." "Wanted: 
30 girls as learners: must be over 16: $4. 50 weekly. 
Call ready to work." In encouraging casual work, 
the bindery trade must be held in some measure 
responsible for creating drifters among working 
girls in New York. Securing no foothold in the 
bindery trade, they wander from one occupation 
to another. 

Two examples show trade histories of this kind. 
One girl folded patterns one year, earning $6.00 a 
week; worked in a department store one week, 
earning $3.00; folded by hand in a bindery three 
months, earning $5.00; and then was "laid off- 
slack"; folded by hand in another bindery two 
weeks, at $6.50, "laid off slack"; idle four to six 
months; folded and inserted circulars in the mailing 
department of a publishing house three weeks, a 

200 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

temporary job for a wage of $7.00; folded pamph- 
lets, edge work, at $1.00 a day, but "didn't like 
it" and stayed only two days. Her record reads: 
" Has worked at other places for a short time. She 
leaves home about 6:45 a. m. to answer advertise- 
ments. She and her mother live alone in a fur- 
nished room and she is greatly in need of work. She 
would like to stay in the bindery trade if work 
were steady." 

Another began work as a cash girl, working two 
months for a weekly wage of $3.50, "laid off- 
slack." She then worked one year in a magazine 
bindery, helping the operator of the wire-stitching 
machine, and earning from $3. 50 to $4.00. She left 
"for a better place." She "took money out of 
tissues" in a bank note house a year and a half, 
earning $6.00 until she was "laid off slack." She 
packed candy two months during the Christmas 
rush, earning $5.00 per week. Then she was out 
of work ten months. She returned to pack candy 
one month at $5.00, and was again "laid off slack." 
She folded and pasted pamphlets two weeks in a 
printing office, where the bindery work was only 
temporary. She took sheets from the gathering 
machine in a magazine bindery, earning a wage of 
$1.00 a day only eight days in the month. She 
had worked five years altogether, and her maximum 
earnings in any week were $7.00. 

Such casual work seems to be most frequent in 
pamphlet binderies. The opportunities for begin- 
ners, however, are even more restricted in maga- 

20 1 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

zine binderies, with their periodical rush of work 
and their extensive use of machinery. In one 
magazine bindery, "learners" are employed to 
separate the printed sections when they have been 
folded together. This is called outserting. Some- 
times the learners stack the folded sheets in 
bins, where they are kept until needed for the 
process of gathering. Sometimes they pull out 
the gathered sections from the machine. Five of 
the six magazines which are bound in this shop 
are folded on the printing presses, so that folding 
machines are needed for only one periodical, and 
hand folding is rare. No pasting, no sewing, no 
gathering by hand nor collating is necessary. The 
forewoman described two learners who began work 
there eight or nine years ago at $4.00. They 
learned to operate the wire-stitching machines, and 
are now earning $ 1 3 piece work. " They're among 
the fortunate ones," she said. " I can't teach all 
my girls wire-stitching; there are only 16 ma- 
chines." She is one of those who spoke of the 
changes in the bindery trade, saying, "I'd never 
advise any relative of mine to go into it." 

Workers and employers generally agree that an 
edition bindery is the best place for learners. The 
work is more exact and careful than in pamphlet 
binding. But in this branch of the trade no 
definite plan seems to have been developed except 
in union binderies, where the experienced workers 
feel a responsibility toward apprentices, and are 
interested from the trade union point of view in 

202 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

preventing premature specialization. This is the 
case in one of the edition binderies frequently de- 
scribed as "a good place to learn." The number 
of apprentices is limited, according to the union 
standard, thus preventing the encouragement of 
casual employment. " If we took more than that," 
said the superintendent, "we could not teach them 
properly." The minimum age is sixteen. No 
written agreement is made on either side, but ac- 
cording to the policy of the trade union, learners 
are expected to stay until they have become ex- 
perienced, thus enabling the employer to be reason- 
ably sure that they will not leave before they begin 
to make returns for the trouble of teaching. " If 
a boy should leave us during his apprenticeship," 
said the superintendent, "and go to another union 
shop, we could prevent his working." The rule for 
girls is less rigid, and apprenticeship less formal. 
That methods of training vary even here is shown 
by the comments of several workers who learned 
the trade in this establishment. 

"They take only a few apprentices here," said 
one girl. "Then they are sure to teach them. 
But not every girl learns the whole trade. Some 
do only hand folding, some do only sewing, 
others know all the branches. I never learned to 
sew by hand or by machine. The girls on the 
sewing machines don't want to have too many 
girls learn their trade." She knocked up, counted, 
carried and "drew off" from the whip-stitching 
machine. As a learner she received $2.50. This 

203 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

was ten years ago. Her wages were increased 
50 cents every six months, until she received $5.00. 
Later her principal work was operating the wire- 
stitching machine, for which she was paid, by the 
piece, from $10 to $15 a week. Later still she 
helped to clean and repair books, cancelling soiled 
sheets and pasting, so that "no one could tell they 
had been repaired." 

"First I was straightening up the books for the 
wire-stitching machine," said another. "Most 
learners knock up for the folders. Then for two 
days I was on the machine for pasting covers on a 
Sunday school journal. Then I wanted more pay, 
so they said they'd try me on other work, and I 
knocked up for a folding machine. There were 
two boxes to empty, and my pay was $4.00. Then 
they gave me work on the gathering machine, and 
afterwards taught me hand folding. You can't 
make out on that. Two old ladies do it. After- 
wards I was put on piece work, inserting, hand 
folding, and outserting. Then I did hand pasting, 
because the pasting machine broke. When I had 
learned I made up to $8.50 piece work." 

Three or four others described their training in 
this bindery. One had been a box girl for a year, 
and knew no other process. Her sister learned 
within the first year hand work, pasting, insert- 
ing, gathering, and collating. Another began her 
career by jogging the sheets to prepare them for 
the wire-stitching machine. Later she became a 
wire-stitcher. Sometimes she did hand work, 

204 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

folding, inserting, and covering. She had tried 
to learn to use the sewing machine by occasional 
furtive practicing "when the other girls were mak- 
ing tea/' but she was far from becoming a sewer, 
the part of the trade which most bindery girls pre- 
fer. Thus, even in this large bindery, with its 
reputation as "a good place to learn," chance 
seems to control the training of the apprentice. 

Many experienced workers say that large estab- 
lishments do not give so good an opportunity to 
learn as do small shops. "In the big binderies 
each girl has her own work, and the new ones don't 
get any chance. They teach you one thing and 
keep you at that." On the other hand, the train- 
ing received in small establishments may have dis- 
advantages. A bindery as well as a worker may 
be a specialist, and in such specialized workrooms 
a learner's opportunities will be even more re- 
stricted than in a large bindery with its subdivi- 
sion of work. "Our workroom is not a good place 
for learners," said a woman employed in a small 
pamphlet bindery. "We haven't any machines. 
We do only hand folding and pasting and insert- 
ing." Larger places give the advantage of a wider 
choice. " I watch the learners," said a forewoman 
in charge of 150 workers, "and when I see that a 
girl takes to one process more than to another, I 
teach her that." 

Employers in the bookbinding trade are gener- 
ally rather indifferent toward the problem of train- 
ing women workers. A few prefer to employ the 

205 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

inexperienced in order that they may train them 
to do the work according to the special methods 
of their own workrooms. Only in this way, they 
declare, can they secure efficient service. Others, 
however, cite many reasons why they will employ 
none but experienced hands. 

"We bind only one weekly periodical. We have no 
miscellaneous work to give to learners/' 

"Our season lasts six to eight weeks at a time. We 
couldn't get anybody to teach learners. It would take 
too much time." 

"We have no time to teach and the girls haven't the 
patience to learn." 

" It is a poor proposition to take learners. As soon 
as they know anything, they leave." 

"As soon as boys and girls get a little smattering of 
experience, they want to go somewhere else where they 
can get more money. They don't care about learning 
the trade, and they spoil a great many sheets." 

" We can't bother with learners. Rents are too high. 
Sometimes we take inexperienced girls, 'kids' we call 
'em, for extra orders and keep them about two months." 

"We do not like to take learners. We'd prefer to 
have them learn in a small establishment where they 
have more time to teach." 

"We haven't time to teach," said the owner of a 
bindery where three girls were employed. 

" We can't take learners. Every worker must count 
in so small an establishment." 

" I'm too small to take them. I haven't the capital. 
I have to take girls who know how to work, and who 
can get my orders out in the shortest possible time." 

206 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

" We have not the floor space." 

"It's not practicable to take learners with so much 
competition as there is in this business. They spoil 
the work. And then most of it is done by machinery. 
It takes time to learn how to manage a machine/' 

"In these days of short hours, we can't curtail pro- 
duction by teaching learners/' 

"All our work is rush work. We use machinery and 
have no time for learners/' 

Thus, conditions in the trade complicate the 
learner's problem. I rregular employment, special- 
ization, rush work, the piece-work system, chang- 
ing methods, and the increasing complexity of 
machinery, all tend to discourage the inexper- 
ienced worker, and to make the expert less in- 
clined to take time to teach. As a result of these 
influences, two important problems of training are 
characteristic of the bindery trade; the problem 
of the specialist in a task which makes small de- 
mands on the worker's intelligence, and the prob- 
lem of the untrained, unskilled casual worker. 
For the community to discharge its responsibility 
toward these workers, as the advocates of indus- 
trial education demand, will be no easy task. 

This responsibility for the education of workers 
begins, of course, when the future worker is a child 
in school. A large majority, 89 per cent of the 
bindery girls interviewed, have attended school in 
New York, 56 per cent the public schools, and 33 
per cent parochial schools. Only 2 per cent stated 
that the last day school attended was in a foreign 

207 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

country, and 3 per cent had been to school in some 
section of the United States outside New York. 
Six percent did not report. Only 10 per cent had 
stayed in school until they were sixteen, while 67 
per cent left at the age of fourteen or younger, and 
20 per cent left when they were fifteen. Three per 
cent did not report. The group of course in- 
cludes those who went to work several years ago, 
before the present provisions of the child labor 
law were operative. Of those who attended public 
schools in New York only 9 per cent graduated 
from grammar school, and none had gone to high 
school, while 65 per cent had left while in the 
seventh grade or earlier. 

Fuller information about the previous schooling 
of bindery girls was secured from another inves- 
tigation, made by the Committee on Women's 
Work, in the public evening schools in Manhattan, 
Bronx, and Brooklyn in 1910-11. In the course 
of it, girls in these schools filled out record cards 
giving detailed information about their previous 
training in day school. Among these cards were 
the records of 144 bindery girls. The results* 
shown are the more interesting as they can be 
compared with the facts for other working girls, 
who answered the same questions. 

Among the girls who named bookbinding as their 
occupation a very large proportion, 96 per cent, re- 
ported that the last day school attended was in New 
York, 62 per cent naming public schools and 34 per 

* For tables see Appendix B, pp. 250-253. 
208 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

cent parochial or private. Nearly half, 45 per cent, 
had attended school eight years, and 25 per cent 
had remained longer, a better showing than for girls 
in all manufacturing pursuits grouped together. 
Sixty-four per cent left at the age of fourteen or 
younger, and only 10 per cent stayed in school 
after the sixteenth birthday. Although eight 
years is considered a sufficient time for the "normal 
child" to graduate from the elementary grades, 70 
per cent of these bindery girls had failed to graduate. 
Measuring their progress in school by the average 
time taken to complete one grade, allowing one 
year for a grade, only 21 per cent of those who re- 
ceived all their school training in New York pub- 
lic schools were normal, 9 per cent were rapid, and 
70 per cent were slow, compared with 59 per cent 
slow among girls in all trades. Not only has their 
schooling been brief, but for some reason they have 
not kept pace with the curriculum. Another fact 
of interest was their preference for manual work 
in evening school; 53 per cent had chosen such 
classes. 

These figures show that the schools are handi- 
capped by too brief a contact with these girls, 
that they become workers at an age when they 
cannot be expected to develop the skill of an adult 
craftsman. Too early a start in an occupation 
may be equivalent to a false start. It may con- 
demn a worker to inefficiency who might later 
have been more capable of directing her own prog- 
ress. This is the first step in industrial educa- 
14 209 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

tion, to keep the children out of industry until 
they are equal physically, at least, to its de- 
mands. 

Other questions, however, are being asked con- 
cerning the desirability of definite training in 
processes of work either in preliminary trade 
schools or in continuation classes. As an example 
of the problem involved in this last phase of in- 
dustrial education it is worth while to outline the 
information gathered by the Committee on Wom- 
en's Work at the request of a member of the Board 
of Education of New York. The inquiry was made 
for the purpose of answering a specific question as 
to the desirability of forming a class in hand bind- 
ing in a public evening school. The results, con- 
sidered in relation to the other data of the inves- 
tigation, show concretely how baffling is the prob- 
blem of industrial education of girls in a trade like 
bookbinding. 

The immediate cause of the inquiry was a re- 
quest for supplies for a class in bookbinding to be 
carried on in connection with art work in leather 
in an evening high school. Behind this request, 
however, was the fundamental question of whether 
or not an evening class would be of practical ser- 
vice in equipping women for any branch of the 
bookbinding trade, or in increasing the efficiency 
of those already employed in it. This question 
was discussed with art binders, including a woman, 
who manages her own bindery and teaches the 
craft, with owners and superintendents of edition 

210 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

binderies, pamphlet and magazine binderies, and 
with officers of the bookbinders' union. Not one 
believed that the plan was feasible or desirable. 
Their comments will show their reasons. 

The superintendent of a large edition bindery 
thought that, at a comparatively small expense, 
it might be possible to equip a room in a school 
building with cutting machine and wire-stitching 
machine, and girls could then be taught to handle 
sheets for pamphlets and to paste on the covers. 
A printer might give this practice shop the con- 
tract for binding a magazine, but "the trade" 
would probably object. A large plant might be 
developed if the department of education would 
have its books bound in this classroom. It would 
be difficult to get employers to co-operate as they 
do in some countries, because business men here 
are too much interested in "the dollar mark" and 
in immediate profit. But even if all these diffi- 
culties were removed, he believed that a more 
serious objection would remain; that after the 
girls were trained there would not be enough open- 
ings for them in the trade. In his opinion, the 
demand for women's labor in this industry is less 
now than the supply. 

Another summed up his objections tersely by 
saying that in edition binding the hand work done 
by women is so simple that there is nothing to 
learn, while the machine work would not be prac- 
ticable in a school. In "extra" or art binding 
the union will not permit women to do anything 

211 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

but fold or sew. Equally final and even more 
brief, was the statement of a superintendent of a 
magazine bindery, that all the work done by women 
in a magazine bindery is unskilled labor. " There 
is nothing to teach/' "The only way you can 
teach a person a trade," said another, "is to put 
her in a workroom." 

A member of a firm which has departments for 
edition binding and for pamphlet and magazine 
work, considers that school training in bookbinding 
is not practicable for girls because their work in 
the trade requires mere manual dexterity and be- 
cause the demand for them is decreasing as ma- 
chinery develops. 

" Even if you had the machines," said another, 
"it wouldn't really be the trade." He did not 
think that it was necessary or practicable to teach 
the trade in a school, but he believed that the 
schools could fill a need by giving a more thor- 
ough general training in reading and writing. 
Bindery girls need this knowledge to enable them 
to put together the pages of books properly. 

It was not machine binding, however, but hand 
binding which was to be introduced into the pro- 
posed class in evening school, and although only 
2 per cent of the bindery women of New York are 
employed in this branch of the trade, it had seemed, 
at first glance, more feasible to train women for 
hand work of this sort than for machine binding. 
But inquiry among men and women familiar with 
conditions in hand binderies brought replies quite 

212 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

as discouraging as those in regard to the large 
machine binderies. 

One woman, who manages an art bindery, ex- 
pressed the opinion that women would do well to 
learn more about the processes which they are 
now permitted to carry on in binderies, such as 
sewing, pasting, and mending. She believed that 
mending books might in time offer a field for 
women's work, especially if this training were part 
of the equipment of librarians. She pointed out that 
accurate judgment is required in sewing, pasting, 
and other processes in commercial hand binderies. 
Women must know what kind of sewing is needed 
for each book, taking into consideration the thick- 
ness of the paper, the size of the book, and the 
character of the binding. For this they must be 
taught how to think. They cannot merely pick 
up the knowledge through casual work in a shop. 
She did not favor, however, an evening school class 
for bookbinders. To teach the artistic features of 
the trade would be useless, because women are not 
permitted to do this work. To teach the processes 
now recognized as women's work is not desirable, 
because of the very limited demand for women in 
hand binderies. 

A member of a firm whose craftsmanlike work 
has won a well-deserved and wide reputation, 
pointed out that certain conditions affecting the 
trade as a whole must be considered in relation to 
this question. Actually fewer books are being 
bound by art or job binders in New York today 

213 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

than fifteen years ago. Binders are taxed for 
their imported raw materials, such as leather and 
paper, while many bound books come in free. Pub- 
lishers in the United States are sending some books 
abroad to be bound. As the finest class of work 
has been taken away from the commercial binders 
here, they have lost efficiency through lack of 
practice, and are turning out a grade of work lower 
than their potential abilities might justify. For 
skilled workmanship in the men's department, 
New York binderies depend more and more upon 
foreign-born workers, who have learned their trade 
before they came to the United States. Prac- 
tically no apprentices are now being trained here. 
One cause of this is that our apprenticeship law 
is too loose to hold a boy for a sufficiently long 
period to make his training profitable to the 
employer. 

Yet in spite of the need for skilled workers, this 
man did not believe that an evening class for 
women would be desirable. It might be well to 
teach women to sew better, or paste better, but, 
on the whole, he thought that this trade was not 
one which offered good opportunities for women at 
present. They would not be allowed to touch any 
processes in commercial hand binderies, except 
those they are now doing, and these are too limited 
to justify trade classes in public schools. If 
women are to succeed at all in bookbinding, they 
must look forward to owning their own shops. 
Otherwise those who make any effort to appro- 

214 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

priate men's tasks will come into conflict with 
the men's trade union. He pointed out that the 
first question to be considered was the attitude 
of the trade union regarding such classes. They 
would have the power to put obstacles in the way, 
and their attitude on the question of women's work 
would demand careful consideration. 

The president of the International Brotherhood 
of Bookbinders and the president and the secretary 
of the women's Local 43 defined for us the trade 
union attitude toward industrial education. The 
fundamental question which the trade unionist 
asks is, what effect will a trade school have upon 
wages? If a trade class results in turning out 
workers whose position in the labor market makes 
more difficult the trade union effort to maintain a 
standard wage, then organized labor opposes it. 
This is the ground of their opposition to prelim- 
inary training which tends to make a class in 
school the substitute for apprenticeship. But, 
knowing the workmen's handicap through lack of 
opportunity to practice the whole trade, the union 
strongly favors plans for classes which give supple- 
mentary technical education* to workers already 
employed in the trade. 

* "Men cannot know too much about the means by which they 
make a living. And it is well that they should learn all there is to 
know," said ex-President Prescott of the International Typographical 
Union in an address before the Brotherhood of Bookbinders at their 
annual convention in 1908. He had described the typographical 
union's educational scheme, correspondence courses for printers, and 
said that it was "in part an effort to save that trade from the blight 
that has settled on bookbinding in some localities." "In the book- 
binding trade," he said, "we see the deplorable effects of specializa- 

215 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

These officers of the bookbinders' union said 
that they would oppose a class in bookbinding for 
girls in public evening schools for two reasons: 
first, because they would fear that the organization 
of such classes would tend to turn workers into 
the shops in too large numbers; and second, be- 
cause they considered that specific conditions in 
the trade made it undesirable to train women. 
Rapid changes in machinery are a menace to 
women's work. The women's department is 
minutely subdivided so that they are specialists 
in particular processes. The job binderies are so 
few in number and their work so limited that they 
are not worth considering as a field for women. 
As to the relation* of men's work to women's work, 
the trade union officers declared that the Brother- 
hood demands equal pay for equal work, and that, 
so long as this principle is followed, they do not 
object to the employment of women in any pro- 
cesses commonly carried on by men. In southern 
cities women are employed as forwarders, finishers, 

tion. The foreman of one of the best binderies there (Chicago) told 
me that there were at least eleven sub-divisions of the trade, and that 
the great majority of men were unable to do anything but their re- 
spective specialty. Collectively and individually the bookbinders 
would be advancing their best interests if they had a better grasp on 
the trade, were not the doers of one simple process. The monotony 
incident to such work brings on mental decay. What you can do 
. . . is problematical, but you should do what you can. There 
is certainly an opportunity to advance the branches of stamping and 
finishing. This is where craftsmanship of a high order can be brought 
to play. And craftsmanship can be taught. If designing were more 
general among bookbinders the field for their work would expand. 
There is an immense field in the decorative leather work which might 
be done in the bindery." Reported in the International Bookbinder, 
Vol. IX, p. 191 (June, 1908). 

216 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE 

or rulers, and in New York some women are doing 
work commonly done by men and receiving the 
same wages. Without trade union organization, 
however, "female labor means cheap labor, and 
therein lies the danger/' Finally, although they 
agreed that the public evening schools might well 
be utilized to give supplementary technical educa- 
tion to girls, they were convinced that trade con- 
ditions in bookbinding made such a class as had 
been proposed undesirable. 

These statements, made by men and women 
who know trade conditions so well, and yet view 
them from different angles, are a practical sum- 
mary of the problem of industrial education for 
women in this trade. Their opinions show the 
complex factors which the schools must consider, 
and the different points of view which ought to be 
represented in any effort to solve the problem. 

The immediate steps to be taken are more 
obvious than any ultimate solution. Real success 
will depend upon the possibility of effective co-op- 
eration on the part of workers and employers. 
The trade union would be a powerful ally in 
efforts to keep children in school until they are 
sixteen, for already it excludes younger children 
from work in union binderies. To exclude these 
children from all binderies by legislative enactment 
would be an important step in industrial education. 
More careful systems of training in the workroom 
would be an asset for employers as well as a benefit 
to the workers. Further than that the problem can 

217 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

be solved only by experiment. Such experimental 
plans might include opportunities to be offered in 
evening classes not to practice the trade but to 
gain instruction in fundamental principles, whether 
it be the construction of a machine or the treat- 
ment of leather. Co-operation of this sort be- 
tween the schools and the industry might do much 
to test the best methods of developing efficient 
workers. Meanwhile, it is well frankly to recog- 
nize that extreme specialization, constant stand- 
ing, prolonged hours of work, irregular employ- 
ment, and low wages produce inefficiency more 
rapidly than the schools would be able to train 
skilled workers. 



218 



CHAPTER IX 
SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

THE conditions of women's work in the book- 
binding trade fail in many particulars to 
measure up to the standard which public 
opinion has begun to demand. About i o per cent of 
the women workers are under sixteen. Careful su- 
pervision of learners in the workroom is rare. Pro- 
cesses are so subdivided as to deaden mental facul- 
ties rather than to encourage growth in intelligence. 
As yet the subject of industrial education is dis- 
cussed only with reference to the men in the trade, 
and little attention is given to the problem in 
the women's department. Operating complicated 
machines, repeating one process hour after hour, 
standing at work all day, carrying loads of heavy 
paper from one part of the shop to another, stoop- 
ing frequently to lift the folded sections of books, 
pressing a foot pedal rapidly and incessantly, or 
handling the completed volumes to wrap them 
for shipping, these are tasks which would in- 
evitably fatigue girls even though the day never 
lasted longer than eight hours. Yet only a fourth 
of the women in the shops investigated had as 
short a working day as eight hours, and 44 per 

219 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

cent worked longer than forty-eight hours in a 
week. In fully three-fourths of the binderies the 
girls worked overtime at some season of the year. 
More than half of the statements collected re- 
garding this overtime showed an excess above the 
limit allowed by law. Moreover, flagrant instances 
are recorded of the employment of women through- 
out the night. 

The average wage reported by the group of 
girls interviewed by us was $7.22 a week, while the 
average reported by census enumerators in 1905 
was even lower, $6. 1 3. Yet it has been seen that 
women bookbinders are members of households 
in which it is difficult to make ends meet, and in 
which heavy responsibilities fall upon the women 
wage-earners. Their earnings are reduced still 
lower by reason of irregular work. Only about a 
third work in establishments reporting steady 
employment. Nearly three-fourths of the work- 
ers interviewed had frequently lost time in slack 
seasons. Only one in eight reported no time lost 
for any cause, while nearly a third reported a loss 
of one to three months during the year, and more 
than a fourth lost three months or more. An esti- 
mate of the approximate yearly income of bindery 
women shows that nearly three-fourths receive 
less than $400 in a year, in spite of their finding 
employment in other occupations when they 
have no work in bookbinding. An income of less 
than $400 a year is distinctly below the generally 
accepted estimate of $9.00 a week as the minimum 

220 



SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

wage on which a woman can support herself in New 
York City. 

Yet this is a composite picture. It shows 
neither the worst nor the best conditions in the 
trade. The standards prevailing in the best es- 
tablishments show that improvement in condi- 
tions is an entirely practical possibility already 
tested. In contrast to the bindery in which hand 
folders work in a gallery less than six feet from the 
ceiling and must themselves fetch the sheets from 
the main workroom below, is the establishment in 
which women work in comfortable quarters and 
men or boys carry the sheets of books to their 
tables. In one bindery the accumulated stock 
piled high shuts of? light and air from the workers, 
while in another care is taken to keep the stock 
in a part of the workroom where it will not ob- 
struct ventilation. One employer provides a 
dressing room, supplied with hot and cold water 
and large enough for the girls to have space and 
privacy in which to change their clothing after 
the day's work. Another fastens a few hooks for 
hats and coats on the wall in a corner of the work- 
room, but gives no further thought to the work- 
ers' comfort. Similarly, one firm provides chairs 
of the right height for convenience and comfort, 
while another carelessly purchases stools without 
backs or foot-rests. 

One employer engages large numbers of very 
young workers whom he keeps only for a season, 
while another makes sixteen the minimum age in 

221 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

the workroom, and employs inexperienced workers 
not as temporary hands for a rush order but as 
learners who have a future ahead. 

One firm squeezes the wages down to the lowest 
that workers will accept, while another adopts a 
definite standard of $5.00 a week for learners with 
an increase of 50 cents every six months until they 
become experienced, and thereafter a rate calcu- 
lated to permit an "average" worker to earn $10 
a week. One employer makes every effort to 
steady the seasons, and, if reduction in the force 
is inevitable, he arranges a part time schedule or 
lays the workers off in relays for definite, short 
periods, thus mitigating to a certain extent the 
hardships of unemployment. Another takes on 
new hands for every sudden order with the delib- 
erate intention of dismissing them as soon as the 
work is finished. 

The prolonged working day, which gives the 
bindery trade so unenviable a reputation, is not by 
any means a universal practice. 1 1 is found chiefly in 
establishments which specialize in the binding and 
mailing of magazines. On the other hand, there 
are magazine binderies which have never found a 
twenty or twenty-two-hour day necessary. One 
firm habitually requires overtime work at certain 
seasons, while another has deliberately tried to 
avoid overtime and has succeeded in reducing it 
to a minimum. 

The impression made on the reader by this 
description of the employment of women in bind- 

222 



SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

eries must depend on his outlook, and the stand- 
ards which he has in mind. The diverse points of 
view from which industrial conditions are observed 
result in different standards of judgment. Thus 
the bindery worker, if she read these chapters, will 
probably draw conclusions according to her own 
experience. She has doubtless found nine hours a 
long day, overtime exhausting, and $7.00 a week 
too low a wage to live upon. She will hope, there- 
fore, to see these conditions changed to meet her 
own needs. If she is a member of the trade union 
her standard will be definite an eight-hour day, 
extra compensation for overtime, and $10 a week 
for experienced workers and she will see in the 
statement of facts about her trade an added argu- 
ment for the extension of trade unionism. The 
employer too will probably base his judgment on 
his own experience, gauging the facts presented 
by the conditions prevailing in his establishment. 
Viewing wages primarily as an item of expense to 
himself rather than as the source of income to his 
employes, he will be disposed to be tolerant of con- 
ditions as he finds them. General readers will 
differ in their conclusions as they differ in their 
knowledge of industry and their ability to read 
the facts about a trade with full appreciation of 
their significance in relation to the welfare of 
the workers. In spite of differences in personal 
judgment, however, a growing fund of scientific 
data about industrial conditions throughout the 
country is making possible the formulation of 

223 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

practicable standards. Their application toa trade 
will depend not upon the various conclusions of 
worker, employer, and the general public, but upon 
an impersonal, scientifically determined basis of 
fact. 

A notable instance of the use of scientific 
evidence as a basis for establishing a standard for 
women's work occurred in 1907, in a case argued 
before the highest court in the land. A laundry 
owner in Oregon was convicted of a violation of 
the state law which prohibits the employment of 
women more than ten hours a day. He appealed his 
case to the United States Supreme Court on the 
ground that such a legal restriction was not in 
accord with the freedom of contract guaranteed to 
all citizens by the federal constitution. His argu- 
ment was met by counsel for the state in a brief 
based not on a theoretical discussion of the rights 
of citizens nor on an oratorical appeal on behalf 
of working women, but on an impressive and 
scientific collection of the results of the world- 
wide experience which has led nations to set a 
legal limit to daily hours of work.* 

* In a marginal note to the opinion of the court appears an epitome 
of the material showing the general trend of this world-wide opinion. 
After a summary of legislation bearing on the question in this country 
and abroad, reference was made to "extracts from over ninety re- 
ports of committees, bureaus of statistics, commissioners of hygiene, 
inspectors of factories, both in this country and in Europe, to the 
effect that long hours of labor are dangerous for women, primarily 
because of their special physical organization. The matter is dis- 
cussed in these reports in different aspects, but all agree as to the 
danger. It would, of course, take too much space to give these 
reports in detail. Following them are extracts from similar reports 
discussing the general benefits of short hours from an economic 

224 



SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

This array of authorities the court found con- 
vincing. The relation to the welfare of the race 
of legislation enacted to protect the health of 
women was thus summed up by the court: "That 
woman's physical structure and the performance 
of maternal functions place her at a disadvantage 
in the struggle for subsistence is obvious. This is 
especially true when the burdens of motherhood 
are upon her. Even when they are not, by abun- 
dant testimony of the medical fraternity, continu- 
ance for a long time on her feet at work, repeating 
this from day to day, tends to injurious effects 
upon the body, and as healthy mothers are essen- 
tial to vigorous offspring, the physical well-being 
of woman becomes an object of public interest 
and care in order to preserve the strength and 
vigor of the race." The court held "that woman's 
physical structure, and the functions she performs 
in consequence thereof, justify special legislation 
restricting or qualifying the conditions under 
which she should be permitted to toil. . . . 
. . . We take judicial cognizance of all matters 
of general knowledge/'* 

aspect of the question. In many of these reports individual instances 
are given tending to support the general conclusion. Perhaps the 
general scope and character of all these reports may be summed up 
in what an inspector for Hanover says: 'The reasons for the reduc- 
tion of the working day to ten hours (a) the physical organization 
of woman, (b) her maternal functions, (c) the rearing and education 
of the children, (d) the maintenance of the home are all so impor- 
tant and so far-reaching that the need for such reduction need hardly 
be discussed.' " United States Reports, Vol. 208. Cases adjudged 
in the Supreme Court at October term, 1907, pp. 419-420. New 
York, The Banks Law Publishing Co., 1908. 
* Ibid., pp. 420, 42 1 . 

15 225 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

In presenting evidence to the court important 
use was made of the results of laboratory research 
into the physical effect of fatigue, as a sound basis 
upon which to enact legislation. Scientific men 
in many countries have proved beyond question 
that getting tired is a physiological process equiva- 
lent to taking poison into the system. The poison 
is eliminated and the tissues restored only by a 
period of rest. Furthermore, rest must be taken 
before fatigue has become so great as to result in 
an exhaustion from which recovery is difficult. 
The application of these facts to the regulation of 
the hours of work of women in industry is obvious. 
The public welfare demands that work shall cease 
and rest be permitted before the worker becomes 
exhausted. No enlightened employer of women 
can fail to welcome the scientific conclusions 
already reached on this subject, and to take them 
into consideration in determining the hours of 
work in his establishment. 

That the determination of a definite standard 
of wages is likely to be increasingly sought from 
now on is indicated by such state action as the re- 
cent passage in Massachusetts of a bill providing 
for the "voluntary" establishment of minimum 
wage boards. For this purpose a permanent 
state commission has been appointed and its 
duties thus defined in the law:* 

" It shall be the duty of the commission to inquire 
into the wages paid to the female employes in any oc- 
* Massachusetts Labor Bulletin, No. 92, p. 58, June, 1912. 
226 



SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

cupation in the commonwealth, if the commission has 
reason to believe that the wages paid to a substantial 
number of such employes are inadequate to supply the 
necessary cost of living and to maintain the worker in 
health." 

If the inquiry into any industry should convince 
the commission that inadequate wages are paid to 
women, a minimum wage board is to be appointed, 
whose members shall be representatives of the 
general public, of employers, and of workers in 
the occupation in question. This board is to 
determine the minimum wages to be paid to 
women in the industry, but its determinations 
are to be recommendations which employers are 
not legally bound to accept. 

This law is indicative of a growing demand for 
the betterment of conditions, a demand in which 
all classes of the population are now joining, how- 
ever great may be their differences of opinion as 
to methods of reform. Reports of the meetings 
of the National Association of Manufacturers 
show their interest in the prevention and relief of 
work-accidents, in a comprehensive plan for indus- 
trial education, and in an effort to bring "manufac- 
turers in every department of industry to a higher 
realization of their social responsibility to their 
employes and the public."* The American Fed- 
eration of Labor works through its affiliated unions 
in many trades to prohibit the employment of 

* National Association of Manufacturers. Report of Seventeenth 
Annual Convention, May, 1912. 

227 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

children under sixteen, to establish an eight-hour 
day in all trades, and to secure a living wage for 
every worker. State legislatures are rapidly fall- 
ing into line in the enactment of laws regarding 
child labor, the introduction of industrial educa- 
tion in public schools, the regulation of the hours 
of work of women, compensation for accidents, and 
the maintenance of sanitary conditions in facto- 
ries. 

The attitude of a group of men and women 
whose work brings them into close contact with 
social and industrial conditions throughout the 
country, is also significant. In June, 1912, at 
the National Conference of Charities and Cor- 
rection, the committee on standards of living and 
labor presented a platform of industrial mini- 
mums. This declaration dealt with wages, hours, 
safety and health, compensation and insurance, 
housing, and the term of working life. A living 
wage was the first plank, and it was defined as an 
amount sufficient "to secure the elements of a 
normal standard of living, to provide for educa- 
tion and recreation, to care for immature members 
of the family, to maintain the family during periods 
of sickness and to permit of reasonable saving for 
old age/'* The platform demanded eight hours 
as the maximum working day for women and 
minors in all industries, an uninterrupted period 
of at least eight hours' night rest for all women 
workers, and the prohibition of the employment 

* The Survey, xxvm : 5 17 (July 6, 1912). 
228 



SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

of children under sixteen years of age in any wage- 
earning occupation. Another section called for 
the prohibition of the employment of women 
in occupations which require constant standing. 
Of irregular employment, the platform declared 
that "any industrial occupation subject to rush 
periods and out-of-work seasons should be con- 
sidered abnormal and subject to government re- 
view and regulation/' These provisions were 
based on the principle that with knowledge of the 
facts of work and "the recent discoveries of physi- 
cians and neurologists, engineers and economists, 
the public can formulate minimum occupational 
standards below which, demonstrably, work is 
prosecuted only at a human deficit." 

Within a few weeks after this conference a new 
political party adopted an industrial platform 
containing practically the same planks. Thus 
its members registered their conviction that the 
time was ripe to make standards like these a party 
issue with a wide appeal to the whole people. 

All these expressions of opinion of manufac- 
turers, workers, and citizens are signs of the times, 
a promise of better things to come in industry. 
Following the general statement of principles, 
however, is the more difficult task of applying 
these principles in all the various fields of em- 
ployment into which the world's work is divided. 
For this application, detailed studies must be 
made of conditions in each occupation. Reform 
must necessarily come not in industry as a whole, 

229 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

but trade by trade, since that is the way economic 
life is organized. Moreover, each trade has its 
peculiar problems. 

To establish proper standards in the bookbind- 
ing trade would require certain definite changes, 
which may be thus summarized: 

Prohibition of the employment of children under 
sixteen. 

Careful supervision of learners to insure 
thorough training. 

Co-operation with the public schools in efforts 
to supply additional opportunities to those who 
have left school at the age of sixteen. 

Limitation of the hours of work of all women to 
eight in a day, without permitting overtime. 

Provision for a definite rest period of at least 
eight hours during the night for all women, irre- 
spective of age. 

Planning the work so as to obviate the ill effects 
due to specialized tasks and to guard against the 
dangers peculiar to the trade.* 

Provisions for adequate light, ventilation, and 

* By allowing change of occupation and posture, by providing 
chairs with backs, and, if high, with foot-rests, by employing porters 
to carry the heavy sheets from one part of the workroom to another, 
and by so adjusting the height of the work-tables to the height of 
the chairs as to make it possible for hand workers to sit at work 
without loss of the speed on which their earnings depend; by cover- 
ing the stock to prevent accumulation of dust, by so placing the 
books and paper as not to obstruct ventilation, by sprinkling the 
floor before sweeping every day, or by using vacuum cleaners, by 
guarding machines likely to injure the hands or fingers, by doing 
away with the use of foot pedals, and by requiring that machines be 
constructed in such a way as to make stooping unnecessary, and to 
permit the operator to sit at work. 

230 



SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

space in the workroom and dressing rooms, and 
for proper toilet facilities. 

Protection against fire assured. 

Resolute efforts to prevent unemployment, and 
to steady the seasons. 

Payment of adequate wages, with full recogni- 
tion of the fact that the public welfare requires a 
living wage for every worker. 

To raise all binderies to the level here indicated 
will require the co-operation of employers, work- 
ers, and the public. That the suggestions are 
practicable is proved by the fact that almost every 
one of them has been tried to some degree in at 
least one bindery in New York. No establish- 
ment combines them all. The whole trade cannot 
be suddenly transformed, but a few important 
changes which would mark a decided advance 
should now be made general throughout the trade 
by means of legislation. 

No revolutionary reforms are necessary to make 
state intervention practicable. To strengthen the 
present laws regarding women's work in factories 
in New York, and to enforce them strictly, would 
markedly improve conditions in the bookbinding 
trade. 

Many persons now believe that the employment 
of children under sixteen ought to be prohibited 
in any occupation, and especially in connection 
with machines, or in lifting or carrying heavy 
weights. It seems obvious that a child of four- 
teen or fifteen should not be employed for such 

231 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

heavy work as that required in binding books. 
In any case, the present legal provision requiring 
that no employment certificate shall be issued 
unless the child "is in sound health and is physi- 
cally able to perform the work which it intends to 
do" should be more actively enforced. 

The law regarding the hours of work of women 
ought to be amended for the benefit not only of 
bindery women but of all women at work in facto- 
ries. Night work should be prohibited in order 
to assure an adequate rest period in every twenty- 
four hours, and to make possible the strict en- 
forcement of the fifty-four-hour law. The excep- 
tion to the nine-hour law permitting a maximum 
working day of ten hours should be repealed. 
Prosecutions should be in a reasonable ratio to the 
number of violations, in order to prove to em- 
ployers that the law is alive. Public opinion 
should express itself strongly enough to reach the 
magistrates' courts, in order that the results of 
convictions may not be nullified by an unwise 
use of the suspended sentence. 

A sufficient number of medical inspectors 
should be appointed to begin the collection of 
data on which to base extensive legislation for the 
protection of the health of working women. In- 
sufficient ventilation, dusty floors, dusty stock, 
and all other unwholesome workroom conditions 
should be corrected by definite laws scientifically 
determined, and not weakened, as at present, by 



232 



SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

provisions giving inspectors discretionary power 
in such vital decisions. 

Legislation, however, is not sufficient without 
provision for inspection of workrooms and strict 
enforcement of law. The state labor department, 
charged with this task of enforcement, must be 
well organized and supplied with an adequate 
number of carefully chosen inspectors. The 
force of women inspectors should be increased 
especially to look after the welfare of women work- 
ers. Undoubtedly they could secure from women 
employes evidence of violation of the laws more 
readily than is possible for men inspectors. On 
the efficiency of the labor department depends the 
success of the state's effort to protect the health 
of women workers. 

The chief task is to bring home the sense of re- 
sponsibility to those who have the power to deter- 
mine conditions. The fact that more than half the 
bindery workers in New York City are employed in 
less than 10 per cent of the binderies indicates the 
power of a few employers and their responsibility for 
the welfare of women in the trade. It is in the large 
binderies, however, that members of the firm who 
have the power to make improvements have the 
least knowledge of the conditions of employment 
in their establishments. They appoint a super- 
intendent whom they hold responsible for two 
main results, economy in running his depart- 
ment and satisfactory workmanship. An investi- 
gator in search of facts about wages, hours, and 

233 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

seasons soon learns to seek out the superintendent 
or the foreman rather than the head of the firm, 
whose knowledge of these vital facts is likely to be 
very hazy. No marked change in conditions will 
be possible until the men at the top require super- 
intendents to look after the health and comfort of 
their employes, and to pay them decent wages. 
If the small group of important bookbinding firms 
of New York would positively adopt this practice, 
they would benefit at once more than half the 
workers in the trade. They would also set an ex- 
ample which would have its influence on other 
establishments. 

But a firm and its superintendent cannot meet 
the problems single-handed. In regulating labor 
conditions they are dealing with vital human 
issues, which cannot be determined by hard-and- 
fast methods. Good team work depends upon a 
spirit of fellowship. The worker's loyalty to the 
firm and his interest in good workmanship can 
be secured only if it be possible for employer 
and employe to meet in a democratic way for 
discussion of conditions which cannot be wisely 
determined if the point of view of either be dis- 
regarded. As conditions grow more complex this 
exchange of ideas also grows more complicated. 
The trade union has developed to give organized 
expression to the interests of employes. It gives 
the workers who are active in it a broader view 
of trade conditions than their personal experience 
alone could afford. It is a means of securing 

234 



SUMMARY AND OUTLOOK 

the adoption by many firms of the standards 
accepted by a few. 

Both employers and workmen, however, are at 
the service of the man who gives them orders, 
whether he be a private customer, a printer, or a 
publisher. The unreasonable demands of these 
customers are too often responsible for deplorable 
conditions of employment. Overtime work and 
slack season are both traceable to the publisher. 
When this responsibility is clearly recognized, it 
will be reasonable to expect publishers to take 
effective action to meet some of the problems of 
bindery work. Through books and articles on 
industrial topics, publishers of books and editors of 
magazines are trying to improve industrial con- 
ditions. To apply the teaching of these books 
and articles to the binderies where they are bound 
would be a practical demonstration of great value. 

But employer, worker, and customer are not 
the only persons responsible. While conditions in 
the best binderies in New York show the prac- 
ticability of reasonable standards, the contrasts 
cited in other binderies indicate quite as clearly 
the danger of leaving standard-making to the in- 
dividual employer. Enlightened employers will 
keep ahead of community action, but the commu- 
nity must see to it that none shall fall below the 
minimum conditions required for the health of 
the workers. 

Furthermore, the interest of the community 
should make possible a just balance between the 

235 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

demands of worker and employer. The worker 
aims to secure higher wages to make possible a bet- 
ter standard of living. The employer is anxious to 
keep down expenses. The public interest would 
combine and balance these two views, pointing 
out that production cheapened at the expense of 
decent living conditions for the workers in reality 
costs too much. Without such a balance as the 
community alone can give, there is too often 
blind conflict of interests instead of a just and 
reasonable adoption of proper standards. Public 
interest is the vital factor needed to focus atten- 
tion on conditions of employment and to establish 
throughout the trade the standards which are 
essential to the health and happiness of thousands 
of working girls. The task is large and complex, 
but it is also an encouraging one. It challenges 
the best thought and effort of reader, writer, 
binder, printer, publisher, and worker. 



236 



APPENDICES 



APPENDIX A 

OUTLINE OF INVESTIGATION 

Three record cards* 5 x 8 inches in size were used in the 
field work, one for the record of a worker, one for the 
record of a workshop, and one for the worker's report 
of conditions in the shop in which she was employed. 

The card designed for the record of a worker pro- 
vided information on three large subjects, personal 
history and living conditions, education, and work. 
The investigation of personal history and living con- 
ditions included such facts as: 

Nativity, and date of birth. 

Relationship to head of family, indicating whether the 

girl was boarding or living at home. 
If living at home, 

nativity of father and mother, and the dates when they 
came to New York City; 

number and ages of children at home; 

other persons living with family; 

other wage-earners in family, their occupations and 
weekly earnings; 

condition of apartment, number of rooms, and rent. 
If boarding, where and at what cost. 
Disposition of earnings, amount given to home, weekly 

carfare, and yearly savings. 

Membership in organizations, trade union, church, and 
club. 

* See facsimiles of card records, pp. 245 to 248. 
239 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

The information sought regarding the worker's 
schooling included: 

Last day school attended, place, date of leaving, and 
grade reached. 

Trade or technical school attended, courses taken, and 
dates of attendance. This was interpreted broadly to 
include any supplementary education, such as courses 
in public evening schools, or in business schools. 

The investigation of the girl's work history included 
the following data: 

Age at beginning work. 

Weeks out of work in the past year, and the reasons for this 
loss of time. 

Comparison of regularity of employment in the past twelve 
months and in the preceding year. 

Training received in a bindery, by whom given, kind of 
work assigned, and length of time required. 

Trade career, with a record of each position in chrono- 
logical order, stating dates employed, time held, name 
and address of firm, trade, kind of work done by the girl 
interviewed, weekly wages, how the position was found, 
reason for leaving, and the time idle after leaving. 

More detailed information was then secured regard- 
ing conditions in binderies in which the worker had 
been employed recently enough to insure accuracy. 
This material, recorded on a card to be filed under the 
firm name, afforded a valuable basis for the investiga- 
tion of establishments. The data gathered on this 
card included, besides the name and address of the 
firm: 

Name and address of the worker and the dates of her em- 
ployment in this bindery. 
240 



OUTLINE OF INVESTIGATION 

Kind of work done by her. 

Posture at work in these various occupations. 

Weekly wages. 

Fines imposed or any charges made for supplies. 

Weeks out of work in past year, or during the time of em- 
ployment here, if it had been less than a year. 

Hours of labor, including time of beginning work in the 
morning, time of ending work in the evening, length of 
noon recess, Saturday working hours, and total hours of 
labor daily and weekly. 

Overtime, with full information regarding number of 
evenings of overtime in a week, closing hour, time al- 
lowed for supper, total daily and weekly hours inclusive 
of overtime, rate of pay for extra work, and the season 
of the year when the hours of labor are thus prolonged. 

Home work,* if any, kind, hours spent on it and earnings. 

Workroom conditions, lighting, lunch-room privileges, 
kind of dressing room provided, and cleanliness of 
toilets. 

In interviewing an employer the same kind of in- 
formation was sought, but covering the whole estab- 
lishment rather than the conditions that affect a single 
worker. The information asked of employers was as 
follows: 

Kind of work done by women, with a description of the 
nature of the processes, posture required of the worker, 
and the qualities needed to make her successful, whether 
neatness, strength, experience, speed or skill. 

General range of weekly wages for each process, and 
whether calculated according to piece or time. The 
tendency here was to state the best possible wages for 
each class of work. 

* These card records were all designed for investigation of other 
trades as well as bookbinding. As a matter of fact, home work given 
out by binderies is very rare. 

16 241 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

Total normal force of women employed, and minimum age. 

Employer's opinion of the desirability of trade school 
training for this work. 

Seasons, including time of employment of the maximum 
force of women and the usual number employed during 
that season; time of employment of minimum force and 
the number at work then. 

Hours of labor, in detail, normally and when working over- 
time. 

Home work, if any; number of workers and kind, whether 
families, contractors, or institutions. 

Workroom conditions, lighting, ventilation, space for 
workers and cleanliness. 

The following record of one of the girls interviewed 
will best illustrate the sort of information which we 
were seeking and the method of securing it. She was 
employed in a bindery in which conditions were un- 
usually good. 

We shall call her Mary Brown and give her address as 142 
Greenwich Avenue, New York, third floor, back, south. An 
investigator visited her home one afternoon and talked with 
her grandmother and her sister, who was also a worker in a 
bindery. In the evening the visitor returned and talked with 
the girl herself. This gave an opportunity to check and 
verify the statements made in the earlier interview. The 
girl had left the fifth grade of a public school in 1905, three 
years before she would have graduated. She had been 
enrolled in a public evening school in two successive terms, 
once in the "regular course," and once in a dressmaking 
class, but she did not stay through the term in either class. 
She went to work at the age of fourteen, working a year as 
cash girl in a department store, first receiving a weekly wage 
of $3.00 and later $3.50. Her older sister who had worked in 

242 



OUTLINE OF INVESTIGATION 

the same store found the "job" for her. Mary left because 
there was "no chance to advance." 

A friend found her work in October, 1906, in the Western 
Bindery, where large editions of books were bound. As a 
learner, she folded sheets by hand and emptied boxes. The 
other girls showed her how to do the work. There was no 
definite time of learning. In three and a half years, how- 
ever, she had had only an occasional opportunity to try to 
operate a machine, and her weekly earnings had been increased 
only from $3.50 to $5.50. Her employment had been steady 
during the past twelve months. In the preceding year she 
had been without work or wages two weeks when the firm had 
moved. 

Her grandmother was the head of the household. The 
mother was dead, and the father had deserted his family. 
Every member of the family had been born in New York. 
There were five girls at home, ranging in age from twelve to 
twenty-two years. The other wage-earners were three 
sisters. One was a learner in a bindery, earning $3.50 a week. 
Another worked in a hotel laundry, earning $7.00 a week. 
The third was out of work at the date of the visit. She also 
had been working in a hotel laundry but the steam made her 
ill. The combined earnings of the three girls at work were 
$16 a week. An uncle sent them $10 a month. The grand- 
mother, although nearly blind, did the housework, and 
managed to make ends meet. The six members of the family 
lived in four rooms in a tenement built since the New York 
housing law has demanded a certain minimum of light and air. 

Mary gave all her earnings to her grandmother, who 
returned to her small sums needed for clothes and incidental 
expenses. She walked to work and carried her lunch, so spent 
no money for carfare or lunches. She was a member of the 
Roman Catholic Church. She belonged to no club, nor had 
she joined the union in the bookbinding trade. Her name 
had been given to the investigator by another girl employed 
in the Western Bindery. In the same visits, a similar record 

243 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

was secured of the trade history of Mary's younger sister who 
was a learner in the bookbinding trade. 

The facts which Mary gave about the Western Bindery 
were recorded on another card and filed under the name of the 
bindery. Her chief work was to empty the boxes into which 
the folded sheets were dropped by the machine. Frequent 
stooping was necessary and the work was very tiring. She 
had been fined for being late but was "only scolded," not 
fined, for spoiling sheets. Her work had been steady. Her 
working hours were from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a half hour 
at noon, eight hours daily, forty-eight weekly. In summer 
she worked from 8 a.m. to 5:20 p.m., in order to stop work on 
Saturday at twelve noon. In busy season she had worked 
overtime once a week only, and then not later than 7 o'clock, 
a ten-and-a-half-hour day. Some of the older girls stayed 
two evenings a week. These hours represented unusually 
good conditions. She had never taken any work home. 
There was no lunch room. The girls ate their lunches in the 
workroom, and made tea on a gas stove in the dressing room. 

A month later the investigator visited the bindery and 
asked questions to verify and supplement the information 
given by this worker, concerning the kind of work done by 
women, weekly wages, training of learners, desirability of 
trade school training, methods of securing workers, seasons 
of employment, hours of work, overtime, home work, and the 
conditions in the workroom. Mary was at work in the 
bindery at the time of the visit, and her statements about 
processes of work were found to be correct. 



244 





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APPENDIX B 

SUPPLEMENTARY STATISTICS 

The following statistics were secured from card 
records filled by working girls attending public evening 
schools in New York City in the winter of 1910-11. 
The figures show certain facts about the schooling of 
women employed in bookbinding compared with those 
at work in all trades. A total of 4,5 19 records of women 
in all trades were tabulated, but the number varies in 
different tables. The largest number, 3,917, appears in 
Table B; on this point, "last day school attended/' 
602 did not supply information. In compiling all the 
other tables, we omitted 827 records of girls attending 
two schools from which data on these points were 
insufficient for tabulation. Of the remaining 3,692 
records tabulated, 842 did not supply information for 
Table C, and 603 did not supply information for Table 
D. Among the 3,692 women, 66 of the 2,094 whose 
last attendance was in New York public day schools, 
and who were, therefore, considered in Table E, did not 
supply information on this point. In considering the 
rate of progress in school, the tabulation was limited to 
a group of 1,562 who had attended New York public 
schools only. Of these, 145 did not supply information 
for Table G, and 163 for Table H. 

249 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 



TABLE A. SCHOOLS PREVIOUSLY ATTENDED BY 142 
WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING AND BY 
3,692 WOMEN IN ALL TRADES ATTENDING PUBLIC 
EVENING SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY, 1910-1911* 



SCHOOLS PREVIOUSLY ATTENDED 


WOMEN IN 
BOOKBINDING 


WOMEN IN 
ALL TRADES 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


New York City public schools 
Private, parochial, or corporate 
schools in New York City 
Schools in the United States, out- 
side New York City . 
Schools in foreign countries . 
None 


92 
64 

4 
4 


65 
45 

3 
3 


2,184 
630 

1 80 
845 
34 


59 

'7 

5 
23 

i 



a Of the 144 women employed in bookbinding, 2 did not supply 
information on this point. As some of these women had attended 
schools of two or more different types the figures in the table add 
to totals larger than the number of women from whom information 
was secured. 

TABLE B. LAST DAY SCHOOL ATTENDED BY WOMEN 
EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING AND BY WOMEN 
IN ALL TRADES ATTENDING PUBLIC EVENING 
SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY, 1910-1911a 



LAST DAY SCHOOL ATTENDED 


WOMEN IN 
BOOKBINDING 


WOMEN IN 
ALL TRADES 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Number^ 


Per 
Cent 

~& 

12 

3 
24 

5 


New York City public schools . 
Private, parochial, or corporate 
schools in New York City 
Schools in the United States, outside 
New York City .... 
Schools in foreign countries 
None 


85 

47 

i 
4 


62 

34 

i 
3 


2,213 
476 

103 

937 

1 88 


Total 


'37 


100 


3.917 


100 



a Of 144 women employed in bookbinding, 7 did not supply in- 
formation on this point. 

t>The inconsistencies between the figures of this column and the 
figures of the corresponding column of table A, are due to a differ- 
ence in the number of women who supplied information. See intro- 
ductory note to Appendix B. 

250 



SUPPLEMENTARY STATISTICS 



TABLE C YEARS OF ATTENDANCE AT DAY SCHOOL OF 
WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING AND OF 
WOMEN IN ALL TRADES ATTENDING PUBLIC 
EVENING SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY, 1910-1911 a 



YEARS IN SCHOOL 


WOMEN IN 
BOOKBINDING 


WOMEN IN 
ALL TRADES 


Number 


Per 

Cent 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Less than 5 years .... 
5 years and less than 6 years . 
6 years and less than 7 years . 
7 years and less than 8 years . 
8 years and less than 9 years . 
9 years and less than 10 years . 
10 years or more ..... 
None 


i 

4 

7 

% 

24 
8 


I 

20 

45 

'I 


212 

135 
270 

585 
958 
446 
210 

34 


7 
5 
9 

21 

M 

7 

i 


Total 


125 


IOO 


2,850 


IOO 



a Of 144 women employed in bookbinding, 19 did not supply 
information on this point. 

TABLE D. AGE AT LEAVING DAY SCHOOL OF WOMEN 
EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING AND OF WOMEN 
IN ALL TRADES ATTENDING PUBLIC EVENING 
SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY, 1910-1911a 



AGE AT LEAVING SCHOOL 


WOMEN IN 
BOOKBINDING 


WOMEN IN 
ALL TRADES 


Number 


Per 

Cent 


Number 


Per 
Cent 

17 
48 

23 
8 

2 

I 
I 


Under 14 years 
14 years and under 15 years 
15 years and under 16 years 
1 6 years and under 17 years 
17 years and under 18 years 
18 years or over 
Never attended school 


33 

10 
2 

I 


ii 
53 
2 5 

2 


''708 
244 

11 

34 


Total 


128 


IOO 


3,089 


IOO 



a Of 144 women employed in bookbinding, 16 did not supply in- 
formation on this point. 

251 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

TABLE E. GRADE AT LEAVING NEW YORK PUBLIC DAY 
SCHOOLS OF WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING 
AND OF WOMEN IN ALL TRADES ATTENDING 
PUBLIC EVENING SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY, 1910- 
1911a 



GRADE AT LEAVING SCHOOL 


WOMEN IN 
BOOKBINDING 


WOMEN IN 
ALL TRADES 


Number 


Per 

Cent 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Below the fifth grade .... 
Fifth 
Sixth 
Seventh 
Eighth 
Graduate'of elementary school . 
High school (not graduates) 
High school graduates 


3 

2 

14 
21 

18 
18 
6 


3 

2 

18 
26 

22 
22 
7 


78 
197 

393 
527 
197 
499 
133 
4 


4 
10 

'9 

26 

10 
24 
7 


Total 


82 


100 


2,028 


100 



a Of 85 women employed in bookbinding, whose last attendance 
was in New York public day schools, 3 did not supply information 
on this point. 



TABLE F PREVIOUS ATTENDANCE AT NEW YORK PUB- 
LIC DAY SCHOOLS ONLY, AND AT OTHER SCHOOLS 
OF WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING AND OF 
WOMEN IN ALL TRADES, ATTENDING PUBLIC 
EVENING SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY, 1910-1911* 



ATTENDANCE AT 


WOMEN IN 
BOOKBINDING 


WOMEN IN 
ALL TRADES 


Number 


Per 

Cent 


Number 


Per 

Cent 


New York public schools only . 
Other schools 


66 
76 


46 

54 


1,562 
2,130 


42 
58 


Total 


142 


IOO 


3,692 


IOO 



a Of 144 women employed in bookbinding, 2 did not supply in- 
formation on this point. 

252 



SUPPLEMENTARY STATISTICS 



TABLE G. YEARS OF ATTENDANCE IN PUBLIC DAY 
SCHOOLS OF WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING 
AND OF WOMEN IN ALLTRADES, ATTENDING PUBLIC 
EVENING SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY, 1910-1911* 





WOMEN IN 


WOMEN IN 


YEARS OF ATTENDANCE IN NEW 


BOOKBINDING 


ALL TRADES 


YORK PUBLIC DAY SCHOOLS 


Number 


Per 

Cent 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Less than 6 years .... 






89 


6 


6 years and less than 7 years . 


4 


7 


137 


10 


7 years and less than 8 years . 


13 


22 


319 


22 


8 years and less than 9 years . 


26 


45 


578 


41 


9 years or over 


15 


26 


294 


21 


Total 


58 


100 


1,417 


IOO 



a This table relates to women who attended New York City public 
schools only. Of 66 women employed in bookbinding, who attended 
New York public schools only, 8 did not supply information on this 
point. 

TABLE H. PROGRESS IN PUBLIC DAY SCHOOLS OF 
WOMEN EMPLOYED IN BOOKBINDING AND OF 
WOMEN IN ALL TRADES, ATTENDING PUBLIC 
EVENING SCHOOLS, NEW YORK CITY, 1910-1911* 



PROGRESS 


WOMEN IN 
BOOKBINDING 


WOMEN IN 
ALL TRADES 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Number 


Per 
Cent 


Rapid 
Normal 
Slow 


5 

12 
40 


9 

21 
70 


206 
369 
824 


15 
26 

59 


Total 


57 


IOO 


1,399 


IOO 



a This table relates to women who attended New York City public 
schools only. Of 66 women employed in bookbinding, who attended 
New York City public schools only, 9 did not supply information on 
this point. The rate of progress was measured by the number of 
years required to reach the grade in which the pupil was enrolled at 
the time of leaving school, allowing one year to each grade. For 
example, a pupil who had attended school six years was rated as 
"normal" if she had reached grade 6 B or 7 A, "slow" if she were in 
a lower grade, and "rapid" if she were in a higher grade. 

253 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 



TABLE I. HOURS AT WHICH WOMEN EMPLOYED IN 
BOOKBINDING BEGIN WORKa 



Hour of Beginning 
Work 


WOMEN BEGINNING WORK AT SPECIFIED 
TIME IN 


Edition and 
Pamphlet Bind- 
eries Employing 
50 or more 
Women 


All Other 
Binderies 


All 
Binderies 


Num- 
ber 


Per 
Cent 


Num- 
ber 


Per 

Cent 


Num- 
ber 


Per 
Cent 


7 130 and before 8 a. m. 
8 and before 8:30 a. m. 
8:30 and before 9 a. m. 
At 9 a. m. . 


525 
2,298 

210 


% 

7 


.65 
'.532 
303 
35 


8 
75 
15 

2 


690 
3,830 
513 
35 


14 
75 

10 

i 


Total . . . 


3.033 


100 2,035 


100 


5,068 


IOO 



a Of the 5,689 women employed in binderies supplying any infor- 
mation regarding hours, 621 were in establishments which did not 
state time of beginning work. 

TABLE J LENGTH OF NOON RECESS OF WOMEN EM- 
PLOYED IN BOOKBINDING* 



WOMEN HAVING SPECIFIED LENGTH OF 
NOON RECESS IN 





Edition and 






Length of Noon Recess 


Pampblet Bind- 
eries Employing 
50 or more 


All Other 
Binderies 


All 
Binderies 




Women 








Num- 


Per 


Num- 


Per 


Num- 


Per 




ber 


Cent 


ber 


Cent 


ber 


Cent 


30 minutes and less 














than 45 . 


2,243 


74 


1.533 


73 


3.776 


74 


45 and less than 60 . 
60 minutes. 


390 

400 


13 
13 


184 
37i 


9 

18 


574 

771 


1 1 

15 


Total . . . 


3.033 


IOO 


2,088 


IOO 


5. 121 


IOO 



a Of the 5,689 women employed in binderies supplying any infor- 
mation regarding hours, 568 were in establishments which did not 
state length of noon recess. 

254 



SUPPLEMENTARY STATISTICS 

TABLE K. HOURS AT WHICH WOMEN EMPLOYED IN 

BOOKBINDING LEAVE WORK, WHEN NOT 

WORKING OVERTIME* 





WOMEN LEAVING WORK AT SPECIFIED 




HOURS IN 




Edition and 






Hour of Leaving Work 


Pamphlet Bind- 
eries Employing 
50 or more 


All Other 
Binderies 


All 
Binderies 




Women 








Num- 


Per 


Num- 


Per 


Num- 


Per 




ber 


Cent 


ber 


Cent 


ber 


Cent 


Before 5 p. m. . 


428 


14 


69 


3 


497 


10 


5 p. m. and before 5:30 














p. m. 


1,625 


5 2 


493 


24 


2,118 


4i 


5 130 p. m. and before 6 














p. m. 


1, 080 


34 


1,164 


5t7 


2,244 


43 


6 p. m. 







321 


16 


321 


6 


Total . 


3.'33 


100 


2,047 


100 


5,180 


100 



a Of 5,689 women employed in binderies supplying any information 
regarding hours, 509 were in establishments which did not state 
the hour of leaving work. 



255 



APPENDIX C 

SIXTY-HOUR RESTRICTION ON THE EM- 
PLOYMENT OF WOMEN IN FACTORIES 
IN NEW YORK STATE HELD 
TO BE CONSTITUTIONAL* 

People v. Howe, Court of Special Sessions, Oct. 31, 1906 

PER CURIAM. The defendant pleaded guilty to an informa- 
tion charging him with violation of the provisions of section 
77 of the Labor Law in that, during the week between the 
24th day of September and the ist day of October, 1906, in 
the County of New York, he unlawfully did employ, and 
permit, and suffer to work in and in connection with a cer- 
tain factory a certain female, one Mary Seeback, for the 
period of more than sixty hours in said week. The defendant 
further pleaded guilty to two other informations charging him 
with a violation of the provisions of the same law in respect 
of two other females. 

Summary inquiry was had in each of these cases which 
developed the fact that the factory referred to in the in- 
formation was a steam laundry, and that each of the females 
alleged to have been employed illegally was an adult. 

Defendant thereupon, through counsel, moved in arrest 
of judgment on the ground that section 77 of the Labor Law, 
so far as it attempted to restrict the right to employ female 
labor in a factory more than 60 hours in a week or the right 
of females to labor more than 60 hours in any one week is 

* New York State Department of Labor, Bulletin No. 31, De- 
cember, 1906, p. 484. 

256 



SIXTY-HOUR LAW HELD CONSTITUTIONAL 

unconstitutional. He cited Lochner r. State of New York, 
198 U. S., 45. 

This court has already declared that portion of section 77 
of the Labor Law which prohibits employment in a factory of 
any female after 9 o'clock at night and before 6 o'clock in 
the morning to be unconstitutional, (People v. Williams, 
N. Y. Law Journal, Aug. 10, 1906), and defendant seeks to 
establish the unconstitutionality of the act in its further 
restriction of the number of hours a week during which a 
female may be employed. 

The decision in the Williams case rested solely upon the 
ground that that part of the law there invoked could not be 
considered as purely a health regulation, and as such within 
the police power of the state, and, as was decided in the Loch- 
ner case, that it was an "unreasonable, unnecessary, and arbi- 
trary intereference with the right of the individual to his 
personal liberty or to enter into those contracts in relation 
to labor which may seem to him appropriate or necessary 
for the support of himself and his family." 

There is a distinction between a law which prohibits the 
employment of a woman for the slightest period of time 
during certain hours and one which limits the number of 
hours in a day or a week during which she may be employed 
at factory work. A law which attempts to limit the number of 
hours of labor of a woman employed in a factory, may well 
be a health regulation and a proper legislative exercise of 
the state's police power. There has been no adjudication of 
this law by the appellate courts of this state. The courts of 
last resort in four other states, however, have passed upon 
this question of the hours of labor of women under statutes 
and constitutional provisions quite similar to those under 
consideration. In Massachusetts (Commonwealth v. Hamil- 
ton Manufacturing Co., 120 Mass., 383); in Nebraska, 
(Wenhan v. State, 91 Northwest Rep., 421); and in Washing- 
ton, (State of Washington v. Buchanan, 29 Wash., Rep., 602), 
the courts upheld the constitutionality of acts which limited 

17 257 



WOMEN IN THE BOOKBINDING TRADE 

the number of hours during which women labor in factories 
in those several states. In Illinois (Richie v. People, 155 
Ills., 98), the Supreme Court of that state declared a similar 
act to be unconstitutional. The weight of authority, therefore, 
seems to be favorable to the constitutionality of a law which 
limits the number of hours in a day or week that a woman 
may be employed at work in a factory. 

There is nothing in the Lochner case, reported, which 
indicates the sex of the employe, who it was alleged was 
required to work more than sixty hours a week. We know 
that the person in that case was an employe in a bakery 
or confectionery establishment. Defendant's counsel urges 
that the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 
Lochner case is applicable here. The Lochner case, how- 
ever, did not turn upon the sex of the person employed, 
but upon the nature of the employment. The issue directly 
in point here is that of sex. It is an issue which has not yet 
been presented to the Supreme Court of the United States, 
but as has been said, the weight of authority being for the 
constitutionality of the act in question, this court is con- 
strained to deny, and does deny, the motion in arrest of judg- 
ment. 



258 



INDEX 



INDEX 



ACCIDENT LIABILITY: increases 
with overwork; its relation 
to legal regulation of work- 
ing day, 146 

ADVERTISEMENTS FOR BINDERY 
WOMEN: by month and 
branch of trade, no; by 
processes mentioned, 108 

AGE OF WOMEN: as evidence of 
length of service, 99; mini- 
mum, at which learners are 
employed, 78; minimum, 
named by trade union, 196; 
10 per cent under sixteen 
years, 219 

AKRON, OHIO: strike, 180 

ALLIANCE EMPLOYMENT B URE AU : 
co-operation with investiga- 
tors, 7 

AMERICAN FEDERATION or 
LABOR, 174, 227 

ANCIENT ART OF BOOKBINDING, 

14-17 

APPRENTICES AND LEARNERS: 
ages, 77, 78, 196; edition 
bindery best place for 

"~ learners, 202; employers' 
attitude toward, 196, 205- 
207, 210-217; inexperienced 
worker employed in busy 
seasons, 200; joining the 
union, 186, 187; magazine 
bindery work, 202; methods 
in binderies, statements by 
girls, 197-205; proportion 
of, in relation to experienced 



workers, 186, 196; special- 
ists, 199; supervision by 
local unions, 185-188, 202; 
types of learners, 197; wages, 
76-78, 186, 187, 202-204 

ARBITRATION CONTRACT: be- 
tween local unions and 
Bookbinders' League, 182 

ART BOOKBINDERS, 45, 46, 213 



BLANKBOOK BINDERIES: num- 
ber of women in 1910, 34; 
number of women by season 
of greatest activity, 104; 
steadiest employment in, 
107; work of, 23 

BOOKBINDER: typical, 46 

BOOKBINDERS' LEAGUE: em- 
ployers' organization in New 
York, agreement concerning 
hours and wages, 179; arbi- 
tration contract with local 
unions, 182 

BOOKBINDING: Ancient art of, 
14-17 

BOOKBINDING ESTABLISHMENTS: 
conditions in the workroom, 
147-150, 221, 222; diffi- 
culties of investigating, 9; 
dull seasons, number of 
women laid off, in different 
types of binderies, 107; 
number in New York, by 
nature of products, 1910, 26; 
overtime hours, employers' 
statements, 140; reorgani- 



261 



INDEX 



zation, transfer of workers 
and loss of positions, as the 
result of introducing new 
machines, 51-70, 112, 189; 
seasons of greatest activity, 
periods of maximum em- 
ployment, 104, 105; typical 
binderies, showing women's 
work, 39-48; violations of 
law restricting hours of 
work, statistics, 141. See 
also Employers 

BOOKBINDING PROCESSES: ad- 
vertisements, processes men- 
tioned in, 1 08; changes, with 
development of machinery, 
39; details, 20-24, 38; hard 
processes, statements of girls, 
151-156. See also Hand 
Work; Machine Work 

BOOKBINDING TRADE: ancient 
history, 14-17; branches of 
the trade, 24-25; number of 
binderies in each branch, in 
New York, 26; capital 
invested, value of products, 
etc., 1900-1905, in New 
York, 27; characteristics 
are irregularity of work and 
frequent change in condi- 
tions, 48; employment bu- 
reaus to assist girls in finding 
positions, 126-128; employ- 
ment registry of Local 43, 
1 88 ; future of women's work 
is problematical, 70, 231- 
236; history of early days, 
14-20; irregularity of em- 
ployment, 101-132; out- 
look for better conditions, 
219-236; position of worker 
and impossibility of her 
modifying conditions of em- 
ployment, 1 69-1 73 ; problems 
of the specialist and of the 
untrained worker, 207; re- 
lation to other occupations 
for women, 3, 4; restric- 
tions on entrance to trade, 



195, 196; second to cigar 
making as trade for women, 
3; specialization in the 
bindery, result of use of 
machines, 57, 61-70, 185, 
1 86; standards, proper, 
changes required to establish, 
230-236; summary of con- 
ditions, 219-236; transfer 
of women and of women's 
work, 51-70, 112, 189; 
women's work in the binder- 
ies, 38-71. See also Hours; 
Statistics; Wages; Work of 
Women in the Binderies 



CAPITAL INVESTED: value of 
products, etc., 1900-1905, 
in New York, 27 

CAREY, MATHEW, 19, 31 

CHARTS: periods of work and 
idleness of girl, 124; weekly 
hours of girl, 145 

CHILDREN: employment of, 196, 
231 



DEVINE, EDWARD T. : on employ- 
ment bureaus, 126 

DISPLACED WORKERS, 51-56, 
112, 189 

DRIFTERS: among working girls, 
responsibility of the bindery, 
200, 201 

DULL SEASON : proportion of 
women laid off, 107; loss 
of time because of, 118 



EARNINGS. See Wages 

EDITION BINDERIES, 24, 26: 
best place for learners, 202; 
machine methods, work of 
women, 39-42; number of 
women in, 1910, 34; num- 



262 



INDEX 



her by season of greatest 
activity, 104; piece-work 
system of payment, 74; 
training of apprentices, 203, 
204 

EIGHT-HOUR DAY: demand by 
trade unions in 1907, 177- 
181 

EMPLOYERS : attitude toward the 
training of women book- 
binders, 196, 205-207, 210- 
217; complexity of his 
trade relations, 13; con- 
sideration for workers, dif- 
ferences, 221; efforts to 
remedy irregularity of em- 
ployment, 129; power and 
responsibility for welfare of 
women, 233; prosecution 
for violation of law and the 
suspended sentence, 157, 
158, 167; violations of law 
restricting hours of work, 
135, 136, 141 

EMPLOYMENT BUREAUS : to serve 
as clearing houses, 126-128 

EMPLOYMENT REGISTRY: of trade 
union, 188 

EVENING SCHOOL CLASSES IN 
BOOKBINDING: considered 
not feasible by practical 
bookbinders, 210-217 



FACTORY LAWS. See Law Con- 
cerning Labor 

FAMILY STATUS : of women book- 
binders, 87 

FATHERS. See Parents 

FATIGUE: caused by long periods 
of work, 147-157, 225, 226 

FEMALE IMPROVEMENT SOCIETY: 
first federation of working 
women's organizations, 19 



FUTURE OF WOMEN'S WORK: 
in binderies, is problem- 
atical, 70, 231-236 

GAINE, HUGH: binding establish- 
ment in New York, 1752, 17 

GOLD LEAF LAYERS, 175: ap- 
prenticeship, 187 ; wages, 
183, 187 

GOLDMARK, JOSEPHINE: on fa- 
tigue and efficiency, 155 

GROLIER, 15 



HAND WORK: demand for wo- 
men is limited, 213; details, 
44-48; evening school classes 
considered not feasible by 
practical bookbinders, 210- 
217; folders are drifters in 
the trade, 121. See also 
Work of Women in the 
Binderies 

HEALTH OF WOMEN IN BINDER- 
IES, 147-157, 164; legisla- 
tion for protection, relation 
to welfare of the race, 
Supreme Court opinion, 165, 
224-226 

HISTORY OF BOOKBINDING, 14-20 

HOME CONDITIONS OF WOMEN: 
family status, 87; fathers, 
wages of, 89; mothers, wage- 
earning, 91-95; necessity for 
contributions of bindery 
girls, 89, 90; occupations of 
fathers, 88; persons per 
room, 97; rents paid, 96, 97 

HOURS OF LABOR: accident 
liability increases with over- 
work, 146; actual working 
time shown by reports, 134, 
144; beginning and leaving 
hours, 254, 255; chart show- 
ing weekly hours of bindery 



263 



INDEX 



girl, 145; daily hours of 
work, statistics, 138; dan- 
gers to girls on street late 
at night, 142, 143; days 
longer than twelve hours, 
shown by reports, 144; 
eight-hour day demand by 
trade unions in 1907, 177- 
181; eight-hour day of one- 
fourth of women in shops, 
219; fatigue caused by 
long hours, I47~i57, 225, 
226; health of workers, 147- 
157, 164, 165, 224-226; ir- 
regularity of employment, 
101-132; law governing 
hours of labor, 133-168; 
night work, agreement be- 
tween local unions and Book- 
binders' League, 180; night 
work, prohibition of , declared 
unconstitutional by courts, 
158-164; nine-hour day for 
women since October, 1912, 
*33> I 34> noon recess, 
length of, 254; Oregon case, 
opinion of United States 
Supreme Court, 165, 224, 
225; position of the worker 
and the impossibility of her 
changing conditions, 169- 
173; prolonged working day 
not a universal practice, 222 ; 
violations of the law, 135, 
136, 141; weekly hours of 
work, statistics, 139, 145; 
week!}' limit, fifty-four hours, 
134. See also Irregularity 
of Employment; Overtime 

HUGO, VICTOR, 17 

INDUSTRIAL EDUCATION: atti- 
tude of International Bro- 
therhood of Bookbinders 
and Local 43, 215, 216; atti- 
tude of practical bookbin- 
ders toward training of 
women binders, 196, 205- 
207, 210-217; elements of 



efficiency in manual occupa- 
tion, 194; evening school 
classes in bookbinding con- 
sidered not feasible by 
practical bookbinders, 210- 
217; first step, to keep 
children out of industry 
until equal to its demands, 
209; schooling as a neces- 
sary foundation, 207-209, 
2 5 I ~ 2 55> women's work in 
bookbinding, problem of, 
194, 195, 205-218 

INSPECTORS: medical, 232; wo- 
men, 233 

INSTRUCTION. See Apprentices 
and Learners; School Classes 

International Bookbinder, 4, 178, 
180, 216 

INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD 
OF BOOKBINDERS: aims and 
efforts, 176; apprenticeship, 
attitude toward, 185; atti- 
tude toward industrial edu- 
cation, 215, 216; eight-hour 
day demand in 1907, 177- 
181; funds and benefits, 
176, 177; membership, 174; 
organized in 1892, 174; 
resolution concerning cut- 
ting and folding machines, 
49. See also Local 43 

INVESTIGATION BY COMMITTEE 
ON WOMEN'S WORK, RUS- 
SELL SAGE FOUNDATION, 2; 
co-operation of Alliance Em- 
ployment Bureau, 7; field 
workers, 11-12; foundation 
report, 6; number of visits 
made and records secured, 
10; outline of, 6-n, 239- 
248; record cards, 239, 245- 
248; scope of, 6; time 
covered, 1908-1911, 7, 8 

IRREGULARITY or EMPLOYMENT, 
101-132; census data of 
1905 and its unreliability, 



264 



INDEX 



103; characteristic of the 
industry, 48; chart showing 
periods of work and idleness 
of bindery girl, 124; de- 
moralizing and disorganiz- 
ing effect of, 101, 102, 124; 
difficulty of securing data, 
101-103; dull season, loss 
of time because of, 118, pro- 
portion of women laid off 
during, 107; employment 
bureaus as clearing houses, 
a possible solution, 126-128; 
leaving of positions, reasons, 
in, 112; maximum num- 
ber of women employed, by 
season of greatest activity, 
104, 105; positions, means 
of finding, -125, number held 
in one year, 114, reasons 
for leaving, in, 112; time 
in one place, 113; time lost 
between, 115; responsibil- 
ity for, 129-132; season of 
greatest activity, different 
types of binderies, 105, 
number of women employed, 
104; solutions of the prob- 
lem, discussion of possible, 
124-132; specialization of 
work in bindery, effect of, 
57, 61-70, 185, 1 86; state- 
ments of girls about wages 
and irregular work, 119-123; 
time in one position, 113, 
loss of, between positions, 
115, loss due to dull season, 
1 1 8, loss due to failure to 
repair machines, 120, loss 
in year from all causes, 117. 
See also Hours; Overtime 



JOB BINDERIES: details of work, 
24, 26; number of women, 
by season of greatest activ- 
ity, 104, in 1910, 34; time 
or week methods of pay- 
ment, 74 



LABOR DEPARTMENT, STATE: 
responsibility of, 233 

LAW CONCERNING LABOR: chil- 
dren, employment of, 196; 
difficulty of enforcing the 
law, 135-137; European 
conditions, 131, 166; Fac- 
tory and Workshops Act 
in England, 131; Katie 
Mead Case, court deci- 
sions, 159-164; New York 
state, 133, 134, 157, 174; 
night work, prohibition con- 
sidered unconstitutional, 
court decisions, 158-164; 
Oregon case, 165, 224-226; 
overtime work without vio- 
lating the law, 135; possi- 
bilities of legislation, to 
improve conditions, 132; 
prosecution for violation of 
the law, and the suspended 
sentence, 157, 158, 167; 
relation of legislation to the 
welfare of the race, Oregon 
case, 165, 224-226; sixty- 
hour restriction in employ- 
ment of women in factories 
in New York state held to 
be constitutional, 258; Su- 
preme Court decision, 165, 
224-226; violations of the 
law, 135, 136, 141 

LEARNERS. See Apprentices and 
Learners 

LEAVING OF POSITIONS: reasons. 



LOCAL ALLIED PRINTING TRADES 
COUNCILS: control use of 
trade union label, 177 

LOCAL 22: includes women gold 
leaf layers, 175, 187 

LOCAL 43, BINDERY WOMEN'S 
UNION: apprenticeship con- 
ditions, 185-188; arbitra- 



265 



INDEX 



tion contract with Book- 
binders' League, 182; atti- 
tude toward industrial edu- 
cation, 215, 216; construc- 
tive business ability, 190, 
19 1 ; eight-hour day demand 
in 1907, 178-181; employ- 
ment registry, 188; fees and 
dues, 175; important factor 
in improving woman's con- 
dition, 193; joining, con- 
ditions of, 187; membership, 
175, 187; office and officers, 
175; organized in 1895, 175; 
purpose of organization, 169; 
results accomplished, 193; 
scope of its activities, 185; 
transfer of workers, require- 
ment of the union, 189; 
wage scale, 183, 184; work 
of, 176 

LONDON SOCIETIES OF JOURNEY- 
MEN BOOKBINDERS, 154 

Loss OF TIME. See Time 



MACHINE WORK: attitude of 
employers toward purchas- 
ing of machines, 57-62; 
automatic machine, 40; 
changes in machinery result 
in reorganization, transfer 
of workers, and loss of posi- 
tions, 51-70, 112, 189; com- 
bination machine, 50; devel- 
opment of machine binding, 
40, 49; displaced workers 
and the machines, changes 
in earning power, 50-56, 112, 
189; drop-roll folding ma- 
chine, 40; editionbindery,39~ 
42; effect on binding pro- 
cesses, 39; folding machine, 

40, 49; gathering machine, 

41, 50; inserting machine, 
49; lack of promptness in 
repairing machines causes 
operator loss of time, 120; 
magazine bindery, 42-44; 



pasting machine, 49; point 
machine, 40; sewing ma- 
chine demands greatest skill, 
47, 50; specialization in the 
bindery, result of use of 
machines, 57, 61-70, 185, 
186; trade union's attempt 
to protect workers against 
loss, 189; understanding of 
hand work necessary, 46; 
wages, changes in, due to 
change in machines, 51-56, 
112, 189; wire-stitching 
machine, 50. See also Work 
of Women in the Binderies 

MAGAZINE BINDERIES: details, 
24, 26; learners, 202; ma- 
chine methods, work of 
women, 42-44; number of 
women in, 1910, 34 

MARTINEAU, HARRIET, 18 

MEAD, KATIE: decision of courts 
concerning night work, 158- 
164 

MOTHERS. See Parents 



NAMES OF BINDERY GIRLS: how 
secured, 10 

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MAN- 
UFACTURERS: welfare work, 
227 

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF 
CHARITIES AND CORREC- 
TION: platform of industrial 
minimums, 228 

NATIVITY: of bindery women, 
35-37 

NEW YORK CITY: early printing 
and binding establishments, 
17, 18; heart of the indus- 
try about City Hall, 27 



266 



INDEX 



New York World: advertise- 
ments for bindery women, 
108, no 

NIGHT WORK: agreement be- 
tween local unions and 
Bookbinders' League, 180; 
prohibition of, declared un- 
constitutional by courts, 
158-164 

NINE-HOUR DAY: for women, 
since October, 1912, 133, 134 

NUMBER OF BOOKBINDERS. See 

Statistics 



OLIVER, THOMAS: on diseases 
of occupation, 155 

OREGON CASE: opinion of United 
States Supreme Court, 165, 
224-226 

OUTLOOK: for better conditions, 
219-236 

OVERTIME: agreement between 
local unions and Bookbind- 
ers' League, 179, 180, 188; 
girls' reports, 142-145; ille- 
gal and not illegal overtime, 
140; law of employment in 
New York state, 133-168; 
reports of 1887 and 1907, 
conditions not bettered, i, 2; 
three-fourths of the binder- 
ies, overtime in, 220; with- 
out violating the law, 135. 
See also Irregularity of Em- 
ployment 

PAMPHLET BINDERIES: details, 
24, 26; number of women in, 
1910, 34; by season of 
greatest activity, 104 

PARENTS: of bindery women, 
nativity, 36; occupations 
of fathers, 88; wage-earn- 
ing mothers, 91-95; wages 
of fathers, 89 



PAYMENT FOR WORK. See Wages 

PAYNE, ROGER: his bill for 
binding, 14, 15 

PHILADELPHIA: and Mathew 
Carey, 18, 19, 31 

PIECE-WORK METHOD OF PAY- 
MENT, 73, 74, 183 

POSITIONS: means of finding, 
125; number held in one 
year, 114; reasons for leav- 
ing, in, 112; time in one 
place, 113; time lost be- 
tween, 115 

PRINTING PRESS: influence of, 
on binding methods, 19 

PROPORTION OF MEN AND WO- 
MEN BINDERS: in United 
States, 1850-1900, 29, 31, 
65, 66, 69 

PROSECUTIONS: for violation 
of labor law, and the sus- 
pended sentence, 157, 158, 
167 

PUBLIC OPINION: and the condi- 
tions of women's work, 219, 
236 

PUBLISHERS: their responsibil- 
ity for conditions in the 
bookbinding trade, 129-132, 
235 



RECORD CARDS: used in investi- 
gation, 239, 245-248 

REQUIREMENTS OF WOMEN BIN- 
DERS: deftness, accuracy, 
and speed, 46-48 



SCHOOL ATTENDANCE: of bin- 
dery, and of all women in 
the trades, 207-209, 249-253 

SCHOOL CLASSES IN BOOKBIND- 
ING: not considered feasible 



267 



INDEX 



by practical bookbinders, 
210-217 

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE: as a 
basis for establishing stand- 
ard for women's work, 224 

SEASONS: dull season, propor- 
tion of women laid off, 107; 
greatest activity, different 
types of binderies, 105; 
number of women employed, 
104 

SEEBACK, MARY: case of, 256 

SPECIALIZATION: in the bindery, 
57, 61-70, 185, 186 

STANDARDS: in the bookbinding 
trade, changes required to 
establish proper, 230-236; 
use of scientific evidence to 
establish, 224 

STATISTICS: advertisements for 
bindery women, by month 
and branch of trade, no, by 
processes mentioned, 108; 
age of women workers, 78, 
99, 196, 219; binderies in 
Manhattan, by nature of 
products, 1910, 26, by season 
of greatest activity, 105; 
capital invested, value of 
products, etc., 1900-1905, 
in New York, 27; chart 
showing periods of work and 
idleness of girl, 124; chart 
showing weekly hours of 
bindery girl, 145; distribu- 
tion of women binders in 
different branches of the 
trade, 1910, 34; distribu- 
tion of women binders in 
United States, 1900, by 
cities, 30, 33; dull season, 
proportion of women laid 
off, 107; family status of 
women bookbinders, 87; 
hours of beginning and 
leaving work, 254, 255; 

268 



hours of work, daily and 
weekly, 138, 139; increase 
in number of women binders, 
1850-1900, in United States, 
2 9> .31, 65, 66; leaving of 
positions, reasons for, 112; 
names of girls interviewed, 
sources, 10; nativity of 
bindery women, 36; noon 
recess, length of, 254; num- 
ber of persons engaged in 
bookbinding in United States 
by decades, 1850-1900, 29, 
31; number of women 
binders, in different branches 
of the trade in New York, 
1910, 34; number of women 
binders in New York in 
1900, 30, 33, in 1912, 32; 
number of women binders, 
by season of greatest activ- 
ity, 104, 105; number of 
women binders in United 
States, 2; persons per room 
in families of women binders, 
97; positions, 111-115, 125; 
proportion of men and 
women binders in United 
States, changes in, 29, 31, 
65, 66, 69; school attend- 
ance of bindery girls, and 
of women in all trades, 207- 
209, 249-253; time in one 
position, 113; time lost, 
115-118; violations in bin- 
deries of law restricting hours 
of work, 141; weekly earn- 
ings of men and women 
binders, and of women in all 
manufacturing industries, 
New York state, 1905, 79- 
82; weekly earnings of 
women during first week, 
76-78; weekly wages of 
women by years of employ- 
ment in the trade, 75; yearly 
income of women, approx- 
imate, by ages, 85; years of 
employment of women, 98, 
99 



INDEX 



STEVENSON, ROBERT Louis, 16 

STEWARDESS IN WORKROOM: ap- 
pointed by trade union, 190 

STRIKES: Akron, Ohio, 180; 
New York, ordered against 
firms refusing eight-hour 
day demand, 179, averted, 
1 80; non-union attempts, 
172, 173 

SUMMARY OF CONDITIONS: in 
the bookbinding trade, 219- 
236 

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED 
STATES: opinion on the 
relation of legislation for 
protection of women to the 
welfare of the race, 165, 
224, 226 



TEACHING GIRLS THE TRADE, 
194-218: attitude of em- 
ployers toward the training 
of women workers, 196, 205- 
207, 210-217; attitude of 
International Brotherhood 
of Bookbinders and Local 
43, 215, 216; evening school 
classes, objections to, and 
reasons, by practical book- 
binders, 210-217; methods 
in binderies, statements by 
girls, 197-205. See also 
Apprentices aitd Learners 

TIME: in one position, 113; loss 
between positions, 115; loss 
due to dull season, 118; 
loss due to failure to repair 
machines, 120; loss in year 
from all causes, 117 

TRADE CLASSES. See School 
Classes 



TRADE UNION LABEL: use of, 
177, 192 



TRADE UNIONISM: American 
Federation of Labor, 174; 
apprenticeship conditions, 
185-188; arbitration con- 
tract between trade unions 
and the B ookbinders ' 
League, 182; Bookbinders' 
League, an employers' or- 
ganization in New York, 
179, 181, 182; cost of 
struggle for eight-hour day, 
1 80; eight-hour day demand 
in 1907, 177-181; gives 
workers broad view of trade 
conditions, 234; influence 
of the union, 190; Inter- 
national Brotherhood of 
Bookbinders, 49, 174-181, 
185, 215, 216; Local Allied 
Printing Trades Councils, 
control use of trade union 
label, 177; Local 22, in New 
York, 175, 187; Local 43, in 
New York, aims and work 
of, 169, i74-i93> 2I 5> 216; 
opposition of some employ- 
ers, 191; position of worker 
and impossibility of her 
modifying conditions of em- 
ployment, 169-173; pur- 
pose of local organization, 
169; results of trade union- 
ism, 192, 193; specializa- 
tion dangers, provision 
against, 185, 186; transfer 
of workers, requirement of 
union, 189; wage scales 
adopted through efforts of 
local union, 183, 184; work 
of local unions, 176-193. 
See also International Bro- 
therhood of Bookbinders; 
Local 43 

TRAINING. See Apprentices and 
Learners; School Classes 



TRANSFER OF WORKERS, 51-70, 
112, 189 



269 



INDEX 



UNEMPLOYMENT. See Irregular- 
ity of Employment 



VIOLATION OF THE LAW: restrict- 
ing hours of work, 135, 136, 
141 

WAGES OF WOMEN: agreement 
between local union and 
Bookbinders' League, 179, 
1 80, 1 88; average wage, 220; 
changes in earning power 
resulting from changes in 
machines, 51-56; compara- 
tive weekly earnings of 
men and women binders, 
and of women in all manu- 
facturing industries, New 
York state, 1905, 79-82; 
differences in different estab- 
lishments, 82, 83; difficulty 
of securing definite informa- 
tion, 72, 73; drifters among 
working girls, 200, 201; 
fines and charges, 83, 84; 
gold leaf layers, 183, 187; 
irregularity of employment, 
effect of, statements of girls, 
119-123; learners' wages , 
76-78, 186, 187, 202-204; 
low wages of women a prime 
cause of poverty, 86; Mass- 
achusetts minimum wage 
board, 226; methods of 
payment, 73, 74, 183; piece 
work, 73, 74, 183; position 
of the worker and the im- 
possibility of her changing 
conditions, 169-173; scale 
arranged through efforts of 
Local Union 43, 183, 184; 
specialization in the bindery, 
effect of, 61-70, 185, 186; 
time work, 73; transfer of 
workers, requirement of 



trade union, 189; week 
work, 73, 183; weekly earn- 
ings, comparative, of men 
and women binders, and of 
women in all manufacturing 
industries, New York state, 
I 9 5 79~82; weekly earn- 
ings during first week of 
employment, 76-78; weekly 
wages by years of employ- 
ment in the trade, 75; 
yearly income, 220, by ages, 
85 

WORK OF WOMEN IN THE BIN- 
DERIES, 38-71; art binders, 
45, 46; confined to the pre- 
paring department, 38, 46; 
displaced workers and the 
changes in binding machin- 
ery, 51-56, 112, 118; early 
days of bookbinding, 16-19; 
edition binderies, 39-42 ; 
future of work is problemat- 
ical, 70, 231-236; require- 
ments are deftness, accuracy, 
and speed, 46-48; speciali- 
zation in the bindery and 
its effect on time and wages, 
61-70, 185, 1 86; transfer of 
work and workers, 51-70, 
112, 189; typical binderies, 
39-48; women stand on 
threshold of bindery trade, 
38; years of employment, 
98, 99. See also Appren- 
tices and Learners; Hand 
Work; Hours of Labor; 
Irregularity; Machine Work; 
Overtime; Wages 

WORKROOMS OF BINDERIES: 
physical conditions, 147, 
149, 150; shop stewardess 
appointed by trade union, 
190 



270 



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