Jul 15, 2021 - Sale 2576

Sale 2576 - Lot 63

Price Realized: $ 3,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 300 - $ 500
The Working Women's Relief Association.
The Women's Journal.

Philadelphia: Printed by Ringwalt & Brown, 15 September and 15 October 1864.

Two issues: Vol. 1 Nos. 1 & 2; each eight folio-format pages, on uncut sheet, (old folds, minor dampstaining, light edge wear), each with contemporary "sample" ink stamps above the title and contemporary library acquisition note in pencil, "1864, Nov. 29, Gift of Hon. Chas. Sumner"; 12 1/4 x 9 1/2 in.

A group of women working as professional garment sewers, shop clerks, and in factories (including wartime munitions workers) organized the Working Women's Relief Association in Philadelphia to lobby for wage protection and increase. They succeeded in obtaining direct government contracts for 1,000 to 2,000 women workers and gained a 20% pay hike. This anonymously published periodical served as the platform for the group's female labor issues, and include very concrete actions. One article advises women to collect hard data about their workplaces to make the case for adequate compensation and fair treatment. The Relief Association's organizing documents are also published in The Journal, along with details of pending petitions and reports of success. Opinion pieces argue for better apprenticeship programs for girls and seek "to arouse woman to action; [and] to rally with mighty strength and number around that standard of justice which is now lifted on her behalf." Most moving are the painful stories of poverty and starvation, as working women try and fail to get respectable work that pays a living wage. Their message ultimately reached President Lincoln, who met with the group and enacted more reforms on their behalf in 1865.

Rare, no copies in Worldcat; no copies at the American Antiquarian Society; or in the auction record.