State Federation of Pennsylvania Women
My dear Madam: -- First, let me beg you to read this letter through to the end, and to pardon the encroachment it makes upon your time.
For a long time, while reading reports, etc., upon the subject, I have wondered why social workers and others interested did not attempt to reach part, at least, of the vice problem through legislation concerning the amount of wages paid girls who work -- A Minimum Wage Act -- let us say -- to include girls who work in factories, offices, stores, etc. [It] seems to me a logical way to go about remedying some of this evil that is staring civilization in the face. I knew that the Consumer's League and various Labor organizations have asked for better wages for women and children, but I [page 2] have in mind a law applying directly to the purpose to be attained.
Such a demand would be hard to formulate, I admit. Yet it could be done. We have, here in Pennsylvania, a Minimum Salary Act, governing the pay of school teachers, that works well. It divides them into classes, etc., also, we have a Factory Act which regulates the age of children who may legally work and the method of certification. It also works well, in cities, at least. In framing such an act as I have in mind, the opinion of such a person as yourself, as to amounts -- ages, classes -- etc. -- would be indispensable, and would be accepted as final, I think, in most questions.
To my mind -- it seems a pity to neglect so logical a method, and one so surely effective, in many cases, since authorities agree that women and girls, in general, would far rather lead decent lives, when they can. It seems to me that [page 3] it is all very well to form societies for the suppression of the Social Evil, and for the encouragement of social purity -- to teach children religion and morality -- to fill them with a distaste for vice -- to instruct them in the dangers that menace them and their unborn children -- but I have never yet found knowledge of consequences to have a great deal of effect as against hunger, or cold, or dullness, or misery, or temptation in general. I am myself a woman no longer young -- and I have worked, largely, in the straight and narrow path -- yet, there never has been a day in my life when I have been sure that my own virtue was of sufficiently stalwart character to withstand onslaughts such as these.
Do you believe such a demand [page 4] as I suggest, could be formulated? I am not without influences, in many quarters, here in my own state -- every particle of which influence I am anxious to use in this cause.
May I not have your opinion on the subject?
Very truly yours,
Rebecca J. Lose