Sarah Forester Hitchcock to Jane Addams, May 21, 1912

Women's Wear

42 East 21st Street,

May 21st, 1912.

Miss Jane Addams,
Hull House,
Chicago, Ill.

My dear Miss Addams: --

WOMEN'S WEAR is about to offer its columns for communications from manufacturers, and from women whose knowledge of economics and of labor problems in general is known and respected.

Mr. Fairchild remembers with pleasure the several occasions upon which he has met you, and he advises me that if you would feel interested in this subject it would be the greatest satisfaction to us to receive your ideas and suggestions. We are sending this same message to Mrs. Charles M. Henrotin, in Chicago, and Miss Florence [Kelley], and Mrs. Frances Higginson Cabot, of New York, also probably to Miss Ida Tarbell.

At the time of your fine work in connection with the labor strikes and so forth, you used the DAILY TRADE RECORD if you remember, as a source of labor news. WOMEN'S WEAR is associated with the TRADE RECORD and is also one of the Fairchild interests.

For a long time the manufacturers in the women's wear industries have suffered from late placing of orders for garments. Women do not make up their minds what they want in ready-to-wear apparel until each season is well on the way. This produces comparative idleness during the time when the season's work could be gotten under way, and it promotes fearful congestion of labor and fatigue to accomplish in limited time, what plenty of time should have been [page 2] to accomplish. The manufacturers are helpless and greatly at a disadvantage because the remedy does not lie with them.

Women do not know of these conditions. If they were informed, it seems to me that there is not the slightest doubt of their earnestness, their goodwill and their very efficient help in easing this situation which is becoming a national handicap, as well as a very real, individual burden.

I am enclosing to you the galley proofs of two articles which will be published in WOMEN'S WEAR on Thursday and Friday respectively, of this week. Will you read them, and busy as you are, will you find time to advise me?

My own personal conviction is that if a body of women would take the matter up with the managers of our foremost Manhattan department stores, and agree to place all orders for Spring and Winter ready-to-wear garments before a certain date, to be decided upon mutually, that the whole thing from that point would soon adjust itself. To close the contract lists at a certain date would enable the manufacturers to start at a reasonable time, would protect the employees in the factories from overwork at the end of the output season, would reveal to the retail merchants at a definite time what their bookings were likely to be, would settle the matter of street costuming in ready-to-wear garments by a certain date, and what I care quite as much about, -- would prove that American women are ready to take the humane, helpful initiative, when once they are sure of the facts in an untoward situation.

It would be the greatest inspiration to feel that our paper, which is made for trades people, -- for working men and women, -- were the avenue through which help might come to this situation, which is certainly a national disgrace, and which is all unwittingly [page 3] brought about by lack of [cooperation] on the part of American women in a matter of economics of which they are utterly ignorant.

I am going to ask you to send me, by press rates, perhaps five hundred words on this subject, with your permission to quote you. Will you give us all this? It seems as if the earnest and forceful women were the ones, and the only ones, who can by publicly saying a word, guide this situation to a satisfactory ending. May we ask you to have your wire leave Chicago not later than Wednesday night at five-thirty o'clock?

With earnest hope of hearing from you, I am,

Sincerely yours,

Sarah Forester Hitchcock [signed]

Correspondence Department.