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Women's Trade Union League and Its Leaders
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General Correspondence and Papers.
Collection III: Mary Anderson Papers; The volume of correspondence increases markedly on this reel, which covers the final five years of Anderson's tenure as director of the Women's Bureau. The letters for these years include a fair amount of information about Bureau activities, now largely directed to protecting the interests of working women in wartime. For American industry, the war period began in 1940, when Hitler's advances in Europe provoked a large expansion of military production, both to strengthen America's defense and to aid the beleaguered Allies. Various letters touch upon the Bureau's efforts to formulate and maintain standards for the employment of women in defense industries, to ward off attempts to relax protective legislation, to ensure access of women to new jobs and training programs, and to attain wage scales equal to those of men. There are references to the loan to the Bureau of Elisabeth Christman, national secretary of the WTUL, in 1942 and to her field work as trouble-shooter in employment controversies; her decision a year later to return to the League was a disappointment to Anderson. There is material also on Anderson's uncertain relationship with Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins; see particularly the controversy in November 1943 over Perkins' supposed reluctance to support an increased appropriation for the Bureau, and the strong protest registered by leaders of the WTUL. Other references to the League are meager, although there are a dozen letters from Mary Dreier, seven from Rose Schneiderman, three from Agnes Nestor, and one from Mollie Dowd.On other topics, several letters deal with postwar planning within the government; one (by Anderson, Jan. 27, 1944) suggests a coolness on the part of Frances Perkins toward women's issues. An Anderson letter of November 1942 about pressure upon her to appoint a black professional to her staff reflects current racial attitudes. Eleanor Roosevelt in February 1944 urges the Labor Department to make a new effort to fight the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. Other letters deal with the declining health of Margaret Dreier Robins and the final years and death of Alice Henry. The reel also touches on several personal events in Mary Anderson's life: her receipt of an honorary degree from Smith College in 1941, an FBI check of her alleged Communist-front membership (1942), her retirement in June 1944, and plans for the writing of her autobiography.In frequent correspondence during the reel, Anderson and Agnes Johnson O'Connor, an old Chicago friend and fellow shoe worker, exchange news and comments about current political and labor events. Other correspondents include Stella Franklin, Alice Henry, Catharine Waugh McCulloch, Kate F. O'Connor, Mabeth Hurd Paige, and, more briefly, Florence E. Allen, Margaret Bondfield, Carrie Chapman Catt, Dorothy Kenyon, the Norwegian labor leader Betzy Kjelsberg, Alice Thacher Post, Raymond Robins, Harriet Taylor Upton, Mary Van Kleeck, and Mary Winslow.