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JA M E S J . D A V IS , Secretary

E T H E L B E R T S T E W A R T , Com m issioner





No. 399




N O V E M B E R , 1925



The interest and cooperation of the members and officials of the
Amalgamated Lace Operatives’ Society and of the lace and lacecurtain manufacturers have made this study possible. Special men­
tion should be made of the valuable assistance of Mr. John Burns,
the president of the lace-curtain section; Mr. William Borland and
Mr. David Gould, former general secretaries of the Lace Opera­
tives’ Society; and Mr. W. L. Turner, Mr. A. Shuler, and Mr.
Snooks, of the Quaker Lace Co.; Mr. J. Buchanan and Mr. Tarver,
of the Bromley Manufacturing Co.; and Mr. A. A. Stocks, of the
Wyoming Valley Lace Mills. I am also indebted to Hon. W. W.
Husband, Second Assistant Secretary of Labor, and to Mr. George
Middleton, of the United States Tariff Commission.
I wish to express my appreciation of the suggestions and criticisms
o f Prof. Joseph H. Willits, of the department of geography and in­
dustry of the University of Pennsylvania, under whose general direc­
tion this study was undertaken, and of Miss Anne Bezanson, of the
department of industrial research, Wharton School, University of
Besides obligations otherwise acknowledged, I am indebted to my
friends for aid in the preparation and revision of the manuscript.

P hiladelphia ,
Septem ber , 1926.

lad ys


o u is e

P alm eh .

P age

Chapter I. —Rise of machine-made lace industry in Europe--------------Definition of “ la ce” ______________________________________________1
1* 2
Inventions leading to the making of lace by machinery-----------------Early labor difficulties among lace workers-----------------------------------2-4
Present status of Nottingham lace industry---------------------------------5
Present status of French lace industry-------------------------------------------5,6
Comparative size of European and American lace industries------- —
American imports o f foreign lace products------------------------------------7,8
Chapter II.—Lace and lace-curtain industries in the United States------ 9-20
Development o f lace-curtain industry----------------------------------------------- 11-21
Effect o f tariff and business conditions_________________________ 13-15
Major economic features of the industry---------------------------- i -----16-19
Labor conditions----------------------------------------------------------------------- 19-21
Development of lace industry_______________________ ;_____________ 21-20
Importance of tariff protection to the industry---------------------------21-24
Economic and labor features of the industry------------------------------24-26
C hapter III.— Rise of union, and labor supply of weavers----------------------27-38
Formation of union--------------------------------------- 1------------------------------27
Union policies affecting control of labor supply---------------------------------27-38
Fees__________________________________________________________ 28,29
Transfer of workers---------------------------------------------------------------29
Apprenticeship regulations_____________________________________ 29-33
Importation of foreign labor___________________________________ 33-37
The closed shop_________!_____________________________________ 37,38
Chapter IV.— Structure and government of the union____________________39-49
Structural history of the union--------------------------------------------------------- 39-41
Industrial versus craft unionism__________________________________
Jurisdictional dispute with United Textile Workers-------------------------42,43
Present organization of Amalgamated Lace Operatives’ Society------- 44, 45
Struggle for control within the union----------------------------------------------45-47
Attitude toward other unions------------------------------------------------------------ 47-49
C hapter V.—Price list, and development of collective bargaining______50-60
Origin of piecework scales in the industry_________________________
. Operation of lace-curtain machine________________________________ - 50-53
Lace-curtain price lis t______________________________________________ 53-56
Work of the price conferences_____________________________________ 56,57
Major issues in national collective bargaining--------------------------------- 58,59
Work of joint technical committee_________________________________ 59,60
Chapter VI.—Joint control_____________________________________________61-70
Major issues in local disputes-------------------------------------------------------- 62-67
Cases of discharge----------------------------------------------------------------- 62-64
Cases of fines for imperfect work______________________________ 64,65
Complaints of delay---------------------66,67
Elaboration of shop rules_________________________________________ 67,68
Shop practices_____________________________________________________ 68-70
Chapter VII.—Conclusion______________________________________________ 71-74
Bibliography------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 74-77

h i



NO. 399


No v e m b e r , 192s


“ Lace” may be defined as ornamental openwork, formed by the
intertwisting of threads, either by hand or by machine, to make a
pattern, ornament and fabric being made simultaneously. This
definition excludes embroidery fabrics—where the holes in the fabric
have been cut out or burned out—which are sold commercially as
“ lace.”
Machine-made laces are classified according to the type of machine
on which they are produced:
(1) So-called “ fancy laces ” (or more commonly “ laces ” ) which
are narrow edgings and insertions like Valenciennes, Cluny, and
torchons, and wider laces, flouncings, veilings, and fine nets used
for dress materials and house-furnishing purposes, made on the
Levers lace machine.
(2) “ Plain nets ” or bobbin nets made on the bobbin-net machine.
(3) Window curtains, coarse nets, bedspreads, panels, table covers,
and similar products made on the Nottingham lace-curtain machine.
Following the customary classification in the machine-made lace
industry, Barmen “ laces ” made on a braiding machine will be ex­
cluded from this study.

Machine-made laces are produced in imitation of all the familiar
hand-made laces, such as Valenciennes, Cluny, Chantilly, and Rus­
sian filet. Successful imitations, by the use of machinery, of the
varied and beautiful patterns of hand-made lace which were the
product of centuries of skill, patient labor, and national artistic
taste, were made possible only as the result of many years of exper­
imental work and a number of ingenious inventions.. The first
machine for making lace was a modification of Lee’s stocking frame,
made bv Strutt and Frost in Nottingham in 1764. However, the
net made by this machine raveled, and for a period of 50 years—
from 1760 to 1810—many efforts were made, by mechanical adapta­
tions of the hosiery frame, to obtain a “ fast” mesh. All of the
1 E x ce p t w h ere oth e rw is e n oted , d a ta in th is ch a p ter a re fro m F elk in , W i ll i a m : H is­
t o r y o f th e M a ch in e-W rou g h t H o s ie ry and L a ce M a n u fa ctu re .
C am bridge, E n g la n d , W .
M e tca lfe . 1867.





improvements on machines that were made during this and a later
period were the work of framework knitters, fixers, and setters-up
on frameworks and bobbin-net frames. Nottingham, which was
the center of the hosiery industry, became the rallying point of lacemachine inventors, and, shortly, the center of the lace industry.
By 1769 Frost, who had first made lace, was able to make figured net
and by 1779 produced a square-meshed net which did not ravel. The
second development in lace machinery was known as the warp frame,
each warp thread having an individual needle which looped the
thread first to the right and then to the left. By 1800 this machine
produced both plain and figured net.
The products of these inventions, known as point net and warp
net, both fashioned by the looping of threads, were made extensively
during this period; but up to this time no invention had successfully
produced a meshed net, in imitation of the hand-made pillow or bob­
bin lace, for which Belgium had become famous. This was accom­
plished by Robert Brown in the making of fishing nets in 1803, and
later, in 1809, by John Heatheoat on his bobbin-net machine, which
made a perfect hexagonal mesh like that of pillow lace. To accom­
plish this a device for plaiting, twisting, or traversing the threads
was necessary, and in Heathcoat’s machine swinging bobbins tra­
versed vertical warp threads and twisted them together to form a
mesh; this machine has been called “ the most expensive and complex
apparatus in the whole range of textile mechanism,” and it remains
in principle the basis of modern lace machines.
Improvements on the bobbin-net frame were made by a number of
frame smiths, the most important of whom was John Levers (modern
spelling of Leavers), for whom the Levers machines have been
named. He doubled the number of bobbins used on Heathcoat’s
machine and put them all in one tier; his machine was made from
5 to 15 points in fineness of gauge.2 Somewhat later Draper took
out patents for the application of the Jacquard apparatus to the lace
frame, whereby great variety of patterns could be introduced; and
in 1849 Oldham added the use of thin steel bars for the guidance of
the threads in the Levers machine. It is on this improved machine
that the successful imitations of Valenciennes, Irish, Chantilly,
Spanish, and such laces are made. So successfully is this done that
it is sometimes impossible for even a trained eye to detect the dif­
ference between fine grades of machine-made lace and hand-made
lace of certain patterns. Other improvements followed, until it was
possible to make wide lace curtains with elaborate patterns as well
as narrow laces of very fine mesh with simple or intricate patterns.3

Heathcoat’s invention of the bobbin-net machine came at a time
when hand-made net was practically extinct, and laces made on his
machine were manufactured in large quantities as a basis for hand­
made, motifs. A serious break in this prosperous period occurred
however, in the Nottingham district between 1811 and 1816, when
2P o in t, cou n t, o r ga u g e on a la ce m ach in e re fe rs to th e nu m ber o f b obb in s th a t pass to
an d fr o in an in ch o f com bs a lo n g th e w id th o f th e m achine.
8F elk in , W i ll i a m : H osiery a n d L a ce in B ritis h M a n u fa c tu rin g In d u strie s. L o n d o n ,
E d w a rd S ta n fo r d , 1876, pp. 8 -8 6 .



many bobbin-net frames were broken by unemployed framework
knitters and the point-net and warp-net workmen displaced by
Heathcoat’s invention. In 1816 a reduction in wages at Heathcoat’s
factory in Loughborough was followed by a most serious outbreak.4
By 1823 water or steam power began to be used in the production of
lace, and the period 1823-1825 was one of unparalleled prosperity
for the Nottingham lace trade. In anticipation of the expiration of
Heathcoat’s patents, large amounts of capital were poured into Not­
tingham and workers came from all over England. Engineers from
Birmingham, Sheffield, and Manchester thronged to Nottingham and
contracted to make bobbin net machines, Levers machines, and brass
bobbins, many of which were never put into working order before
the depression of 1831 threw most of the workers in the industry out
of employment. It is estimated that by 1833 the number of lace ma­
chines in Nottingham and outlying districts had reached 5,000, of
which 3,900 were hand machines and 1,100 were power machines.
Felkin, the famous historian of the machine-made lace industry
who wrote in 1867, says of this period:
Forty years ago the machinery of the bobbin-net trade was to a large extent
in the hands of more than a thousand small owners, chiefly handicraftsmen,
most of whom were unused to business, and of course, practically unac­
quainted with the principles on which it should be conducted. These em­
ployed some hundreds of agents in the disposal of the produce o f their ma­
chines who carried their goods in large packs daily for sale at the warehouses
(p. 552).

The industrial depressions, particularly those of 1831, 1837, and
1848, severely affected the lace industry. During the panic of 1837,
half of the hosiery machinery and more than half of the lace ma­
chinery ceased operation, and some 4,400 lace and stocking makers,
representing, with their families, about half of the inhabitants of
Nottingham, had to be supported by a relief fund. With each period
of stagnation in the industry, attempts were made to reduce the ex­
cessively long working-day which seems to have been prevalent in
the industry from its inception. Thus, according to Felkin:
In 1831, a stint to 8 hours* daily labor was nominally agreed upon, but
after a fortnight’s trial, ceased; the journeymen declined for a time to return
to more than 12 hours’ labor, and resolved to form a lace makers’ union. * * *
In 1832, a short stint was carried into effect by the conjoint efforts of masters
and workmen. * *
* The journeymen put forth a “ regulated ” list o f wages
amounting to 100 per cent advance; this being refused, some windows were
broken in Carrington (p. 343).

And again, at a later period:
In 1846, a public meeting was held of 2,000 lace hands, half o f whom were
partially employed, the other half altogether out of work. They prayed the
House of Commons to restrict the working time to 16 hours, and 2 shifts a
day. This petition was also signed by 430 small machine owners; 27 o f the
larger owners petitioned against it ; and the bill was negatived by about 130
to 50. * * * This was succeeded by the formation o f the existing bobbinnet workmen’s union (p. 378).

From these glimpses of labor history we can reconstruct the break­
down of the handicrafts industry and the development of the fac­
tory system with its attendant period* of chaotic labor conditions, the
recurring industrial depressions, and the disorganized attempts of
* H am m ond , J. L . and B a r b a r a : T h e S k illed L a b ou rer, 1 7 6 0 -1 8 3 2 .
A C o., 1920, p p. 2 3 7 -2 4 2 .

L on d on , L on g m a n s





the workers to shorten the working-day and regulate wages, first
through local organizations and later through an effort to influence
parliamentary legislation, and with the failure of this, the culmina­
tion of the movement in the formation of one of the oldest tradeunions in Great Britain—a union which is still functioning. The
successful collective bargaining of this craft union has been the
background of the American lace workers’ labor organization.
The Amalgamated Society of Operative Lacemakers, as the Not­
tingham union is called, has become an important feature in the
Nottingham lace industry because for a long time its membership in­
cluded over 90 per cent of the lace makers employed in the city.5 The
lace makers, often called “ twist hands ” from the twisting of the
threads in the lace loom, are, with the exception of the designers, the
most highly skilled group in the industry. Yet they are in a minority
as compared with the larger number of semiskilled and unskilled
workers employed. According to the 1907 census of production,
the latest official figures available on industry in Great Britain, there
were 36,840 employees in the British lace industry, of whom 20,459
were women.6 Of the men employed only 3,000 were “ lace makers.” 6
The number of employees in the industry has apparently decreased
by about 25 per cent since that time, for an estimate made by the
Ministry of Labor of the number of insured lace workers in Not­
tingham in 1922, indicates that there were only 27,890 workers of
whom 16,780 were women.7 The membership of the Amalgamated
Society of Lace Operatives is given in the Yearbook of the Inter­
national Federation of Trade-Unions for 1922 (p. 47), as 2,527
men, obviously including only the skilled lace makers.
The economic importance of the Nottingham union is attested by
an outside observer in these words: a Since the independence and
jealousy of the manufacturers prevent their having any similar
alliance except temporarily, the union usually dominates the situa­
tion.” 8 Employers contend that trade-union restrictions and
demands drove the lace industry out of Nottingham into outlying
suburbs such as Derby, Long Eaton, and Sandiacre, and to the
region around Glasgow, Scotland, citing the unions’ attempt to
control the length of machine to be worked,9 and a controversy over
a wage scale in the nineties, when the Nottingham Chamber of
Commerce allowed the lace-machine builders to break their agree­
ment not to permit machines to be taken out of Nottingham. During
this period the major operations of the lace industry were moved
out of Nottingham, and lace-curtain machines were exported to
United States in large numbers, and also to Scotland, Poland, and
B U n ited S ta tes. D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce and L a b or. B u rea u o f M a n u fa ctu re s. L a ce
in d u s try in E n g la n d an d F ra n ce, by W . A. G rah am C lark. W a sh in g to n , 1909, p. 34.
6 G reat B rita in . C ensus o f P rod u ction Office. C ensus o f p ro d u c tio n ( 1 9 0 7 ) , L on d on ,
1 9 0 9 -1 1 , p. 362, T a b le I I I ; G rea t B rita in , B oa rd o f T ra d e, R e p o rt on te x tile tra d e s a fte r
th e w a r (C d. 9 0 7 0 ), L on d on , 1918, p. 9 8 ; and G rea t B rita in , B o a rd o f T ra d e , R e p o rt on
c o lle ctiv e a greem en ts b etw een em p loyers a n d w ork p eop le in th e U n ited K in g d o m (C d.
5 3 6 6 ), L on d on , 1910, p. 200.
1 G reat B rita in . B o a rd o f T ra d e. L a ce E m b roid ery an d Silk In d u strie s C om m ittee.
In terim rep ort.
L on d on , 1923, p. 23.
8 U n ited S tates. D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce and L a b or. B ureau o f M a n u fa ctu re s. L ace
in d u s try in E n g la n d an d F ra n ce, by W . A . G rah am C lark. W a s h in g to n , 1909, p. 33.
9 G reat B rita in . B o a r d o f T ra d e. R ep ort on te x tile tra d e s a fte r th e w ar. (C d. 9 0 7 0 .)
L on d on , 1918, p. 99.




Scotland now produces as great a quantity of lace curtains as Not­
tingham ; 1 1while the French have become famous for their fine0
grade fancy laces, and Calais now rivals Nottingham as a European
lace center. However, Nottingham still maintains the lead in the
manufacture of cheaper grades of lace and remains the commercial
center of the British lace industry. Lace products are shipped there
from outside factories to be bleached, dyed, dressed, and finished
before being exported. The city exports about 80 per cent of its
total product, principally to the United States, the overseas Domin­
ions, and the Continent.1 Since the lace-curtain industry has become
established in the United States, British exports of that commodity
go mainly to the Netherlands, Belgium, South America, and the
Dominions.1 * In the first nine months of 1923, Great Britain ex­
ported £1,640,5291 worth of cotton laces and nets and £18,323 worth
of silk and mixed silk laces and nets.1
There are two unusual features in the English lace industry
which are worth noting. The first is the number of small operators
who rent machines from the machine builders, and rent floor space or
“ standings ”, as they term it, including power and heat. Although
there are a few large lace and lace-curtain factories, the majority of
the shops are small.1 The second unusual feature is the fact that,
with few exceptions, all producers manufacture “ in the gray ” , and
then send their product to outside bleachers and finishers. In this
way, the warehouseman becomes a commission man ordering patterns
and designating to what bleacher the goods are to go, an 1 is there­
fore an all-important link in the distributing chain. ►
. omewhat
similar conditions are found in the French lace industry, but are
not characteristic of the American industry.

The rise of Calais as the center of the French lace industry is also
an interesting chapter in industrial history. Northern France and
Belgium had been the centers of the hand-made lace industry for
many years. Open-work webs had been produced on the hosiery
frames" in France, and many attempts had been made to learn about
the Nottingham inventions for making lace, between 1765 and 1815.
However, strict‘laws with heavy penalties were in force in England
against the export of machinery and the “ enticing of artificers”
from the Kingdom. France retaliated by forbidding the importa­
tion of English lace or machinery.1 * But Cutts, who had been an
employee of Heathcoat at Loughborough, succeeded in smuggling
the first machine into France in 1815, and this was finally set up at
10 G rea t B rita in . B o a rd o f T ra d e. R e p o rt on ea rn in g s an d h o a rs o f la b o r in th e te x tile
tra d es in the U n ited K in g d om in 1906.
(C d. 4 5 4 5 .)
L o n d on , 1909, p. L X V I I I .
1 G rea t B rita in . B o a rd o f T ra d e. R e p o rt on te x tile tra d e s a ft e r th e w ar. (C d.
9 0 7 0 .)
L on d on , 1918, p. 95.
“ Idem , p. 97.

“ Pound at par**$4.8665; exchange rate varies.

“ G reat B rita in . C om m ercia l L a b o r a n d S ta tis tica l D ep a rtm en t. A cco u n ts re la tin g t o
tra d e a n d n a v ig a tion . L on d on , J u ly -D e ce m b e r , 1923.
16 U n ited S ta tes. D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce and L a b or. B ureau o f M a n u fa ctu re s. Lace
In d u stry in E n gla n d a n d F ra n ce, b y W . A. G rah am C lark. W a sh in g to n , 1909, p. 10.
16 D ie trich , B e r n a r d : D ie S p itzen in d u strie in B elgien und F ra n k reich zu E n d e des X I X
J a h rh u n d erts. L eip zig , V o n D u n ck er & H u m b lot, 1900, p. 34.



Douay. In 1816 a lace machine was smuggled into Calais, and this
opened the way for a considerable export of machinery, and later
an extensive emigration of English bobbin net workmen to Calais,
Lisle, Cambray, and other towns of northern France. In Calais the
industry settled in the suburbs, as it had to a large extent around
Nottingham, especially in St. Pierre-de-Calais which has since
become a famous center of lace manufacture. Other centers are
found at Caudry, St. Quentin, St. Chamond, Lille, and Lyons.
The industry centering in Calais grew rapidly, and it is estimated
that at the end of 1923 there were 2,648 lace machines, 409 employers
engaged in the manufacture of lace, and a total of 31,752 factory
and warehouse employees of whom about two-thirds were women.1
The highly skilled “ twist hands ” or “ tullistes ” as they are called
in France, numbered approximately 7,700 of the total number of
factory employees at an earlier date, and about half of them were or­
ganized into labor unions.1 1 They, like the English “ twist hands ”
are highly paid pieceworkers, receiving higher rates than any other
group of textile workers.1
The Calais Chamber of Commerce maintains a conditioning hall
for testing and storing silk and cotton yarns for the trade. As in
England, there are many small producers who rent machines, floor
space, heat and power, and often obtain their designs from com­
mercial designers or from central bureaus of designs.2 At both
Calais and Nottingham there are special training schools for instruc­
tion in lace designing. Calais producers likewise send their product
to outside bleachers, dyers, and finishers, and the bulk of the product
is sold through commission houses.2
Although many of the French manufacturers and workers are of
English descent, the superior taste and adaptiveness of the French
has led them to specialize in the finer grades of fancy laces, such as
Valenciennes, malines, Chantilly, and all silk laces. This tendency
is analogous to the specialization in articles of luxurious consumption
in other French textile industries. France exports laces to all parts
of the world, although the United States and Great Britain form
two of her best export markets. The official figures of exports from
France in the first 11 months of 1923 indicate that cotton nets and
laces to the value of 120,829,000 francs, and silk and other laces and
nets to the value of 97,107,000 francs were shipped from French
17 F ig u res ob ta in ed b y corresp on d en ce w ith th e s ecre ta ry o f th e C ala is C ham ber o f
C om m erce.
18 U n ited S ta tes, D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce a n d L a b or, B u rea u o f M a n u fa ctu re s, L a ce
in d u s try in E n g la n d a n d F ra n ce, by W . A . G rah am C lark, W a sh in g to n , 1909, p. 4 3 ; and
l&tude s u r l ’ ln d u s tr ie d es T u lles e t D en telles m dcaniques d e C alais, b y R . B o u ffa rtig u e ,
T o u r s, D es lis F rb res, 190 3 , p. 98.
19 U n ited S ta tes, D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce an d L a b or, B u rea u o f M a n u fa ctu re s, L a ce
in d u s try in E n g la n d a n d F ra n ce, b y W . A . G rah am C lark, W a sh in g to n , 1909, p. 4 2 ; an d
G re a t B rita in , B o a rd o f T ra d e, R e p o rt o n ea rn in g s and h o u rs o f la b o r in th e te x tile
tra d e s in th e U n ited K in g d om in 1906 (C d . 4 5 4 5 ), L on d o n , 1909, p. X V .
20 D ie S p itz en in d u strie in B elg ien und F ra n k reich zu E n d e des X I X J a h rh u n d e rts, b y
B e rn a rd D ie trich , L eip zig , V o n D u n ck er & H u m b lot, 1900, p. 5 4 ; a n d E tu d e su r l ’ln d u s t r ie d es T u lle s e t D en telles m €can iqu es de C alais, b y R . B ou ffa rtig u e , T o u r s, D eslis
F rb res, 190 3 , p p . 33, 34.
21 U n ited S ta tes, D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce a n d L a b or, B u rea u o f M a n u fa ctu re s, L ace
in d u s try in E n gla n d an d F ra n ce, b y W . A . G rah am C lark, W a s h in g to n , 1909, p. 4 1 ; an d
D ie S p itz en in d u strie in B elg ien u n d F ra n k reich zu E nd e des X I X J a h rh u n d e rts, b y B er­
n a rd D ie trich , L eip zig , V on D u n ck er & H u m b lot, 1900, p. 51.
22 F ra n c e . D ire c tio n G4n6rale d es D ou an es. D ocu m en ts s ta tis tiq u e s u r le C om m erce
d e la F ra n ce. P a ris, N ovem b er, 1923.




France and England still maintain the lead in the manufacture of
machine-made laces, although there are scattered industries through­
out the world. It was estimated in 1914 that 79 per cent of the
world’s lace-curtain machines were in Europe, as compared with 21
per cent in this country.2 An unpublished tentative estimate of
1923 raises the proportion of machines in the United States to 23 per
cent.2 2 On the other hand, it is estimated that only about 10 per
cent of the world’s Levers machines are in this country. It is evident
from these figures that the American manufacturer has strong foreign
competition particularly in the field of fancy laces. Most of the
lace curtains used in this country are produced here, and less than
one-half of one per cent of our product is exported; 2 but we import
a greater amount of laces than we produce. Various estimates of the
proportion of domestic manufactures of lace to the domestic con­
sumption have been made, the figure ranging from 25 to 50 per cent
with different bases of comparison. It is difficult to obtain an ac­
curate figure, but with the most liberal estimate from the point of
view of domestic producers, we probably import twice as many laces
as we produce.2

Since the rise of the American lace-curtain industry in 1890, the
imports of Nottingham lace curtains have steadily decreased. Both
quantity and value of Nottingham lace-curtain imports have de­
clined—from 1,679,659 square yards, valued at $752,775, in 1898 to
163,325 square yards, valued at $53,744, in 1922. With each change
in the tariff schedules methods of collecting statistics on lace im­
ports have changed, and as a result the figures are exceedingly dif­
ficult to interpret. Machine-made laces were not reported separately
until 1912, and then only value of imports was given up to 1919.
Since that time quantities imported have been stated, as well as
values, but as laces were reported first in linear yards and later in
pounds, and lace curtains are reported in square yards, the prod­
ucts may not be compared with each other. There was a slump in
the imports of lace curtains during the war, and we are just now
approximating our pre-war values; and our imports of machinemade laces are less than half our pre-war imports, as measured by
value, uncorrected for a rising price level. However, there has been
a shift of position in the countries from which we import. The
largest imports of lace curtains are from Switzerland, but im­
ports from England and France, especially the former, show a
marked decrease. Scotland has practically lost our market, while
23 U n ited
S ta tes. C on gress.
H ou se o f R ep resen ta tiv e s. C om m ittee on W a y s an d
M eans. H ea rin g s o n gen era l ta r iff rev ision , S ch ed u le N. B r ie f o f A m e rica n L a ce M a n u ­
fa c tu r e r s ’ A s s o cia tio n . W ash in g ton , 1921, p. 3362.
24 U n ited S ta tes. T a riff C om m ission. P relim in a ry re p o rt o n la ce . W a sh in g to n , D ec. 1,
1923, p p. 10, 18.
(L a ce -cu rta in m a c h in e s : G reat B rita in , 8 0 2 ; C o n tin e n t, 9 0 9 ; U n ited
S ta tes, 5 1 8 : W o rld t o ta l, 2 ,2 2 9 .)
25 U n ited S tates. T a riff C om m ission. D ig est o f ta r iff h ea rin g s b e fo re th e S enate C om ­
m ittee o n F in a n ce o n b ill H . R . 7456. W a sh in g ton , 1922, p. 366.
23 U nited
S ta tes. C ongress.
H ouse o f R ep resen ta tives. C om m ittee o n W a y s an d
M eans. H ea rin g s [o n ta r iff s c h e d u le s ], V ol. IV , S chedule J. W a s h in g to n , 191 3 , pp.
336 5 et seq. [H . D oc. N o. 1447, 62d C ong., 3d s e ss .].



Japanese and German imports have shown a remarkable increase.
In imports of machine-made laces (which include some lace other
than the products of the Levers machine), France still maintains her
historic lead, England’s exports have steadily declined, Germany is
gradually regaining what she lost during the war, and exports from
Switzerland and China have noticeably increased.2
Unfortunately, comparable figures are available for too short a
period to indicate anything but temporary conditions rather than
trends. It is evident, however, that the international trade in laces
and lace products has been considerably upset, since the war, the
result of the unusual conditions of international exchange and of
unsettled world economic factors. Great Britain has felt the compe­
tition of the other European countries in the export of lace prod­
ucts as well as other commodities, and the English lace industry is
at the present time much depressed. English lace manufacturers
have recently asked for protection against French laces under the
safeguarding of industries act.2 Since the war, cheaper hand-made
laces and machine-made laces from the Orient have entered the world
market, bidding for trade, and have met with considerable success.
The flooding of the American market with cheap laces from Ger­
many, France, Italy, and the Orient has had a considerable effect on
tariff considerations in this country, and will be discussed more fully
in the next chapter. On the whole, the conditions have been too
chaotic to permit prediction as to new movements in the world mar­
ket for lace products.
87 S ee tab les, A p p en d ix , p. 78.
28 U n ited S ta tes. D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce. B u rea u o f F o re ig n and D o m e s tic C om ­
m erce. T ra d e a n d E co n o m ic R e v ie w , N o. 1* 192 1 , p . 19.
(S u p p le m e n t t o C om m erce R e ­
p o r t s .)


In foreign usage, the general term “ lace industry ” includes the
manufacture of all laces, lace curtains, veilings, and nets. United
States census reports include under “ cotton-lace industry,” the man­
ufacture of all laces, lace curtains, nets, and veilings made of cotton,
linen, silk and cotton, artificial silk and cotton, mercerized cotton,
silk and wool, or other combinations of textile yarns. The predomi­
nant material is cotton.
The Bureau of the Census has collected separate statistics on the
domestic production of lace products only since 1914. The follow­
ing table, compiled from the census figures, gives some idea of the
size and development of the industry over a period of seven years:
T able 1.— G E N E R A L S T A T IS T IC S OF A M E R IC A N C O T T O N -L A C E IN D U S T R Y , 1914, 1919,
A N D 1921
[Source: United States.

Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census.
ufactures, 1921, p. 180]


Number of establishments____________________
Persons engaged:
Proprietors _
__ ___ _____________
Salaried workers___________________ ___ ___
Wagft earners .....
__ _ _ _

Biennial Census of M an­












Capital invested_____________________________
Pay roll:
Salaries._________________ ___________ ___
Wagfis ,rmmmmmmrrrmrr- r ,r »_____







_T „ . T


- n ir

Cost of materials
Value of product.
_ _ _
Value added by manufacture .


__ , ___








1 In a d d itio n , th ree esta b lish m en ts en gaged p rim a rily in o th e r in d u strie s rep orted
p ro d u cts v a lu ed a t $ 958,738.
* In a d d itio n , esta b lish m en ts en g ag ed p rim a r ily in o th e r in d u strie s re p o rte d p ro d u cts
v a lu ed a t $2,0 25 ,7 9 0 .

It is apparent from these figures that although between 1914 and
1921 the number of establishments and of employees in the cottonlace industry decreased, the capital investment considerably in­
creased, while the wage bill, the cost of raw materials, and the value
of the product and value added by manufacture have all doubled.
During the same period the general price level as reflected in the
Bureau of Labor Statistics wholesale price index rose from 98 in
1914 (on 1913 as a base or 100) to 226 in 1920, and fell to 147 in
1 M o n th ly L a b o r R ev iew , D ecem ber, 1923, p. 79.





During the same period, the products of the cotton-lace industry
were divided in the following way:
T able


.—A M O U N T A N D V A L U E OF P R O D U C T S OF C O T T O N -L A C E I N D U S T R Y , 1914
1919, A N D 1921

[Source: United States.

Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census.
factures, 1921, p. 195]


Nottingham lace curtains:
Pairs _____ ________________. . . ___ ___ ___________ _
Value______________ ________. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ________
Nottingham lace-curtain nets:
Linear yards________________ . . . _ _________ _____
V alu e


_ _ _ _ _



Levers laces:
Square yards
- - T. T
V alue., ............ ......................... ....................................... ..........
All other nets and laces: Value _____________________________
All other products: Value

Biennial Census of M anu­







$7,616, 339

17, 235, 736
$6, 785, 333

7, 236,934
$685, 732

$6,607, 546
$4, 744, 243


It is worth noting that the production of lace-curtain nets has
more than doubled in this period, and that of Levers laces has fallen
off more than one-third. Both of these changes reflect style varia­
tions, and the latter reflects serious economic conditions in the Levers
industry as well. During this period Pennsylvania produced fourfifths ox the lace-curtain and lace-curtain-net output of this country,
and about one-half of the entire product of the cotton-lace industry,
as measured by value, while Rhode Island manufactured about half
of the Levers laces.2
Data relative to the number and kinds of labor employed in the
industry are difficult to secure. The most recent figures are those
secured by the Bureau of the Census in 1919, of the number em­
ployed in various occupations and states on December 15, “ or the
nearest representative day.”
T able 3 .—N U M B E R OF W A G E E A R N E R S IN C O T T O N -L A O E I N D U S T R Y , ON D E C E M ­
B E R 15, 1919, OR N E A R E S T R E P R E S E N T A T IV E D A Y , B Y O C C U P A T IO N
[Source: United States. Department of Commerce. Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census, 1920.
Census of Manufactures—Reports for selected industries (Vol. X ), p. 184]

Class of worker

Spinners, frame
_ _ T_
Lace w e a v e rs...______ __________ *___________
Lace-curtain weavers.
_ _ _______
Ail other workers.
____ ____________ ___


_____ ________________

necticut Jersey



Penn­ Rhode
sylvania Island

















The number of unskilled and semiskilled workers included in the
class of “ all other workers ” in the above table constitute over 80
per cent of the total number employed; the lace weavers make up
about 10 per cent and the lace-curtain weavers a little over 7 per cent.
Pennsylvania employs nearly half of the total number of workers
2 U n ited S ta tes. D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce.
o f M a n u fa ctu res, 192 1 , p. 196.

B ureau o f the Census.

B ie n n ia l C ensus



and Rhode Island stands next in importance. About half of the
employees in the industry are women.
Despite the inclusion, for census purposes, of all lace products in
the general term “ cotton-lace industry,” the custom of the American
trade has been to differentiate between the lace-curtain and the lace
industry. Although all types of lace machines may be found within
the walls of one establishment, there are separate designing, pro­
duction, and selling staffs for laces made on the Levers machine as
distinct from the products of the Nottingham lace-curtain machine.
Plain nets or bobbin nets when manufactured in the same factory
with lace curtains are grouped with them. Because this distinction
is so closely bound up with the history of the industry in this coun­
try, and is considered such an important one by manufacturers and
workers alike, henceforth in this report the lace and lace-curtain
industries in the United States will be considered as two separate
but closely allied industries.

The history of the lace-curtain industry, like that of other textile
industries in this country, is interwoven with the history of the pro­
tective tariff. A manufacturer, testifying before the House Ways
and Means Committee in the 1921 tariff hearing, said: “ I am speak­
ing for an industry that was born under protection, that has lived
under protection, and that could not survive without it.” 3 * * *
The i n d u s t r y received its initial impetus in the McKinley Act of
1890, and still remains one of the several “ infants” that never
grew up.
The first Nottingham lace-curtain machines brought to this coun­
try were landed at New York in 1885 and were set up in Fordham.4
However, these machines never gave much output. In the spring
of the following year an Englishman who was searching for a
desirable location for a lace-curtain mill was attracted to WilkesBarre, and the first factory of any size was located in that city. At
that time the silk industry had not been developed in the mining re­
gions, so the opportunities for gainful employment for women were
scarce. As a large proportion of the work of a lace-curtain plant
consists of unskilled or semiskilled operations which women, young
girls, and boys can perform; the availability of this untapped labor
supply was largely responsible for the location of this first plant.
A representative of this firm, at the tariff hearings in 1890, strongly
urged the increase in the tariff rates which was later incorporated
in the McKinley Act. By and with the advice and consent of several
interested textile manufacturers, the rate was raised from 40 to 60
per cent ad valorem; 5 and as a result of this legislation a number of
lace-curtain plants were established in this country in a few years.
One Philadelphia firm, which had made a great success of the manu­
facture of carpets and chenille curtains, started the manufacture of
* U n ited S ta tes. C ongress. H ou se o f R ep resen ta tives. C om m ittee o n W a y s a n d M eans.
H ea rin g s on g en era l ta r iff rev ision , S ched ule I. W a s h in g to n , 1921, p. 2342.
4 T h e m a ch in es w ere tra n s fe rre d fro m F ord h a m t o T a r iffv ilie a n d th e n c e t o G ou vern eu r,
N. Y., w h ere th e y a re s till sta n d in g , a fte r recon stru ctio n .
(T h e U p h olsterer, N ew Y ork,
June, 1918, p. 6 1 .)
5 U n ited S ta tes. C ongress. H ou se o f R ep resen ta tives. C om m ittee on W a y s a n d M eans.
T a riff h ea rin g s, V o l. V , S ch ed u le J . W a s h in g ton , 1909, p. 480 4 .



lace curtains in 1890-91, and in the same year a second Philadelphia
carpet mill followed its example. This was followed shortly by the
opening of a second plant in Wilkes-Barre and one in Scranton.
The English and Scotch manufacturers who had heretofore sup­
plied the American market tried to discourage their workers fro*m
coming over here to work and to discourage the American manufac­
turers who were taking up the production of lace curtains. Upon
finding that they were unable to prevent the development of the
new industry, they began to establish branch plants in this country.
A Scotch firm started a branch in Columbia, Pa., in 1892; a
large English firm with branches all over the world bought out a
small Philadelphia firm in 1898 and, with the addition of more ma­
chines, started a lace-curtain mill in Chester. Still later, in 1903, a
third large lace-curtain plant was started in Philadelphia.
While the industry was growing in Pennsylvania, a few lacecurtain plants were located in other States. At Tariffville, Conn.,
a small lace-curtain factory was started as a branch of a Notting­
ham plant. This mill was the only one in the country which at­
tempted to make use of water power; it, however, met with little
success. The early convention reports of the union are full of
complaints against the great amount of overtime worked at the
Tariffville plant in order to make a living with uneven power
facilities.6 A large lace-curtain plant was opened in Patchogue,
Long Island, in 1890, and somewhat later a jobber who had con­
trolled the selling of lace curtains up to this time started bobbinnet manufacture in Newburgh, N. Y.7 A second jobber in the
trade started making lace curtains at Kingston, N. Y., and later a
reorganized mill was established at Gouverneur. Only two con­
cerns were located away from the Atlantic seaboard; the first was
the Zion City lace industries at Zion City, 111., and the second, a
short-lived venture, was started at Galveston, Tex., with the ob­
vious intention of being near the cotton supply.8 With the excep­
tion of the Galveston and Tariffville plants, the lace-curtain mills
thus established are still operating, and constitute the 12 concerns in
the United States engaged in the manufacture of lace curtains.
Eight of the 12 plants, owning four-fifths of the machines in the
United States, are in Pennsylvania.9 This State has always main­
tained the lead in number of machines, number of employees, and
quantity and value of products. The reasons for the localization
of the industry in Pennsylvania are not hard to find. First of all,
lace-curtain plants established themselves on the Atlantic seaboard
in order to save freight charges on raw materials and machinery
coming from abroad and to be near the skilled labor supply, which
likewise came from abroad. The momentum of an industry once
established in a locality like Philadelphia tended to draw others.
Nearness to fuel supply may have been of minor importance. Prox­
imity to a supply of the unskilled labor which forms the majority
of workers in any lace-curtain mill undoubtedly was the greatest at­
6 A m a lg a m a ted L a ce O peratives* S ociety .
R ep orts o f co n v e n tio n s, 1 8 9 2 -1 8 9 5 .
7 T h e U p h olsterer, N ew Y ork , June, 1918, p. 61.
8 U n ited S ta tes. C on gress. S enate. C om m ittee on F in a n ce , B u lle tin N o. 47. W a sh ­
in g ton , 1894, p. 41.
[S . R ep ts., N o. 475, *53d C ong., 2d se ss.]
9 T h e la te s t estim a te o f th e nu m ber o f the m ach in es in th e U n ited S ta te s has been m ade
by M r. M id d leton , o f th e U n ited S ta tes T a r iff C om m ission . H e s ta te s th a t 4 0 8 o f th e
518 m ach in es in th e co u n try a re loca ted in P en n sy lv a n ia .
(U n ite d S ta te s. T a r iff C om ­
m ission . P re lim in a r y re p o rt o n la ce. W ash in g ton , D ec. 1, 1 9 2 3 .)



traction in drawing industries to the mining regions of Pennsylvania,
for there women and children could be secured at lower wages than
in the larger industrial centers. Moreover, there may have been ad­
vantages—largely of psychological nature—in locating plants in a
textile State which was a stronghold of protectionism. Although the
lace industry was closely associated with the hosiery industry in
England, it seems unlikely that it was attracted to Pennsylvania
because of the importance of the State as a hosiery center. Many
of the lace-curtain plants in this country were branches of English
firms, while the American textile manufacturers who first started the
manufacture of lace curtains were engaged in the production of
house furnishings, such as carpets, rugs, and chenille curtains*

Production, which had increased steadily in 1892 and the early
part of 1893, was cut in half during the crisis of 1893. This was a
severe blow to the industry. All of the mills were closed down or
working part time in the latter part of 1893. Several financial re­
organizations took place. It is said that one Pennsylvania firm
(which weathered the storm) bought a ton of coal at a time for
running off samples. Another plant was forced to sell over $90,000
worth of .its goods at auction.1 This forced sale is reported to have
had an interesting aftermath. The lace-curtain importers, who were
the jobbers to the trade at the time, testified in the 1893 tariff hear­
ings that no one would buy the American product because consumers
liked the unfinished English curtains better. However, the Ameri­
can housewives who bought curtains at the forced sale were so much
pleased with them that a market was secured henceforth, and the
factory started on a successful career again.
Following the general policy of tariff reductions in 1894, the duty
on lace goods was reduced from 60 to 50 per cent. Although the
new rate remained in force only three years, the reduction came as a
great disappointment to the manufacturers, who had just begun to
produce and were meeting other difficulties following the financial
crisis of 1893. Englishmen who had risked everything to come over
to this country and start the new industry felt badly “ sold ” at the
hands of the politicians at Washington. Many of them became dis­
couraged and went back to England. Under the Dingley Act in
1897, the duty on lace goods was raised to 60 per cent again, and
compound, specific, and ad valorem duties were laid on the products
of the Nottingham lace-curtain machine. This type of duty ap­
parently brought highly beneficial results to the industry, in view
of the fact that a large portion of the lace-curtain machines in the
country were imported after this schedule went into effect.1 There
followed a period of the greatest prosperity the industry has ever
known, extending from 1898 to 1905 but reaching its maximum
about 1903.
10 U n ited S ta tes. C ongress. S enate. C om m ittee on F in a n ce , B ui. N o. 47. W a s h in g ­
ton , 1894, p. 37.
[S . R ep ts., N o. 4 75 , 5 3d C ong., 2d se ss.]
11 U n ited S ta tes.
C on gress.
H ou se o f R ep resen ta tiv e s.
C om m ittee on W a y s a n d
M eans. T a riff hea rin g s, V o l. V , S ch ed u le J . W a sh in g to n , 1909, p. 4864.

57192°—25----- 2




This period of prosperity marks the time when Nottingham lace
curtains dominated the market for window draperies and enjoyed
a great vogue. The progress of the whole industry in this period
may be inferred from the progress of three lace-curtain mills in
Pennsylvania, from which the Pennsylvania Department of Internal
Affairs collected information from 1896 to 1905. By 1905 the capi­
talization of the three establishments had more than doubled, the
market value of the product had almost doubled, the average number
of wage earners had more than doubled, while the average wage
rather more than kept pace with the increase in the cost of food,
which is the largest item of the workingman’s budget.
T able 4 .—D E V E L O P M E N T OF T H R E E I D E N T I C A L L A C E E S T A B L IS H M E N T S I N P E N N ­
S Y L V A N IA , 1896 T O 1905*




days of




Aver­ Index
Index age
Index food
A m ou n t num­ Am ount num­ N um ­ num­ num­ num­ Amount num­ W age num­ costs*
bers ber bers



Market value
of product







100.0 $193,765
112.1 223,436
127.7 269,910
143.9 313,641
164.0 372,460
162.3 382,726
184.4 437,716
236.4 531,393
243.5 606,958
214.7 504,718






1 Data are from Pennsylvania, Department of Internal Affairs, Bureau of Industrial Statistics Report,
1905, except index numbers which have been computed.
2 Data are from U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bui. N o. 140: Retail prices, 1890 to December, 1913,
p. 30. Figures are index numbers of the cost of a year’s supply of food for an average workingman’s family
in the North Atlantic States.

Unfortunately no continuous history of the industry is available
in State or Federal records, so that the story has to be supplemented
by information from a wide range of sources and allowances made
for discontinuity in time and comparable features of the data. When
no data are available from any source, it has been necessary to
secure the outline of events from individuals who are thoroughly
familiar with the history of the industry, or from what may be
called the “ common knowledge ” of the trade.
With the possible exception of the panic of 1898, which occurred
very early in the history of the industry, ordinary business move­
ments have had a less serious effect upon prosperity and depression
in the trades than have style changes in the products. It is reported
that about 1902 a lace-curtain jobber went to one of the large schools
for training in interior decorating and home economics and asked
them to work on some substitute for Nottingham lace curtains. He
maintained that irregularity of production and the dealer’s conse­
quent inability to fill orders promptly made the Nottingham cur­
tains a highly unstable product to handle. As a result of his request
the school introduced a scrim curtain trimmed with lace and dotted
Swiss curtains, as “ colonial curtains,” and by 1905 these had com­
pletely driven lace curtains out of style. The year 1905 marks the
end of the first prosperous period in the lace-curtain industry. A



long period of depression followed, which lasted for a decade and
reached very low points between 1907 and 1914. Attempts were
made by the lace-curtain manufacturers to regain their lost business
by varying their patterns in imitation of the fabric draperies then
in style, but to no avail; lace curtains were “ out.” At the 1913
tariff hearing one manufacturer testified that the consumption of
Nottingham lace curtains as against other makes had declined 50
per cent.1
During this decade of depression several financial reorganiza­
tions took place, which completed a movement begun in more pros­
perous times, concentrating some two-fifths of the production of the
12 lace-curtain mills in the hands of one group of manufacturers
who had been unusually successful in the business.
During the depression those mills not completely closed down
because of financial difficulties ran only part time and the workers’
earnings were cut by a third or a half for long periods of time. It
has been estimated that the lace-curtain weavers in Pennsylvania did
not average more than three-fifths of full time during the five-year
period between 1910 and 1915.1 One manufacturer in this testi­
mony in the 1913 tariff hearings said that the 12,000 workers in the
Nottingham trade had been employed only one-half or one-third of
full time since 1907.1 The records of the union of lace operatives
are full of attempts on the part of that organization to prevent or
minimize the unemployment for which the trade became notorious.
For years no apprentices were trained; many men left the industry
for other occupations or, worse, became industrial driftwood; several
branches of the union turned in their charters; and the industry
came to be known as a “ dead ” trade. The demoralizing effects of
this tong depression have never been obliterated. No general wage
increases were granted to the union workers by the manufacturers
for a period of nine years. No wage conferences were held for sev­
eral years, and when employers and workers did meet the employers
claimed that the state of the trade would not permit them to grant
any increases and the union did not press the point.
The first general wage increase went into effect in 1916, and this
marks the beginning of the revival of the industry. Business picked
up rapidly during the war, when the factories made netting for the
Government. After the war the building boom with its attendant
increase in the demand for window draperies, and a revival of the
fashion for lace curtains and nets gave new prosperity to the trade,
which promises to rival the prosperity of two decades ago. Ma­
chines that have not been used for a decade or longer have been
recently repaired and equipped for production. The percentage of
full-time employment is higher than it has been for many years,
and skilled Iac?-curtain weavers are reported to be coming over
from Germany and other parts of Europe to share in the trade pros­
perity in this country.
12 U n ited S ta tes. C on gress. H ou se o f R ep resen ta tives. C om m ittee on W a y s and M eans.
H ea rin g s [o n ta r iff s c h e d u le ], V o l. IV . W a sh in g ton , 1913, p. 4 01 3 .
[$ 2 d C ong., 3d
sess., H . D oc. N o. 1 4 4 7 .]
18 P h ila d elp h ia . D ep a rtm en t o f P u b lic W ork s. U n em p loyed in P h ila d e lp h ia , b y J. H .
W illits .
P h ila d elp h ia , 1915. p. 5.
u U n ited S ta tes. C ongress. H ou se o f R ep resen ta tives. C om m ittee on W a y s a n d M eans.
H ea rin g s [o n ta r iff s ch e d u le s ], V o l. IV . W a sh in g ton , 1913, p. 3 987.
[H . D o c. N o. 1447,
6 2 d C on g., 3 d s e ss .]





-c u

r t a in

in d u s t r ie s


u n it e d



From this discussion of the historical background of the industry,
attention must be turned to some of the economic factors of im­
portance to an understanding of the industry. The lace-curtain mill
tends to be larger than the lace mill because it supplies a more staple
product. While the typical lace mill operates from 7 to 15 machines
and employs approximately 100 to 150 workers, half of the lacecurtain mills average over 30 machines, and employ from 300 to 500
workers each. The work of the lace-curtain factory is capable of
greater standardization than that of the lace mill, hence larger in­
vestments of capital, larger plants, and a wide variety rather than
extreme specialization of products are the result. The products of
the Nottingham lace-curtam machine are used for window curtains,
bedspreads, panels, table covers, and similar interior decorating pur­
poses. Narrow insertions, nets, and edgings are sometimes used for
trimming women’s clothes, although most products of the lace-cur­
tain machine are too coarse for such use. The principal types of
fabric, classified according to the pattern or method of weaving, are
Nottingham, Swiss, madras, filet, barground, cable, Tuscan net,
and combination. Nottingham lace-curtain machines in this country
produce articles that have from 5y 2 to 16 meshes to the inch. Over
half of the machines here are 6 to 8 point, and less than one-tenth
are finer than 12-point.*5 The present products of the Nottingham
lace-curtain machine, with the exception of the curtain called “ Not­
tingham ” in the trade, bear little resemblance to the old-style Not­
tingham curtains, which were made 60 inches wide and 4 yards long,
with elaborate all-over patterns. As already shown in Table 2,
drapery nets now constitute a large part of the total product of the
industry, and lace curtains are now made 36 or 40 inches wide and
usually 2y 2 yards long. New styles of architecture, emphasizing
colonial models and new types of windows which are smaller and
have radiators under them, have necessitated new and simpler styles
of window curtains. The professionalizing of interior decorating
and its influence on the artistic tastes in home furnishings of all
income groups have likewise affected the lace-curtain industry
profoundly. The old style of elaborate all-over patterns has passed
through many changes on its way to present styles, from double
border to single border, from macrame to madras, to Swiss, etc.,
and finally to panels, nets, and nettings of a wide variety of patterns
and combinations which have become so popular in the last two
years. Artificial silk lace curtains, resemblmg silk fabric draperies,
and curtains with patterns worked in variegated colors, have been
recently introduced as novelties, but the industry has not as yet
sufficient contact with the interior-decorating movement and chang­
ing architectural tastes to insure any permanency in its styles.
Data on lace-curtain plants are not given separately in the cen­
sus figures, so. that the only recourse is the one official source of in­
formation available, namely, the Bureau of Statistics and Informa­
tion of the Pennsylvania Department of Internal Affairs. Between
1905 and 1920, no information was collected of use for the purpose
of this istudy, but some interesting figures are available for the*
16 United States. Tariff Commission. Preliminary report on lace. Washington, Dec.
1, 1923, p. 7.



period 1920 to 1922. The following table shows, for five Pennsyl­
vania cities, the development of the lace-curtain plants for these
three years. As is noted in the table, the figures include two smaller
plants in Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, making “ lace goods” pri­
marily. These two factories are, however, so small that their in­
clusion affects the totals only slightly. The 1920 figures for Scran­
ton and the 1920 and 1921 figures for Philadelphia each exclude 1
factory manufacturing lace curtains. There are all told 8 plants in
Pennsylvania which manufacture lace curtain products that might
be classified as “ lace goods.” Lack of uniformity of reporting or
classification has given rise to discrepancies in these statistics.
T able 5 .—S T A T IS T IC S OF L A C E C U R T A IN M A N U F A C T U R E IN P E N N S Y L V A N IA
C IT IE S , 1920 T O 19221













Num ber of establishm ents..........................
Average number of
days of operation___
Average number of
M ales........ .............
F e m a le s ......____








































$11,100 $395,900 $387,800
27,300 329,000 268,000




655,800 1,142,900




Wages p a id :1
T o males................. $68,700 $46,600 $68,600
T o females............... 62,800 35,900 45,300
Total..................... 121,600 82,500 103,900
Average wage: 4
M ales.......................
Capital............................ 360,000 360.000 360,000
Value of product........... 691,000 342,000j414,200


73,300 2,166,400 2,166,100 1,889,700 1,645,000 1,696,400
166,200 2,586,800 1,600,000 2,910,400 1,256,200 33,390,200











N um ber of establish­
m ents..........................
Average number of
days of operation____
Average number of
M ales......................






































Wages p a id :3
T o males................. $68,000 $51,600 $69,900 $1,045,300 $713,700 $775,800 $1,886,700 $1,752,100 $1,880,500
T o females.............. 28,100 24,700 32,800 . 603,100 291,700 404,200 1,050,600 1,028,200 1,084,000


76,300 92,700 1,548,400 1,005,400 1,180,000 2,937,300 2,870,300 2,964,500

Average wage:4
M ales....................... 1,668 1,433 1,426
Capital........................... 300,000 300,000 300,000 7,872,800 7,278,100 7,437,400 10,485,800 11,739,500 11,949,900
Value of products......... 621,400 466,000 645,000 9,869,800 6,709,200 7,837,000 14,258,800 11,360,200
1 Data are from Pennsylvania Department of Internal Affairs, Bureau of Industrial Statistics, Report
for 1920, and correspondence with director.
2 Including one “ lace-goods” factory.
8N ot including salaries.
4Average wage computed.
• One-half of product is lace curtains; remainder is “ lace goods and embroideries.”
* Including two “ lace-goods” factories.



an d


-c u

r t a in

in d u s t r ie s


u n it e d


Reference to the above figures shows that each lace-curtain plant
reporting had an average capitalization of not quite $1,500,000 for
an average working force of between 260 and 375 wage earners.
Large amounts of both circulating and fixed capital are necessary
in a lace-curtain factory, due to the fact that both yarns and ma­
chines are imported and subject to duty. Practically all lace ma­
chines are made in Europe, and it is estimated that at the present
time it would cost about $10,000 to set up a new lace-curtain ma­
chine in this country. Although the machines have a long life—from
20 to 25 years—repair expenses are very high. As a result, overhead
costs tend to assume large proportions in a lace-curtain mill. In
addition to the fact that large amounts of capital investment are nec­
essary, it is important to note that the rate of capital turnover is low.
It is doubtful if the lace-curtain industry has ever turned its capital
over as much as twice in one year; usually it is turned over one and
a half times in prosperous years, and less than once in dull years.
In this respect it is like other industries where large amounts of fixed
capital are invested.
The figures show some interesting differences between important
centers of manufacture. Philadelphia plants operated on an average
10 days longer than the Wilkes-Barre plants in 1920, but 23 and 41
days less in 1921 and 1922. Scranton and Columbia show the highest
average of days worked in the State. Wilkes-Barre and Scranton
employed a larger proportion o f women than the other cities in all
three years. The average wage as a picture of typical wage condi­
tions is unsatisfactory, but the table shows that with equal regu­
larity of employment for men and women, men received on the aver­
age twice as much or more than twice as much as women in
all of the cities, except Columbia. Columbia, the one nonunion
lace-curtain center in the State, had the highest average of number
of days worked but the lowest average of wages paid to men.
Philadelphia workers, both men and women, received higher average
wages for this period than the workers in other centers. The union
however, contends that Scranton and Chester always lead in wages
paid to weavers;1 there may be a larger proportion of auxiliary
workers receiving lower wages in Scranton and Chester, which would
tend to lower the average wage computed from these figures. The
table shows that in 1922 Philadelphia plants had over three-fifths of
the total capital investment in the State and manufactured over half
of the total product measured by value.
The figures for the average number of days worked by lace-curtain
mills in the State of Pennsylvania indicate that there is considerable
seasonal unemployment in the industry. It has long been the gen­
eral custom in the trade to make samples and take inventory during
the months of April and October, and slowly begin the spring and
fall manufacturing seasons in May and November. The demand for
lace curtains has been largely seasonal, because the good housewife
on the Atlantic seaboard always takes down her window curtains at
the time of the spring house cleaning or thereabouts and puts them
away for the summer. It has therefore been necessary for the lace
curtain manufacturers to create a demand for their product through­
16 In recent years the union has compiled average earnings for its local branches which
show that earnings in Scranton and in Chester are usually higher than in the other cities.



out the year, or to look for markets in the South and West where
curtains are used in all seasons. This has been a slow process and
production in the industry is still subject to great seasonal fluctua­
tion. An added complication arises from the fact that the products
of certain gauge machines may sell better than others, so that one
part of the factory may be oversold, while another group of ma­
chines may be without orders and the workers idle for days or weeks.
It is not uncommon to find machines of a certain gauge idle for a
whole season. Since the machines are not in any way interchange­
able, the production of specified classes of goods is limited. At the
present time, sales are about equally divided between spring and
fall, although formerly as high as 80 per cent of the goods were
sold in one season.1
The bulk of the lace-curtain product is manufactured to order and
sold to jobbers or direct to retailers. The jobber was supreme in
the industry some years ago, but in recent years several of the
larger mills have been manufacturing to stock and marketing their
goods through salesmen and national advertising. The union claims
that those factories which manufacture to stock and sell directly,
rather than through jobbers, give more stable employment, bear­
ing out the economists’ contention that the victory of the manu­
facturer over the jobber has brought greater stabilization to in­
dustry. Due to the secrecy which pervades the lace and lace-curtain
industries, in company with all highly competitive industries, it is
impossible to give an accurate picture of the distribution process in
the industry. National advertising on an extensive scale has been
undertaken only recently, and its effect in smoothing out any of the
heavy seasonal fluctuation is not definitely known.
The 12 lace curtain plants in the country which constitute the
industry have no trade association and cooperate only in labor
matters, meeting to discuss labor questions, and, since the majority
of the firms deal with the union, to negotiate with it. It is reported
that those plants which do not have union agreements follow the
lead of the majority in granting wage increases and shorter hours,
but it has been impossible to check this information. One legitimate
field of activity for a trade association, which would appear to be
highly profitable, would be cooperative national advertising to pro­
long the present trade prosperity and help smooth out seasonal fluc­
tuations ; but nothing of this nature has yet been undertaken.

Turning from the general economic features of the industry to the
labor situation, we find that the workers in the industry are largely
English, Scotch, and American. The Americans predominate in the
auxiliary occupations, the English and Scotch in the weaving. There
are a few German, Polish, and Italian weavers, but they are in a
decided minority. The first migration of skilled workers to this
country brought over many Englishmen from Nottingham, but many
of these became discouraged during the depressions of 1893, and
1905 to 1915, and returned to England. These first migrants were1
1 A m a lg a m a ted L a ce O p eratives’ S ociety . R e p o rt o f p rice co n fe re n ce b etw een
m a n u fa ctu rers a n d op e ra tiv e s in th e la ce -cu r ta in tra d e, S ept. 14, 1923, p. 65.

th e



highly skilled men who aided in the setting up of machines and
starting the manufacture of lace curtains in this country, and many
of them later became foremen and superintendents in the mills. The
second group of migrants was Scotchmen. The weavers, who are
the most highly skilled group in the industry with the exception of
the designers and draughtsmen, constitute about 7 per cent of the
total number employed. They are sons or nephews of weavers “ in
the old country ” who came to the United States to reap some of the
benefits of a protected industry, in the form of high wages. The
average age of the weavers is high, as compared with the average age
of the other occupations. In fact, a number of the men who came
over between 1890 and 1900 are still running machines.
The great degree of specialization in the industry has had its
effect upon the workers, as well as upon methods of production
and distribution. There is an extreme lack of labor mobility, with
its attendant disadvantages, for the skill of many of the groups in
the industry (such as the weavers, the “ readers and correctors,” the
designers, and to some extent the “ menders,” ) is of little if any use
in other industries, yet takes considerable time to acquire for this
industry. As a result, labor turnover is low, and the workers’ length
of service is long. With regard to length of service one manufac­
turer stated in evidence before the House Ways and Means Com­
mittee in 1921 that “ More than 50 per cent of our employees have
been with us more than 20 years. The reason for this is that we
are such a specialized industry that if they are successful with us,
they are unfitted for a job with anyone else.” *8
The problem of labor turnover has never been important in the
industry even during the World War, and few factories keep any
records of it. One Scranton factory estimates that its yearly labor
turnover is about 5 per cent,1 but this is clearly a low figure.
The industry has been, and is at the present time, largely de­
pendent on foreign-trained labor in the skilled occupations. It
has been said by many that American labor does not “ take kindly ”
to the industry; at any rate, American weavers are uncommon ex­
cept in those factories more remotely situated from the manufactur­
ing centers, where American boys were trained into the work after
labor difiiculties had driven out the European-trained men. Con­
trary to the custom abroad, very few weavers have apprenticed their
sons to the trade, because they consider this highly specialized trade
beset with too heavy handicaps as compared with other trade oppor­
tunities. The key position held by the skilled group of weavers has
had an important effect upon the labor problems in the industry;
this is discussed later in this report.
The skilled weavers are all men; although the Census of Manu­
factures for 1919 (p. 184) gives 27 women employed as lace-curtain
weavers, they were probably employed on some auxiliary process.
During the war English lace manufacturers used women as de­
signers and as weavers on small machines because of the shortage
of skilled workers, but this is the only experiment of the kind
18 United States Congress, House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means.
Hearings on general tariff revision, Schedule I, Washington, 1921, p. 2346.
18 Letter from president of the mill.



known*0 and was given up at the close of the war. The large num­
ber of women and girls in the industry and the younger men and
boys are found in the preparatory and finishing processes, some of
which are semiskilled and others unskilled. Since most of the
workers have relatives working in the same or other parts of the
lace mill, the industry has all the characteristics of a family industry.
It is not uncommon to find a father working as a weaver, a son as a
brass-bobbin winder, and a daughter as a mender.

In contrast to the relative ease with which the lace-curtain indus­
try became established in this country, the lace industry has had a
constant struggle to maintain its footing, and is even at the present
time in a precarious position. The reasons for this are primarily
the uncertainty of tariff schedules, keener competition on the part of
foreign producers, and greater technical problems than those of the
lace-curtain trade. Both industries have been faced with uncer­
tainty in tariff schedules at critical times in their careers, but the
lace-curtain industry has the advantage in the length of time during
which low rates were in force on its products. American lace-cur­
tain manufacturers have been more successful than the lace manufac­
turers in meeting foreign competition, by making deliveries more
promptly than foreign producers and by adapting their styles
quickly to meet changes in American tastes. American lace manu­
facturers, on the other hand, have been forced to look to Paris for
most of the style dictates on women’s clothes and dress trimmings;
they have had to overcome the ordinary customer’s prejudice in favor
of buying an imported rather than a domestic lace, when there is little
difference in cost; and, finally, they have been' forced to meet keen
competition from foreign producers, who, even with high duties,
have been able to market their goods successfully in the United
States because of superior skill or technical ability, lower labor
costs, or, in recent years, the unsettled condition of foreign exchange.
The lace industry dates from the establishment of a silk-lace fac­
tory in Brooklyn in 1882, several years before the importation of the
first lace-curtain machines. This was followed during the nineties
by the establishment of lace mills in Providence, K. I., Jersey City,
N. J., and Zion City, 111. During this period considerable difficulty
was found in obtaining skilled lace weavers, designers, and foremen
from abroad, as well as in developing a market in this country. It
is estimated that by 1910—a period during which the lace-curtain
industry had reached its maximum development and then had ex­
perienced a serious decline—there were approximately 83 Levers lace
machines in small mills throughout New England and in the places
mentioned above.

From the time of the McKinley tariff of 1890 to 1909, with the
exception of the years from 1894 to 1897, the duty on lace edgings,
embroideries, insertions, and the like was 60 per cent ad valorem. In
^ T e x t i le R ecord er, M a n ch ester, E n gla n d , J u ly
tra d e a fte r th e w a r.”

15, 1916, p. 7 3 :

‘ ‘ N o ttin g h a m

la ce



1909 Congress encouraged the lace industry by raising the duty on
all products of the Levers lace machine to 70 per cent ad valorem,
and at the same time allowed the importation of Levers machines
free of duty for a period of 17 months (until January 1, 1911).
Normally there was a 45 per cent duty on machines.
This encouragement to the industry apparently came as a surprise
to many of the lace and lace-curtain manufacturers in this country.
They were not slow, however, to take advantage of the opportunity
to import machines at a considerable reduction in cost. By January
1,1911, 26 firms had arranged to manufacture Levers laces, and over
400 Levers machines had been shipped from England into the United
States,2 136 of which were imported into the State of Pennsylvania
alone. Several large lace-curtain plants in Philadelphia extended
their operations to include the manufacture of laces. However
Rhode Island took the lead and the lace industry may be said to be
localized in New England; a recent estimate of the number of Levers
machines in the United States credits Rhode Island with 215 of the
590 machines in the country.2 In 1914 and 1919 Rhode Island led
all States in the manufacture of Levers laces as measured by quan­
tity and value of product, and in 1919 it employed about half of
the lace weavers working in the United States.2 2 The localization
of the industry in that part of the Atlantic seaboard may be attrib­
uted to the momentum of an early start and the interest of a few
Rhode Island capitalists in the lace industry.
A long process of assimilation and adjustment followed the exten­
sive importation of lace machinery in 1910. There was great diffi­
culty in getting skilled weavers to run the machines. A result of
the large number of small producers in the French and English lace
industries had been the training of weavers for specialized types and
patterns of laces, so that it was difficult to get men with sufficient
all-round experience to be of value in the larger factories in this
country. The industry also had difficult technical problems. There
was besides keen competition from foreign producers, older domes­
tic producers, and manufacturers of embroideries and other goods
which compete with laces. The new factories were just about in
working order when the rates on Levers lace goods were reduced
by the Underwood tariff act of 1913. This came as a bitter blow to
the industry. One manufacturer stated at the tariff hearings in
We believed that it was the intent o f Congress to encourage the creation of
a distinctive American industry, and that it would not hastily revise a decision
made on its own initiative.
The action of Congress therefore in 1913 in reducing the tariff to 60 per
cent was a keen disappointment to many who had started in the new industry.
It is a matter of record that one-third of the machines imported duty free have
changed hands since 1913*
2 U n ited S ta tes. C on gress. H ou se o f R ep resen ta tiv es. C om m ittee on W a y s a n d M eans.
H e a rin g s o n g e n e ra l ta r iff rev ision , S ch ed u le N . B r ie f o f N o r t h A m e r ic a n L a ce C o.
W a s h in g to n , 1 92 1 , pp. 3 362, 3375.
2 U n ited S ta tes. T a r iff C om m ission . P re lim in a r y r e p o rt o n la ce . W a s h in g to n , D ec.
1 , 1 92 3 , p. 10.
23 U n ited S ta tes. D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce. B u rea u o f th e C ensus. F o u r te e n th C en­
sus, 192 0 . C ensus o f M a n u fa ctu res— R e p o rt o n selecte d in d u s trie s, V o l. X , p. 184.
24 U n ited S ta tes. C on gress. H ou se o f R ep resen ta tives. C om m ittee on W a y s a n d M eans.
H e a rin g s o n g en era l t a r iff re v isio n , S ch ed u le N. W a sh in g to n , 1921, p. 3 375.



These provisions remained in force for nine years. The outbreak
of war in 1914 led to the closing down of the French lace industry.
As a consequence, lace went out of style, and the American market
was likewise curtailed. Work on netting for the Government and
on odd jobs kept the industry going during this period.
At the close of the war two new factors were apparent in the
foreign competition on laces. The first factor was the growth of
the hand-made lace industry in the Orient, where low labor costs
made it possible to market hand-made laces in this and other coun­
tries at low prices in competition with the higher grades of machinemade lace. The second factor was the sale in the American market
of goods produced in countries whose exchange was considerably
below par, making it possible to sell goods in this country, even
after paying high rates of duty, below the domestic costs of produc­
tion. This competition led the domestic manufacturers to ask for
greater protection in 1921, and in the Fordney-McCumber Act of
1922 the rate on Levers products was raised to 90 per cent ad
valorem. This has been designated as “ the highest straight ad
valorem rate ever incorporated into an American tariff law for
simple protective purposes.” 2
The tariff hearings on the lace schedules have always been interest­
ing because competition has been keen enough to induce both the
importers and the domestic manufacturers to attend in full force.
A recent hearing (December 10, 1923) preliminary to an investiga­
tion of foreign and domestic costs in lace manufacture brought out,
among other interesting things, the statement from one manufacturer
that he had secured better protection under the old 60 per cent ad
valorem duty with stable exchange conditions than he now had with
the 90 per cent duty and fluctuating exchange conditions. This is
maintained by other manufacturers as well. A fact of further in­
terest brought out in the hearing was the effect of the general tend­
ency in the styles for women’s and children’s clothes toward more
tailored models. The staple “ bread and butter” product of the
industry has always been the “ Vais” and other lace edgings for
trimming dresses and underwear, while feature or novelty articles
such as metal and silk laces for evening dresses and afternoon
frocks have been comparatively of minor importance. The industry
has therefore been badly hit by this new trend in women’s and chil­
dren’s clothes. An attempt was made by the American manufac­
turers to increase their sales about two years ago by introducing
so-called “ Spanish lace,” a modified imitation of the silk hand-made
Spanish lace shawls. “ Spanish lace,” usually made of artificial silk
and cotton, became popular, and had a vogue for two seasons, but is
at present out of style as a feature article. The industry is
again faced with a decreasing demand for its product and with
keen competition on the part of foreign producers for whatever mar­
ket exists.
The classes of lace goods in which foreign competition is the
keenest and which are therefore imported in large quantities have
25 Q u a rterly J o u rn a l o f E con om ics, C am bridge, M ass., N ovem ber, 1 922, p. 4 4 : “ T e x tile
sch ed u les in th e ta r iff o f 192 2 ,” by A . H . C ole.




been described by the United States Tariff Commission in its pre­
liminary report on lace (p. 13):
Imports of fancy laces are largely fine French vals and silk laces. Other
machine-made products which are imported may be classed under three heads:
First, laces made on machines of finer gauge than the domestic machines;
second, laces in which the cost of the labor processes makes it impossible to
compete, or in which the cost of preliminary preparation is so great that the
demand would not justify the outlay; third, laces which are beyond the
technique of the draughtsmen and twist hands o f the domestic industry at its
present stage of development. To sum up, the situation would seem to be
as follow s: There is very little foreign competition upon staple laces for
underwear; it is keen upon better-class goods for outer wear, while upon the
best class of novelty goods the demand is supplied almost entirely from

The classes of goods made in this country are primarily narrow
insertions, edgings, and flouncings for dress trimmings or housefurnishing purposes, veilings, and wide all-over nets for dress ma­
terials or draperies.

Some appreciation of the technical problems which faced the
manufacturers producing Levers laces may be gained from a brief
description of the technical and economic features of the industry.
Levers lace machines are usually narrower than lace-curtain ma­
chines, ranging from 172 to 224 inches in width. They produce
simultaneously a large number of narrow laces connected together
with binding threads, which are later pulled out. Levers machines
in the United States range from 7-point to 15-point, making articles
with 14 to 30 meshes to the inch. While a 7-point lace-curtain ma­
chine has seven bobbins passing back and forth along an inch of
width on the machine to make seven meshes to the inch, a 7-point
Levers lace machine has twice as many, or 14 bobbins to the inch
of width on the machine. The bobbins are very thin rolled-brass
disks upon which are wound, under heavy tension, “ prepared”
yarns in amounts varying from 80 to 250 yards.2 Many bobbins
are so thin that the two disks with the yarn between will not measure
more than one-fortieth to one-fiftieth of an inch.2 The brass-bobbin
yarns must bear the weight of the lace or lace curtains as they are
made, and must therefore be strong and of uniform quality. Lace
and lace-curtain manufacturers in this country import all of their
brass-bobbin yarns and also some of their ornamenting threads.
The warp yarns can be secured locally. The lace industry as a whole
is the largest consumer of imported cotton yarns. In 1918, for ex­
ample, 42.8 per cent of all cotton yarns imported into the United
States was used by the lace, lace-curtain, and bobbin-net factories.
The Levers industry uses finer yarns than does the lace-curtain
industry, even going to the finest 400/2. Lace curtains are rarely
finer than 16 meshes to the inch, and are usually made of yarns
coarser than 100/2.2
26 T e x t ile W o rld R e co rd , F eb ru a ry , 1914, p. 4 9 5 : “ W a s te y a rn in la c e m a n u fa ctu re ,”
b y — H a d d on .
2 T e x t ile W o rld J o u rn a l, M a y 13, 1916, p. 2 3 3 5 : “ L a ce y a rn s as m ad e in E n g la n d ,”
b y Sam W ak efield .
28 U n ited S ta tes. T a r iff C om m ission . T a r iff In fo rm a tio n S eries N o. 1 2 : C o tto n y a rn s.
Im p o r t a n d e x p o r t tra d e in re la tio n t o th e ta r iff. W a s h in g to n , 1 920, pp. 6 0, 66, a n d 69.



No statistical data are available for lace factories separately so
the economic features of the industry must be summarized in
general statements only. The size of the unit in the lace industry
tends to be smaller than in the lace-curtain industry because its
technique is less suited to mass production and it manufactures a
less staple product. In the 1921 hearings it was estimated that ap­
proximately $21,000,000 was invested in the lace industry in the
United States and that it employed approximately 8,000 workers.2
This was undoubtedly an exaggeration of the numbers employed,
since the census figures for that year give only about 7,000 in
both the lace and lace-curtain industries. However, the industry
in common with the lace-curtain trade requires relatively large
amounts of capital. The great bulk of the product is sold through
jobbers, with the exception of a few firms like the Zion City plant,
whose entire output is taken by a single company and sold through
its wholesale and retail stores. Some firms sell a portion of their
output directly to manufacturers of women’s clothes, but most of the
product is sold through wholesale and retail jobbers.
The central and most important figure in the lace mill is the de­
signer. The motifs for most of the machine-made lace products
are copies or adaptations of Italian, Belgian, and French hand-made
lace panels and other art objects, the work of adaptation requiring
great skill. Since every thread in the Levers lace machine—and
there are usually between 12,000 and 30,0003 —works independently
of every other thread, when the design is traced upon cross-section
paper magnified to scale, the course of each thread and its position
in the machine must be drawn and marked by means of a number
system. From this drawing, cards are punched which go upon the
mechanism of the machine controlling the movement of the threads
in the working out of the pattern. Most of the designers are English
or French.
The lace weavers are generally considered to be more skilled than
the lace-curtain weavers. The threading of the lace machine is
a more intricate process, requiring constant reference to the de­
signers’ drawings, and the adjustment of the tension of the threads
is likewise a more difficult problem. It is possible to change the
class of goods on a lace-curtain machine without “ stripping ”
the machine, but such a change on a Levers machine requires a com­
plete “ stripping” or cutting down of the yarns, and it may take
from two to four weeks to put the machine into operation again.
The lace weavers are for the most part English or French and like
the lace-curtain weavers received their training in Europe.
It is generally considered that it takes about five or six persons to
work on the auxiliary processes of one lace-curtain machine and
seven or nine for a lace machine, although the numbers vary with
the gauge of the machine and the type of work. However, here as
in the lace-curtain industry, the majority of the workers are engaged
9 U n ited S tates. C ongress. H ou se o f R ep resen ta tive s. C om m ittee o n W a y s an d M eans.
H ea rin g s on gen era l ta r iff rev ision , S ch ed u le N. W a sh in g to n , 1921, pp. 3362.
80 U nited S tates. D ep a rtm en t o f C om m erce a n d L a b o r. B ureau o f M a n u factu res.
L a ce in d u stry in E n g la n d an d F ra n ce, by W . A . G rah am C lark. W ash in g to n , 1909, p. 46.


l a c e a n d l a c e - c u r t a i n in d u s t r ie s i n

u n it e d


in the preparatory processes such as beaming, bobbin winding,
threading, and pressing, and the finishing processes, such as bleach­
ing and washing, dyeing, dressing, clipping, mending, and inspect­
ing. Clipping and pulling threads is very often done as homework.
The majority of the woman workers are employed at dressing, clip­
ping, mending, and inspecting. Every time a thread breaks in the
machine, or whenever bobbins run out, a break occurs in the lace
which has to be mended by hand or sewing machine. Experienced
menders become very adept, so that it is impossible to detect that a
break has ever occurred. This work is probably the most stilled of
the auxiliary processes.


For a time after the first group of Nottingham lace-curtain
weavers came to this country they retained their membership in
the Nottingham union, but as their number increased, local benevo­
lent societies maintaining death and sick benefits were formed which
became the nucleus of a movement for a national trade-union. Early
correspondence between the secretaries of these benevolent societies
in Philadelphia, Patchogue, and Tariffville culminated in the call­
ing of the first convention at Philadelphia in September, 1892.
Delegates were present from Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Patchogue,
Tariffville, and Philadelphia. A later convention in December of
the same year included also a delegate from Columbia, Pa. As a re­
sult of these conventions the Society of Amalgamated Lace Curtain
Operatives of America was formed, whose object, according to its
original constitution (1893) was “ to raise a fund from the various
branches thereof and to maintain by their united efforts a fair re­
muneration for their labor and to regulate the relation existing
between employer and employed.”


In an industry in which great irregularity of employment, ac­
companied by a high degree of specialized skill, places a premium
on security of the job, a trade-union’s efforts to improve working
conditions tend to center first in measures affecting the entrance to
the trades. Control of the labor supply has long been recognized
as the most important feature of trade-union, policy in those indus­
tries in which it is economically possible. In the case of the lace
and lace-curtain weavers, a natural monopoly of highly skilled
crafts in an industry in process of transplantation was molded into
effective control of the labor supply through the following union
policies: (1) High initiation fees if the circumstances warranted
restriction; (2) length-of-service requirements in accepting transfer
or traveling cards from European lace workers’ trade-unions; (3)
regulation of apprenticeship with respect to numbers allowed, age
limits, and length of term to be served; (4) semiofficial and official
action on importation of lace weavers by American employers, under
the alien contract labor law; and (5) attainment of the closed shop.
The years during which these policies have been in force may be
roughly divided into three periods: First, the period of initial or­
ganization from 1892 to 1900, when low entrance fees were charged
and length-of-service requirements for union weavers from abroad
1 U nless oth erw is e n oted , d a ta a re fro m record s o f A m a lga m a ted L a ce O p e ra tiv e s’ S o­
c ie ty : C on ven tion p roceed in g s, a n d M in u tes o f ex e c u tiv e b oard .






u n io n






w eavers

were shorter than in later years; second, the period from 1900 to
1919—a period of short-lived prosperity followed by a long-drawnout depression in the lace-currain trade—when entrance fees were
made prohibitively high, service requirements were raised and
strict interpretation of the apprenticeship regulations was enforced
to protect the unemployed members; and third, the period since the
war, when the industry faced trade prosperity with a labor shortage
and the union took cognizance of the new situation by reducing en­
trance fees in all of the crafts. During the second period, the im­
portation of large numbers of Levers lace machines m 1910 necessi­
tated the importation of skilled Levers workers to run them. The
margin of labor supply in this craft was narrow, and the union made
an effort to prevent the overstocking of the market, by presenting
evidence on the state of employment for the Levers and lace-curtain
trades in this country,

In the 1892 convention, when the original constitution and by­
laws were drawn up by delegates representing a small membership, a
$2 entrance fee was decided upon because it might act as an induce­
ment to increased membership; but this zest for increased member­
ship was not lasting. Four years later the entrance fee for “ minors,”
as the apprentices were called, was placed at $3, while that for com­
petent men was raised to $5; the latter was again raised to $10 in
1900. There followed a period of great prosperity for the industry
during which several important changes took place in the organiza­
tion and policy of the union. Before 1902 lace-curtain operatives
coming from abroad were required to have one year’s experience
before their transfer cards were accepted by the society. In that
year the requirement was raised to three years’ experience. At the
1905 convention an appeal was made by the Newmilns Lace Work­
ers’ Union in Scotland to admit without entrance fee their members
who had three years’ traveling cards, but the convention declined the
request. At the same time, because the fee had now become high
enough to discourage the organization campaign in the new districts,
the executive board was given the power to reduce the entrance fee
“ in the making of new branches only.”
Following the prosperity of 1902 to 1905, there was a long period
of depression which reached very low points between 1907 and 1914.
In this period the society tried to protect its unemployed members
by raising the entrance tee for the curtain men to $100, and for the
Levers men, who were for the most part unorganized, to $20; foreign
transfer-card requirements were raised from three to five years’ ex­
perience. After the organization campaign among the Levers men
m 1912 their fee was raised to $50, and at the same time the minors’
fee was raised to $20. The union’s attitude is well brought out in
a quotation from the minutes of the executive board for February
2, 1907:
A deputation from the trade committee o f branch No. 1 [the Philadelphia
local executive comm ittee] appeared before the board, and stated that it was
ready to take action against the influx o f foreign help streaming into No. 1
Branch, and suggested the closing o f the branch against any new members.
* * * The board decided that the restriction was being made to give em­
ployment to the present membership, and therefore allowed them to raise the
entrance fee to whatever they deemed necessary to suit the occasion.



High initiation fees, combined with a refusal to work with non­
union men, amount to practical exclusion. The system is clumsy
but effective.

Every time the society changed its fees or traveling-card re­
quirements it had to notify the European unions of lace workers.
Although the English, French, Spanish, and Scotch unions recog­
nized each others’ cards and admitted members without entrance fees,
the American lace operatives did not reciprocate when given the
same privilege.2 An attempt was made at this time to form an inter­
national federation of lace workers and one of the Nottingham
union officials visited this country to speak before all of the local
branches in the interests of the federation. However, in a ballot of
the American union on the question of affiliation, the proposal was
The restrictive policies mentioned above remained in force for
about 10 years, a decade of depression in the industry when few ap­
prentices were trained and many members dropped out of the trade.
When the war and the building boom after the war brought greater
prosperity and less danger of an oversupply of labor, the entrance
fees for both curtain and Levers men were reduced to $25. This
change was made at the time of the reorganization of the union in
1919. Although the Levers fee has been still further reduced re­
cently, the entrance fee for curtain men was again raised to $100, in
1922." This was because employers were hiring newly arrived im­
migrants from the lace industries of Europe, while union members
were unemployed, and the union followed its customary policy of
protecting the present occupants of the jobs against newcomers.
In a number of cases extra entrance fees were charged in addition
to the regular fees as penalties or fines for “ working detrimental to
organized labor” during strikes; and one Italian was charged an
additional $5 until he proved that he had held membership in an
Italian lace-makers’ union.

The apprentice regulations in the lace and lace-curtain industries
have been highly contested features of policy, second only in impor­
tance to the closed shop issue in the history of the union. In the
early days of 1892 one apprentice, or “ minor,” was allowed for
every five journeymen. This rule did not arouse much attention until
the 1894 convention, when the delegates from the Philadelphia
branch urged the convention to a “ more strict enforcement of the
minor rule to prevent overstocking of the market.” They also
urged adherence to the age-limit rule for minors, which did not
allow men to become apprentices under the age of 18 or over the
age of 25. The length of apprenticeship had been fixed at three
years, and a minor served at the following rates: “ Sixty per cent
the first year, 75 per cent the second year, and 90 per cent the third
J oh n s H op k in s U n iv ersity . G overn m en t o f A m erica n T ra d e-U n ion s, b y T . W . G lock er.
J o h n s H op k in s U n iv ersity S tu dies, v o l. 31, 1913, p. 88.
57192°—25----- 3



year of one-half the racks made on the machine, the difference to be
equally divided between the teacher and the employer.” These regu­
lations would “ keep men out of the trade,” according to the con­
vention delegates, and it was urged that “ the governing of the
laws of supply and demand is necessary to maintain a fair rack
price.” 3
In 1896 the number of minors was cut to one to every nine journey­
men, a ratio which still obtains. Although the ratio of apprentices
to journeymen varies considerably from trade to trade, depending
upon the methods of working, degree of skill required, and ability of
the craft to insure positions for its workers when trained, a ratio of
one to nine workers is not out of line with ratios in similar trades. In
the silk-ribbon industry , which presents an analogous situation because
it is also a fashion-textile trade, the ratio of apprentices is one to ten
and the length of the apprenticeship term is three years, although
especially qualified persons may finish in two years. In the Not­
tingham lace industry the ratio in the three crafts of lace, lacecurtain, and plain-net weaving is one to seven, but the term of ap­
prenticeship is four years for Levers and lace-curtain apprentices
and three years for plain-net weavers. The shorter term in this
country practically cancels the difference in the ratio.
The requirement with regard to the length of time to be served
by other members of the lace trade entering the society was changed
from six months to two years in 1897. This requirement applied
particularly to Levers lace workers who had been coming over to
work in the new lace mills in this country. In Brooklyn, the original
home of the lace industry here, a small local union of Levers lace
workers was formed several years prior to the establishment of the
lace-curtain operatives’ organization. Both organizations had
charters from the American Federation of Labor. When the 1897
convention lengthened the time required for lace workers to become
competent lace-curtain workers from six months to two years, an
appeal was made by the Brooklyn Levers Society, which had been
badly broken up by strikes, to secure easier terms of entrance for its
members into the lace-curtain operatives’ society. However, the
change was supported by a later convention despite the appeal, and
the delegation from the Levers Society left the convention. Shortly
after this they agreed to act as strike breakers during a curtain-shop
strike in Wilkes-Barre. They would never admit the charge of “ scab­
bing,” but when they were taken into the lace-curtain union after the
strike their own organization disappeared. The membership provi­
sion of the lace-curtain society was then changed so as to admit all
“ practical lace operatives” of both branches of the industry; and a year
or so later its name was changed to the Amalgamated Lace Operatives’
Society. In 1902 the probationary period required of weavers from
other branches of the lace trade was reduced to 20 months but at
the original rate of pay, namely, “ 80 per cent of one-half of the
racks made, the difference to go to the men with whom they worked,
provided the latter were competent lace makers.” In later years,
8 “ R a c k ” is th e u n iv ersa l b asis o f m easurem en t o f p r o d u c tio n in th e la ce a n d la cecu r ta in in d u s trie s. I n th e m a k in g o f la ce cu rta in s i t m ean s th e p r o d u c t o b ta in e d b y
1 ,4 4 0 m o tio n s o f th e la ce -cu r ta in m a c h in e ; in th e ca se o f th e L e v e rs m ach in e, b y 1 ,9 2 0
m o tio n s .



when the long period of depression began in the lace-eurtain trade,
and the importation of lace machines free of duty in 1910 led to a
demand for lace weavers, several lace-curtain operatives transferred
to the lace trade and became “ improvers.” With the return of
prosperity in recent years, however, the trend of the movement of
operatives has been the other way.
During the early period of prosperity in the trade, particularly
between 1901 and 1902, the employers were constantly asking the
society for minors; one firm asked for as many as 23 at one time.
At the 1905 convention a regulation was made giving the executive
board power to authorize the employment of a sufficient number
of minors “ to relieve the situation ” in shops where it was “ definitely
ascertained that normal conditions prevail and competent workmen
can not be secured by employers.”
Immediate advantage of this provision was taken by employers.
However, when the depression came and men were thrown out of
employment, the question of interpretation of “ normal conditions ”
arose. In 1906 permission for the employment of six minors, given
to one of the Philadelphia plants by the national executive board, led
to a dispute between the board and the local trade committee of
Branch No. 1, alwT the largest and most obstreperous of the local
branches. Branch No. 1 in general meeting had refused to accept the
minors as members, and the “ responsible member” of the shop com­
mittee had prevented one new minor from working a machine. After
several deputations and parleys the executive board resigned, but
the other branches gave it their support and Branch No. 1 was forced
to rescind its action. Nevertheless, the regulation was modified by
the 1909 constitution (Art. IV, sec. 1) so as to restrict the board’s
power with regard to minors to “ shops where normal conditions
prevail for four weeks previously (provided however that the branch
within whose jurisdiction the said shop is located, and the shop
committee have been previously consulted on the matter).”
The problem of definition of “ normal conditions” came to the
fore again in 1913, when a manager contended that the men were
getting as much wages as they had at a previous grant of minors,
while the deputation from the executive board contended that while
men “ walked the streets” a shop could not be considered to have
normal conditions. Again, in 1916, a lockout was precipitated at
one shop where a man applied for work, but the shop committee held
that conditions in the shop were not normal, whereupon the manager
shut off the power and the men were locked out. The question was
not settled until the workers of another shop struck in sympathy.
During the Levers price conferences in 1916 and 1917 the matter of
an increase in wages, which had been pending for years, was made
contingent upon more flexibility in the minor rule and negotiations
on the interpretation of “ normal conditions.” No agreement on
the latter point was effected until recently. The industry is now
considered “ normal,” if the workers are “ employed 80 per cent of
full time (making racks) for four weeks previously,” a tacit acknowl­
edgment of the overdevelopment in the industry.
After the long depression in the trade, the dropping out of ap­
prentices and members led to a shortage rather than an oversupply
of skilled workers, and with the recent trade boom, the problem has



now become that of attracting workers. It has been stated before
that with few exceptions the weavers have not trained their sons to
be weavers; the sons often work in the lace industry, but if so, they
are employed as auxiliary workers. The lace-curtain plants in the
mining regions of Pennsylvania and in the small towns have ap­
parently been able to attract a sufficient number of apprentices for
their needs because of the limitation of other trade opportunities
and the relative advantages of lace weaving as compared with coal
mining before the mines were unionized. However, in Philadelphia
the difficulty of getting apprentices has presented more of a problem.
In recent years, firms have made special efforts to induce groups of
auxiliary workers to become apprentices in weaving under special
instruction; but even this has not increased the numbers of appren­
tices to the full quota allowed. One of the difficulties in the situa­
tion is that through organization the auxiliary workers have been
able to obtain higher wages, which in some cases have equaled or
approached those of the weavers. The auxiliary workers, further­
more, do not have the inconveniences attendant upon two-shift oper­
ation at work requiring long employment before full earning ca­
pacity is reached. The high wages in the unskilled occupations,
the long period of apprenticeship required of weavers, the hap­
hazard methods of training at most of the plants, and the two-shift
system may be cited as conditions within the industry which tend
to produce a shortage of skilled labor. The industry is therefore
dependent upon European trained weavers—at times an uncertain
source of supply—to fill gaps in the ranks of the weavers whose
present average age is high.
There is considerable difference of opinion as to the length of
time required to become a skilled weaver. The present union re­
quirement for the term of learning both lace and lace-curtain weav­
ing is three years. One manufacturer contends that six months to
a year is all that is necessary for training if one could hold over the
apprentices’ heads the fear of losing their jobs. He contends that
union organization deadens initiative and that the security the work­
ers have in their jobs eliminates competitive effort. The union, on
the other hand, contends that since the production is on a piecework
basis, no restriction of output is possible and great competition
results. Methods of training apprentices have, at any rate, been
haphazard. Few weavers in any one mill, whether working on lace
or lace curtains, can make all classes of goods. Apprentices are
turned over for instruction to other workers, who may or may not
be good teachers. There is seldom much variety in their work, and
no effort is made to transfer them to all machines or all grades of
work. When they become weavers they tend to stay on the gauge
of machine and the class of goods they have learned to work.
That some of the reasons why apprentices are scarce may be
charged to the industry, is proved by the fact that in a few trades
there is no problem oi attracting apprentices. A case in point is
the apprenticeship plan in the silk-ribbon weaving trade in Greater
New York, arrived at through a joint agreement between employers
and the union of silk ribbon weavers and described at length in Bul­
letin No. 341 of this bureau. Although the general agreement in
the silk-ribbon industry was abrogated in June, 1923, the appren­
ticeship plan, with minor modifications, is still in force.



The problem of attracting apprentices to the lace-weaving trade
reflects in part the general movement of the younger generation
away from the trades to the clerical and unskilled occupations. This
is partly due to conditions within the industries, such as those men­
tioned, and in part to the general educational system. Under the
policy in vogue in the United States manual training has been used
in connection with vocational training for particular occupations,
rather than for its general cultural value. As a result the desire to
do things with one’s hands has remained in a large measure un­

The artificial restriction of the labor supply by the union was
aided by the small size of the industries, their localization along the
Atlantic seaboard, and the necessity of importing labor under the
exceptions granted in the contract labor law allowing the importa­
tion of skilled labor if there was a recognized shortage in a particu­
lar craft in the country.
It is always amazing to find how quickly knowledge of trade
prosperity in this country finds its way to Europe and leads to a
trail of immigrants. This has been true of our general business-cycle
movements as well as of particular trade booms, like those of the
lace-curtain industry from 1902 to 1905 and in 1922 and 1923. Most
of the weavers, however, had relatives “ in the old country.” Because
of the relatively small number of plants and the tendency to localiza­
tion, it was fairly easy for the union to follow the movements of
curtain weavers coming into the country, even before recognition of
the union or the closed shop had been attained. Friends or relatives,
often even the English and Scotch unions, reported the departures
of lace workers from Europe. It was therefore easy to write to the
newcomers and interest them in joining the union here. In order to
prevent their being used as strike breakers, the lace workers’ society
always inserted advertisements in foreign newspapers to warn loyal
union workers of any strikes in progress.
A feature of unusual interest in the history of the lace workers in
this country is afforded in the so-called “ lace makers’ cases ” under
the provisions of the alien contract-labor law. The importation of
skilled labor by American employers has not been a common feature
of labor policy in this country. Occasionally skilled hand cigar
makers have been imported, and expert German machinists have
sometimes been brought in to set up new hosiery or other machines;
but the lace workers have been the only imported group that has
remained in any considerable number, and their cases are therefore
unique in American labor history.
The original alien contract labor act of 1885 as amended at various
times contains the following proviso: “ A n d 'provided further , That
skilled labor may be imported if labor of like kind unemployed can
not be found in this country.” 4 The question of importation of *
* U n ited S tates. B ureau o f Im m ig ra tion . A n n u a l rep ort, 1902, p. 36. T h e fu ll te x t o f
th e p ro v is o rea d s as f o l l o w s : “ P r o v i d e d f u r t h e r , T h a t sk ille d la b o r m ay be im p o rte d , i f
la b o r o f like kin d un em p loyed ca n n o t be fo u n d in th is c o u n t r y ; an d P r o v i d e d f u r t h e r ,
T h a t th e p ro v is io n s o f th is la w a p p lica b le t o co n tr a c t la b o r s h a ll n o t be h eld t o e x clu d e
p ro fe s sio n a l a cto rs , a rtis ts, lectu rers, sin gers, m in isters o f a n y re lig io u s d e n o m in a tio n ,
p ro fe s so rs fo r colleges o r sem in a ries, p erson s b elon g in g to a n y re co g n iz e d lea rn ed p ro ­
fe s sio n , o r p erson s em p loy ed s tr ic tly a s p erson a l o r d o m e stic s e rv a n ts .”
(G e n e ra l L a w s,
1907, ch . 1 1 3 4 .)



skilled men has therefore been important to the society, for it was
occasionally able to prove that 4 labor of like kind ” could be found
unemployed in this country. Before 1903 discussion on the question
of importations or of the work of the Bureau of Immigration did
not find its way into the records studied except in two instances.
First, in the minutes of the executive board for February 3,
1398, appears the following statement: “ Discussion took place in
regard to men coming over from the old country, but the meeting
could not come to any definite manner of stopping same, the general
opinion being that it was a question for the branch to deal with.
Again, in the convention of 1901, a resolution was adopted 4 recom­
mending that the branches stop fighting the immigration laws.” In
1903, during a prolonged and bitter strike waged by the first Levers
branch of the society in a Rhode Island mill, the brother of a strike
breaker at work in the shop landed at Ellis Island and was held for
inquiry on the ground of illegal importation by the employer of the
mill. The union representatives asserted that money for passage
had been forwarded to the man indirectly from the employer, and
that he had a contract to work in the shop where the strike was being
waged. The case was finally dismissed because of insufficient evi­
dence.5 When a second Levers plant was out on strike some years
later, a similar charge was made. In a strike, however, rumors of
the coming of strike breakers and an employer’s obvious attempts to
obtain strike breakers, if combined with a coincident landing at
Ellis Island of several good weavers or other lace workers, would
lead to immediate suspicion by the strikers and an attempt on their
part to set the Government machinery working in their favor. The
original attitude of the Bureau of Immigration in a strike situation
was brought out in the Tampa cigar makers’ case, when it was held
that skilled workers out of employment by their own choice as the
result of a strike should not be considered 4 unemployed ” within the
meaning of the act. However, later commissioners and inspectors
showed some leaning to the view that if every time the workers tried
to improve their conditions by striking, tneir employer could go
abroad and get all the strike breakers he needed, the original pur­
pose of the act would not be fulfilled.
In 1905 the union fell into an awkward situation because it testified
against the admission of two pattern readers. The latter were re­
leased pending a decision on tlieir appeal against deportation and
went to work in a New York State lace-curtain mill. They later be­
came prominent in the forming of a new local branch of the society,
and when their case was reheard, asked the society to use its best
efforts in their behalf. The union did make some effort to have the
case dropped, but it involved a question of the legal rights of the
Immigration Bureau and was pushed to the end. The men were
deported, but came back in a few months’ time and nothing further
was heard of the matter.
It became customary for union representatives to testify on the
supply of labor in the trade in the hearings at the several immi­
gration ports. In order to comply with the law as interpreted by
the immigration officials an employer had to advertise in several
newspapers in this country and exhaust all sources of labor supply
• U n ite d S ta tes.

B u rea u o f Im m ig ra tion .

R e co rd s , 1 003.

F a rra n d s ca se .



before lie was permitted to import skilled labor. The Rhode Island
firm involved in the first of the lace makers’ cases imported men
again in 1909, and a union representative testified at the hearings.
He stated that plenty of men could be obtained by the firm if “Amer­
ican conditions ” prevailed; that the firm paid 25 per cent below the
wage scale of other manufacturers, and discriminated against union
men. The foreigners were admitted, however, and the decision was
as follows:
A fter careful inquiry and consideration it was decided that the men should
be admitted, as at the time o f the importation the supply o f such operatives
did not equal the dem and; but it was also concluded that the margin with
respect to this class is so narrow, that conditions are likely to change within
a very short period o f time, making it necessary that careful inquiry shall
be instituted whenever foreigners belonging to that skilled trade attempt to
enter the country.*

By the tariff act of 1909, it will be remembered, the importation
of Levers machines free of duty was allowed for a period of a year
and a half. This reopened the question of importation of skilled
men to run the machines, and several firms were given permission
to import men “ after careful investigation.” 7 In the early part of
1911 the following statement was made by the society’s secretary
before one of the immigration inspectors:
W hile there is no justification in opposing the im portation o f skilled Levers
hands ju st at the present time, there is a probability o f the supply exceeding
the demand in the near future owing to fluctuating con d ition s; the slack season
is approachin g; lace-curtain hands can learn to operate Levers machines within
a period o f from 1 to 12 months, and there are a number o f this class unem­
ployed at the present time.

In an effort to meet the labor requirements of the new lace facto­
ries the union offered to make extra grants of minors in order that
American boys might be trained in to the trade; but the manufacturers
preferred to import men already trained. A number of lacercurtain
weavers applied to become Levers “ improvers ” because the curtain
trade was badly depressed at the time, and the length of term re­
quired for a curtain weaver to become a Levers weaver was not more
than a year. However, only a few were chosen to undertake the
transfer. The manufacturers felt that they could not afford to have
a large proportion of untrained men in the initial stages of the
An interesting case arose during this period in connection with the
request of a lace-curtain manufacturer in New York State for permis­
sion to import auxiliary workers from Canada on the ground that
they were skilled labor and that he could not secure them in his vicin­
ity. The moot question in this case was, “ What is skill ? ” After ex­
tensive investigation in which the union took part, it was decided that
lace menders were semiskilled, but that the other workers in ques­
tion—spool winders, threaders, and overlockers—were unskilled be­
cause their work could be learned in a few weeks’ or a few months’
time. No lace-curtain mills existed in Canada, so it was obvious
that the employer was going to frain them at his own factory. It
was further ascertained that the reason he could not secure auxiliary
workers was that the wages he offered were below the rates paid in
6 U n ited S ta tes. B u rea u o f
* Id em , 1910, p p. 123, 124.

Im m ig ra tion .

A n n u al

rep ort,

1909, p. 119.



other lace-curtain centers. When pressed on this point he contended
that he had to pay lower wages because his factory was situated 350
miles from the market, and that he had to pay extra freight charges
on his materials and his own traveling expenses back and forth.
Permission to import labor was denied.8
Many complications arose in an interesting case in 1910 in which
seven men were imported by one company which had made “ no
honest attempt to comply with the provisions of the law,” accord­
ing to the immigration inspector’s report. When the importation
of the men was exposed during the hearings, an official of the
company renounced them. They were ordered to be deported, but
appealed, and were released pending a rehearing. They went to
work at the plant of the aforesaid company while waiting. There
were two complications in the case: (1) Conflicting testimony of
those examined showed that all parties concerned believed they were
violating the law; (2) the recruiting abroad of lace makers had been
confined to Levers workers, of whom there was a recognized short­
age due to the recent importation of machines, but in this case only
two or three of the seven could be considered Levers lace makers.
Suit for $16,000 was therefore instituted by the Government. The
employer claimed that the union’s evidence had been the cause of
tli2 Government’s suit, whereas the Bureau of Immigration records
showed that hearings had taken place before the union was asked to
give evidence. The union’s evidence was confined to the fact that
the employer in question had made no request for labor, and that the
union could have supplied men if requested. Nevertheless other
manufacturers had recently been given permission to import, and
the employer was able to prove that his industry was an essential
part of the economic organization of his state. While he admitted
there had been perjury and very bad handling of the situation at
the time the men were imported, he maintained that there was no
need for the company to be secretive about it, because there was
recognized shortage of that type of labor in the country. Upon
these grounds the men were allowed to stay, and the Government’s
suit was dropped.9
Under the immigration act of 1917, the Secretary of Labor is
empowered to hold investigations and hearings before men are
imported, to determine whether “ skilled labor of like kind unem­
ployed in the country ” can be found; and on the basis of his conclu­
sions give or refuse employers permission to import labor.1 This
method has obvious advantages from the point of view of all parties
concerned. The machinery for the importation of skilled labor in
times of recognized shortage has been but little used by employers;
in fact, it is probable that many employers do not know oi its ex­
istence. The lace industry came under the category of a new in­
dustry in process of establishment. It was probably the last Euro­
pean industry to be transplanted, and came within such a recent pe­
riod that full advantage could be taken of this machinery. With the
more recent general restrictive policy now in effect with regard to
immigration, a noticeable increase in the number of requests for
permission to import has taken place, and a still greater increase is
8 U n ited S tates. B ureau o f. Im m ig ra tion . R ecord s, 1910. In te rn a tio n a l L a c e C o.
• Id em , 1 9 1 0 -1 1 .
O p p en h eim er-L evy case.
B u rea u o f Im m ig ra tion . A n n u a l rep o rt, 1919, p. 19.

10 U n ited S ta tes.



expected by immigration officials. The question of exactly what con­
stitutes “ skilled labor” has never been settled; with considerable
elasticity in its interpretation, all cases of proved or generally
recognized shortage could be satisfactorily handled.
It was apparently the custom for the lace manufacturers to ad­
vance money to the nien they imported to pay their entrance fees
to the union. During 1913 a request from one factory was sent
to the executive board of the union asking them to reduce the en­
trance fee in case they imported men. They claimed it was an ex^
pense from which the firm received no benefit, because whenever
a man became dissatisfied with his job he invariably left the shop
and often did not reimburse the firm for the expenditures. The
board decided, however, to adhere to the rules on the matter.

In 1905 the union added to its constitutional object of securing
fair wages and regulating the relations between employer and enp
ployed the following: “ The object of this organization is to se­
cure justice and fair pay and to organize thoroughly the lace trade
in the United States.” Thorough organization sooner or later
means the closed shop. The importance of this issue as a cause for
strikes is evidenced m the fact that one-third of the local strikes
called by the union during the period prior to 1919 were for the
enforcement of the closed shop. Strikes called for such reasons
as, “ posting of new shop rules without consultation of shop com­
mittees,” “ refusing to reinstate a discharged man,” and refusing
to recognize the union caused an additional one-third of the strikes.
In this estimate early strikes for which the records state no cause
and stoppages which included less than all the members in the
shop have been excluded. Even so, it has sometimes been extremely
difficult to extract from the various union records consulted the
underlying causes of the strikes. The secretaries writing the min­
utes were usually more interested in reporting the meetings, nego­
tiations, and final settlement. It is conceivable that they and the
men affected at times did not know the underlying causes of the
dispute. The lace-curtain weavers have never called a general
strike; the one general strike in the trades was called by the Levers
lace weavers in 1917 to obtain a wage increase. This and one or two
local strikes called against a reduction in wages have been the
only strikes called locally or nationally on the wage question. The
lace workers in both trades, like many other older craft unions*
have been willing to take reductions in wages or to go slowly in
forcing increases rather than give up their power in matters of shop
discipline and shop rules.
The lace-curtain branches were the first to obtain the closed shop.
By 1902 a uniform wage scale was in effect throughout the trade,
and the closed shop had been obtained in 9 of the 11 mills then mak­
ing lace curtains. At the present time the lace-curtain section main­
tains the closed shop in the weaving departments of 9 plants which
employ over 80 per cent of the lace-curtain workers. In the three
factories which refuse to employ union men, prolonged and unsuc­
cessful struggles took place in an effort to secure recognition of the



union. Their lack of success is attributed by some o f the members
to hasty action in calling strikes which ended disastrously; to the
bitter opposition of certain employers to organized labor; to inatten­
tion to the problem on the part or the union officials; and to advan­
tages given by the employer, which prevented the union’s getting a
good start.
Attempts to organize the Levers men were not so successful at first,
but after the importation of Levers machines and the incoming or
large numbers of Levers workers in 1910, a second and more thorough
organizing campaign was begun which met with great success.
Several new Levers branches were formed; the membership of the
organization doubled; and the strength of the society became so
great that it was in a fair way to obtain the closed shop for all Levers
workers as well as curtain men. The closed shop had always ob­
tained in those plants in Pennsylvania where Levers men worked in
the same mill with curtain men, and hence had uniform conditions.
In 1917 a general strike of Levers lace weavers was called to force
a uniform price list and an increase in wages, which ended disas­
trously and ultimately split the union. In certain districts where the
strike was lost the Levers section had difficulty in gaining a foothold
again, and the Levers men are at the present time working for a
uniform price list and the closed shop, where this has not yet been
obtained. The Levers section is thus less powerful than the curtain
section, because it controls a smaller proportion of its potential

In summary it may be said the weavers in the lace-curtain and lace
industries were placed in a strategic position in bargaining with
their employers because of certain economic factors in the industry—
the scarcity of trained labor and the necessity of importing men or
of training apprentices to the required skill. During periods of un­
employment and a threatened oversupply of labor this position was
strengthened by artificial restriction through regulation of appren­
ticeship, transfer-card requirements, and high initiation fees. A
tradition of unionism in Europe and the fact that there was a small
number of lace-curtain plants localized in one State gave the cur­
tain operatives added advantages. That a lesser degree of organiza­
tion and control was secured in the Levers trade is attributable pri­
marily to the bitter opposition and active warfare of certain Levers
lace manufacturers, to the scattering of local branches away from
organization headquarters, and to a shorter experience in collective
bargaining in this country. An added difficulty arose in the prob­
lem of language, for certain of the Levers branches had to conduct
business in French as well as English. Finally, a larger number
of financial reorganizations in the lace trade, because o f its de­
pendence on fashion and its economic disadvantage in competing
with foreign producers, has resulted in breaking up organization
among the workers to a greater extent than in the more stable lacecurtain trade.


By taking measures to control the entrance to the trade and to
secure the worker’s tenure in the job, the lace operatives adopted the
policies of craft unionism. The predominance of the skilled groups
in the industry and the unbridged gulf between the skilled and un­
skilled as regards their economic position led to the growth of a
strong craft union. The bargaining power of the group was
strengthened by good discipline within the ranks of the organization
and by a centralized administration; there was, however, a degree
of local autonomy which increased until it eventually vanquished the
centralized management. In the structural development of the union,
stormy debates arose over the inclusion of separate crafts, particu­
larly the Levers weavers, and later of the unskilled workers in the
auxiliary departments of the mills. During the struggle the whole
issue of craft versus industrial unionism was brought up and fought
out bitterly by the separatists. In the resulting structure and gov­
ernment, craft unionism won a precarious victory at the expense of
several groups in the industry.
From the beginning of their organization the membership of.
the Amalgamated Lace Operatives’ Society has included more than
one craft—the lace-curtain weavers, the plain-net weavers, and the
readers and correctors of lace-curtain patterns. During their his­
torical development other groups have been amalgamated with them
for varying lengths of time. The American Federation of Labor
charter granted to the Society of Amalgamated Lace Curtain Oper­
atives of America in 1894 gave “ jurisdiction over all workers within a
lace mill.” Five years later the Brooklyn Levers Society, the first and
only separate organization of Levers weavers in the country, asked for
federation or amalgamation with the curtain weavers. This request
was held in abeyance and was automatically dropped in 1901, when
the Brooklyn society was broken up as the result of strikes and
the admission of part of its membership to the Wilkes-Barre local of
curtain weavers. In the 1902 convention of the union, it will be
remembered, the word “ curtain” was dropped and membership
opened to Levers weavers; but a proposal to have one member of
the executive board represent the Levers trade was voted down.1
An early campaign to organize the Levers weavers in the Rhode
Island district followed this constitutional change, but failed after
1 U nless oth e rw is e n oted , d a ta a re from record s o f the A m a lga m a ted L a ce O p e ra tiv e s’
S o c i e t y : C on ven tion p r o c e e d in g s ; an d M in u tes o f th e e x e c u tiv e b oard .
2 In 1903 a n d 1904 th e d ra u g h tsm en a p p lied fo r a d m ission to th e reo rg a n iz e d s o cie ty
a n d w ere a d m itted b y a b a llo t o f th e m em bership. A lth o u g h th e d ra u g h tsm en h a d had a
b en eficia l s o c ie ty p rev iou s to th is tim e, th e y had n ev er been reco g n iz e d as a u n ion , a n d
sev era l em p loy ers n ow refu sed to recog n iz e them . In th e co u rse o f tw o yea rs, h o w e v e r,
th e y w ith d re w fr o m th e la ce op era tiv es, cla im in g th a t th e y h a d n o t re ce iv e d ju s t tre a t­
m ent fr o m th e bra n ch es.




a prolonged strike. The question did not arise again until the im­
portation of Levers machines in 1910 brought over many workers
from the lace centers of Europe. The disastrous result of the first
organization campaign caused many curtain members of the union
to feel that it was useless to attempt another campaign. In Phila­
delphia, the only local branch where both lace and lace-curtain mills
were established, the new Levers workers were admitted to the
branch, and later formed a separate section in order to facilitate the
execution of trade business. An organization campaign was started
in New England despite the sentiment of the curtain members, but
progressed slowly, and communications from the curtain branches
to the executive board during the next few years indicate impatience
with the results. In the course of a few years, however, several lace
mills were organized, and New England Levers branches began tak­
ing part in the general business o f the society. Lockouts or strikes
were common, and the difficulties arising in the maintenance of
newly acquired rights of joint control of working conditions kept
executive boards busv with negotiations and settlements. This diffi­
culty was increased by the attitude of several New England manu­
facturers, who whenever an opportunity offered, attempted to rein­
troduce the open-shop system. The frequency of strikes kept the
Levers branches financially embarrassed and hindered their growth.
With the increase in the Levers membership the question of a
uniform wage scale arose, since great variety obtained in the wage or
price lists used in different mills and different localities. Eight
years of negotiation failed to settle this difficult question. A first
attempt to get the manufacturers to meet with the union to draw
up an American price list in 1910 was a “ dismal failure,” due to the
fact that many of the manufacturers did not attend. The majority
of the Levers weavers preferred being paid according to the 1894
Nottingham “ Levers card,” but disagreements arose over the basis
of classification of goods. Few manufacturers paid strictly accord­
ing to this card, although several had agreed to use it as a basis of
payment, with certain modifications. The modifications were in the
form of reductions in the rates for certain classes of goods or widths
of machine and were not approved by the branches where strict ad­
herence to the card was maintained. These reductions had been
granted in an effort to obviate forcing the issue of payment accord­
ing to the 1894 card at a time when the union was not in a strategic
position to do so. It is interesting to note that back in 1905, in Eng­
land the old Nottingham Levers price lists had been radically changed
by an award of Lord Askwith in the arbitration of a Nottingham
labor dispute. In the statement of this award the reasons given for
the changes were practically the same as the complaints made by the
American manufacturers about the impracticability of the card.
Under the 1894 card the price was considerably increased where
extra bars were used and progressively raised for the fine gauge
and wide machines, so that under these conditions the manufacture
of certain classes of lace was *
hibited and obsolete types
of machinery and cheaper
were favored disproportionately.3 The Nottingham workers had agreed to abide by the
3 G rea t B rita in . B o a r d
S ix th rep ort, 190 5 , p. 22.

o f T ra d e .

P ro ce e d in g s u n d er th e c o n c ilia tio n

a c t o f 1896.



award of the arbitrator and did so, although some claimed that it cut
their earnings a third. However, when the question of an American
price list arose, the Nottingham workers who had come to the United
States reverted to their preference for the 1894 card, for the sake of
the high earnings possible under it. The machines in this country,
however, were practically all of modern construction, and the manu­
facturers attempted to introduce a wide variety of fine and cheap
laces, which were inadequately covered by the 1894 card. Levers
price conferences were held during 1914 and again in 1916 and 1917,
with a view to establishing a new and more satisfactory basis of
remuneration. But at each meeting the manufacturers would pre­
sent a scale on a basis that the union would not accept and the manu­
facturers would not accept the basis of the list presented by the
union. Finally the union became wearied in this matter of con­
tinuous negotiation with no settlement, and in the summer of 1917
attempted to force the issue of payment according to the 1894 card.
A strike involving all of the Levers branches followed, which lasted
for several months. Local settlements were effected with some em­
ployers, or through Government mediation where war contracts were
involved, but the main issue of the strike was lost. Several branches
were broken up, and it has taken years to retrieve the ground lost
during this strike. The Levers section of the union is still working
to obtain uniformity of payment according to a revision of the
1894 card.
The disastrous results of the strike in 1917 brought to a head a
movement for separation of the Levers and curtain branches. The
Levers branches had grown to such an extent just prior to the gen­
eral strike that in conventions they threatened to usurp the balance
of power which had long been held by the curtain branches. Action
on several issues in the 1916 convention, which were of interest to
the Levers members, brought out the fact that their numbers were
sufficient to force satisfactory adjustments. Considerable jealousy
and ill feeling appears to have existed at times between the two
groups and this now came to the front. The financial drain of the
strike had been great and many of the curtain members were tired
of carrying along a group in the organization which seemed to be
constant dead weight. This attitude bears out the contention of
several writers that the varying interests of craft unions tend to
weaken their organizing zeal. A special convention was called by
one of the curtain branches in the fall of 1917 to protest against
the action of the executive board in calling the strike and to ask for
separation of the two groups. Other conventions followed this, in
an endeavor to bring about a settlement of differences, at which feel­
ing ran high. The Levers members felt that they were being aban­
doned at a critical period in their history; and the curtain members
felt that they should have been independent previous to this time.
The Levers members favored a constitutional change which would
keep the organization intact; the curtain members favored a loose
federation, some being willing to have a complete split. The em­
ployers were not uninterested in this new phase of the union’s politi­
cal situation and are reported to have encouraged it. The contro­
versy was bitterly fought, but the curtain members pushed through
their policy of federation, and in 1919 a working basis of reorgani­
zation was reached.




Another question of great importance to the structural develop­
ment of the union came to the fore during this period of organization
and growth of the Levers branches. The several skilled crafts in
the society had been welded into a strong central organization with
uniform rules and policies, although each craft had a separate price
list and special trade practices which were peculiar to its work.
Since there was a possibility of transfer from one craft to the other
because of similarity in the work, and this transfer was more easily
accomplished than promotion from unskilled to skilled work, the
union may be considered a craft rather than an industrial union,
in structure as well as policy. It was not until the 1912 convention
that the question of organizing the unskilled workers in the prepara­
tory and finishing departments was raised for ^discussion. At this
time the whole issue of craft versus industrial unionism was thor­
oughly aired and discussed; but the proposal met little encourage­
ment from the older members of the union. In 1914 the brassbobbin winders of Philadelphia were organized as a federal labor
local, with a charter from the American Federation of Labor. In
1919 this union was opened to all auxiliary workers in Philadelphia.
A second federal labor local of auxiliary workers was established
in Wilkes-Barre in 1916-17, which was successful in securing a large
membership from all occupations. In the 1916 convention of the
lace operatives, the question of organizing the auxiliary workers was
again brought forward. At this time the proponents of organizing
these employees praised the advantages of industrial unionism.
Many Levers members maintained that their strikes would have
ended differently if the auxiliary workers had been organized.
Opponents of the plan complained of the extreme fluctuation and
instability to be expected from young people in the less skilled
occupations as compared with their own crafts. The result of the
convention’s discussion was the election of a committee to handle
the problem, but it accomplished little, because of the inertia o f
the members.

The question of the organization of the auxiliary workers was
further complicated b y a jurisdictional dispute with the United
Textile Workers. Various groups of auxiliary workers had from
time to time affiliated with the United Textile Workers, but no
strong or permanent organization was to be found. The question of
jurisdiction first arose in 1915, at a time when the Amalgamated
Lace Operatives’ Society had a constantly growing membership
and was coming into prominence as a textile labor organization.
The Levers lace makers in a Brooklyn factory had gone out on sym­
pathetic strike with the warpers oi the shop, who belonged to"the
warpers’ local of the United Textile Workers. As a sympathetic
strike was unconstitutional, attempts were immediately made by the
Amalgamated officials to bring the strike to a close. The general
secretary was successful in bringing about a satisfactory settlement



which included the warpers; but it was impossible for any of the
executives of the United Textile Workers to be present at the settle­
ment. The latter organization took exception to the way in which
the matter had been settled and wrote that there ought to be some
understanding between the two societies, suggesting amalgamation.
Then the lace operatives sent a delegate to the 1916 convention of
the American Federation of Labor to have a line of demarcation
drawn between the two unions; but the United Textile Workers
urged amalgamation instead, and nothing was accomplished. In
the same year a local of threaders which had been organized by the
United Textile Workers in Williamsbridge broke up after a strike,
in the settlement of which the Amalgamated Lace Operatives’ So­
ciety had been of assistance. In this instance the United Textile
Workers claimed that the disruption of the local had taken place
through the instrumentality of the lace weavers.
In an effort to bring about an understanding on the jurisdictional
questions involved between the lace operatives and the United Textile
Workers, and also with the mule spinners, who were likewise in dif­
ficulties with the United Textile Workers, the American Federation
of Labor called a special conference in Boston in the summer of 1916.
Although the mule spinners had at one time belonged to the United
Textile Workers under a temporary agreement, the lace operatives
had never been affiliated with that body and had a charter senior
to theirs from the American Federation of Labor. The charter of
the United Textile Workers gave them jurisdiction over all tex­
tile workers; and the charter of the lace operatives gave them
jurisdiction over all workers in a lace mill. Clearly some agree­
ment was necessary in view of the conflict. This conference pro­
posed, after prolonged discussion, that each union continue its
organizing campaign and then confer on jurisdiction; but this was
not acceptable to the executive council of the American Federation
of Labor. In a later conference the mule spinners and lace opera­
tives proposed a textile department like the mining or building
trades departments in the Federation, and the retention of their
national charters; but the United Textile Workers desired amalga­
mation. The question remained in abeyance for a year of so, and
then was settled by an ultimatum from Federation headquarters.
The lace operatives and mule spinners were given a certain period of
time in which to merge with the United Textile Workers or lose their
charters. Both the lace workers and the mule spinners were sus­
pended from the American Federation of Labor in 1919. This was
the year in which the reorganization of the lace workers’ union took
place, and the scattered groups of organized auxiliary workers asked
admission to the Amalgamated Lace Operatives’ Society as a sepa­
rate section under their new constitution. The curtain delegates to
the convention considering this matter were reluctant to accept them,
but the Levers delegates were in a majority and the constitution of
the auxiliary workers was adopted as part of the constitution of the
new order. The question of jurisdiction was thus settled by the
“ outlawing” of the lace operatives, and with them the auxiliary
workers over whom the dispute had arisen.




Although the reorganized union of lace operatives retains the
name “Amalgamated,” it is a federation of a number of crafts
and occupations divided into three sections—the curtain section, the
Levers section, and the auxiliary section. The first two are com­
posed entirely of the skilled men who operate the Nottingham lacecurtain, Levers, and plain-net machines. The auxiliary section, on
the other hand, is composed of both men and women working on
semiskilled and unskilled operations, the majority of workers* being
women. This section claims jurisdiction over all workers on auxil­
iary or finishing processes in the lace mill.4 Each section is an inde­
pendent self-governing unit, carrying out the principle of decen­
tralized administration. The organization is unique in that it is
partly an industrial and partly a craft union. In this way the
issue of craft versus industrial unionism was straddled rather than
A general convention, composed of five delegates from each sec­
tion, meets at the time of the section conventions to settle any
problems which affect all sections. The most important problems
concern conflicts of jurisdiction between sections. An executive
committee composed of the president and secretary of each section,
together with a general secretary and a death-benefit secretary elected
by the membership at large, attend to routine business between con­
ventions. In addition, the committee has charge of organizing
campaigns in all the sections and must sanction the calling of all
strikes (within a time limit of 24 hours). The convention is the
highest tribunal in each section, and passes upon all important
constitutional changes and business affecting each group. Amend­
ments to the general constitution, however, require the approval of
at least 10 per cent of the members of each section. A section
executive committee carries on the routine business of the section
between conventions, acts upon all appeals from the branch com­
mittees, and has full control of all trade matters such as wages and
hours, subject to a referendum vote of the membership of the sec­
tion. The general meeting of the local branches is the legislative
body for local questions, and the branch trade committee carries out
the routine business of the local, acting upon applications for mem­
bership, transfers, grievances referred to it from the shop com­
mittees, and questions of dues, benefits, and local policy. In each
shop, there is a section shop committee whose work in the enforce­
ment of shop rules is highly important, and will be discussed in
greater detail later. There is also a shop advisory board composed
of members from all the sections working in the mill, to act in the
settlement of any dispute involving more than one section. The
most recent convention of the union (June, 1924) formally approved
of the principles of industrial unionism, but the limited centraliza­
tion of power as well as the union’s traditional craft policies make
the organization essentially a craft and not an industrial union.
4 O n e g r o u p o f w om en m en d ers refu sed t o jo in t h e a u x ilia ry se ctio n , a n d a r e h en ce
ou tsid e th e s o c ie ty ’ s ju r is d ic t io n . T h ey in clu d e th e m enders o f P h ila d e lp h ia a n d C hester,
w h o h a v e fo r m a n y y ea rs m a in ta in ed a p ro te ctiv e and ben eficia l s o cie tv , n o t co n n e cte d
w ith a n y n a tio n a l la b or org a n iza tio n , th rou gh w h ich th e y b a rga in c o lle c tiv e ly w ith th e ir
em p loy ers, a n d even ca rr y on strik es.



Although the auxiliary workers were the last group to join the
lace operatives, they now outnumber either of the other two groups.
The number of members in the Levers section has steadily declined
since the reorganization of the union in 1919, as a result of severe
trade depression during 1923 and 1924, and partly as a result of the
weakness of the new section in 1919. The number of active mem­
bers in the society in December, 1923, totaled 1,688, of whom 772 were
auxiliary workers, 539 were curtain workers, and 377 were Levers
A large amount of local autonomy has always persisted in the
union, and is one of the most characteristic features of the union’s
historical development. Prior to 1914 this was the result of inertia
or lack of power in the central management; since that time it has
been a well-defined policy. The lack of power in the central man­
agement in the early history of the union is well illustrated by the
fact that strike breakers from one branch of the union came into
another branch which was waging a strike against reduction in
wages. The executive board sent a deputation to “persuade them
not to work” ; but its persuasion was of no avail. Needless to say,
such a condition of affairs was not long lived, and the central control
became strong enough to prevent such action in the future. How­
ever local branches were given considerable leeway in the manage­
ment of their own affairs. At the present time this is illustrated in
the constitutional provision of the by-laws of the curtain section,
Article V II, section 3 :
Each branch shall manage its own affairs and be imbued with power to place
any member or number of members on the funds of the section in any case in­
volving rack price, hours o f labor, or individual rights of members; provided,
however, that the executive committee has been notified o f the contemplated
action. In any case wherein the placing of the entire membership o f the
branch on the funds of the section is concerned, a two-thirds majority vote of
the membership o f said branch shall be necessary before doing so. No branch
shall be allowed to accept a reduction in the rack price or the rate of payment
for time work without a ballot of the members of the section.

The struggle between the locals and the national executive board
for control has been manifested in such questions as the constitu­
tional make-up of the executive board, the use of democratic meas­
ures of legislative control (such as the referendum), and especially
the control of strikes. This last problem has been the central battle
ground in the struggle for control in most unions.6 Hasty action on
the part of local officials, who do not know general conditions so well
as do the national officials, often leads to disastrous strikes, which
strong national control would have obviated, and to an attempt to
secure that control for the future. While the executive board of
the lace operatives had power to settle strikes, the local branches
could initiate them without its sanction. It did, however, control
the disbursement of strike benefits, and thus indirectly exercised a
measure of control over the calling of strikes. Nevertheless, a numBF ig u res fu rn ish ed b y M r. W illia m B o rla n d , th e gen era l se cre ta ry , 1924.
6 J oh n s H op k in s U n iv ersity . G ov ern m en t o f A m erica n T ra d e-U n ion s, b y T . W . G lock er.
J oh n s H op k in s U n iv ersity S tu dies, v o l. 3 1, 1913, p . 109.




ber of strikes were well under way before the board’s approval was
obtained and might never have been called if its previous approval
had been necessary. During the nineties and the first part of the
decade following, the board’s settlement of several strikes met with
the disapproval of the locals involved, and in the 1904 convention a
ruling was made requiring the presence of a branch representative
in the negotiations for settlement in all strikes. For many years
after the society was organized, the convention met semiannually and
acted as an executive council as well. Later the executive board was
established as a group distinct from the delegates to the convention.
It was composed of members from all branches; but the inconven­
ience of carrying on business with a scattered membership led to
later proposals to have all national officers reside in the same city.
Since the largest local was in Philadelphia, it was inevitable that
the officers would eventually be elected from that city, with head­
quarters established there. For the major part of the union’s his­
tory since 1900, the headquarters of the national officers have been
in Philadelphia. As a result, a feeling has often been expressed that
the executive board members were unduly influenced in their action
by the opinion of the members of the Philadelphia branch. This, in
turn, led to a curtailment of the board’s powers and to an increase o f
local autonomy whenever the opportunity offered. For a brief
period from 1914 to 1919, greater centralization of power was effected
through the election of three national officials, known as the board of
managers, to carry on the executive business of the organization.
This took place at a time when many unions were experimenting with
centralized control. However, the larger powers exercised by the
board o f managers aroused opposition in some of the locals, and at
the time of the reorganization of the union the general tendency
to decentralization again manifested itself in the section system.
The use of the referendum for all important constitutional changes
has been characteristic of the union’s policy from early times to the
present and has recently been extended to questions of wages and
hours. The methods have in this respect been more democratic than
those of many craft unions where such questions are settled in con­
vention, and show the strong sentiment of the members for demo­
cratic control of official policy.
There has also been a struggle for power between the small and
large locals—a customary feature of trade-union politics—which has
manifested itself in the provisions with regard to the basis of repre­
sentation and methods of voting at conventions. In the early con­
ventions each branch was entitled to one delegate; but with the
growth in the membership of branches where more than one shop
was located there came a movement for greater representation for
the larger branches. The present basis of representation has been in
existence for some years and allows a ratio of 1 delegate for each 50
members or portion thereof—a ratio which favors the smaller locals.
Numerical voting rather than “ block” voting by branches in con­
ventions was postponed until 1912 by the combined strength of the
smaller locals. Since that year a delegate may call for a numerical
vote upon any question, and a combination of the Philadelphia
branch with any one of the small branches is sufficient to constitute
a numerical majority of the curtain members.



The general policy of the union toward allowing great local auton­
omy was a means of strength to the older locals, but a source of
weakness to the new. These were left to shift for themselves after
they had received charters and had been instructed in the general
business of running a local union. One small branch far from head­
quarters wrote to the executive board in 1918 discussing a few minor
complaints, and then remarked that there had not been a deputation
from the board to their branch in 13 years. In the same year
another branch which was threatened with disruption claimed that
“ if the board would give more time to visiting the branches, better
conditions would exist throughout the amalgamation.” These two
statements throw considerable light upon the difficulties facing new
local branches in a union in which the policy of local autonomy was
so strongly emphasized.
In cases of unconstitutional action or opposition to general union
policy on the part of any local branch the executive board has
promptly threatened withdrawal of charters or severely repri­
manded the offenders. Sympathetic strikes are unconstitutional,
and participants are entitled to no strike benefits. However, in the
few cases in which such an issue arose, special grants were made
which partially offset the loss of strike benefits. If a branch refused
to issue a trade ballot or to obey an important order from the board
it was reprimanded. Strike benefits were withheld if men went out
on strike in the face of an existing agreement with the firm to
handle a disputed question in another way. When one local branch
refused to open negotiations with a firm on a certain price question,
it was ordered to do so on penalty of withdrawal of its charter. In
this way the executive board exercised disciplinary measures, but
these were seldom necessary.
Members of the union have always had the right of appeal from
decisions of a branch trade committee to the executive board or to the
convention. In recent years most cases of appeal have been settled
by the executive board. The appeals usually concern fines for the
breaking of local rules, action 6 detrimental to organized labor ” in
strikes, applications for membership, and dropping of names from
the rolls for nonpayment of dues. On the whole, there have been
few such appeals from the trade committees to a higher tribunal in
the 30-odd years of the union’s history. This, like the infrequent
use by the board of disciplinary measures on recalcitrant locals, illus­
trates the degree of good discipline existing in the union. The
union’s control over entrance to the trades and working conditions
offered a high degree of security to the worker in return for con­
formity to union policy. Good discipline is an outstanding feature
of the union’s government.

One feature of the general policy of the union is of significance
in interpreting the history of the union prior to the World-War
period. We may call it, for lack of a better name, the policy of ex­
clusiveness. It is manifested in the general lack of cooperation by
the society with the labor movement in other industries. Opposition
to this attitude first appeared in the 1910 convention when it was
proposed that the society affiliate with the Pennsylvania Federation



of Labor, and that a delegate be sent to the American Federation of
Labor convention. However, both of these proposals were rejected.
In the 1914 convention several delegates spoke against the exclusive
policy of the union and in favor of greater participation in the
general labor movement. Although a charter member of the Ameri­
can Federation of Labor the society sent no delegates to the Federa­
tion conventions until the jurisdictional dispute with the United
Textile Workers arose. From that time on, various branches of the
union took greater interest in local labor movements, and with the
reorganization of the society in 1919, the policy oi exclusiveness
seems to have died a natural death. Many of the branches have
recently undertaken educational work and are affiliated with local
labor colleges. In addition, the union has taken a greater interest
in the problems of textile labor organization in general.
When the lace operatives lost their American Federation of Labor
charter because they refused to merge with the United Textile
Workers, they joined the ranks of the “ outlaw” textile unions, of
whom there were a goodly number. Early in 1921 the 4 outlaws”
combined into a loose federation known as the Federated Textile
Unions of America. This organization included the lace operatives
and mule spinners; the American Federation of Textile Operatives
(composed of cotton workers in the New Bedford, Fall River, and
Salem district, and in Maine, who had split off from the United
Textile Workers in 1912), the Amalgamated Textile Workers (a
group that had been outlawed since its rise after the Lawrence
strike for the 44-hour week in 1919), and certain independent craft
and industrial unions.7 In 1923 the total membership of the Feder­
ated Textile Unions was reported to be about 17,000, while the mem­
bership of the United Textile Workers was reported to be about
60,000. The Amalgamated Textile Workers and the Associated Silk
Workers of Paterson, which were the only industrial unions in the
group, withdrew from the Federated Textile Unions in the spring of
1923. In a statement to the press of the reasons for their with­
drawal, the cleavage between the craft and industrial unions in the
textile field is clearly drawn:
This action was taken because of a profound feeling that the high aims and
purposes of the Amalgamated Textile Workers as an aggressive industrial
union, radical in principle and spirit, can in no way be served by contact with
the Federated Textile Unions as at present constituted. * * * The Amal­
gamated was never very sanguine about the possibility o f effectual coopera­
tion between radical industrial unionists and craft unionists o f the ex­
tremely conservative school. * * * The federation plan merely provides
an arena for political jockeying. With 45 per cent or more o f the textile
workers unorganized, that is a business for which the Amalgamated has no
stomach. * * * It is not true to say that the Federated Textile Unions
are moving toward amalgamation of all textile unions. The Federated has
encouraged local separatism, and the representatives of some o f the more
important affiliated unions (in point o f size), far from showing that they
have learned anything from events in the world o f labor, have openly con­
demned industrial unionism and asserted the superior merits of craft unionism.*

7 These were the tapestry carpet weavers, the beamers and twisters, the turkish towel
weavers, the art square weavers, the Amalgamated Brussels Carpet Association, the Asso­
ciated Silk Workers of Paterson, the New York Amalgamated Knit Goods Workers, and
the Amulet Spinners’ Association. (Labor Age, May, 1923, p. 5.) Recently the National
Loom Fixers have joined the organization; but the beamers and twisters, the turkish
towel weavers, and the Amalgamated Knit Goods Workers have withdrawn. The art
square weavers and the Amalgamated Brussels Carpet Association are temporarily out of
the organization.
8 New Textile Worker, New York, April-May, 1923, p. 6.



With the withdrawal of the industrial unionists from the ranks of
the Federated Textile Unions, more homogeneity was found in the
aims and purposes of the constituent unions, and in the summer of
1923 several steps of importance to the whole textile labor situation
were taken. The United Textile Workers had again brought up
the question of jurisdiction with the federal labor locals of the
auxiliary section of the lace operatives, who were in the anomalous
position of belonging to an “ outlaw” organization, yet possessing
charters from the American Federation of Labor. A movement
was initiated by the lace operatives in June, 1923, to seek a solution
of the differences between the United Textile Workers and the Fed­
erated Textile Unions.9
-A series of conferences has therefore been held between representa­
tives of the United Textile Workers and the Federated Textile
Unions in an endeavor to bring about unity among the craft unions
in the textile field. The major points at issue between the two
groups are: First, a desire on the part of the Federated Unions to
have a constitutional basis which distributes some of the power,
now centralized in the United Textile Workers’ council, through
district officers. This does not meet the approval of the United
Textile Workers. Second, the amount of the per capita tax and
particularly the question of control of the funds raised by it. One
interested observer has said that “ One side wants to count
the cost before it comes in, and the other side wants everyone to
get in, and then count the cost.” And third, the method of financ­
ing strikes. The United Textile Workers maintains a defense fund
and commissary department, but guarantees no strike benefits. The
Federated Textile Unions of America, on the other hand, guarantee
strike benefits and raise funds by assessments.
As yet the negotiations between the two groups have effected
no settlement. The differences have been referred back to conven­
tions for legislative action. I f the Federated Textile Unions amal­
gamate with the United Textile Workers, the line between the con­
servative craft unions and the industrial unions will be even more
sharply drawn.
It has now become a commonplace in trade-union literature that
the major difference between craft and industrial unionism—between
the “ old ” and the “ new ” unionism—is primarily one of'philosophy
and program rather than structure and government. Joint control
of working conditions and all that this implies in the nature
of trade agreements are the goal of the craft unionists, but to the
industrial unionist, joint control is merely a means to an end. The
end is workers’ control. The lace operatives by their policies
as well as by their form of organization, have aligned themselves
with the craxt unionists, and their program is therefore centered on
questions of joint control of working conditions.

9 American Lace Worker, Philadelphia, August, 1923, p. 2.


There have been more interesting developments in collective bar­
gaining in the lace-curtain industry than in the lace industry in this
country. To trace its history one must go back to old English piece­
work price lists that were established in the early years of bargaining
over machine rates. With the limited material available in the
United States it has been difficult to trace the English lists, but it is
certain that a revised scale of 1869 became the basis io r further revi­
sions in 1884, 1889, and 1897 in England. The list was changed to
suit American conditions in 1900 and is the present basis of collective
bargaining over wage rates. The general principle of remuneration
established in these scales has never been changed. The basis of pay­
ment is the price per rack—the standard unit of production—for a
machine o f standard width and gauge in all classes of goods. Vari­
ations from this standard machine in width or gauge call for fixed
differentials above and below the standard price. The basis of classi­
fication of goods is difference in the equipment of the machine, the
rate varying by fixed amounts as the equipment becomes more com­
plicated and the goods more elaborate. Variations in the kinds of
yarn used and other contingencies are provided for in the price list,
which has been elaborated as collective bargaining has developed.
While some piecework scales are voluminous lists, giving a price for
each product made (as in the glass-bottle industry), or for major
differences in the conditions under which work is done (as in the dis­
trict scales of the coal miners), the lace scales are based on a standard
operation or process. In this respect the lists resemble wage scales
in other textile industries where uniformity of working conditions

The general basis of payment in the lace-curtain (and Levers)
trade has remained the same throughout a century of technical devel-.
opment. This means that the central operation of the industry, the
working of the lace machine, has remained the same with but minor
modifications which have not changed its essential principles, and
that the methods of production built up around the machine have
continued as at first.
An understanding of the operation of the lace-curtain machine
and of the work of the weaver is essential to an understanding of

1 Unless otherwise noted, data are from records of the Amalgamated Lace Operatives’
Society: Price conference reports; Minutes of executive hoard; and Decisions of joint
technical committee.
2 Similar price lists have been used in the silk-ribbon and carpet industries in the
United States, and in all branches of the textile industry in England.



the price list and will therefore be briefly described. The machines
are massive frames varying in width from 120 to 440 inches and
weighing about 12 tons. Although the construction of the machine
is complicated, the mechanical principle on which it is based is
simple. The essential feature is that several strips of lace curtains
or nets are made simultaneously across the width'of the machine,
by the shifting of vertical warp and spool threads to right and left
of swinging bobbins at each movement of the machine. The twist­
ing and traversing of threads to form the plain or patterned meshes
takes place in what is known as the “ well ” of the machine, a space
about one inch wide between the front and back comb bars in which
the bobbins swing back and forth with a pendulumlike movement.
Lace fabric, in contrast to other textile fabrics, has a twisted mesh
in which each thread works independently of every other thread. In
contrast to the ordinary cloth loom which has but one weft thread
for the whole of the warp threads, the lace-curtain machine has a
separate weft or bobbin thread for every warp or beam thread,
and the filling in is done by spool threads. Upon the number of
bobbin carriages passing back and forth in an inch of width along
the machine depends the gauge of the machine. A 12-point machine
has 12 bobbin carriages to the inch of width, and the lace pro­
duced has 12 meshes to the inch of width of the goods. The gauges
are not interchangeable. Cotton yarns used in the production of
lace curtains are rarely finer than 98/2, and the greater part are
40/2 to 78/2.
The working parts of the machine are as follows:
(1) The brass bobbins. These are thin disks of rolled brass upon
which a fine grade of imported yarn is wound under heavy tension.
They are fastened into thin steel carriages by means of springs and
the carriages pass to and fro in grooves from front to back comb
bars. In a 12-point machine, 324 inches wide, there are 3,888
bobbins simultaneously moving back and forth along the width
of the machine.
(2) The warp and beam racks or reels. These have guide bars
above them in the well of the machine through which their threads
pass. A rack at the back of the machine contains the spools, the
threads of which also pass into the well through the eyelets of
a guide bar. In a 12-point machine, 324 inches wide, there "would be
3,888 warp or beam threads, 3,888 spool threads, and if an extra
beam were used, 3,888 more beam threads, making, with the weft
or bobbin threads, a total of 15,552 threads. The lateral movement
of the bars is controlled by cams at the end of the machine.
(3) The Jacquard apparatus. This introduces variety in the
pattern being made, like the Jacquard of a cloth loom, and is at the
top of the machine. Over the Jacquard cylinder punched pattern
cards revolve, and, by a suitable mechanism, raise or lower needles
which are attached by a harness of long “ strings ” to the “ jacks ” in
the well of the machine, stopping some threads, and permitting
others to traverse the distance required by the pattern.
(4) The “ jacks.” These are thin steel strips which have two
motions, controlled by bars known as the “ trick and jack bars.”
One motion is a “ shogging ” or jogging movement from left to right



and the other is a backward and forward motion to intercept the
threads, according to the pattern.
The movements of the machine take place in the following order :
First, the jack bar “ shogs ” one “ gait,” which is the distance between
two bobbin carriages in the machine; then the spool bar traverses
from left to right, those threads moving which are allowed to do so
by the jacks, whose position is determined by the pattern cards in
the manner just described; then the warp bar traverses, the threads
of which may or may not, according to the type of goods being
made, be controlled by the jacks; finally, the bobbin carriage passes
through from front to back or back to front, tying into position
the previous movement of threads. Threads may be shifted to right
or left a distance of from one to seven gaits, although the latter
distance is rare. The distance traversed will depend upon the
coarseness or fineness of the pattern, and the amount of filling in to
be done. As the curtains are made, they pass up in front of the
weaver and are rolled on a “ porcupine ” roller, the points of which
keep the mesh of the lace in perfect symmetry.
It is from the twisting of the threads in the machine that the lace
maker received his original name of “ twist hand” . His work con­
sists in threading the machines (with the aid of boys), which means
putting thousands of warp, spool, and bobbin threads through the
eyelets in their respective guide bars. The pattern cards must be ad­
justed on the Jacquard cylinder, and the strings which connect the
cylinder with the jacks in the well of the machine must be attended
with an eye to the effects of the weather, since their tension is an
important matter in the working of the machine. The weaver must
oversee the general operation ox the loom as well as the product he
is making, and it is considered a point of pride not to require the
services of a fixer for months at a time. He must watch the threads
to avoid bad breaks, to make sure that the proper counts of yarn
with no defects are being used, that the pattern cards are working
properly, and that the proper gaits and “quality” are being made.
“ Quality” in the making of lace goods refers to tne number of inches
to the “ rack” and is governed by the speed of the porcupine roller.
When making good “quality” the roller moves slowly, allowing a
great number of motions of the machine for the quantity to be made.
The “ rack” is the universal measure of production of lace goods,
meaning 1,440 motions of the machine, one motion being a move­
ment of the bobbins in either direction. The standard quality of 20
motions per inch produced gives a yard of goods to a rack. It will
thus be seen that the output of machines may vary from 80 to 250
machine yards a day depending on the quality. On a machine of
average width, making average quality, 315 square yards would be
produced daily. A matter requiring considerable skill on the part
of the weaver is the adjustment of the tension of the threads to make
a perfect product, and in certain classes of goods like combination
nets the adjustment of tension is the most important feature of pro­
duction. Weather conditions are as important here as in the adjust­
ment of the “strings”. Care must further be taken by the weaver
to run the bobbins out as nearly as possible together, since every
empty bobbin means a break in the lace which has to be mended.



Although all the bobbins pass back and forth an equal number of
times, less yarn is required to wrap around the warp alone than
around a couple of filling threads and a warp, so that some bobbins
run out before others and must be replaced.
Considerable waste of expensive bobbin yarns can be avoided by the
careful weaver. The thread on one bobbin is sufficient to last for
40 to 150 racks, depending upon the fineness of the yarn. When
the bobbins are empty, boys rewind them and place them in their
carriages; but before the weavers use them again, they inspect them
to make sure that the springs are in place and have been adjusted so
that the bobbin yarns will have the proper tension, and that the
bobbins do not bulge beyond the required fineness of their gauges.
After being pressed into shape the bobbins are replaced in the ma­
chine. The larger the machine, the finer the gauge, or the more
complicated the working apparatus, the more arduous is the work
and greater is the responsibility of the weaver. A greater number
of threads in the machine, or more delicate threads, increases the
liability of breakage and requires greater dexterity and speed. The
worker is therefore entitled to greater compensation, and it is upon
this principle that the piecework price list was evolved.

The question of a universal price card was first discussed at the
July convention of the union in 1893. At that time Scranton priees
were highest, Wilkes-Barre prices were lowest, and Philadelphia
prices were midway between these limits. Attempts were therefore
made to have the Philadelphia list accepted universally. It was
not until 1900, however, that a list was drawn up which was ac­
cepted everywhere. The list, which is given in Table 6, below,
provides for a standard loom of a gauge of 10 points and width of
324 inches.


Rate (in cents) per rack on machines of specified gauge and width
Type of product

Ordinary, 3-gait......................
Ordinary, 4-gait......................
Double action, 3-gait...............
Double action, 4-gait...............
Madras, 3-gait.........................
Madras, 4-gait.........................
Double action, madras, 3-gait.
Double action, madras, 4-gait .
Double spool...........................
Double spool fish net..............
Swiss and combination...........


300 1 324
inches inches inches inches inches inches inches inches inches inches













f t 1 10
i in I n n















0 1M
0 ift
1H 13



T able


Kate (in cents) per rack on machines of specified gauge and width
Type of product

Ordinary, 3-gait_______ ——
Ordinary, 4-gait.........................
Double action, 3-gait________
Double action, 4-gait...._____
Madras, 3-gait...........................
Madras, 4-gait............................
Double action, madras, 3-gait.
Double action, madras, 4-gait.
Double spool..............................
Double spool fish net..............
Swiss and combination---------

1 -point




inches inches inches inches inches inches inches











W idth : A one-fourth-cent rise and fall for every 3 quarters. All inches less
than a quarter not to be paid for. A quarter and over to be paid for as 3
Gauge: All gauges to rise or fall one-fourth cent for every gauge.
Ordinary double action with one cylinder one-half cent more than when made
with two Jacquards.
All laces and edgings to be paid the same price as curtains.
Punched through patterns one-fourth cent less. Patterns not punched through
up to and including 30 quality shall be paid one-half cent extra, and if punched
through up to and including 30 quality the one-fourth cent shall not be de­
Nets o f 30 quality and under, one-fourth cent less than curtains; over 30
quality, one-half cent less.
Six hours’ time-work for entering or reentering beams.
Drop threads: All time lost putting up threads to be paid for.
Time-work to be paid at the rate of 25 cents per hour, or $15 per week. Men
on time-work to make the same hours as men on shifts.
Percentages to be added: 5 and 6 points, 12 per cent above card p rice; 7 and
8 points, 10 per cent above card price; all gauges above 8-point, 8 per cent above
card price.

It will be seen that the price for a so-called 4 ordinary 3-gait
curtain,” which is the simplest goods to make, is 7 % cents per rack
on the standard machine. A flat differential is added or deducted for
each gauge above or below the standard and for each rise or fall of
three quarters in width. A 4 quarter ” means a quarter of a yard,
which is 9 inches, and is the customary measure of width on the lace
machine. With each class of goods above 4 ordinary” work there
is an additional price for more complicated apparatus; for example,
if extra bars are used, if extra gaits are traversed, if the Jacquard is
run 4 double action ” or twice as fast as the machine, if an extra Jac­
quard is used, or if the Jacquard operates on more than one or two
bars. Thus the price of Swiss and combination, which is one of the
most complicated fabrics to make, is 13}4 cents per rack on the stand­
ard machine, almost twice the price for 4 ordinary” work. This
is due to the fact that one Jacquard goes double speed operating
on two bars, while the other Jacquard goes single speed operat­
ing on a third bar. In addition to extras for more compli­
cated apparatus at work in the machine, the introduction of new
styles of goods and improvements in the process have necessitated



additions to the scale for variations and combinations in equipment
already provided, for time-work and other factors affecting earnings.
These have been elaborated in later scales. At the present time there
are extras for patterns not “ punched through ” that run up to a cer­
tain quality, for colored yarns, for silk and mercerized yarns, for
yarns coarser than a certain coimt, and other contingencies in slight
modifications of patterns or equipment. As an example of this, the
time to be allowed for such work as threading and entering warps
and beams is determined with respect to the standard machine—six
hours’ time being allowed for sleying (threading) the warp on ma­
chines up to the standard, and eight hours’ time for machines above
the standard.
Although the basic rates of pay established in the 1900 scale have
never been changed, there have been changes in the wage level due to
percentage increases or decreases in these rates at times of prosperity
or depression in the trade. Five per cent increases in 1903 and
again in 1907 were the last obtained before the long period of de­
pression started in the industry. No general advances were then
secured until the revival of prosperity in 1916. Between 1916 and
1918, increases amounting to 40 per cent went into effect, and an
additional 30 per cent was gained between 1918 and 1921. With
the depression of 1921, decreases amounting to 17V2 per cent were
made effective, but were restored in 1923, with the sudden revival
of the trade due to style changes and the increased demand for
window curtains as a result of the building boom of that year. For
some classes of goods the increases between 1900 and 1924 amount to
about 100 per cent advance; but for the majority of goods they
amount to a 90 per cent advance.
An effort to equalize earnings between men doing the simplest
work, “ ordinary” work, and more complicated work on other classes
of goods led to differential percentage increases in 1900 on the new
scale: 5 and 6-inch machines received an increase of 12jper cent; 7
and 8-point machines received an increase of 10 per cent; and all
gauges above 8-point received an increase of 8 per cent above the
card price. Since that date, however, the percentage increases
gained have always been applied as flat increases (with the exception
of one differential of 5 per cent for ordinary work in 1918), and as a
result, ordinary work has the reputation of being the “ poorest paid”
at the present time. To effect the same end, namely, the equaliza­
tion of earnings between the weavers, flat additions or extras are
required in the scale for extra bars and extra gaits, irrespective of
the width or gauge of the machine. In this way a man on one of the
old narrow looms receives the same extra pay for additional bars
and gaits as a man on a finer, wider machine, although the latter
may have as many as 2,000 more threads on each of the extra bars
he uses for the pattern. Within the last few years differential in­
creases have been asked for the men on the finer gauges in view of the
additional work involved when they make complicated patterns,
and their work is usually of that nature. However, at the same
time, differential increases for ordinary work have also been asked
with a view to equalizing earnings.3
3 One local branch o f the union is experimenting w ith a “ sharing-up system,” by which
all of the wages o f the group are pooled and divided equally among the members.



The question arises in a scale of this kind as to who derives the
benefits from improvements of the process. No accurate figures are
available on costs of production, and it would have taken an elabo­
rate study of costs, prices, and earnings to answer this question sat­
isfactorily, but certain information is at hand which may be sug­
gestive if not conclusive. It is reported that the costs of producing
lace-curtain products tend to divide, on the average, in thirds: Onethird for labor, one-third for raw materials, and one-third for over­
head expense. Two things may be said to be generally true of the
industry. Few revolutionary improvements in process have been
made* and basic piece rates once set are never cut. The benefits of
improvements in some cases have gone in greater measure to the
worker and in others to the employer. Thus square-ground curtains,
sometimes called filet, were very difficult to make when the price was
originally set, and although improvements have made the process
much easier the same high rate of pay remains in force. On the
other hand, the effort to equalize earnings for men on small looms,
which took the form of uniform extras for bars on wide and narrow
machines, resulted in a lower proportionate labor cost on products of
the wide looms and led to the rapid displacement of narrow by wide
looms. The benefit in this instance obviously goes to the employer.
The price list developed in this way has never been challenged
by the workers as a basis of payment. At the price conference in
December, 1921, one local proposed a change to a time-work basis,
but the proposal was never seriously considered by either side in the
negotiations. In fact, the general policy of the union has been to
get all possible work on a piecework basis. One convention of the
union went on record opposing a bonus system of payment for racks
or time work. These two instances are the only recorded statements
of attitudes to general methods of wage payment. The textile tradeunions are among the few labor organizations favoring piecework. It
is preferred for two reasons: First, a standard rate of wages is easily
maintained in view of the standardization of textile machinery; sec­
ond, the speed of the machines and the amount or kind of equip­
ment is outside the worker’s control, and speeding up by the em­
ployer would necessitate constant requests for higher wages if time­
work were in force. Payment on a standardized scale according
to the equipment of the machine automatically gives the worker the
benefit of the increased speed or increased equipment, and uniform­
ity can be more easily “ maintained between man and man, and be­
tween mill and mill.” 4

When the uniform price list superseded local wage agreements
in 1900, it was some years before the machinery for collective bar­
gaining was put into working order. The first formal meeting of
representatives of the employers’ association with representatives of
the union took place .in 1907, when the nine-hour day and a small
increase in time-work rates and rack price were obtained. Between
1900 and 1907, agreements were made oy correspondence between the
two sides and by local adjustments. In 1910 and again in 1912, price
conferences were held, but no increases were granted. Although
4 W ebb, S id n ey an d B e a t r i c e : In d u s tria l D em ocra cy .
C o., 1919, p . 289.

N ew Y o rk , L o n g m a n s, G reen &



the manufacturers recognized the demands as 4 reasonable,” the un­
employment and bad trade conditions prevented any increases. The
first general wage increase went into effect following the conference
in 1916. From then on, with improved trade conditions, conferences
were held more frequently and wage increases and other concessions
were obtained. Since 1922, price conferences have been held semi­
annually; and recent agreements have been effective for only six
months. The dates for holding the conferences have been set with
a view to establishing wage levels before the prices for goods for
the new season are established. The fall conference is usually held
in October or November and the spring conference in February or
In the early price conferences the union had delegates from every
branch, elected as convention delegates were elected, that is, 1 for
every 50 members or fraction thereof. Preliminary conferences were
held by the workers at which they decided what issues to press, what
to drop for the time being, and also which of the delegates should
present the various aspects of their case. The method was cumber­
some, because considerable time was spent in arriving at the best pro­
cedure for the price conference, and in long speeches from all or most
of the delegates at the conference itself. Busy employers occa­
sionally felt that precious time was being wasted in unnecessary pre­
liminaries. The method was an expensive one for the union as well.
Gradually the number of delegates was cut, until at the present time
the curtain section wage conferences are handled, on the workers’
side, by a wage committee of five members. These are the section
executive committee members and two delegates elected at large from
the entire membership. These committees have always had the
4 power to settle,” but very often the proposals of the manufacturers
would not be sufficient to meet their instructions. In such cases
the proposals were put before the membership in ballot form to in­
sure satisfaction with the settlement.
As a more efficient type of committee was elected to represent the
curtain weavers, gradually one or two spokesmen came to discuss
the interests of each side. On the employers’ side, certain points
were brought up for brief mention or prolonged discussion at re­
curring conferences. These were chiefly general trade conditions,
the certainty or uncertainty of the tariff schedules, and the competi­
tion of foreign goods and of nonunion plants. On the workers’ side,
the rising cost of living, general trade prosperity, wage increases in
other textile industries, and rising prices and wage increases in the
protected industries have recently taken much time in the presenta­
tion of the workers’ case. The major issues coming up for discus­
sion in these joint conferences have been wages, hours, a differential
wage for the double shift, unemployment insurance, and old-age pen­
sions. The uncertainty of the tariff has been used by the employers
to forestall increases in wages, and the passage of a favorable tariff
has been used by the workers as an argument in favor of an in­
crease in wages. The manufacturers and workers in the industry
take it as a matter of course that wage increases have been passed
on to the consumer in the form of increased prices in recent years.
The tenor of the employers’ remarks often is that unexpected in­
creases in wages fall heavily upon orders for future delivery, and
that all increases must be timed with a view to the selling season.




The conference discussions on hours deal chiefly with the attempt
of the workers to obtain a shorter working-day, the attempts of the
employers to secure the three-shift system or an allowance of oyer­
time, and questions arising in connection with the double-shift
The union obtained the nine-hour day for weavers in 1907. The
agreement at that time provided for a 50-hour week for single-shift
men and 97 hours per week for two men on a double shift. The
results of this reduction in hours were apparently satisfactory to
both sides, since the employers conceded that more production was
obtained under the shorter hours. This was due, however, to the
fact that under the old system time had been allowed for breakfast
and tea, which was now omitted, and that the former very early
hours o f opening the mills resulted in considerable tardiness, which
was eliminated to a great extent under the new plan.
At the conference of January, 1917, the curtain weavers asked for
two 8-hour shifts, but the item was tabled in an endeaver to get an
increase in wages. The arguments presented by the workers for
the 8-hour day included a plea for steady employment at a reduced
number of hours per day on the ground that the workers had not
averaged six hours a day for years prior to 1917. In 1919 the
44-hour week was proposed, but action was postponed at a conference
in July, and when the question was brought up again in November
the manufacturers offered an increase in wages conditional upon
hours remaining as they were. At the earlier conference in July
some hope had been extended to the workers that the 44-hour week
might be adopted, but the manufacturers would not recede from
their November proposition, and so the one manufacturer who had
promised the 44-hour week was released from his promise. In 1920
a ballot on the 44-hour week was issued to the curtain section, the
results of which showed that 337 members were in favor of it and
124 against it. The support for the proposition came strongly from
the larger locals. However, the request was again refused by the
manufacturers both at this time and in the 1921 and 1922 conferences.
In 1923 the workers omitted it from their list of requests, but it
was scheduled to come up again in 1924.
Requests for overtime work on those machines for which there were
large orders ahead have been frequently made by manufacturers,
especially in 1921 and 1922, but this has met no encouragement from
the union; nor has the request of the manufacturers for three 8-hour
shifts, although in one instance the latter was allowed as an emergency
The proposal to abolish the double-shift system was tabled in the
1910 and 1912 conventions when the question came up for the first
time. The proposal had the support of the larger locals, like the
Philadelphia local, where large plants employed a number of men on
the single rather than on the double shift basis. In the smaller locals,
however, the proposal was strongly opposed because the small shops
usually maintained a working force sufficient to “ double-hand ” the•
• A re c e n t a greem en t b etw een t h e S co ttis h L a c e M a n u fa c tu re rs ' A s s o c ia tio n a n d th e
B ritis h L a ce O p era tiv es ’ F e d e ra tio n p erm its ov e rtim e w o r k to th e e x te n t o f 10 h o u rs
w eek ly f o r th re e w eeks, b e g in n in g a ft e r th e co m p le tio n o f 4 8 h o u rs b y s in g le -sh ift m en a n d
4 5 % h ou rs b y d o u b le -sh ift m en.
(M a n ch e ste r T e x t ile R e co rd e r, M a y 1 5, 1922, p p . 6 7 ,6 8 .)



machines, and a change of this policy would have necessitated the
dismissal of half the men. It was claimed in the 1919 conference
that the double-shift men averaged $5 less a week than the single­
shift men, and for that reason additional increases in wages were
asked for the former, in the 1917, 1919, 1920, 1922, and 1923 con­
ferences. In 1923, the union asked for a five per cent increase for
the men working shifts, which was to form a permanent differential.
The main reason for the difference in earnings between men on one
shift and men working two shifts is that other parts of the mill work
only a single shift, and the double-shift weavers are often kept
waiting for auxiliary work to be finished before they can continue
their work. Another argument advanced by the workers in favor of
such a differential has been that workers in other textile trades are
paid time and a half for working at night. To this the manufac­
turers answer that the lace industry has always been organized on a
double-shift plan, and that the original piecework price lists in Eng­
land were set at a level high enough to take care of this difference.
The request for an old-age pension plan, supported by joint con­
tributions from the employer and the employees and jointly con­
trolled, was made in the 1920 conference. A committee was ap­
pointed by the manufacturers to take up the matter with represen­
tatives of the union, but after a report at the following conference,
the matter was allowed to drop. In the conference of November,
1922, the curtain section of the union proposed the establishment of
an unemployment insurance plan which would guarantee $15 a week
in slack times* for a period not exceeding 12 weeks ($15 being a
minimum wage in effect in three of the local branches). The fund
was to be accumulated through contributions by the employer in
the amount of 1 per cent of the pay roll and by the workers in the
amount of 1 per cent of their earnings. A committee of the workers
had made an extensive study of their records of dues payments,
which are set on a graduated scale according to earnings and show
the weeks in which the earnings of the men have fallen below $15.
It was estimated that 2 per cent of the pay roll would be sufficient
to establish the fund. A committee of the manufacturers agreed
to accept the plan provided the following conditions were met:
First, that time clocks be introduced in all of the mills; second, that
individual records of production be kept by the weavers, instead
of the present method of crediting production to the machine and
not to the men; and third, that a chance be given the manufacturers
to take a vote in individual shops on any questions that might arise.
The last condition was impossible from the union’s point of view
as undermining its power. Unemployment insurance as a national
issue was then dropped; but it has since been taken up locally, and
there are three branches which have succeeded in obtaining it (in
one case the scheme covers the entire mill, auxiliary workers as well
as weavers), and in addition one shop in a larger branch has un­
dertaken the plan, but has modified the contribution provisions in
order to avoid bookkeeping.

Many unions have found the most successful arrangement in col­
lective bargaining differentiates between the agency for making a new



agreement and that for interpreting an old one. This is especi­
ally true in piecework industries where interpretation of the wage
scale and settlement of disputes in the period between agreements
is highly important. In the lace-curtain industry this differentiation
between legislative and judicial functions has been slow to develop.
The early price conferences were filled with technical questions,
most of which were left unsettled for long periods of time, since
both sides had to refer them to technical advisers. After 1912 com­
mittees were usually appointed to deal with these questions if left
unsettled by the main price conference. In 1921 a permanent
joint technical committee was established, with an equal number
of representatives from each side, to take up all unsettled ques­
tions and pass upon all temporary prices set on new goods under
the price list. If, for example, the shop committee and the manage­
ment are unable to decide upon a temporary price for goods not
quoted in the price list, the technical committee may be called in to
nx such a price, “ to go for 2,500 racks or not more than six months.”
The price is later approved in joint conference, and changes made
are retroactive. The joint technical committee’s work has resulted
in the elaboration of a scale for coarse yarns, which have been used
extensively in recent months and for which payment had never been
standardized. It has been decided that what constitutes “ bad ” yarn,
for which extra payment must also be made, is to be left for determi­
nation by the individual shop committees and managements. Other
decisions of the committee concern the interpretation of the price
list with different combinations of equipment and yarns than those
specifically covered. One branch refused to accept an award o f
the joint technical committee because its consent had not been
secured to the decision and its local autonomy was thereby invaded.
This opposition endangered for a short time the existence and work
of the joint technical committee which has brought many old issues
to a successful conclusion and is looked upon as a highly satisfactory
experiment. Fortunately, the opposition failed to break up the
committee which is responsible for the uniform interpretation of the
collective agreement throughout the trade.
The price conference reports present the usual propositions and
counterpropositions, tentative advances and retreats, oners and refu­
sals, bargaining and idealism to be found in any similar records.
Early suspicions and veiled threats, grudges and “old scores to
settle,” have given way in recent years to a businesslike procedure
for settling a business proposition. This has been materially aided
by a decrease in the number of representatives for each side, a rela­
tive permanence in the personnel of the two groups, and the omission
of technical questions from the agenda. Attempts of the workers
to raise their standard of living have met with success as trade pros­
perity has returned to the industry; but a shorter working-day, the
abolition of the double-shift system, and a differential wage for men
working shifts have met obstacles difficult to overcome. One can not
fail to give credit to the leadership on both sides which is responsible
for the success of the collective bargaining arrangement and the
amicable relations existing between the two parties to the agreement.


In the lace and lace-curtain industries a gradual evolution in the
method of handling grievances and the crystallization of settlements
of disputed cases into an elaborate code of shop regulations have
brought the trades to a condition of relative stability. Only a mini­
mum of time is now lost through stoppages and strikes, and a gen­
eral feeling of satisfaction exists on the part of both employers and
workers as to the result of their joint efforts and generally amicable re­
lations. The nlachinery probably works more slowly, less uniformly,
and with a narrower vision of the long-run needs of the industry
than does the collective bargaining arrangement in which an impar­
tial chairman interprets the trade agreement and adjudicates all dis­
putes arising under it. However, the immediate results are essen­
tially the same. No arbitrator can make awards which entirely dis­
regard the relative bargaining strength of the two parties or the
probable outcome if his position had not been created. Where no
arbitrator exists the balance of powder and general trade conditions,
together with the merits of the particular case and the way in which
it has been handled, make for settlements which are compromises,
first for one side and then for the other. Naturally, in the lace and
lace-curtain industries, both sides have ambitions which are not fully
realized and programs which may never materialize; but they have
achieved a fair measure of success in the democratic control of shop
problems, which comes only through collective bargaining over long
periods of time, accompanied by a spirit of good sportsmanship ana
A shop committee composed of a shop steward or “ responsible
member ” and two committeemen is the shop unit for handling all
grievance cases. Disputes not settled by the shop committee and
the foreman are referred to the branch trade committee and to a
higher authority in the management. I f still unsettled, they go to
the executive board of the union and to the highest authorities in the
management of the firm. It has been the custom of the union to
pay a worker strike benefits for all time lost in the adjudication of
any dispute in which he received the support of the union committees.
More cases were appealed in the earlier years of the union’s history
than in later years, when precedents had become established and
recurring local and national agreements incorporated settlements
of moot points. At the present time, most questions are settled by
the shop committee and the management.
1Cases cited in th is ch a p te r a r e based on A m a lg a m a te d L a ce
M in u tes o f e x e cu tiv e b oa rd fo r y ea rs 1904 to 1917.
57192°-25----- 5

O p era tives’

S o cie ty .





An analysis of the eases referred to the executive board between
1901 and 1919 shows that these involve five main issues:
(1) Cases of discharge involving problems of shop discipline.
(2) Cases of discharge for inefficiency, in which the union asked
for reinstatement, but allowed the employer to penalize the worker
by fines or by placement in a different shop or on a different ma­
(8) Cases of discharge in which the union claimed discrimination
and forced reinstatement.
(4) Cases of dockage or fines for spoiled or imperfect work.
(5) Complaints of delays in work due to inefficient management
methods and charges of favoritism.

The first recorded statement of an issue, which has since come up
repeatedly in the history of every branch and which was the cause o f
several prolonged strikes in earlier years, was “A man was bounced,
and all the men threatened to go out unless he was reinstated.” 2
With the passage of time the strikes called for this reason became
less frequent, and there evolved a body of precedents in discharge
cases. At the present time most local agreements, especially in lacecurtain shops, stipulate that an employer may not discharge a
weaver, but may prefer charges and suspend him, pending investi­
gation by the shop committee. I f the committee considers the
worker’s cause to be a just one, it requests his reinstatement. I f
this is refused, higher union tribunals are called upon to investigate
the case and negotiate a settlement.
Certain misconduct—fighting, drunkenness, dishonesty, insubordi­
nation, and the use of abusive language—has usually been conceded
as just cause for discharge.
In 1911, a man was discharged from one mill on the charge of arro­
gance and the use of abusive language. The shop committee investi­
gated and decided that the man had no case, but he appealed to the
branch general meeting and was able to secure enough sympathy
from the members to have them instruct the trade committee to ask
for his reinstatement. The trade committee, however, decided that
sufficient cause for discharge had been given, and when the man ap­
pealed to the executive board, it likewise dismissed his appeal.
The “ overofficiousness o f the responsible member” caused one
Levers shop steward to be discharged, and the employer refused to
reinstate him unless he applied to the foreman as a new employee.
This he refused to do. The executive board was called in on the dis­
pute, for the shop had been thrown into great confusion by the dis­
charge of the steward and the workers feared the complete break­
down of their newly acquired recognition by the employer. The
board accepted the employer’s condition for reinstatement, and with­
drew the man’s strike pay, thus forcing him back to work #
A firm’s claim of insubordination has been challenged upon oc­
casion. Notice had been posted in one mill that a weaver would be
2 A m a lg a m a ted L a ce O p era tiv es’ S ocie ty .

M in u tes o f P a tc h o g u e lo c a l, 1892.



discharged if discovered away from his machine while it was in
motion. Shortly after this a weaver who had left his machine in
motion while lodging a complaint with the shop committee was dis­
charged. All members working on the same class of goods were
withdrawn in an effort to force his reinstatement, but this was un­
successful. The union had been but recently organized in this dis­
trict, and was not strong enough to force the issue, so that the case
had to be dropped. On the other hand, the same issue was success*
fully fought in another locality where the unionV position was
strong. In this case the man had gone to get a drink from the sink
at the end of his machine and had stopped to talk to another worker
on his way back. He was discharged for “ being out of his alley.”
To force his reinstatment, all of the curtain weavers in his own and
another shop were called out. In most cases of this sort where a
deadlock had been reached in the negotiations with the management
the custom has been to threaten a walkout, and if this did not suc­
ceed actually to withdraw the men, first those working on the same
class of goods, next, those on the same gauge of machine (in cases
where more than one class of goods is being produced), and finally,
all of the weavers in the shop or shops controlled by the management
in that locality.
Discharge for inefficiency has been in a somewhat different category
from the causes of discharge just discussed. When the executive board
has been called in to adjust a dispute involving discharge for ineffi­
ciency, an effort has been made to have the man fined for poor work
and reinstated fully or temporarily on trial unless habitual negligence
made the management insist on discharge. The management’s power
to insist on discharge has been tempered by general trade conditions
and the strength of the union at the time. In one dispute in 1908 two
men were discharged for breaking a machine, “ through carelessness,”
as the foreman claimed. As a result of negotiations with the manage­
ment the board succeeded in having the men reinstated and fined
for imperfect work. In another case a man was discharged when an
accident happened to his machine while he was looking for a pattern.
In this instance the management claimed that he was habitually
negligent, but after negotiation he was reinstated on the same class
of goods but not on the same machine. Another interesting case
involved the dismissal of a man who had been called to the mending
room to look over work having a number of broken bobbin threads.
He became involved in a fight with the foreman, although there was
some question as to his responsibility for starting the altercation.
After apologizing to the foreman, the worker was given work in
another shop.
At times the question of responsibility for inefficiency or poor
work has not been clear and the union has endeavored to protect the
worker’s rights in the matter. In 1913 the executive board received
the appeal of a Levers minor in his third year who had been dis­
charged for making two pieces of flouncing 2 inches too short. The
boy had gone to the draftsman with the “ dead-stop sheet ” , according
to his story, and had inquired about the number of repeats necessary
to make the required length. He had been told that one repeat was
sufficient. During the process of the work, however, the foreman,
without notifying the boy, altered the sheet to read “ 2 repeats neces­
When the boy was discharged the foreman refused to rein­



state him, and after a shop meeting the’ men on the same gauge of
machine struck in sympathy. The management offered to declare
the boy out of his apprenticeship and reinstate him, but the weavers
thought they had a good case and wanted to fight it out. After
about six weeks of negotiation and conferences, the boy was rein­
stated on a different machine and the other members went back to
work. In another case a man was discharged for low output which
he claimed was due to poor repair work on the machine. The shop
committee supported the man in this, and as the result of a deputa­
tion from the board, the management agreed to take back the man
on another machine for two weeks to test his ability.
Occasionally a man has been discharged on the grounds of in­
efficiency who the union officials thought was being victimized for
activity on union committees. In such cases the issue was fought
through to a finish, although it often involved considerable lost time
on the part of a whole mill.
In most industries the right of hiring and questions connected
with it are considered as important as problems of the right of
discharge. This has not been true in the lace and lace-curtain imdustries because the early attainment of the closed shop in most of
the lace-curtain plants and in a few of the lace mills closed the
question. After the closed shop was attained in a mill an applicant
for work as a weaver had to “ get right with the union” before
being allowed to take a machine. In the case of foreign workers—
and most of them were foreign—this often entailed considerable
delay in waiting for transfer cards from European unions, much
to employers’ annoyance.

Next in importance to cases of discharge have been disputes over
fines for imperfect work and complaints of poor machine equipment.
In recent years these questions have been more fully covered in shop
rules and "local agreements which are, in effect, the codification of
certain precedents of long standing in the trade and new develop­
ments established in the negotiation of disputes. The “ custom in
the trade,” upon which present shop rules and decisions in cases are
based, may be traced back to the “ stoppage clause” of the 1884
price card in Nottingham which was as follows:
1. That no stoppages shaU be made for places caused by the fault of the
machine, Jacquards, cards or any portion o f the machinery.
2. That any manufacturer requiring his workmen to look over his cards
before working them, the time shall be reckoned as alterations, and subject
to the law thereon.
3. That there shall be no stoppages for waste cotton in the curtain trade,
unless it can be proved that the cotton stripped off the bobbins was sufficient
to make a curtain.
4. That stoppages shall be made for workmen’s neglect causing extra mend­
ing, places across, spoiled work, and not carrying out written instructions
in a workmanlike manner as to quality, etc.
5. That stoppages shall not be made without the knowledge and consent
of the shop committee in each firm.8

This clause became the custom in the trade in the United States
until local agreements made changes or elaborated its principles.*
* C u rta in p rice lis t o f 1 897, N o ttin g h a m , p. 24.



As a result of the long period of interpretation of trade practices in
Europe, the union here was able to settle *most cases in the shop,
and few had to be appealed to the executive board. The cases which
were appealed were in the nature of test cases involving new prin­
ciples and new regulations, a charge on the part of the union of
“ excessive ” dockage, or disputes arising as to the determination of
responsibility for errors in work.
In one such case a weaver was “ stopped 33 racks ” meaning that
payment was stopped on 33 racks of lace curtains, for alleged long
lengths.4 The weaver claimed that he had made the right number
of motions, but that an irregular “ porcupine ” roller caused the
wrong lengths. There had been some mistake on his part in not
working “ to the tape ” or yard measure, and the case was finally
adjusted by compromise. Allowing thick threads to run through
several lengths, which was the result either of a wrong count of
yarn on one of the spools or of the weaver’s catching two threads
instead of one in threading the machine, was also cause for dockage,
especially if the threads went through as many as 32 lengths, as in
one case coming to the executive board. The firm’s decision on one
case of “ thick threads ” had to be left unchallenged because of the
“ extreme depression in the trade ” at the time, although the union
considered the dockage to be “ excessive.” In another dispute, a
man had made four lengths of a wrong pattern and was told to buy
it or quit. The man refused to buy it, claiming that this was contrary
to shop rules, and a deputation from the board supported the worker
asking that he lose the racks but not be forced to buy the goods.
Later, a pattern which had been dropped from the selling list of a
mill was produced by a weaver through a mistake. The goods were
sold at a reduced price, but the firm refused to pay the man’s wages
for them. The Society claimed that it had been a long established
custom in the trade for the weaver to be paid if the goods were sold,
and threatened to sue the firm for payment. In 1913, a dispute
arose over payment for spoiled work caused by the dropping of a
card wire. New shop rules had covered such a case, but the fore­
man refused to pay wages for the work. The shop members agreed
to abide by the new rules, and forced payment by calling out all men
on the same class of goods. In general, if the management was re­
sponsible for spoiled work because of insufficient instructions on the
part of the foreman or by reason of poor machine equipment, the
union forced wage payment. I f the worker was clearly to blame,
fines or dockages were allowed, and if both management and worker
were to blame the issue was compromised.
A question that has constantly presented difficulties to the union
officials has been that of deciding at what point the weavers’ re­
sponsibility for damaged goods ends. The union has always main­
tained that the weavers would accept no responsibility for errors
in work not detected before the goods left the mending room for
bleaching and dressing. In other words, their responsibility lasted
only while the goods were “ in the brown.” One case came up for
settlement in which the mistake had not been detected until six
weeks after the goods had left the machine.
4 A “ le n g th
o r 5 ya rd s, as
a ge w h ich an
o f m o tio n s t o

” is w h a tev er len g th th e o rd e r d esig n a tes f o r th e cu rta in o r la ce , say 2 %
th e case m ay be. T h e w ea v er h a s to ca lcu la te th e y a rd a g e fro m th e ra ckin d ica to r on th e m ach in e m arks, an d th e “ q u a lity ” w h ic h is th e nu m ber
th e in ch o f g ood s.




The workers, especially in some of the smaller mills, have lodged
with the executive board many complaints regarding the equipment
provided by the employers and inefficient methods of management
which adversely affected the workers’ earnings. The most frequent
complaints have arisen over delays while threading and winding
was being done. One branch had to request the executive board to
take up with its management the matter of delays due to waiting for
warps, threading, brass-bobbin winding, and the use of badly dam­
aged pattern cards. Waiting for brass-bobbin winding continues to
be a frequent source of complaint even at present. Another branch
appealed to the management “ to appoint a permanent foreman on
the floor, who would not operate machines but look after conditions
in the shop, especially furnishing the machines with sufficient bobbins
and carriages to eliminate the excessive waiting that prevailed.”
Lack of cotton yarn has often necessitated the stopping 01 some ma­
chines, and in one instance brought about the shutdown of the entire
mill. The following verbatim account from the executive board min­
utes (August 28, 1911) of conditions in one small mill needs no
Tlie deputation t o ----------------reported that conditions in the lace mill were
such that our members were kept in a turmoil, not knowing from whom to take
orders; as at times the manager, then the foreman, and at times the treasurer
o f the company would give orders. It is obvious that the managers of this firm
are at variance with each other, thereby causing considerable discontent among
our members.

It will be remembered that the lace and lace-curtain machines
were imported from European manufacturers, and since European
methods of production make of each machine an individual crea­
tion, there are no interchangeable parts, and repair parts usually
have to be made to order. As a consequence breakage of machines
has often resulted in considerable delay in equipping them for pro­
duction again. This has accounted for some complaints coming
to the executive board. One of the greatest disadvantages of an un­
standardized machine equipment lies in the fact that it gives op­
portunity for favoritism. It has been estimated by several union
members that the difference between a good and bad machine—
whether the latter be an old model or merely badly repaired—may
mean a difference of from $5 to $20 in the worker’s weekly wage.
Opportunity for favoritism also arises in the method of giving out
work in the shop. The making of samples always involves consider­
able changing of the equipment of the machine and the lost time cuts
the worker’s earnings below those possible on straight piecework. On
several occasions the workers have complained that the order clerk
discriminated against them by giving them too much sample work.N
In one case an altercation between the order clerk and a weaver
resulted in a fight, and both were discharged. In another instance,
where the order clerk was also a coal dealer, the weavers claimed that
he discriminated against those who did not buy coal from him by giv­
ing them harder patterns to make, or goods on which their earnings
would not be so high as those secured by the weavers who did buy
coal from him. The executive board could secure no evidence on this
complaint, however, and the case was dropped. These two cases are



interesting because of the light they shed on production methods
and distribution of work in the shops, which place a premium on
favoritism. Even at the present time, although many improve­
ments have been effected in production methods in the more pro­
gressive plants, the distribution of work is unstandardized and
unsystematic. This is particularly true of factories which manu­
facture to order and not for stock. Orders are given out to the ma­
chines when they come in from the salesmen and jobbers, and often
entail needless changes of equipment and pattern cards from day
to day, or week to week, thereby lessening production and the
workers’ earnings.

Lack of uniformity in shop regulations from locality to locality or
from shop to shop has given rise at several times to a movement for
national agreement on shop rules; but this has been voted down at
conventions when proposed, since many locals or shops have enjoyed
special privileges they were loath to sacrifice.4 Variations in shop
rules in the three important lace-curtain plants in Philadelphia led
to a general agreement for that locality in 1913, which has become a
standard for the entire curtain industry. In this case uniformity
was practically forced upon the union by the discharge of two men
from one mill in 1912 for making wrong quality. The condition of
their reinstatement was a promise by the executive board to negoti­
ate in the near future on the matter of uniform shop regulations, and
the present rules are the result of that negotiation. Somewhat later,
the Philadelphia shops agreed to have no stoppages of work until the
dispute had been referred to the branch trade committee and to some­
one higher than a foreman in the management. I f no settlement were
secured in three days, a stoppage of machines might follow. The
List of Shop Pules to Govern the Curtain Shops in Philadelphia
contains regulations which may be grouped under the following
(1) Payment for work of the weaver (not otherwise covered in
the price list), such as cleaning or starting the machine, changing
the action of the Jacquard with differently equipped machines, and
turning on the machine for the fixer or machinist.
(2) Necessary equipment to be given the worker, including regu­
lations concerning the number of repeat cards that must be supplied,
aid to be given the worker in using bad or broken cards, the use of
the rack indicator, and aid for single-shift men in placing warps
and beams.
(3) Distribution of work, including the regulation that each
lace maker waiting for orders must report each day except Saturday
between 9 and 10 only, and that when a lace maker has no orders he
must report that fact to the foreman and responsible member. Fur­
ther, when a shortage of yam appears, the number of machines
working that grade of yarn is to be reduced and the men placed
on other machines wherever practicable.
(4) Payment for spoiled and imperfect work. Payment on the
racks is stopped for the making of wrong patterns (if the goods
4 A m a lg a m a ted L a ce O p eratives’ S ociety .

C on v en tion p ro ce e d in g s, 1914, p . 127.



remain unsold), wrong quality, wrong gait, and short lengths, “ ex­
cept in cases ox unusual negligence, when the firm shall have the
right to determine what disposition shall be made.” Lace makers
are required to measure the first length of each order to avoid making
wrong quality. No stoppages of payment are allowed for “ thick
threads, “ places across,” or “ spoiled work” unless the result of
unusual negligence. In the case of “ run-overs,” the weaver is to
be fined 25 cents, but the racks are to be paid for. Although not spe­
cifically stated in the rules, all mending which is the result of long
stitches (broken threads extending over a yard) or carelessness on
the part of the weaver must be paid for by him at the hourly rates
of the menders. Finally, a list of all dockages must be furnished
the shop committee at the end of each week.
Miscellaneous items covering the requirement of sanitary
drinking water in the mills, holiday hours, and pay-slip statements.

The double-shift system is in use in all of the mills, and the pro­
duction and dockage are charged to the machine, and not to the indi­
vidual. In this way, it is sometimes difficult for an employer to fix
the responsibility for careless work and inefficiency. The regulation
that the shop committee is to receive each week a list of all dockages
is designed to give an opportunity to the committee to warn members
who appear to be getting careless. It is reported that the warnings
of the shop committee are usually more carefully heeded than those
of the employer. It should be added with regard to the distribution
of work that lay-offs are not permitted, and that in slack periods
the work is divided among the weavers as evenly as possible, even if
all are reduced to working two hours a day. This is a common
trade-union practice, but is open to several objections. In the first
place, it is exceedingly difficult for an employer to get rid of an in­
efficient employee in a lace or lace-curtain mill, as the latter can not
be laid off in dull seasons, and it is difficult to prove habitual negli­
gence if the shop committee keeps warning him or if his partner
on the other shift does good enough work so that the total production
of the machine is average. Further the demoralizing effects of
working two or three hours a day for weeks or months if the de­
pression in the trade lasts long enough are difficult to overcome.
The double-shift system for lace makers, which is the result of
the high cost of the machines, has existed in the trade since the time of
the invention of the bobbin-net machine. Although the total number
of hours worked per day and week is controlled nationally by the
union, each shop may arrange the shifts to suit local conditions.
In the branches outside Philadelphia the hours are usually from 7
a. m. to 4 p. m. and 4 p. m. to 1 a. m., the men alternating the shifts
every week or two weeks. In Philadelphia two shops work from
5 a. m. to 2 p. m. and from 2 p. m. to 11 p. m.; and one shop works
the English split-shift system, sometimes called the “ swing shift.”
In the latter instance the first shift comes on at 5 a. m. and works
until 9 a. m.; the second shift works from 9 a. m. until 1 p. m.; the
first shift then comes back and works from 1 until 6 p. m.; and the
second shift then comes back and works from 6 until 11 p. m. Some



of the older workers prefer the swing shift, although it is obviously
inconvenient in several respects. The argument advanced in favor
of it has always been that the weaver’s work was too strenuous to
be done at a continuous stretch, particularly in hot weather when
the steam heat has to be turned on in the mills to overcome the
humidity.5 Many workers have opposed the swing-shift system,
and it is now practically extinct. The opposition to the double­
shift system in general comes from the larger rather than the smaller
mills, for reasons stated before; but it has made little headway up
to the present time.
It is worth noting that, as a result of the double-shift system,
the workers have little supervision, since the management and other
parts of the mill work during the day only. The weavers are there­
fore independent and somewhat jealous of any infringement on their
independence. Like the miners who work with little supervision,
they are very casual about time keeping. One firm experienced
difficulties in trying to fine the weavers for tardiness. Another
firm at least, and probably other firms, asked the executive board’s
permission before putting in a time-clock system. In fact, the manu­
facturers requested the curtain section’s approval of time-clock
systems, among other production reforms, as a condition of initiating
an unemployment insurance scheme in 1923.
In only one branch of the union has the general security of the
worker led to emphasis on seniority rights in promotions. In this
branch seniority determines the gauge of machine and class of goods
to be worked by the weavers, and the promotion of auxiliary workers
to be apprentice weavers. In the words of the auxiliary constitution,
4 Seniority and merit (merit to be determined by the union, at a
summoned meeting if necessary) shall be recognized and employed
in making promotions; or when laying off members of this asso­
ciation, when there is little or no work in slack times, where and
when the pro rata basis is unwarranted and so determined by this
union.” 6 This position on promotions is exceptional in the union,
and is not viewed with favor by the majority ox the members.
Many union members have been promoted to positions of promi­
nence in various managements. Some of these held important posi­
tions on union committees, and thus gained the respect and confidence
of the members. It is rather unusual in any industry to find such
a large proportion of foremen, superintendents, and even managers,
members of the union. They are not active members, but are what
is known as 4 levy members,” eligible to the death benefits of the
organization. This means that they are thoroughly familiar with
the traditional union policy and the attitude of the rank and file,
and thus avoid misunderstandings with regard to the union stand on
technical and other questions. Although it may have some disadvan­
tages from the point of view of progress and experimentation, pro­
motion from within undoubtedly makes for more amicable joint re­
lations. The problem of what the levy members and foremen should
be permitted to do in the case of strikes has been the source of diffi­
culties, particularly in the Levers trade. It was finally decided that
foremen could not do straight weaving but could run off samples*
* A m a lga m a ted L a ce O p eratives’ S ociety . P r ic e co n fe re n ce re p o rt, J a n u a ry , 1917, p . 2 6.
• C o n stitu tio n o f B ra n ch A , N o. 2, L a ce A u x ilia ry W ork ers, p. 4 2.



and turn machines enough to keep them in condition, and still retain
their levy membership.
In the days before permanent machinery and a more systematic
procedure had been evolved for the settlement of questions arising
over the classification of goods and new piecework prices, such prob­
lems arose frequently. This was especially true of the Levers trade,
where difficulties were encountered in the establishment of a uni­
versal price list. In the early years in the curtain trade, if the shop
committee and the foreman were unable to settle the price for new
goods, the committee very often refused to allow any one to do the
work, and occasionally called out all men working on the same
gauge of machine in an effort to force a settlement. Gradually the
policy changed to one of allowing men to do the new work, but re­
quiring back pay on all racks made, after the price was finally agreed
upon by both sides. Still later, the piecework price list was elabo­
rated, and precedents established in the classification of goods were
extended to all similar cases. Finally, in 1921, a permanent price
committee was established to aid the executive committee in all tech­
nical questions, the work of which has been discussed in connection
with the development of the curtain price list.
Since the majority of cases coming before the union’s executive
board for adjudication have been of a technical nature—such as ques­
tions of interpretation of the price list, prices for new work, dockage
for imperfect work, equipment of machines, interpretation of shop
rules and trade practices, and more rarely questions of discipline
and discharge—they would in the nature of the case be difficult
for an arbitrator to solve. The lace workers have refused to arbi­
trate their disputes on the occasions when such procedure has
been proposed, although Government mediation was accepted in a
few instances. The organized textile trades have been slow to adopt
the impartial chairmanship type of collective bargaining machinery
which is found in certain other trades, such as clothing and print­
ing. The one textile experiment of this kind in the silk ribbon
weaving trade in New York was short-lived.


It has been the intent of this study to describe the labor relations
o f an old textile industry, with an interpretation in terms of the
historical and economic background of the industry. The machinemade lace industry in Europe has had the benefit of a century of
experience and the skill and traditions of generations of lace workers.
In this country it has been but recently transplanted under tariff pro­
tection and is not old enough to have established many tradi­
tions. The major differences between the European and American
industries lie in the size of the factory unit and the assumption of
the risks of the industry. Large-scale production has developed in
the United States, where manufacturers carry on all of the processes
of the industry, and there are no producers who rent machines and
floor space, taking orders from warehousemen, as in England and
France. Although small, the American lace industries are of un­
usual interest because of their importance in international trade and
American tariff problems and because of the outstanding features of
their labor relations.
The most important of these factors in labor relations may be
grouped under the following joints:
(1) Predominance of the skilled workers in the industry, and the
growth of a strong craft union.
(2) Control of the labor supply of weavers.
(3) Attempts to gain economic security through high wages,
shorter hours, and unemployment insurance.
(4) Protection of the weavers’ “ rights” in the shop through
local collective bargaining.
The general outline of the interpretation of this labor situation
has been suggested in earlier chapters. The clue is to be found in the
economic conditions of the industries. The program of the union
centers on security of employment in trades where the risks of
insecurity of employment are at a maximum. The causal factors in
this case are irregularity of employment in a fashion textile trade,
and the high degree of specialized skill required of the workers,
which results in their relative immobility. As a result, the union
attempts first to protect the present occupants of jobs against new­
comers, whether they be untrained apprentices or trained men
coming from the European lace centers; second to protect the worker
against arbitrary discharge or unwarranted fines for spoiled work;
and finally, to secure higher wages and shorter hours, all with the
distinct purpose of offsetting the risks carried by the worker as
well as of improving the workers’ standard of living.
In view of these circumstances the growth of a strong craft union
would be expected, but it is interesting to note that this did not occur
without a struggle among the lace workers. The general history of
the union, as portrayed in manuscript records going back over 30




years, reflects tlie history of all organized labor. The struggle fo r
control between the large and the small branches, between local and
national officials, and the slow evolution of effective agencies for
handling various union activities and joint relations with employers
are an important part of the history of all labor organizations.
A trade-union is essentially opportunistic in its policies and program.
Apparent discrepancies between philosophy and methods, or incon­
sistencies in policy, are mainly due to the swinging of the balance
of power between employers and workers and between groups of
workers with changing economic conditions. The bitter struggle
over craft versus industrial unionism and the resulting factions in
the lace operatives’ organization illumine, in a striking way, the
cross currents of aims and programs, methods and policies, phi­
losophy and idealism, of that highly complex organism known as
the labor movement.
The control of entrance to the skilled crafts through high initia­
tion fees, strict apprenticeship regulations, and watching of the
channels of importation strengthened the position of the skilled
crafts in bargaining with their employers. These policies, as well
as good discipline within the ranks of the organization and other fea­
tures of the union’s collective bargaining program, were furthered
by the attainment of the closed shop for a majority of the organized
The national collective-bargaining program centers on matters of
wages and hours. An unusual feature is presented in the develop­
ment of the piecework price list. The skilled trades in lace making
have never been subdivided and conditions of manufacture in these
operations have remained unchanged for long periods of time. This
does not mean that there have been no technical improvements in the
industry. On the contrary, the variety of products is infinitely
greater than formerly and their quality has vastly improved; but
this is due primarily to improvements in the finishing and pre­
paratory processes, development of designs, and new adaptations
of the machine process which have not revolutionized the ma­
chine, Hence the piecework wage scales effected through early bar­
gaining arrangements between the manufacturers and workers of
England have been the basis of revised scales in this country. The
type of scale developed has been one in which an average size and
gauge of machine is defined as the standard, with fixed differentials
for all additional equipment, and all variations in width and gauge.
This type of wage scale is not common in the United States, even in
the textile industries, although these have the reputation of continu­
ing European traditions of production to a greater extent than other
The lace workers have attempted to gain economic security by
seeking high wages and unemployment insurance, to offset the losses
from irregular employment and prolonged depressions. Two dis­
tinct points of view are held with regard to the relation of wages to
the seasonal character of the industry. Many of the manufacturers
contend that lace products are luxury articles for which the demand is
very elastic, and that higher wages mean higher prices, resulting in a
decrease of sales and eventually of the earnings of the worker. They
cite the overdevelopment in both the lace and lace-curtain industries



to support their contention, emphasizing the fact that the demand for
laces has never been sufficient for the operation of plants at full capac­
ity. Other manufacturers and many of the workers maintain that
lace products have become a virtual necessity, and that the market is
capable of indefinite expansion. While this view may appear to
overlook the effects of style changes in a fashion trade, it rightly
emphasizes the opportunity of the manufacturer to initiate styles.
In the case of lace curtains, those holding this view would maintain
that some form of window covering is considered essential in all
income groups, and.the sales problem is therefore one of securing the
market against foreign competition and against other types of win­
dow draperies. In the absence of any scientific research on the effects
of advertising and sales policy, and on the relation of wages and
other costs to prices, and prices to demand, no conclusions are
The union’s effort to obtain unemployment insurance is probably
a move in a better direction than a continuous request for higher
wages. The purpose of an unemployment-insurance scheme is to
place sufficient burden on the employer in a seasonal industry to
make it worth his while to secure orders and keep the plant running
for as long a period as possible. A smoothing of the seasonal fluc­
tuations, by spreading employment over more working-days in the
year, lowers the cost of insurance to the employer, and affords
greater regularity of employment and income to the worker. The
plan proposed by the lace-curtain weavers provides for contribu­
tions from the employers and the employees to the extent of two per
cent of the pay roll, a figure which was estimated to cover the risk
in an average year. Although the plan did not become operative
on a national scale, it is being gradually adopted in the various local
branches; and it is greatly to be hoped that such a plan may even­
tually come into force throughout the entire industry.
The efforts of the union to shorten the working-day were suc­
cessful in 1907, when the nine-hour day was obtained; but more
recent attempts to secure the 44-hour week have thus far been un­
successful. The manufacturers and workers are in this matter faced
with one of the big engineering problems in all textile industries,
that of securing the same or increased production with a shorter
working-day. The lace operatives, like many craft and industrial
unions, are becoming interested in the technical problems of pro­
duction and could undoubtedly give valuable support to a joint pro­
gram of production reform. Trade-unions can no longer afford to
ask for shorter hours and more pay, with no interest in the effects of
curtailment of production and the source of wage increases.
The collective-bargaining structure also provides for joint con­
trol of working conditions in the shop. Present shop rules continue
the long-established practice of requiring payment for all spoiled
work for which the management is responsible, as in the case of
broken or inadequate equipment or insufficient instructions. Since
few workers can make all classes of goods, and since the condition
of the machine and its equipment is such an important factor in
the quality of the product as well as in the earnings of the worker,
the weavers have endeavored to prevent discharge for inefficiency
wherever possible, but have permitted dockage and other penalties



in the form of transfers to poorer machines or different grades of
work. The result has been that few discharge cases are found, and
the majority of local or shop disputes center in questions of re­
sponsibility for spoiled work and the interpretation of shop rules.
The highly specialized skill of the weaver, which is of no use in
other industries, has thus been compensated by assurance of tenure
in the job, and protection against excessive dockage and other shop
grievances. This has come as the result of a long struggle and the
slow evolution of a code of rules and machinery for the settlement of
disputed cases. It can not be too strongly emphasized that trade
customs, working rules, and methods of handling shop grievances are
of major importance in industrial relations. This is true of both
unionized and nonunionized industries.
The labor relations in the lace and lace-curtain industries are
unique in some respects, but have points of fundamental similarity
with a large number of small scattered trades of highly skilled
workers. Their differences are of degree rather than kind. Wher­
ever the skilled crafts dominate an industrial situation because they
perform a “key” operation in the production process, and when such
operations require highly specialized skill, strong craft unions will
be found, with emphasis on protection of the present occupants of
jobs against all newcomers. If, in addition, the work is seasonal or
subject to long periods of depression, high rates of pay, shorter
hours, and elaborate codes of protective working rules will be de­
veloped. In the lace and lace-curtain industries, dependence on tariff
protection and style changes has accentuated the risks of the indus­
try for both the workers and the manufacturers. The general public
sees only an undue emphasis by craft unions on security in the job
and protection of the workers5 standard of living, and fails to
trace this back to the economic conditions in the industries which
place a premium on insecurity of employment, and thus force a
large burden o f industrial risk upon the workers.

A lbert, W.
Bleaching and finishing lace curtains. (Abstract.)
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cM a h o n

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[H. Doc. No. 643, 62d Cong., 2d

------- Tariff Com m ission.

Digests of tariff hearings before the Senate Committee on Finance on
bill H. R. 7456. Washington, 1922.
------------- Preliminary report on lace. Washington, December 1, 1923.
------------- Tariff Information Series No. 12,1920: Cotton yarns.
U ph olsterer.
New York. Issue of June, 1918.
U re, A



Philosophy of Manufactures.

a k e f ie l d ,

London, H. G. Bohn, 1861.

Sa m .

Lace yarns as made in England.
Textile World Journal, Yol. 51, p. 2335.


S id n e y a n d B e a t r ic e .

Industrial Democracy.

New York, Longmans Green & Co., 1919.

A n o n ym o u s.

Finishing Nottingham lace curtains.
Textile World, Boston, August, 1915, p. 552.
------ The beginnings o f an industry.
The Upholsterer, New York, June, 1918, p. 61.
57192°—25----- 6



TO 1923

[Source: U nited States T ariff Com m ission, Prelim inary R eport on L ace, W ashington, D ecem ber 1, 1923,
p . 14. Figures include nets and nettings under act of 1909, and act of 1922J
Q uantity


IRftO-lflOft* ___________________
__ ___________ ___
_________ __________
1905-06............................ ..............
1909 (July 1-A ug. 5 )_________ _


1,679,659 $152,775
2,471,369 222,720
2,642,323 228,832
1,879,732 188,395
2,208,658 228,461
2,126,478 213,465
2,105,533 204,075

Q uantity


1913- 14 (O ct. 4,1913 to June 30,
1914- 15......................................
1915- 16......................................
1916- 17......................................
1917- 18......................................
1918 (last h a lf)..............................
1919 ...........................................
1920 ________________________
1921 ...........................................
1922 (Jan. 1-Sept. 21).................


726,836 $111,212
361,813 144,089

Annual average (under
act o f 1913).....................




Annual average (under
act of 1897)____________ 1,556,721

Annual average (July 25,
1897-Sept. 2 1,1 92 2 )._



1922 (Sept. 22-D ec. 31)...............
1923 (Jan. 1-Sept. 30,1923)1___



1909-10 (A ug. 6, 1909-June 30,
1011-12 , ____
1913 (July 1 to Oct. 3)_



Annual average (under
act of 1909).....................



i Prelim inary figures.

T able 2 *—V A L U E O F IM P O R T S OF C O T T O N L A C E P R O D U C T S , 1912 T O 1922, B Y C O U N T R Y
[Source: U nited States D ept, of Com m erce. Bureau of Foreign and D om estic Com m erce. Foreign
Com m erce and N avigation of the U nited States, annual reports, 1913 to 1921. A lso M on th ly Sum m ary
o f Foreign Com m erce, D ecem ber, 1922, and Decem ber, 1923, p . 52.]
Lace curtains






______ _____



1018 (Tilly-Dee.)
1021 ________________________
1022 ____________________________



m any



$5,503 $211,777
6,772 * 141,621






___ __________________

T otal


M ach in e-m ade la ce s


1911-12.......................................... $4,341,253
191516.............................. 6,200,313
191617.............................. 4.318.552
1918 (J u ly -D ee.)......................... 2,447,222
.................................. 2,860,932
.................................. 4,040,468


Switzerland^ Germ any




T otal

The publication of the annual and special reports and of the bimonthly bulletin was
discontinued in July, 1912, and since that time a bulletin has been published at irregular
intervals. Each number contains matter devoted to one of a series of general subjects.
These bulletins are numbered consecutively, beginning with No. 101, and up to No. 236;
they also carry consecutive numbers under each series. Beginning with No. 237 the serial
numbering has been discontinued. A list of the series is given below. Under each is
grouped all the bulletins which contain material relating to the subject matter of that
series. A list o f the reports and bulletins o f the Bureau issued prior to July 1, 1912, will
be furnished on application. The bulletins marked thus * are out of print.

Wholesale Prices.
*B ul. 114.
B ui. 149.
*Bul. 173.
*Bul. 181.
♦Bui. 200.
•Bui. 226.
B ui. 269.
B ui. 284.

W holesale prices, 1890 to 1912.
W holesale prices, 1890 to 1913.
Index num bers of wholesale prices
W holesale prices, 1890 to 1914.
W holesale prices, 1890 to 1915.
W holesale prices, 1890 to 1916.
W holesale prices, 1890 to 1919.
Index num bers of wholesale
of B ulletin N o. 173.)
B ui. 296. W holesale prices, 1890 to 1920.
B ui. 320. W holesale prices. 1890 to 1921.
B ui. 335. W holesale prices, 1890 to 1922.
B ui. 367. W holesale prices, 1890 to 1923.
B ui. 390. W holesale prices, 1890 to 1924.

in cne united states ana foreign countries.

prices in the United States and foreign countries. [Revision

Retail Prices and Cost of living.
♦Bui. 105. R etail prices, 1890 to 1911: Part I.
R etail prices, 1890 to 1911: Part II—General tables.
•Bui. 106. R etail prices, 1890 to June, 1912: Part I.
R etail prices, 1890 to June, 1912: Part H —General tables
B u i. 108. R etail prices, 1890 to August, 1912.
B ui. 110. R etail prices, 1890 to O ctober, 1912.
B ui. 113. R etail prices, 1890 to D ecem ber, 1912.
B ui. 115. R etail prices, 1890 to February, 1913.
♦Bui. 121. Sugar prices, from refiner to consum er.
B ui. 125. R etail prices, 1890 to A p ril, 1913.
.♦Bui. 130. W heat and flour prices, from farm er to consumes*
B ui. 132. R etail prices, 1890 to June, 1913.
B ui. 136. R etail prices, 1890 to A ugust, 1913.
♦Bui. 138. R etail prices, 1890 to O ctober, 1913.
♦ B h l. 140. R etail prices, 1890 to D ecem ber, 1913.
B u i. 156. R etail prices, 1907 to D ecem ber, 1914.
B ul. 164. B utter prices, from producer to consum er.
B u i. 170. Foreign food prices as affected b y the war.
•Bui. 184. R etail prices, 1907 to June, 1915.
B ui. 197. R etail prices, 1907 to D ecem ber, 1915.
B ui. 228. R etail prices, 1907 to Decem ber, 1916.
B ui. 270. R etail prices, 1913 to D ecem ber, 1919.
B ui. 300. R etail prices, 1913 to 1920.
B ui. 315. R etail prices, 1913 to 1921.
B ui. 334. R etail prices, 1913 to 1922.
B ui. 357. C ost of livin g in the U nited States.
B ui 366. R etail prices, 1913 to D ecem ber, 1923.
B ui. 369. T he use o f cost o f livin g figures in wage adjustm ents.
B ui. 396. R etail prices, 1890 to 1924.

Wages and Hours of Labor.
B ui. 116. H ours, earnings, and duration of em ploym ent of wage-earning wom en in selected industries
in the D istrict of Colum bia.
♦Bui. 118. Ten-hour m axim um w orking-day for wom en and young persons.
B ui. 119. W orking hours of wom en in the pea .canneries of W isconsin,
♦Bui. 128. W ages and hours of labor in the cotton , w oolen, and silk industries, 1890 to 1912.
♦Bui. 129. W ages and hours of labor in the lum ber, m illw ork, and furniture industries, 1890 to 1912.
♦Bui. 131. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, 1907 to 1912.


Wages and Hours o f Labor—Continued.
•Bui. 134. Wages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe and hosiery and knit goods industries, 1890
to 1912.
♦Bui. 133. W ages and hours o f labor in the cigar and clothing industries, 1911 M id 1912.
B u i. 137. W ages and hours of labor in the building and repairing of steam railroad cars, 1890 to 1912.
B ui. 143. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 15,1913.
•Bui. 140. W ages and regularity of em ploym ent and standardization of piece rates in the dress and
w aist industry of New Y ork C ity.
•Bui. 147. W ages and regularity of em ploym ent in the cloak, su it, and skirt industry.
•Bui. 150. W ages and hours of labor in the cotton, w oolen, and silk industries, 1907 to 1913.
•Bui. 151. W ages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry in the U nited States, 1907 to 1912.
B u i. 153. W ages and hours of labor in the lum ber, m illw ork, and furniture industries, 1907 to 1913.
•Bui. 154. W ages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe and hosiery and underwear industries, 1907
to 1913.
B ui. 160. H ours, earnings, and con ditions of labor of w om en in Indiana m ercantile establishm ents
and garm ent factories.
B u i. 161. W ages and hours of labor in the clothing and cigar industries, 1911 to 1913.
B u i. 163. W ages and hours of labor in the building and repairing of steam railroad cars, 1907 to 1913
B u i. 168. W ages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1913.
•Bui. 171. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 1,1914.
B u i. 177. W ages and hours of labor in the hosiery and underwear industry, 1907 to 1914.
B u i. 178. W ages and hours o f labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1914.
•Bui. 187. W ages and hours of labor in the men’ s clothing industry, 1911 to 1914.
•Bui. 190. W ages and hours of labor in the cotton, w oolen, and silk industries, 1907 to 1914.
•Bui. 194. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 1,1915.
B u i. 204. Street railw ay em ploym ent in the U nited States.
B u i. 214. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 15,1916.
B u i. 218. W ages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1915.
B u i. 221. H ours, fatigue, and health in B ritish m unition factories.
B u i. 225. W ages and hours of labor in the lum ber, m illw ork, and furniture industries, 1915.
B u i. 232. W ages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1916.
B u i. 238. W ages and hours of labor in woolen and worsted goods m anufacturing, 1916.
B u i. 239. W ages and hours of labor in cotton goods m anufacturing and finishing, 1916.
B u i. 245. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 15,1917.
B u i. 252. W ages and hours of labor in the slaughtering and m eat-packing industry, 1917.
B u i. 259. U nion scale o f wages and hours of labor, M ay 15,1918.
B u i. 260. W ages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1918.
B u i. 261. W ages and hours of labor in w oolen and w orsted goods m anufacturing, 1918.
B u i. 262. W ages and hours of labor in cotton goods m anufacturing and finishing, 1918.
B u i. 265. Industrial survey in selected industries in the U nited States, 1919. Prelim inary report. *
•B ui. 274. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 15,1919.
B u i. 278. W ages-and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1920.
B u i. 279. H ours and earnings in anthracite and bitum inous coal m ining: A nthracite, 1919 and 1920;
bitum inous, 1920.
B u i. 286. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 15,1929.
B u i. 288. W ages and hours of labor in cotton goods m anufacturing, 1920.
B u i. 289. W ages and hours of labor in woolen and w orsted goods m anufacturing, 1920.
B u i. 294. W ages and hours of labor in the slaughtering and m eat-packing industry in 1921.
B u i. 297. W ages and hours of labor in the petroleum in d u stry, 1920.
B u i. 302. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, May 15,1921.
B u i. 305. W ages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1920.
B u i. 316. H ours and earnings in anthracite and bitum inous coal m ining—anthracite, January, 1922;
bitum inous, w inter of 1921-22.
B u i. 317. W ages and hours of labor in lum ber m anufacturing, 1921.
B u i. 324. W ages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1922.'
B u i. 325. U nion scale o f wages and hours of labor, M ay 15,1922.
B u i. 327. W ages and hours of labor in w oolen and w orsted goods m anufacturing, 1922.
B u i. 328. W ages and hours of labor in the hosiery and underwear in dustry, 1922B u i. 329. W ages and hours of labor in the m en’s clothing industry, 1922.
B u i. 345. W ages and hours o f labor in cotton goods m anufacturing, 1922.
B u i. 348. W ages and hours of labor in the autom obile industry, 1922.
B u i. 353. W ages and hours o f labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1922.
B u i. 354. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 15, 1923.
B u i. 356. P rod u ctivity costs in com m on-brick industry, 1922-23.
B u i. 358. W ages and hours o f labor in the autom obile-tire industry, 1923.

(H )

W ages and H onrs o f L abor—C ontinued.
B ui. 360. Tim e and labor costs in m anufacturing 100 pairs o f shoes.
B ui. 362. W ages and hours of labor in foundries and m achine shops, 1923.
B ui. 363. W ages and hours of labor in lum ber m anufacturing, 1923.
B ui. 366. W ages and hours of labor in the paper and pulp industry.
B ui. 371. W ages and hours of labor in cotton goods m anufacturing, 1924.
B ui. 373. W ages and hours of labor in slaughtering and m eat packing, 1923.
B ui. 374. W ages and hours of labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1924.
B ui. 376. W ages and hours of labor in the hosiery and underwear industry, 1907 to 1924.
B ui. 377. W ages and hours of labor in w oolen and w orsted goods m anufacturing, 1924.
B ui. 381. W ages and hours of labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1924.
B ui. 387. W ages and hours of labor in the m en’s clothing industry.
B ui. 388. U nion scale of wages and hours of labor, M ay 16,1924.
B ui. 394. W ages and hours of labor in m etalliferous m ines, 1924.

Employment and Unemployment.
♦Bui. 109. Statistics of unem ploym ent and the work of em ploym ent offices.
B ui. 116. H ours, earnings, and duration of em ploym ent of wage-earning wom en in selected industries
in the D istrict of Colum bia.
B ui. 172. U nem ploym ent in New Y ork C ity, N . Y .
♦Bui. 182. U nem ploym ent am ong wom en in departm ent and other retail stores of B oston, Mass.
♦Bui. 183. R egularity of em ploym ent in the wom en’ s ready-to-w ear garm ent industries.
B u i. 192. Proceedings of the Am erican A ssociation of P u blic E m ploym ent Offices.
♦Bui. 195. U nem ploym ent in the U nited States.
B ui. 196. Proceedings of the E m ploym ent Managers’ Conference, held at M inneapolis, M inn., Janu­
ary, 1916.
♦Bui. 202. Proceedings of the conference of E m ploym ent M anagers’ A ssociation o f B oston, M ass.,
held M ay 10,1916.
B u i. 206. T he B ritish system of labor exchanges.
B ui. 220. Proceedings o f the Fourth A nnual M eeting o f the Am erican A ssociation of P u blic Em ­
ploym ent Offices, B uffalo, N . Y ., July 20 and 21,1916.
* B ui. 228. Em ploym ent of wom en and juveniles in Great B ritain during the war.
♦Bui. 227. Proceedings o f the Em ploym ent M anagers’ Conference, Philadelphia, P a ., A pril 2 and 3,
B ui. 235. Em ploym ent system of the Lake Carriers’ A ssociation.
♦Bui. 241. P ublic em ploym ent offices in the U nited States.
B ui. 247. Proceedings of E m ploym ent Managers’ Conference, R ochester, N . Y ., M ay 9-11,1918.
B ui. 310. Industrial unem ploym ent: A statistical stu dy of its extent and causes.
B ui. 311. Proceedings o f the N inth Annual M eeting o f the International A ssociation of P ublic Em*
ploym ent Services, held at B u ffalo, N . Y ., Septem ber 7-9,1921.
B ui. 337. Proceedings of the Tenth A nnual M eeting of the International A ssociation of P ublic
E m ploym ent Services, held at W ashington, D . C ., Septem ber 11-13, 1922.
B ui. 355. Proceedings o f the E leventh Annual M eeting of the International A ssociation o f P ublic
Em ploym ent Services, held at T oron to, Canada, Septem ber 4-7, 1923.

Women in Industry.
B ui. 116. H ours, earnings, and duration of em ploym ent of wage-earning wom en in selected indus­
tries in the D istrict of C olum bia.
♦Bui. 117. Prohibition of night w ork of young persons.
♦Bui. 118. Ten-hour m axim um w orking-day for wom en and young persons.
B ui. 119. W orking hours of wom en in the pea canneries of W isconsin.
♦Bui. 122. E m ploym ent of wom en in pow er laundries in M ilwaukee.
B ui. 160. H ours, earnings, and conditions of labor of wom en in Indiana m ercantile establishm ents
and garm ent factories.
♦Bui. 167. M inim um -wage legislation in the U nited States and foreign countries.
♦Bui. 175. Sum m ary of the report on con dition of wom an and ch ild wage earners in the U nited States.
♦Bui. 176. E ffect of m inim um -wage determ inations in Oregon.
♦Bui. 180. The boot and shoe industry in M assachusetts as a vocation for wom en.
♦Bui. 182. U nem ploym ent am ong wom en in departm ent and other retail stores of B oston, Mass.
B ui. 193. Dressm aking as a trade for wom en in M assachusetts.
B ui. 215. Industrial experience of trade-school girls in M assachusetts.
♦Bui. 217. E ffect of workm en’ s com pensation law s in dim inishing the necessity of industrial em ploy­
m ent of wom en and children.
B ui. 223. Em ploym ent of wom en and juveniles in Great B ritain during the war.
B ui. 253. W om en in the lead industries.

(H I)

W orkm en’ s Insurance and Com pensation (including law s rela tin g th ereto).
*B ul. 101. Care of tuberculous wage earners in Germ any.
*B ul. 102. B ritish N ational Insurance A ct, 1911.
B u i. 103. Sickness and accident insurance law o f Sw itzerland.
B u i. 107. Law relating to insurance of salaried em ployees in Germ any.
•B ill. 126. W orkm en’ s com pensation law s of the U nited States and foreign countries.
*B u l. 155. Com pensation for accidents to em ployees o f the U nited States.
*B ul. 185. Com pensation legislation o f 1914 and 1915.
*B ul. 203. W orkm en’ s com pensation laws o f the U nited States and foreign countries.
B u i. 210. Proceedings o f the T hird Annual M eeting of the International A ssociation o f Industrial
A ccident B oards and Com m issions, held at C olum bus, O hio, A p ril 25-28,1916.
B ui. 212. Proceedings of the conference on social insurance called b y the International Association
of Industrial A ccident Boards and Com m issions, W ashington, D . C ., Decem ber 5 to 9,1918.
B u i. 217. E ffect o f workm en’ s com pensation laws in dim inishing the necessity of industrial em ploy­
m ent of wom en and children.
*B ul. 240. Com parison of workm en’ s com pensation law s of the U nited States n p to Decem ber 31,1917.
B u i. 243. W orkm en’ s com pensation legislation in the U nited States and foreign countries, 1917 and
B ui. 248. Proceedings of the Fourth Annual M eeting o f the International A ssociation of Industrial
A ccident B oards and Com m issions, held at B oston, M ass., A ugust 21-25,1917.
B ui. 264. Proceedings of the F ifth Annual M eeting o f the International A ssociation o f Industrial
A ccident B oards and Com m issions, held at M adison, W ls., Septem ber 24-27,1918.
B u i. 272. W orkm en’ s com pensation legislation of the U nited States and Canada. 1919.
*B u l. 273. Proceedings of the Sixth Annual M eeting o f the International A ssociation o f Industrial
A ccident Boards and Com m issions, held at T oron to, Canada, Septem ber 23-26,1919.
B ui. 275. Com parison of w orkm en's com pensation law s o f the U nited States and Canada up to Jan­
u ary, 1920.
* B ui. 281. Proceedings of the Seventh Annual M eeting o f the International A ssociation of Industrial
A ccident Boards and Com m issions, held at San Francisco, C alif., Septem ber 20-24, 1920.
B u i. 301. Com parison of workm en’ s com pensation insurance and adm inistration.
B u i. 304. Proceedings o f the E ighth Annual M eeting o f the International A ssociation o f Industrial
A ccident Boards and Com m issions, held at C hicago, 111., Septem ber 19-23,1921.
B u i. 312. N ational health insurance in Great B ritain, 1911 to 1920.
B u i. 332. W orkm en’ s com pensation legislation o f the U nited States and Canada, 1920 to 1922.
B u i. 333. Proceedings of the N inth Annual M eeting of the International A ssociation of Industrial
A ccident Boards and Com m issions, held at Baltim ore, M d ., O ctober 9-13,1922.
B u i. 359. Proceedings o f the T enth A nnual M eeting o f the International A ssociation o f Industrial
A ccident Boards and Com m issions, held at St. Paul, M in n ., Septem ber 24-26, 1923.
B u i. 379. C om parison of w orkm en’s com pensation law s o f the U nited States as of January 1, 1925.
B u i. 385. Proceedings of the E leventh A nnual M eeting of the International A ssociation of Industrial
A ccident Boards and Com m issions, held at H alifax, N ova Scotia, A ugust 26-28, 1924.
B u i. 395. In dex to proceedings o f the International A ssociation of Industrial A cciden t B oards and
Com m issions.
Industrial A ccidents and H ygiene.
*B ul. 104. Lead poisoning in potteries, tile w orks, and porcelain enam eled sanitary ware factories.
B u i. 120. H ygiene of the painters’ trade.
♦Bill. 127. Dangers to workers from dust and fum es, and m ethods o f protection.
*B u l. 141. Lead poisoning in the sm elting and refining of lead.
*B u l. 157. Industrial accident sta tistics.
*B u l. 165. Lead poisoning in the m anufacture o f storage batteries.
:;B u l. 179. Industrial poisons used in the rubber in du stry.
B u i. 188. R eport o f B ritish departm ental com m ittee on the danger in th e use o f lead in th e painting
of buildings.
*B ul.201. R eport o f com m ittee on statistics and com pensation insurance cost of the International
A ssociation of Industrial A cciden t Boards and Com m issions. [L im ited edition.]
B u i. 205. A nthrax as an occupational disease.
*B u l. 207. Causes o f death, b y occupation.
♦B ui. 209. H ygiene of the prin tin g trades.
*B ul 216. A ccidents an d accident prevention in m achine buildin g.
B u i. 219. In du strial poisons used or produced in the m anufacture of explosives.
B u i. 221. H ours, fatigue, and health in B ritish m u n ition factories.
B u i. 230. Industrial efficiency and fa tigu e in B ritish m unition factories.
♦Bui. 231. M ortality from respiratory diseases in d u sty trades (inorganic dusts).
::B u l. 234. Safety m ovem ent in the iron and steel in d u stry, 1907 to 1917.
B u i. 236. E ffect of the air ham m er on the hands of stonecutters.

(IV )

Industrial Accidents and Hygiene—C ontinued.
B u i. 251.
B u i. 253.
B u i. 256.
B u i. 267.
B u i. 276.
B u i. 280.
B ui. 291
B u i. 293.
B ui. 298.
B ui. 306.

Preventable death in the cotton m anufacturing industry.
W om en in the lead industries.
A ccidents and accident prevention in m achine buildin g. (R evision o f B u i. 216.)
A nthrax as an occupational disease. [R evised.)
Standardization of industrial accident statistics.
Industrial poisoning in m aking coal-tar dyes and dye interm ediates.
Carbon m onoxide poisoning.
The problem of dust phthisis in the granite-stone industry.
Causes and prevention of accidents in the iron and steel industry, 1910 to 1919.
O ccupation hazards and diagnostic signs: A guide to im pairm ent to be looked for in
hazardous occupations.
B ui. 339. S tatistics of industrial accidents in the U nited States.
B ui. 392. Survey of hygienic con ditions in the printing trades.

Conciliation and Arbitration (including strikes and lockouts).
*B u l. 124. C onciliation and arbitration in the bu ildin g trades of Greater New Y ork
-B u i. 133. R eport of the industrial cou n cil of the B ritish B oard o f Trade on its in q u iry in to industrial
agreem ents.
•Bui. 139. M ichigan copper d istrict strike.
B ui. 144. Industrial cou rt of the cloak, su it, and skirt in dustry of New Y ork C ity.
B u i. 145. C onciliation, arbitration, and san itation in th e dress and w aist industry of N ew
B u i. 191. C ollective bargaining in the anthracite coal in dustry.
*B ul. 198. C ollective agreem ents in the m en's cloth in g industry.
B u i. 233. O peration of the industrial disputes investigation act of Canada.
B u i. 303. Use of Federal power in settlem ent of railw ay labor disputes.
B u i. 341. Trade agreem ent in the silk-ribbon industry o f New Y ork C ity.

York City.

Labor Laws of the United States (including decisions of courts relating to labor),
*B u l. i l l . Labor legislation of 1912.
*B ul. 112. D ecisions of courts and opinions affectin g labor, 1912
*B u l. 148. Labor laws o f the U nited States, w ith decisions of courts relating thereto*
*B ul. 152. D ecisions of courts and opin ion s affectin g labor, 1913
*B ul. 166. Labor legislation o f 1914.
*B ul. 169. D ecisions of courts a ffectin g labor, 1914.
♦Bui. 186. Labor legislation of 1915.
*B ul. 189. D ecisions of courts affecting labor, 1915.
B ui. 211. Labor law s and their adm inistration in the P acific
*B ul. 213. Labor legislation of 1916.
B u i. 224. D ecisions of courts affecting labor, 1916.
B u i. 229. W age-paym ent legislation in the U nited States.
•Bui. 244. Labor legislation of 1917.
B u i. 246. D ecisions o f courts affectin g labor, 1917.
• B u i.257. Labor legislation of 1918.
B u i. 258. Decisions of courts and opinions affecting labor, 1918.
B u i. 277. Labor legislation of 1919.
B u i. 285. M inim um -wage legislation in the U nited States.
B ui. 290. Decisions of courts and opinions affectin g labor, 1919-1929
B ui. 292. Labor legislation of 1920.
B u i. 308. Labor legislation of 1921.
B u i. 309. D ecisions of courts and opinions affecting labor, 1921
B u i. 321. Labor laws that have been declared un con stitu tion al
B u i. 322. Kansas Court of Industrial R elations.
B u i. 330. Labor legislation of 1922.
B u i. 343. Laws providing for bureaus o f labor statistics, etc.
B u i. 344. D ecisions o f courts and opinions affecting labor, 1922.
B ui. 370. Labor laws of the U nited States, w ith decisions of courts relating thereto.
B ui. 391. D ecisions of courts affecting labor, 1923-1924.


Foreign Labor Laws.

•Bui. 142. A dm inistration of labor law s and factory inspection in certain European countries.

Vocational Education.
B ui. 145. C onciliation, arbitration, and sanitation in the dress and w aist industry o f N ew Y ork City.
*B ul. 147. W ages and regularity of em ploym ent in the cloak, suit, and skirt industry, w ith plans for
apprenticeship for cutters and the education o f w orkers in the industry.
*B ul. 159. Short-unit courses for wage earners, and a factory school experim ent.
•Bui. 162. V ocational education survey of R ichm ond, V a.
B u i. 199. V ocational education survey o f M inneapolis, M inn.
B u i. 271. A dult working-class education (G reat B ritain and the U nited States).


Labor as Affected by the War.
B u i. 170.
B u i. 219.
B u i. 221.
B u i. 222.
B u i. 223.
B u i. 230.
B u i. 237.
B u i. 249.

Foreign food prices as affected b y the w ar.
Industrial poisons used or produced in the m anufacture o f explosives.
H ours, fatigue, and health in B ritish m unition factories.
W elfare w ork in B ritish m unition factories.
E m ploym ent o f wom en and juveniles in Great B ritain during the w ar.
Industrial efficiency and fatigue in B ritish m unition factories.
Industrial unrest in Great B ritain.
Industrial health and efficiency. Final report o f B ritish H ealth o f M unition W orkers Com­
m ittee.
B u i. 255. Joint industrial councils in Great B ritain.
B u i. 283. H istory o f the Shipbuilding Labor A djustm ent B oard, 1917 to 1919.
B u i. 287. H istory of N ational W ar Labor B oard.

Safety Codes.
B u i. 331.
B u i. 336.
B u i. 338.
B u i. 350.
B u i. 351.
B ui. 364.
B ui. 375.
B ui. 378.
B ui 382.

Code o f lighting factories, m ills, and other w ork places.
S afety cod e for th e protection o f industrial w orkers in foundries.
Safety code for the use, care, and p rotection o f abrasive w heels.
R ules governing the approval o f headlighting devices for m otor vehicles.
Safety code for the con struction, care, and use o f ladders.
Safety code for m echanical power-transm ission apparatus.
Safety code for laundry m achinery and operations.
Safety code for w oodw orking m achinery.
Code o f lighting school buildings.

Industrial Relations and Labor Conditions
B ull 340.
B ui. 349.
B ui. 361.
B ui. 380.
B ui. 383.
B ui. 384.

Chinese m igrations, w ith special reference to labor conditions.
Industrial relations in the w est coast lum ber industry.
Labor relations in the Fairm ont (W . V a.) bitum inous coal field.
Post-w ar labor conditions in Germ any.
W orks cou ncil m ovem ent in Germ any.
Labor conditions in the shoe industry in M assachusetts, 1920 to 1921

M iscellaneous
*B ul. 117. P roh ibition o f night w ork o f young persons.
*Bul. 118. Ten-hour maximum working-day for women and young persons.
•Bui. 123. E m ployers’ welfare w ork.
•Bui. 158. G overnm ent aid to hom e ow ning and housing o f w orking people in foreign countries.
•Bui. 159. Short-unit courses for wage earners and a factory school experim ent.
•B ui. 167. M inim um -wage legislation in the U nited States and foreign countries.
B u i. 170. -Foreign food prices as affected b y the w ar.
•Bui. 174. Subject in dex o f the publications o f the U nited States Bureau o f Labor Statistics up to M ay 1,
B u i. 208. P rofit sharing in the U nited States.
B u i. 222. W elfare w ork in B ritish m unition factories.
B u i. 242. F ood situation in central E urope, 1917.
•Bui. 250. W elfare w ork for em ployees in industrial establishm ents In the U nited States.
B u i. 254. International labor legislation and the society o f nations.
B u i. 263. H ousing b y em ployers in the U nited States.
B u i. 266. Proceedings o f Seventh A nnual C onvention o f the A ssociation of Governm ental Labor
Officials of the U nited States and Canada, held at Seattle, W ash., Ju ly 12-15, 1920.
B u i. 268. H istorical survey o f international action affecting labor.
B u i. 271. A du lt working-class education in Great B ritain and the U nited States.
B u i. 282. M utual relief associations am ong Governm ent em ployees in W ashington, D . C.
B u i. 295. B uilding operations in representative cities in 1920.
B u i. 299. Personnel research agencies. A guide to organized research in em ploym ent m anagem ent,
industrial relations, training, and w orking conditions.
B u i. 307. Proceedings of the E ighth Annual C onvention of the A ssociation of Governm ental Labor
Officials of the U nited States and Canada, held at N ew Orleans, L a., M ay 2-6,1921.
B u i. 313. Consumers’ cooperative societies in the U nited States in 1920.
B u i. 314. C ooperative credit societies in A m erica and in foreign countries.
B u i. 318. B uilding perm its in the principal cities o f the U nited States.
B u i. 319. The Bureau o f Labor S tatistics: Its history, activities, and organization.
B u i. 323. Proceedings o f the N inth Annual C onvention o f the A ssociation o f Governm ental Labor
O fficials of the U nited States and Canada, held at H arrisburg, P a., M ay 22-26, 1922.

(V I)

M iscellan eou s—C ontinued.
B ui. 326. M ethods o f procuring and com puting statistical inform ation o f the Bureau o f Labor Statistics.
B ui. 342. International Seam en’s U nion of A m erica: A stu dy o f its history and problem s.
B u i. 346. H um anity in governm ent.
B u i. 347. B uildin g perm its in the principal cities of the U nited States, 1922.
B u i. 352. Proceedings of the Tenth A nnual C onvention o f the A ssociation of G overnm ental Labor
Officials of the U nited States and Canada, held at B iehm ond, V a., M ay 1-4, 1923.
B ui. 368. B uilding perm its in the principal cities of the U nited States in 1923.
B ui. 372. C onvict labor in 1923.
B ui. 386. The cost of Am erican almshouses.
B ui. 389. Proceedings of the E leventh Annual C onvention o f the A ssociation of Governm ental
Labor Officials of the U nited States and Canada, held at C hicago, 111., M ay 19-23, 1924.
B ui. 393. Trade agreem ents, 1923 and 1924.
B ui. 397. B uilding perm its in the principal cities of the U nited States in 1924.
B ui. 398. G row th of legal aid work in the U nited States. [In press.]

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Description of occupations, prepared for the United States Employment Sendee, 1918-19.
♦Boots and shoes, harness and saddlery, and tanning.
♦Cane-sugar refining and flour milling.
Coal and water gas, paint and varnish, paper, printing trades, and rubber goods.
♦Electrical manufacture, distribution, and maintenance.
Hotels and restaurants.
♦Logging camps and sawmills.
Medicinal manufacturing.
Metal working, building and general construction, railroad transportation, and shipbuilding.
•Mines and mining.
♦Office employees.
Slaughtering and meat packing.
Street railways.
♦Textiles and clothing.
♦Water transportation.




15 C E N T S P E R C O P Y