International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. Educational Dept. Executive Secretary

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Local union's of the ILGWU established and maintained robust, ambitious educational departments early on in the international's history. As these groups grew in size and scope, the international office sought to coordinate and centralize educational programming for the union's members, culminating in the formation of the Educational Department in 1918.

The department's programming included courses at the Workers' University at the Washington Irving High School in New York City, lectures at Unity Centers and Unity Houses in the northeastern United States, and other events. The educational offerings of the International's Education Department were varied, as had been the education departments of the local unions, and included not only classes in labor studies but also courses in languages, music, and the arts. The ILGWU's 1937 musical "Pins and Needles" exemplified the diversity of the union's programs.

Directors of the Education Department, especially Fannia Cohn and Mark Starr, wrote extensively on the ILGWU's programs and worker education in general. Longtime director Gus Tyler not only directed the department, but also served as the ILGWU's on-staff scholar. In later years, the Education Department went beyond collaborating with other education organizations and arranging in-house programs to also supporting post-secondary education for union members and their families.


Fannia Cohn, garment worker, labor organizer and educator, and officer of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. She was born in Minsk in the late 1880s (there is disagreement as to the exact year). Cohn emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and began working in a New York garment factory in 1905. She joined the ILGWU in 1909 and quickly emerged as a skilled leader and organizer. She was the first woman vice-president of the ILGWU and in 1918 became Executive Secretary of the Education Department, a position she held until her retirement in 1961. Cohn played a significant role in worker education and was a co-founder of both the Workers' Education Bureau and the Brookwood Labor College. She died in 1962 in New York City.


Founded in 1900 by local union delegates representing about 2,000 members in cities in the northeastern United States, the ILGWU grew in geographical scope, membership size, political influence to become one of the most powerful forces in American organized labor by mid-century. Representing workers in the women's garment industry, the ILGWU worked to improve working and living conditions of its members through collective bargaining agreements, training programs, health care facilities, cooperative housing, educational opportunities, and other efforts. In 1995, the ILGWU merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) to form the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE).

Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Federation of Labor. corporateBody
associatedWith Beard, Charles A. 1874-1948. person
associatedWith Bereowitz, Edith person
associatedWith Bosel, Mary person
associatedWith Bosel, Sadie person
associatedWith Brookwood Labor College (Katonah, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Bruère, Robert W. 1876-1964. person
associatedWith Calderon, Abe person
associatedWith Cohn, Fannia M. 1885- person
associatedWith Curbelo, Carmen person
associatedWith Deutsch, Babette, 1895- person
associatedWith Douglas, Paul Howard, 1892- person
associatedWith Dubinsky, David, 1892-1982 person
associatedWith Frati, Lucy person
associatedWith Fried, Lazar person
associatedWith Gidda, Sam person
associatedWith Goff, Mary person
associatedWith Gompers, Samuel, 1850-1924. person
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers corporateBody
associatedWith International Ladies' Garment Workers corporateBody
associatedWith Kadison, Harry person
associatedWith Karlowski, Ann person
associatedWith Kula, Anna person
associatedWith Laidler, Harry W. 1884-1970. person
associatedWith Leonotti, Jimmy person
associatedWith Liberti, Frank person
associatedWith Lubin, Gertrude person
associatedWith Miller, Ruth person
associatedWith Muste, Abraham John, 1885-1967. person
associatedWith Pesotta, Rose, 1896- person
associatedWith Pioneer Youth of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Provenzale, Catherine person
associatedWith Provenzale, Christine person
associatedWith Rand School of Social Science. corporateBody
associatedWith Rivera, Ambaro person
associatedWith Rosenfelt, Ada person
associatedWith Rossi, David person
associatedWith Rothberg, Clara person
associatedWith Scribner, Grace, 1882-1922. person
associatedWith Sigman, Morris, 1880-1931. person
associatedWith Sosnovsky, Anna person
associatedWith Starr, Mark, 1894-1985 person
associatedWith Trachtenberg, Alexander. person
associatedWith Van Doren, Carl, 1885-1950. person
associatedWith Vengen, Frances person
associatedWith Weiss, Bessie person
associatedWith Wells, H. G. 1866-1946. person
associatedWith Wertis, David person
associatedWith Wolfson, Theresa, 1897-1972 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States 00 US
Clothing workers
Clothing workers
Labor movement
Labor movement
Labor unions
Labor unions
Labor unions
Labor unions and education
Labor unions and education
Working class
Working class

Corporate Body

Active 1918

Active 1962



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Ark ID: w67766c3

SNAC ID: 87351716