Women of Valor


Women's Trade Union League

Lillian Wald, 1867 - 1940

"Over five million women are at work in the United States according to the 1900 census. Despite such figures, as a nation we superstitiously hug the belief that our women are at home and our children at school. As a whole the community is reluctant to face the situation frankly and seriously, that women no longer spin and weave and card, no longer make the butter and the cheese, scarcely sew and put the preserves at home, but accomplish these same industries in the factories, in open competition with men, and except in the relatively few instances of trade organization, in competition with each other."

Wald's concern for her neighbors extended to the many problems working women faced in the workplace. In 1903, she helped found the WTUL to investigate women's working conditions and promote the creation of women's trade unions. The organization was comprised of female workers and their middle-class allies, who provided advocacy, fundraising, and administrative skills. "The women's trade union leagues, national and state, are not only valuable because of support given to the workers, but because they make it possible for women other than wage-earners to identify themselves with working people, and thus give practical expression to their belief that with them and through them the realization of the ideals of democracy can be advanced." Later, Wald became a member of the executive committee of the New York City League.

  1. "Over five million women..." From Lillian Wald, "Organization Amongst Working Women". Annals of the American Academy of Political Science. (Vol. 27. May 1906) 638-645.
  2. "The women's trade union..." From Lillian Wald, The House on Henry Street. (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. 1915) 207-8.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Lillian Wald - Women's Trade Union League." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/wald/womens-trade-union-league>.