This video is from “Women Have Always Worked,” a free massive open online course produced in collaboration with Columbia University.

About the Image

This is a page from a book about the history of the ILGWU. It was published in 1950. All of the images were taken between 1933 and 1937. This particular page focuses on strikes and picket lines during the Great Depression. It demonstrates how unions took action when employers disregarded New Deal policies or other negotiated terms. Such strikes often included violent altercations with strikebreakers or police officers.



Discussion Questions

  • What is happening in these images? What are the women doing?
  • What do these images tell you about the role of women in unions in this era?
  • What information does the text at the top of the page provide? How does this help you understand the context of these images?
  • The New Deal provided protection for unions and often required employers to negotiate with unions. Why, then, do we see images of unions on strike? What does this tell us about the implementation of government policies?
  • These photographs were compiled in a history of the union in 1950. Why is this significant? Why would the union create a book like this? Why do you think they chose to highlight these images?

Suggested Activities

  • Cut up the page and assign students to analyze just one image from the page without context. Encourage them to list details and generate inferences about what they are viewing. Then allow students who worked with different images to collaborate and share with each other.
  • Members of the ILGWU were wildly important during the 1909 garment workers’ strike. Read Clara Lemlich’s life story and compare how strikes and the ILGWU changed from the Progressive Era to the Great Depression.
  • Compare these images with the document about housewives leading meat strikes. How do the two resources compare? How are the tactics of housewives and industrial workers similar and different? What does this tell you about activism in this era?
  • Combine this resource with the life story of Ella May Wiggins. What do these two resources tell you about the involvement of women in strikes that were often violent?