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From the library of Florence Kelley

by Michelle McCoy 11/7/2012 12:38:00 PM

 Report and Findings of the Joint Committee to Investigate the "Sweat Shop" System: Together with a Transcript of the Testimony taken by the Committee.In 1894, despite confirmed cases of small pox in a first floor Chicago apartment and a yellow card announcing the disease’s presence on the side of the building, four families remained in the rear upper floor of a frame tenement house. These same occupants also continued to enter and exit the building to procure the tailoring and other piecework sewing jobs that sustained their families. This is just one of the harrowing accounts described in a recently acquired selection of books once owned by American social and political reformer, Florence Kelley (1859-1932).

As the first woman factory inspector in the United States, appointed in Illinois by Governor John Peter Altgeld in 1893, Florence Kelley was highly influential in implementing minimum wage, eight-hour workdays and children’s rights in Illinois workplace law. During her time in Chicago from 1891 until 1899, Kelley conducted a wage and ethnicity census of the slums and tenements in Chicago; the reporting of cases and contagion in the smallpox epidemic of 1893; the enforcement of the universal primary education laws, and, most importantly, enforcing the provisions of the Illinois Factory Inspections Law of 1893.

Among the titles acquired with Kelley’s name penned across the top and the word “private” below are three accounts of the work of the Illinois Factory Inspectors for the years 1893, 1895 and 1896. In a similar vein are two special reports; one on the Sweat Shop System from 1893 and another that looks at the extent of small pox in tenement house sweat-shops. Despite the use of Illinois in the title, the properties, businesses and individuals are almost exclusively in Chicago. The contents include transcripts of testimony with various shops and individuals; surveys of homes, shops and factories with notes on conditions; accident reports, recommendations; and a summation of the new inspection laws.

Illinois. Joint Committee to Investigate the "Sweat Shop" System. Report and Findings of the Joint Committee to Investigate the "Sweat Shop" System: Together with a Transcript of the Testimony taken by the Committee. Springfield, Ill. : The Committee, 1893. SpC. 331.2509773 I29r1893

(3 volumes) Illinois. Office of Inspectors of Factories and Workshops. Annual Report of the Factory Inspectors of Illinois. [Chicago : Office of Inspector of Factories and Workshops, State of Illinois], 1894-1908. SpC. 331.8 I29a (vol. 1, 1893; vol. 3, 1895; vol. 4, 1896)

---. First Special Report of the Factory Inspectors of Illinois on Small-pox in the Tenement House Sweat-shops of Chicago. Springfield, Ill. : H.W. Rokker, State Printer and Binder, 1894.  SpC. 331.8 I29f1984

Chicago (Ill.). City council. Committee on Crime. Report of the City Council Committee on Crime of the City of Chicago / Alderman Charles E. Merriam, chairman. [Chicago : Press of H.G. Adair], 1915. SpC. 364.977311 C532r1915

These purchases are in direct support of DePaul’s curricular programs and reflect student research interest. For more information about this text or other titles in our Chicago collections, contact Special Collections & Archives at

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