The Glovers of Fulton County: A Documentary Video

The following photographs suggest the range of images and subjects that we hope to explore in our forthcoming documentary video on the glove industry of Fulton County, New York.


From a regular column in Gloves magazine, successor to The Glovers' Review, a monthly
publication of the Glove Manufacturers Association. Scanned from the June 1937 issue.

 

Joseph Pagano in his shop in Johnstown, New York.
Date: June 25, 1997
Source: The Glovers of Fulton County Project

Joseph Pagano talks about his father's entry into the leather business and his own early career. This is a segment of a 90 minute interview. Click on Pagano's picture to view the 6 minute, 40 second excerpt. You will need at least a 56 Kb/sec. internet connection to view this clip--as well as the latest RealPlayer compatible software. Click here to obtain free RealNetworks' RealPlayer software (G2): RealPlayer.


 

 

 

"Convicts Baling Skins for Shipment from Capetown."
Date: 1930s
Source: Johnstown Historical Society

"Leather is the Name of the Game" is an expression you will hear often in Fulton County. It alludes to the importance of the animal skins from which gloves are made; the quality of a finished pair of gloves is only as high as the quality of the leather they are made of. South Africa was a major source of hides for Fulton County tanneries and glove shops in the 20th century. Here, a buyer is overseeing the selection and shipment of hides in Capetown.  


 

"Skin Mill, Glove Industry" (Postcard)
Circa 1910
Source: Johnstown Historical Society

Hides bleaching in the sun outside of
Argersinger Brothers Leather Dressing Mill.



Frank Perrella at his tannery, JBF Industries
Date: Nov. 18, 1996
Source: The Glovers of Fulton County project archives, SVHS videotape.

A still shot from our visit to the JBF tannery in Gloversville. Frank Perrella (on left) owner of the tannery, took us on a tour of the facility. For two short selections from our tour, click on the red highlighted globes that follow. In the first selection, Perrella describes the importance of water in the tanning process: . In this second selection, he describes how leather is treated to restore its stretchability after degreasing: . The Perrella family has been involved in the leather and glove industries for three generations -- with roots in the industry going back to Italy. We also videotaped in Bob Perrella's glove shop, just down the road from JBF.




Cutters at Work in the Ireland Brothers Factory Date: 1915
Source: Johnstown Historical Society

The table cutters were the elite of the glove industry.
It took several years to learn the skill. Usually the trade
was passed from father to son -- at least until World War II.

 









Joe Perrella's Glove Shop
Date: unknown (probably late 1920s or 1930s)
Source: Bob Perrella

Joe Perrella was the father of Bob Perrella and Frank Perrella (above). His mother was a glove maker. He came from a family of tanners in Naples, arriving in America when he was one year old. He later apprenticed as a cutter and opened his own business when he was 19. To the left is a photograph of table cutters at work in Joe Perrella's shop. For a short selection from an interview conducted with Joseph Perrella by Marilyn Sassi, Curator of the Fulton County Museum, click here: . The interview was conducted sometime in 1989; Perrella is describing the industry as it existed in the early 1920s.




 


Price Schedule for Table Cutting, 1904
Date: 1904
Source: Johnstown Historical Society

This is a copy of the original agreement effective Dec. 1903 through Dec. 1904 between the Glove Manufacturers Association and "individual cutters accepting work under this schedule." Price schedules regularly appeared in local papers. There were also price schedules for making (stitching).













Ireland Brothers Glove Making and Silking Department
Date: 1915
Source: Johnstown Historical Society

An important aspect of the glove industry in Fulton County was the "making" -- or stitching -- of the gloves. Thousands of women in and around the county worked as makers, laboring either in their homes as homeworkers or in the shops. To the left is a photo from 1915 of makers working in the Ireland Brothers glove shop in Johnstown.








Ireland Brothers Factory Makers
Date: 1893
Source: Johnstown Historical Society

A group shot of Ireland Bros. makers from 1893.

 

 




Glove Makers Reminisce
Date: 1996
Source: The Glovers of Fulton
County
project archives, SVHS
videotape

Emily Christopher and Mildred Edel recall making gloves at home and in the shop in a videotaped interview conducted at the Fulton County Museum.on Sept. 27, 1996 by Susan McCormick and Dr. Gerald Zahavi. For a short selection from the interview, click here for Emily Christropher's recollections: and here for Mildred Edel's: .

 

 


Updated January 22, 1999
Now with sound and video files!

SUNYA History and Media Home Page
University at Albany History Department Page

This page maintained by:
Prof. Gerald Zahavi
Department of History
University at Albany
tel. (518) 442-4780
email: gz580@csc.albany.edu