Glovers of Fulton County is a research and documentation
project that examines the glove industry of Fulton County, New York. Fulton
County was long a center of world glove production. During the late 1800s and
early decades of this century the county produced more than 90% of all fine leather gloves manufactured in the United States. Documents noted below are a sample of what
will ultimately be a comprehensive multimedia exploration of this important
Mohawk Valley industry, examining its evolution from the 1700s through the
late 20th century. The final installation will contain over a thousand images
and thousands of pages of text documents (letters, reports, wage and census
data, newspaper accounts, photographs, miscellaneous archival sources, government
documents, business records, and oral historiesinterview transcripts,
along with audio and video excerpts). The Glovers of Fulton County
is the first of the University at Albany Department of History History and Media Initiatives and is directed
by Professor Gerald Zahavi and doctoral student Susan McCormick. Follow the
links below to preview materials that illustrate some of the resources that
are a part of The Glovers of Fulton County Project.
York State Board of Mediation Hearings - The Glove Cutters' Strike of 1914
August 21, 1914, the 1500-1600 glove cutters of Fulton County struck en masse
over a wage dispute with local employers. At the time, Fulton County was the
center of glove manufacturing in the U.S. The industry was also the heart
and soul of the local economy. The County's 150 glove firmslocated in
Gloversville, Johnstown, and surrounding communitiesemployed approximately
15,000 workers. Because the strike devastated the regional economy, the New
York State Department of Labor stepped into the fray. The New York State Board
of Mediation and Arbitration of the Department of Labor convened hearings
on the strike in Gloversville, New York on October 5, 1914 and began taking
testimony from workers and manufacturers on the following day. Click on the
picture of glove cutters, right, to read the full hearing transcript.
This document contains fascinating insights into the glove industry and the
working lives of thousands of workers.
The Glove Cutters' Strike of 1914
year 1914 was one of those that millions of humans would have wished, through
a miracle, had been skipped over. Certainly, it began as a bad year for Lucius
Littauer; it would end as a catastrophe for Gloversville's cutters. For Europeans,
1914 meant the outbreak of a war that, like a celestial black hole, sucked
in all the great powers and ultimately much of the world. For Littauer, 1914
commenced disastrously as he stood before the court, a convicted felon, listening
to the judge's harsh (and accurate) tongue lashing .... Back in 1902, Littauer's
imaginative mind was drawn to the need for a measure of unity and discipline
among his fellow glove industrialists. From Littauer's viewpoint, it became
obvious that the cutters possessed too much clout, especially since their
successful 1897 strike."
So begins Herbert M. Engel's account of the
Glovecutter's Strike, from his book Shtetl in the Adirondacks: The Story
of Gloversville and Its Jews (Purple Mountain Press, 1991). It is reprinted
with the permission of the author and publisher.
Homework: a Case Study of Community, Class, and State in the Fulton County
Banning Homework examines the history
of women glovemakers in the fine leather glove industry in upstate New York.
The majority of workers in the industry were women, nearly all working in
the home. Despite sustained community resistance, in 1941 New York State outlawed
homework in the glove industry. By the twentieth century, efforts
to institute industrial reform and workplace protectionbegun in Progressive
Era tenements, factories, and sweatshopsfound their way to Fulton County.
Middle and upper class women reformers, now part of a well-established network
of New Deal professionals, were determined to solidify and extend earlier
reforms achieved in other industries. Banning Homework looks at women's
roles in a previously unstudied industry: it examines the complexities of
relationships between and among women that were the result of class, cultural,
educational, and geographic differences, and it probes the influence of related
factorsthe sewing machine, advertising, trade and tariff policy, and
waron women's work in the glove industry. When completed, Banning
Homework will include an traditional text narrative, an audio documentary,
and primary source materialsincluding pictures, newspapers articles,
industry publications, public hearing testimony, government documents, and
oral history transcripts, and audio and video excerpts. This link offers a
preview of Banning
An autobiographical account by Giorgiana Cole Halloran of life and labor in early 20th-century Fulton County, NY.
Our thanks to Barbara McMartin and Herbert M. Engel for bringing this item to our attention and facilitating our access to it. Giorgiana Cole Halloran was the niece of Johnstown glove manufacturer George Cole. In this account, Giorgiana Cole (who grew up in Cohoes, NY but spent summers in Johnstown) recalls life and labor in Johnstown in the first two decades of the 20th century.
Glovers of Fulton County, New York (A Documentary Video Production)
The Glover's of Fulton County Project
includes a video documentary that chronicles the glove industry, the workers
and the community. A historical documentary on the glove workers is currently
in production. Follow this link to see a sampling of "clips" from the documentary.
Coming Soon ~ The Interviews
Oral history audio and video interviews are
a significant part of The Glovers of Fulton County Project. Complete
interview transcripts, along with extended audio and video segments will be
permanently archived here. The interviews enrich the history of the glove
industry and the Fulton County community. They will also be a valuable resource
for teachers and researchers.
Here is an excerpt from one of our interviews. In this June 25, 1997 interview 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 the left 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.
Watch for The Glovers of Fulton County site
to grow with additional links to primary source materials: including pictures
of the industry and community, newspaper articles, industry publications,
public hearing testimony, government documents, and audio and video interview
excerpts and transcripts.