Sunday, September 25, 2016

Manufacturing in Hudson: 1913

Recently, Gossips received photographs (with captions) found in the report of the New York State Factory Investigating Commission for 1913. The Factory Investigating Commission was created by an act of the New York State Legislature on June 30, 1911--just three months after the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in New York City, which took the lives of 146 young women workers. The commission's charge was "to investigate the conditions under which manufacturing is carried on" in New York. The photographs revealed the working conditions at the Knitting Mills in Hudson.

Carding Room--Owing to the absence of ducts and hoods, the whole room is filled with floss [so] that it is difficult to see.

Drying Room--This room is located in the cellar, and owing to inadequate ventilation the temperature ranges between 120 and 130 degrees

Finishing Room--Shows overcrowded condition of workroom: the aisles are constantly blocked by huge piles of underwear in boxes, making escape in case of fire very difficult.

The Finishing Room--Shows overcrowded condition: great boxes of finished goods obstruct the aisles of exits.
Although the report seems only to identify the company as "Knitting Mills," it is possible to infer that this was the Union Mills, which had two locations in Hudson. It's not clear in which location the Carding Room and Drying Room documented in the report were, but the caption accompanying the first photograph of a Finishing Room indicates it was on Fulton Street. In 1913, the street we now know as Columbia Street was called Fulton Street south of Third Street, and this is the building on Fulton Street that was one of the locations of Union Mills.

This building, which stood on the southwest corner of Columbia and Second streets, burned in a spectacular fire in 1979, long after it ceased to be Union Mills. Providence Hall now stands on that site.

The caption accompanying the second photograph of a Finishing Room indicates it was on Washington Street, which means it was located in this building at the corner of Sixth and Washington streets, now known as the Pocketbook Factory.


Gratitude to Andrew Dolkart and Alan Neumann for passing the photographs from the Factory Investigating Commisssion report along to me.

1 comment:

  1. The pictures make me sad. My grandmother immigrated to Hudson in 1898, at age 15, and a few days later started working in the Mills. 1900 census shows her working in the finishing room at the cotton mill.
    I appreciate seeing the pictures from 1913, although by 1913 she was married with 2 sons and living in that lovely stone farm house on Leggett Rd in Omi. I wish more had been written about the lives of the young immigrant women who worked in factories.