IV-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

IV-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

"The Bargain Counter"

by: Helen Campbell | publication date: November 14, 1886 | Publication: The New York Tribune | pages: 13

There is at present on Third Avenue a Mrs. F, who for eleven years has conducted a successful business built upon continuous fraud. She is a manufacturer of underwear, and the singular fact is that she has certain regular employees who have been with her from the beginning, and who, while apparently unconscious of her methods, are practically partners in the fraud. She is a woman of good presence and address, and one to whom girls submit unquestioningly, contending, even in court, that she never meant to cheat them; and it is still an open question with those who know her best how far she herself recognizes the fraud in her system. The old hands deny that it is her custom to cheat, and though innumerable complaints stand against her, she has usually paid on compulsion, and insisted that she always meant to. Her machines never lack operators, and the grade of work turned out is of the best quality. Her advertisement appears at irregular intervals, is answered by swarms of applicants, and there are always numbers waiting their turn.

This fourth installment of "Prisoners of Poverty" focuses on women who run garment manufacturing sweatshops. Campbell points out that often, the conditions in these shops are even worse than those in the larger mills run by men.