Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Newspaper Page Text
G?L5 WHQkARE'LDW WAGE VICTIMS OFT EN
BECOME INSTALLMENT HOUSE VICTIMS
BY JANE WHITAKER v
Mr. Thbrne of Montgomery Ward told the O'Hara White Slave Com-
mission how a girl can live on $8 a week, provided she doesn't have any '
laundry done. Mr. Edwin Mandel told how she. could dd it on $8 and,
spend 25 cents a week for laundry. 2
But it remained for Riesenfeld of Rosenwald&-WeiI, a self-confessed
settlement worker, to callously state that girls could not only live oh
?3.50--but could save money.
And yet the testimony of the girls was curiously contradlptory :
Rosenwald & Weil are what is commonly known as 'sweats'hop" peo- '
pie. They employ foreigners principally. I presume because it is notor-,
iously a fact that people .who do not understand the English language are !
that much more at the mercy of their employers, who "do understand it. J
And then, too, foreigners have not
been raised with extravagant Amer
ican ideas they know how to live
on almost nothing.
Most of the women testified
through an interpreter, thougl some
of them had been in this country
quite a while. f
The, first woman was surely' an ob
jecfbf pity. She was not young, she
was ery shabby and her face bore
that stoic resignation that comes"
from great sorrow.'
She is paid $4 .a-week and endeav
oredto explain how' she lived on it.
But Lieut.-Gov. O'Hara became
skeptical when she stated she had
paid $15 fo'r a suit.' You see he die
not know that these- people are not.
. only the victims of their employes,
but of that other great evil to the
working class the 1 a week cloth
Foreigners are the, legitimate prey
of the installment houses. I know of
the case of a Mexican girl v)ho
bought a velvet coat and paid $32 for
it. It wasn't worth $20.
She met her payments for a while;
then, though 'she was getting 12 a
week, as a,Spapish stenographer, 'she
found she'did not have the extra dol
lar and she went behind for nine
-weeks until they attached her salary..
And because she'' not onb owed j
that, money but had previously bor
rowed wages in advance from her
employer, he decided the best policy
was to settle the tiring, for cash and
have the girl pay him. And he forced
the installment -people to-take-?9 off1
the price of the coat. . '
Yet if this had been a loss to theni 1
they could have sued- and recovered
but it was just a slice of their prof-!
its. Personally, I do not doubt that
the woman who "testified paid $15 for
a.suit,-and neither do'I doubt that she
is paying now for clothing' that is '
worn out. "
And this is a woman whose hus-
band deserted her three years ago, '
and who was afraid to tell the name
of thefirm by whom she was em
ployed. The next witness was a girl of 17
years who had been' nine' months 'in i
this country. She talked through, an
interpreter, too. '
She stated that her brother had-'
brought her here antj that she lived
with ,him. She earns $4 a week and
pays $3.50 for room and board. And .
she does her. own laundry. . x
Undoubtedly she is one. of the girls
Riesenfeld Teferred to, because she f
confessed that she saved 50 cents a '
week and the reason she did was that
she hasn.'t bought any clothes .since
she has-, been here, as her brother
bought everything for her ninet
The trouble; with investigators-and