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Guide to the Asian Garment Workers in New York City Oral History Collection OH 018

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Unattributed Tamiment staff and David A. Olson

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on August 01, 2018
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Source: New York University. Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute
Title: Asian Garment Workers in New York City Oral History Collection
Dates [inclusive]: 1989-2004
Abstract: The collection consists of interviews of garment workers who came to New York City from Vietnam, China, the Philippines, and California. Interviews are primarily with International Ladies Garment Workers' Union members and staff (especially Local 23-25) and its successor organization the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), but one interview is with a garment manufacturer. Topics covered include emigration to the United States, working conditions, joining the ILGWU, major strikes, the effects of globalization on the garment industry and unions, and unique challenges in organizing in the Asian-American community. The majority of the interviews were taken in 1989 by Bichiluyen Nguyen of NYU's History Department. Interviews were taken in English, Chinese or Vietnamese, and indexes or transcripts exist in English for all interviews.
Quantity: 1 Linear Feet in 1 card catalog drawer and one shared manuscript box.
Language: Materials are in English, Vietnamese, and Chinese.
Call Phrase: OH 018

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Historical/Biographical Note

NYU undergraduate Bichiluyen Nguyen, herself a Vietnamese immigrant, conducted five of the interviews as part of an internship in the History Department in 1989. In 2003, five additional interviews regarding the labor movement in the Chinatown garment shops were taken by Winifred Chin, a visiting scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute.

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Scope and Contents

The collection consists of ten interviews with garment workers who came to New York City from Vietnam, China, the Philippines, and California. Interviews are primarily with International Ladies Garment Workers' Union members and staff (especially Local 23-25) and its successor organization, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE). One interview is with a garment manufacturer. Topics covered include emigration to the United States, working conditions, joining the ILGWU, major strikes, the impacts of globalization, and unique challenges in organizing in the Asian-American community.

Arrangement

Access compact disks are arranged alphabetically. Master cassettes, indexes, and transcripts are arranged according to an archivist-devised numbering system.

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Access Points

Subject Organizations

  • International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
  • New York University. Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute

Subject Topics

  • Asian Americans -- Economic conditions.
  • Asian Americans -- Employment.
  • Immigrants -- United States
  • Clothing workers -x Labor unions -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Clothing workers -- New York (State) -- New York.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Bichiluyen Nguyen or Winifred C. Chin are maintained by New York University. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from repository. Please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Asian Garment Workers in New York City Oral History Collection; OH 018; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Related Archival Materials

The audio for the interviews with Jay Mazur, Edgar Romney, and May Chen can be found in the collection New Yorkers at Work (OH 001).

May Chen Papers (WAG 301)

Tung Pok Chin and Wing Fong Chin Papers and Photographs (TAM 235)

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access to audiovisual materials in this collection is available through digitized access copies. Researchers may view an item's original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection's finding aid and can be requested in our reading room. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bichiluyen Nguyen donated the interviews with Paul Bui, Shui Mak Ka, Connie Ling, Katie Quan, and Kieu Tran in 1989. "The Asian-American Labor Movement: An Oral History of the Organization of the Chinatown Garment Shops" and the Muzaffar Chishti interview were deposited with Tamiment by Winifred Chin and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute in 2004. The accession numbers associated with this collection are 1950.056 and 2014.005.

Processing Information

Collection rehoused and labeled sometime after 1989. Entire collection digitized in 2013-2014, and a full finding aid was written at this time. Additional material from the Chin donation was located in 2014 and the finding aid updated accordingly.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 2 Folder : 3 (Index) Paul Bui

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussion of Bui's youth in Vietnam, immigration to the United States, the clothing business that Bui owned in the Bronx, and his views on challenges contracting with clients and negotiating with unions.

Mar 15, 1989
Box: 1 Cassette : 3 (Master cassette)
Box: 1 Cd : 1 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cassette : 6 (Master cassette) Muzaffar Chishti

Scope and Content Note

The interview discusses Chishti's work with undocumented workers during his years as director of the Immigration Project at the ILGWU. Topics include the union's activities to aid such workers, social and legal concerns, and lobbying activities.

May 21, 2004
Box: 1 Cd : 2 (Access cd)
Box: 2 Folder : 6 (Transcript)
Box: 1 Cassette : 4A-B (Master cassette) Shui Mak Ka

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussion of Ka's youth and education in China and Hong Kong and her work in the People's Republic of China there as a doctor. Also covered are different working conditions in textile industry in Chicago and New York, strikes in early 1980s, disputes with Italians, and worker wages.

Apr 25, 1989
Box: 1 Cd : 3-5 (Access cd)
Box: 2
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Connie Ling

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussion of youth in Philippines and Hong Kong, immigration to United States, activities as a business agent for union, and strike in Chinatown shops.

May 12, 1989
Box: 1 Cassette : 5 (Master cassette) Katie Quan

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussion of strikes in the 1980s, union's education department, Coalition of Labor Union Women, new immigrants, and real estate in New York City and Chinatown.

Apr 20, 1989
Box: 1 Cd : 6-7 (Access cd)
Box: 2 Folder : 5 (Index)
Box: 1 Cassette : 2 (Master cassette) Kieu Tran

Scope and Content Note

Topics discussed include youth in Vietnam, conditions in factories and for textiles workers who work at home, wages, and employment with Paul Bui's Princess Mai Company.

Mar 15, 1989
Box: 1 Cd : 8 (Access cd)
Box: 2 Folder : 2 (Index)
Box: 1 Cassette : 7 (Master cassette) "The Asian-American Labor Movement: An Oral History of the Organization of the Chinatown Garment Shops" (Includes interviews with Jay Mazur, Wing Fong Chin, Edgar Romney, and May Chen)

Scope and Content Note

"The Asian-American Labor Movement: An Oral History of the Organization of the Chinatown Garment Shops" is a four-interview project compiled by Winifred Chin, a visiting scholar at New York University's Asian/Pacific/American Institute. The resulting document contains transcribed interviews with Jay Mazur, Wing Fong Chin, Edgar Romney, and May Chen, all who were involved with UNITE or its predecessor ILGWU. It also includes Jay Mazur's "Globalization and Governance" and "Globalization's Dark Side" as attachments. Subjects discussed include the 1982 labor rally in Columbus Park, the effects of globalization on the garment industry and unions, and unique challenges in organizing in the Asian-American community. An audio recording of the interview with Wing Fong Chin is also available.

Mar 2004
Box: 2
Box: 1 Cd : 9 (Access cd)

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