"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Times [aka "White Slave Girls" - New York World]

Reportage

Description

Charles Chapin, editor of The Chicago Times, hired Nell Cusak to investigate female working conditions in Chicago's factories.  This 21-part series (published under the byline Nell Nelson) was based on the author's experience working undercover in several Chicago factories.  Nelson named specific factories and managers she encountered, detailing the working conditions after spending only a brief time in each factory. 

Reporters

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper

Effects and Outcomes

The Chicago Times gave front-page placement to the popular series, and published many of the responses, from Chicago leadership and from the so-called "white slaves" Nelson sought to champion. The paper was sued for misrepresentation by one of the manufactures Nelson named.  Despite this, and other criticism of Nelson's reporting methods, the series brought attention to the issues, attracted new readers to the paper, and landed Cusak/Nelson a book deal. The New York World republished the series as a Sunday feature headlined "White Slave Girls" in November and December of 1888.

Articles, Books, Video/Film

  • I-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily TImes | A Lady Reporter's Experience in the Shops with the Sewing Serfs. Making Tidies at Sixty Cents a Dozen and Paying Three Dollars for the Privilege

    July 30, 1888
    The first in Nell Nelson's series based on time undercover in factories employing girls and women in Chicago. The ...
  • II-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | Further Details of the Factory Investgation Conducted by "The Times'" Lady Reporter. A Cloak Concern Where Nothing But Fear of the Law Seems to Prevent The Use of the Lash

    July 31, 1888
    The second article in Nell Nelson (a pseudonym)'s undercover series on the working conditions of women and girls in ...
  • III-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | Startling Experiences of "The Times'" Lady Reporter in the Factory of Julius Stein & Co. Left in a Foul and Filthy Corner of the Workroom Until Outraged Nature Succumbs

    August 1, 1888
    The third article in Nell Nelson's series on women and girls who work in Chicago's factories. Nelson went ...
  • IV-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | "The Times'" Lady Reporter, in the Guise of a Factory Bondwoman, is insulted by a Scoundrel

    August 2, 1888
    The fourth article in the undercover series exposing working conditions in Chicago's factories for women and girls. ...
  • V-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | While Among Chicago's Weak Serfs The Times Lady Reporter Finds Mr. Goss' "Good Jew"

    August 3, 1888
    The fifth installment of Nell Nelson's undercover reports from Chicago's factories, documenting the working ...
  • VI-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | "The Times'" Lady Reporter Spends a Day in Goldsmith's Tailor Shop at 258 Rumsey Street

    August 4, 1888
    part of Nell Nelson's undercover series on working conditions for women in Chicago's factories. Nelson worked ...
  • VII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | Nell Nelson Puts in a Whole Day with Pardridge & Co. on State Street

    August 5, 1888
    Nell Nelson works as a dry-goods clerk as part of her undercover look into the conditions for female laborers in ...
  • VIII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | A Second Investigation "By Request" of Some of the Places Already Visited

    August 6, 1888
    Nell Nelson's undercover series examining women's working conditions in Chicago factories continues with a ...
  • IX-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | The "Times" Lady Reporter Finds Some Factorymen who treat their Employees Decently. At the Dearborn Feather Duster Company's Place the Conditions Could Be Improved.

    August 7, 1888
    Nell Nelson's undercover series exposing working conditions for women in Chicago's factories continues. This ...
  • X-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | "Nell Nelson" investigates the Boston Store and Is Shocked at What She Finds. A Basement that on a Hot Day is So Stifling it Reminds One of the "Black Hole of Calcutta."

    August 8, 1888
    The undercover series continues its expose of working conditions for women in Chicago's factories. Nell Nelson ...
  • XI-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | "Nell Nelson" spends a Day Among the Serfs and Bondwomen in the Shops of "Little Hell." For Four Hours of Unceasing Toil in a Dirty, Crowded Tailor's Room She Is Paid Six Cents.

    August 9, 1888
    "Nell Nelson" finds work in a slop shop for a day, making ready-made clothes for a measly wage, part of her ...
  • XII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | Places Where Virtue Counts for Nothing and Is Not Tolerated by the Employer. Body and Soul Must Be Given Up To The Scoundrels Or The Employee Loses Her Situation.

    August 10, 1888
    Nelson's undercover stories about working conditions for women in Chicago's factories continue. This article ...
  • XIII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | "The Times" Reporter Wanders Into The Loud-Smelling Tailor-Shops on Twelfth Street. An Insight Into the Peculair Methods by Which Wholesale Clothing Dealers Grow Rich.

    August 11, 1888
    A (male) reporter is taken through the cloak factories by an insider volunteer as Nell Nelson's undercover series on ...
  • XIV-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | Nell Nelson Continues To Expose the Slave-Grinding Hell-Holes of Chicago

    August 12, 1888
    Part of the Times's undercover series on working conditions for women in Chicago's factories, based on undercover ...
  • XV-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | A "Times" reporter Accompanies a Health Officer on Another Visit to The Slave-Pens

    August 13, 1888
    A Times reporter makes a second trip with the health department to factories in Chicago, where working conditions ...
  • XVI-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | A Young Widow Attempted to Support Herself and Child by Making Overalls

    August 14, 1888
    Nell Nelson gives the account of court room plea for mercy by a woman working in Chicago's garment industry. The ...
  • XVII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | Their Condition in the Shoe Shops as Described by "The Times" Lady Reporter. Little Heroines Who Work For Three Meals, a Roof at Night, and Their Carfare.

    August 15, 1888
    "Nell Nelson" goes to a shoe factory and examines the working conditions of young girls working to support their ...
  • XVIII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson -Chicago Daily Times | Take a Trip with a "Times" Reporter Through a Mattress and Pillow Manufactory

    August 16, 1888
    Nell Nelson reports on the working conditions for women in a mattress factory in Chicago as part of her undercover ...
  • XIX-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | "Nell Nelson" Spends an Hour n the Factory of Henry W. King & Co, on Union Street, And Reads The Old Story of Want and Misery, Ill Health and Privation - in the Faces of The Toilers

    August 17, 1888
    Nelson continues her undercover expose of women's working conditions in Chicago factories.
  • XX-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | "Nell Nelson" Spends a Half-Day in the Princess Knitting Company's Unwholsomene Factory

    August 18, 1888
    Nell Nelson works a job usually completed by female child laborers at a Chicago factory. Part of an undercover ...
  • XXI-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | A "Times" Reporter Gets into a Paper Box Manufactory That Puzzles and Bewilders Him

    August 19, 1888
    The final article in the "Nell Nelson" undercover series looks at a paper box factory, and also responds to ...
  • XXII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | They want Neither Pity, Charity, Nor Tracts but Practical instruction

    August 26, 1888
    Nell Nelson follows up her undercover reporting on the working conditions for women in Chicago's factories with a ...
  • XXIII-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times | A Poor Sewing Woman's Story of Pain, Poverty, and Privation, Sickness and Sorrow

    August 27, 1888
    The Times publishes a letter written in response to the City Slave Girls series, with commentary, as one of two ...