III-"City Slave Girls" - Nell Nelson - Chicago Daily Times

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

by: Nell Nelson | publication date: August 1, 1888 | Publication: Chicago Times | pages: 1-2

One of the chance acquaintances I made at the never-rip jersey factory worked three days for Julius Stein & Co., 122 Market street, received 63 cents for her labors about ten days after leaving. One-third of 63 cents is 21 2/5 cents.  
That is the way Stein & CO solve the problem; but the question is one that capital, Christianity, and civilization are invited to analyze. 
 
"Don't never go to Stein's" the little girl said, "It's an awful place."  

On Saturday I tumbled out of bed at 6 AM and donned my factory clothes.  On the way down-town the street-car met with an eight-minute obstruction in the shape of a load of bricks, and when I reached the manufacturing establishment of Julius Stein & Co. it was 8:32 o'clock.  The elevator took me up one story and I was told to "get out."  I told the boy at the rope that I wished to go up to the work room.  
 
"You're too late," he said. "Have to take the freight elevator down at the back of the store."  

Down I walked as directed past long tables that towered with long cloaks, dolmans, ulsters, jackets, and short wraps; past two or three busy, unobserving clerks, past a pair of forbidding looking men who glared at me from under their black hats and blacker brows; past an earthen-grey stringy crash towel that waved at hast mast above a dirty wash-basin; past a tier of closets that emitted a stifling odor, and on down to the packing room.  I waited for a big, lusty packer to finish pummelling the mischevous little Swede who ran the elevator and was carried up to the top floor with a box of cloth.  When the car landed I found myself at the extreme end of a room 50 X 180 feet, in an inclosure of wire-fence, packing-boxes, and cutting-boards, beyong and between which I could see perhaps two-hundred persons, mostly women, bent over machines, and working only as slaves ever work.  The thundering [two unreadable words] of the machinery deadened every other [two undreadable words] even that made by the cutters as they ran their heavy shears through the [undreadable] and muslin trimmings.  

The third article in Nell Nelson's series on women and girls who work in Chicago's factories. Nelson went undercover and worked in the factories as research for the piece.

Public Domain