By Margaret A. Brucia
On April 27, 1921, Julia Gardiner Gayley composed a letter to her daughter. With a mixture of excitement and astonishment, and while the details were still fresh in her mind, she described her evening at the Fabbri mansion the night before — from the moment she was “taken in to dinner” on the arm of the former ambassador to Germany to the after-dinner entertainment presented in the library of the Fabbris’ lavish renaissance-inspired palazzo at 7 East 95th Street. By 3:30 in the afternoon Julie’s letter was postmarked and on its way to Italy.
This is the second in a series of posts based on the letters of the New York socialite, Julia Gardiner Gayley (1864-1937), to her eldest daughter, Mary Gayley Senni (1884-1971), a countess who lived on the outskirts of Rome. In 2010, the author purchased a trove of the letters in a Roman flea market. This mother-daughter correspondence spanned the years 1902-1936 and provides an intimate and unfiltered view of life in New York during the early twentieth century. You can find the earlier posts on our homepage.
This is the fourth in a series of posts drawn from the authors'recent work
Never Built New York, published courtesy of Metropolis Books.
“Invaders”: Black Ladies of the ILGWU and the Emergence of the Early Civil Rights Movement in New York City
By Janette Gayle
Black female industrial workers are strikingly absent from literature on the Great Migration and black industrial labor in the twentieth century. Studies like Joe William Trotter Jr.’s Black Milwaukee, James R. Grossman’s Land of Hope, Richard W. Thomas’s Life for Us Is What We Make It, and Peter Gottlieb’s Making Their Own Way have advanced our understanding of black industrial workers and their importance in the making of black communities in the Midwest and northern urban industrial cities, but they focus almost exclusively on the experiences of skilled men. Skilled women are virtually absent from these studies. But women were there. If we look closely at the sources, another picture comes into focus, one in which women such as Maida Springer Kemp, Eldica Riley, Edith Ransom, and thousands of others were indeed part of the black industrial workforce in New York City. If we look closely we will also see that the Great Migration was not a completely unskilled migration. Many migrants -- men as well as women -- were skilled workers. The ones who caught my eye were the dressmakers.
“Does the United States Need a Medical Revolution?” Communism, Birth Control, and National Health Insurance in 1940s New York
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