Union Dues Card

My Great-grandmother, Fannie Goldberg Cohen, came from Lapy, a town near what is now the Polish city, Bialystok, but then was part of Russia. Joining her older brother Isidor, she immigrated to New York City in 1916 when she was 16 years old. Due to a miscommunication, Fanny had to spend her first night in "The Golden Land" all alone at Ellis Island. The next morning, her relatives came and Fannie went on to live on the Lower East Side with her aunt, Tanta Libby, and cousins.This union card from the International Ladies Garment Workers Union from 1920 is one of the few objects we have to learn about Fannie’s early years in New York. Fannie lived at 1522 Charles Street (in today’s West Village), was a member in good standing of Local 25 where she worked as an "operator," sewing ladies' "shirtwaists." She had joined the union in 1918 and paid her dues through the first three weeks of July, 1920. Fannie married Sam Cohen, a cutter of ladies’ garments, in 1921. Sam worked as a union cutter until his retirement, but Fannie left her union job to raise their two children. Still, she took in sewing jobs from friends and neighbors to earn extra money to pay for her son's medical needs and her daughter's piano lessons. When that daughter -- my Grandma Sylvia -- died in 2013, my mom and I discovered some aprons that Fannie had started to make from old handkerchiefs. We put them in a safe place and plan to someday finish sewing them together.

Year: 1920

– Sarah Litvin

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more