Celebrate People's History: Kalamazoo Corset Co. Strike!

Related artists
Sara Beth Meister
Shaun Slifer
GVSU Collection
2 Color Offset Printed Poster
August 2008
Artworks - Height: 17" Width: 11"
A purple, pink and brown poster that has text about the Kalamazoo Corset Strike in 1912. The title is at the top and there are two sections of text that fill the entire width of the poster. There are small hands binding a corset at the bottom right of the image and the Celebrate People's History logo to the left of it. "In 1911, the Kalamazoo Corset Company was the largest manufacturer of women’s corsets in the world. In spring of 1912, the Kalamazoo Corset Workers’ Union, Local 82 of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union went on strike, citing poor wages, long hours, unsafe and unsanitary conditions, and sexual harassment as grievances. In a company whose products bore names like Madame Grace and American Beauty, it was common practice for foremen to give the most desirable jobs to women who allowed their sexual advances. Women workers were forced to pay out of pocket for thread purchased from the same foremen, who in turn often chose to withhold the thread and the women’s means of livelihood in exchange for sexual favors. In the end, despite the workers’ best efforts, the strike was unsuccessful. However, due to the efforts of Pauline Newman and representatives from Local 82 who traveled throughout the Midwest advocating a company boycott to women consumers, the Kalamazoo Corset Company went bankrupt in 1914."
Historical Context:
The Celebrate People’s History posters are rooted in the do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced political propaganda. These posters embody democracy, inclusion, and group participation in the writing and interpretation of the past. Unlike most political posters, the posters part of the Celebrate People’s History series tell the stories of the underdogs, those individuals and groups helping to move forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more just world. For 20 years, over 130 different posters have been displayed on the streets of over a dozen cities representing over 150 artists and writers. The Celebrate People’s History Poster Series has been organized and curated by Josh MacPhee since 1998.