Jewish Garment Workers

Into the sweatshops.

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These men and women helped to fill the needs of the expanding garment trades in New York. In 1880, 10 percent of the clothing factories in the United States were in New York City; by 1910 the total had risen t0 47 percent, with Jews constituting 80 percent of the hat and cap makers, 75 percent of the furriers, 68 percent of the tailors, and 60 percent of the milliners.

Jews were also drawn to innumerable other crafts, including bookbind­ing, watchmaking, cigar making, and tinsmithing, all of which became part of a growing ethnic economy. It has been estimated that only about a third of the heads of families retained their original Eastern European vocations. But almost 2.4 percent moved out of factory work and into self-employment in small businesses at the earliest opportunity. In the virtually all-Jewish Eighth Assembly District, approximating the Tenth Ward, there were 144 groceries, 131 butcher shops, 62 candy stores, 36 bakeries, and 2,440 peddlers and pushcart vendors.

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Howard Sachar

Howard M. Sachar is the author of numerous books, including A History of Israel, A History of the Jews in America, Farewell Espana, Israel and Europe, and A History of Jews in the Modern World. He is also the editor of the 39-volume The Rise of Israel: A Documentary History. He serves as Professor of Modern History at George Washington University.