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Last updated:26 May 2015

Tailor's notebook 1907

This month's object is a tailor's notebook chosen by Lindsey Cole, Library Assistant

Pages from a tailor's notebookIn the 18th century tailors were skilled workers making clothes by hand but by the 19th century lower quality mass produced clothing emerged and the workforce varied from skilled to semi-skilled and unskilled. Sweatshops emerged where unskilled workers, many of whom were women, did menial jobs such as pocket lining often working long hours for poor pay in unhealthy conditions. Tailors were represented at this time by a number of different unions many of which had taken strike action to fight for better pay and conditions - an example of which is shown in a leaflet on display this month in the hall of the Library.

Sweated Industries Exhibition 1906

Around the time that our tailor's notebook was being used a group of middle class reformers organized The Sweated Industries Exhibition which was held in 1906. An image from the exhibition catalogue which the library holds is shown in our hall. The aim of the exhibition was to raise public awareness of the poor working conditions of those within the ‘Sweated Industries' such as tailoring and to put pressure on the government to act. It was seen by many as successful as it laid the foundations for the 1909 Trade Boards Act which introduced the minimum wage to four industries one of which was tailoring.

Lindsey Cole, Library assistant

March 2015

Click here for more information about Tailors and tailors' unions


Sources for family history in the Library collection

Amalgamated Society of Journeymen Tailors [later the Amalgamated Society of Tailors and Tailoresses]
The following information can be found in annual reports


  Information Dates
Obituaries (members and wives) Name, age and cause of death 1870-1931
Sick pay and benefits Name and monies received 1870-1931
Superannuation benefits Name and monies received 1920-1950
New members Name and age 1920
Branch secretaries Name and address 1920-1926

Amalgamated Society of Clothiers' Operatives
The following information can be found in annual reports 

  Information Dates
Obituaries Name, age and cause of death 1899-1909
Strike and out of work pay Name and monies received 1898-1909
Branch secretaries Name and address 1894-1909


Resources about tailors in the library collection

RH Tawney, The establishment of minimum rates in the tailoring industry under the Trade Boards Act of 1909 (1915) - Shelfmark: J16

History of the Working Tailors' Association, 34, Great Castle Street (no date) - Shelfmark: D15

Henry Phibbs Fry, The distressed needlewomen of London: a sermon by the Rev. Henry Phibbs Fry, A.B. preached in St. Paul's church, Bermondsey, on Sunday, May 12, 1850 (1850) - Shelfmark: S33

Andrew Ross (ed.), No sweat - fashion, free trade, and the rights of garment workers (1997) - Shelfmark: Q40

WDF Vincent, The pocket edition of the Cutter's practical guide to the cutting of all kinds of gentlemen's coats, vests, trousers, breeches and gaiters, overcoats, &c., ladies bodices jackets and skirts, juvenile, livery, military, naval and clerical garments (no date) - Shelfmark: H29

Alfred Gardner, Watch your fingers: an East End cutter's chronicle, 1958-1998 (2011) - Shelfmark: JS43

Tansy E Hoskins, Stitched up: the anti-capitalist book of fashion (2014) - Shelfmark: JS46

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