The Kalamazoo Corset Strike
I might be including the Kalamazoo Corset Company Strike of 1912 in my next novel. You’ve heard of it? Kalamzoo, Michigan was churning out corsets at a great rate: 800 women produced 1.5 million per year when the U.S. population was 69 million. No whalebone stays. How old-fashioned. These advanced Kalamazoo models used . . . turkey feathers. Amazing the things one learns in novel-writing. Including that the company sponsored popular songs about their products, particularly the American Beauty line. Not what one imagines of 1912. Here is the cover for one of these songs. Sadly, I was unable to find the lyrics. They would be intriguing.
But happy corset songs didn’t relieve poor working conditions: long hours, unsanitary conditions and poor “moral conditions” endured by the women at the hands (literally) of the male foremen. With wide general support, conditions improved after the strike, although in a few years, demand for the product declined, much to the relief of many turkeys, and the company diversified.