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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

Something Other than Teas and Luncheons: Women Workers at Remington Rand and Community Activism in Elmira, New York, 1938-1980

In December 1966, the Elmira, New York Star-Gazette published an article entitled “‘Southern Belle’ Wins for Chemung Woman”. The “Chemung Woman” was Mrs. Daisy Lovell of Chemung, New York, and the ‘Southern Belle’ was the doll she had made clothing for as part of an annual contest sponsored by her employer, the Office Machines Division of Remington Rand of Elmira. Mrs. Lovell’s doll was one of 250 that female employees at the plant clothed and donated that year to a popular local Christmas charity. This paper examines that contest and other civic and community activities of women workers employed at Remington Rand from the World War II era through the plant’s closing in 1972. The factory, at its peak in 1957 touted as the largest typewriter factory in the world, employed over 6000 workers, of which 40% were women. Through company-sponsored sports teams and charity endeavors, women at “the Rand” had the opportunity to establish themselves as workers and citizens in their community’s civic and community life for over three decades. The extent of their activism is demonstrated through company and plant newsletters, local newspaper articles, photographs, and oral interviews. After the factory closed, women workers lost many of those opportunities to maintain a civic role. Thus, the paper also expands upon the understanding of the effects of deindustrialization by focusing on a group not commonly studied: women.

Presenter: Debra Maloney (Binghamton University) --
Topic: History II - Panel
Location: 218 Hartwell
Time: 11:10 am (Session II)