Learn about Kate Mullany and the national significance of a laundry workers’ strike

NEW SCOTLAND — The Collar Laundry Union of Troy, organized in early 1864 by Kate Mullany, a 19-year-old Irish immigrant, was to become the nation’s first truly all-women labor union.

The New Scotland Historical Association will be hosting a program on Kate Mullany on March 3 at 7:30 p.m. at the Wyman Osterhout Community Center, off of Route 85, in New Salem.  The program is free and open to the public.  For more information, please call 765-4212.   

Detachable collars and cuffs were a local invention and, by the 1860s, Troy supplied most of America’s detachable collars and cuffs and employed over 3,700 women as launderers, starchers, and ironers.  They worked 12-hour days for $2 a week in oppressive heat.

The owners increased production with new machinery and Mulany organized a union to demand change.   They workers a strike and, after a week, got a 25-cent raise.   

The program will be presented by P. Thomas Carroll, Ph.D., who lives in Troy with his wife, Nan.  He is an American cultural historian who specializes in the history of American science and technology.

Carroll graduated from Caltech and the University of Pennsylvania.  He was an associate professor of History in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  He was executive director of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway from 1997 to 2013 and he was executive director of RiverSpark, New York State’s first Heritage Area, from 2002 to 2013.  He is also a published author on the history of this area.

Editor’s note: Ethie Moak is the publicity chairwoman for the New Scotland Historical Association.

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