The Chicago branch of the Women’s Trade Union League (CWTUL), a stronghold of the national WTUL, enjoyed early organizing and legislative successes that improved the economic lot of women workers. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, it demonstrated enormous potential and seemed well positioned to become an effective force during the 1920s and 1930s. However, after 1922, the CWTUL began to lose momentum, unlike the New York branch whose decline and demise were less precipitous. Both managed to hold on until the 1950s, but their experiences were different. “Sidelined” examines the various local and national developments that contributed to the failure of Chicago’s branch (and subsequently its parent) to become what it should have been.

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