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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CONSUMERS LEAGUE OF OHIO

CONSUMERS LEAGUE OF OHIO

The CONSUMERS LEAGUE OF OHIO, founded in 1900 in Cleveland as a women's organization, has contributed to the welfare of workers of both sexes nationwide through education, direct action, and legislative reform. With state headquarters in Cleveland's Statler Office Tower (1993), the league is affiliated with the National Consumers League. Members of the BOOK & THIMBLE CLUB (a women's literary society) created the league to further the welfare of workers who produced or sold consumer goods. It distributed "white lists," recognizing businesses that hired adults, paid fair wages, and provided good working conditions. The league discouraged patronage of those who did not meet these standards. Two prominent league members were MYRTA JONES, president from 1908-23, and ELIZABETH MAGEE, executive secretary from 1925-65.

Expanding its goals and activities, in 1909 the Consumer's League campaigned for legislative mandates for better working conditions and wages. The local movement became statewide as the league, along with the Ohio State Federation of Labor, lobbied for state labor laws. In 1917 the Consumers' League of Ohio served as the Committee on Women & Children in Industry for the state and the U.S. Council of National Defense; Jones chaired the committee. Under her direction, the league successfully sponsored state legislation regulating women's working conditions.

During the 1920s, despite little success with legislative reform, the league continued to grow, adding men in 1921. In 1925 Magee began developing a close relationship with state and federal LABOR leaders. In 1928 she began a study of unemployment compensation and implemented a model program, the Ohio Plan, which stressed larger benefits and more secure funding. The Consumer's League helped pass a state minimum-wage law for women and secure the Ohio ratification of the federal child-labor amendment in 1933. In 1937 it helped pass successful state legislation for a shorter work-week for women.

As more women entered the workforce during World War II, the league helped ensure that laws were enforced to prevent child labor, regulate working hours, and provide daycare centers. After the war, it worked to improve the status of migrant workers and helped the NAACP secure an Ohio fair employment practice law in April 1959. The league has fought against sexual discrimination and for daycare centers and maternity leave.


Consumers' League of Ohio Records, WRHS.

Harrison, Dennis I. "The Consumers' League of Ohio: Women and Reform, 1909-1937" (Ph.D. diss., CWRU, 1978).


Finding aid for the Consumers League of Ohio Records, Series II. WRHS. Finding aid for the Consumers League of Ohio Records, Series III. WRHS. Finding aid for the Consumers League of Ohio Oral History Interviews. WRHS.