Sweat Equity: Women in the Garment Industry
The Diane and Adam E. Max Conference on Women's History
Keynote Speakers: Alice Kessler-Harris, Julie Kushner
Sun, March 6th, 2016 |
9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Note: This event is sold out. 


While we cannot guarantee seating for everyone, if you are interested in seeing if there are any cancellations, please arrive ​30 minutes before each keynote address or panel (see program for details) and we will give you a number and ask you to wait in line. We will fill all empty seats just before the program begins.



8:30–9 am: Continental Breakfast
9 am5 pm: Conference 

Inaugural Symposium in Honor of Jean Dubinsky Appleton
The Estate of Jean Dubinsky Appleton has provided generous support of the 2016 Max Conference, as well as ongoing exhibitions and research at the New-York Historical Society. Important support for the conference has also been provided by The Coby Foundation, Ltd.

Sweat Equity: Women in the Garment Industry
The Center for the Study of Women’s History is pleased to present the first annual Diane and Adam E. Max Conference in Women’s History. This day-long event during Women’s History Month will explore the garment industry and its historical impact on women, and is organized this year in memory of Jean Dubinsky Appleton, daughter of veteran labor organizer David Dubinsky. The conference will feature two keynote addresses by historian Alice Kessler-Harris and union leader Julie Kushner, along with panel discussions exploring the history and future of garment manufacturing in New York. The morning panels will focus on the entwined histories of immigration, labor activism, and the garment industry’s predominantly female workforce. The afternoon panels will bring together working designers to discuss production in New York City’s garment district today, and the challenges of sustainabilityboth economic and environmentalin the fashion industry. All events will take place in the Robert H. Smith Auditorium, and audience members are welcome to attend either the full day’s program or selected panels.

Keynote Speakers: Alice Kessler-Harris, R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History, Columbia University, and Julie Kushner, Director United Auto Workers Region 9A.

Program Highlights

9:15 am – 10 am:            Introductory Keynote Address: Alice Kessler-Harris
                                             R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History and Professor in the Institute
                                             for Research on Women and Gender, Columbia University

10:10 am – 11 am:         A Century of Change: The Immigrant Workforce over Time
                                            Panelists: Daniel Soyer (Fordham University),  Hector Cordero Guzmán
                                            (Baruch College, CUNY), Margaret Chin (Hunter College, CUNY)

                                            Moderator: Annie Polland (The Tenement Museum)

11 am – 11:10 am:         Commemorating the Triangle Fire
                                           Mary Anne Trasciatti, Chair, Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, Inc.

11:10 am – 12 pm:         On Fire and On Strike: Labor Activism in the Garment Industry
                                           Panelists: Jennifer Guglielmo (Smith College), Daniel Katz (Brooklyn College,
                                           CUNY), Katie Quan (UC Berkeley)
                                           Moderator: Lara Vapnek (St. John’s University)

1:30 pm – 2:15 pm:       Afternoon Keynote Address: Julie Kushner
                                           Director, United Auto Workers Union Region 9A

2:30 pm – 3:20 pm:       Preservation and Renewal in New York’s Garment District
                                            Panelists: Nanette Lepore, Yeohlee Teng
                                            Moderator: JoAnne Olian

3:30 pm – 4:45 pm:       The Future of Fashion: From Consumption to Sustainability
                                            Presentation followed by sustainable-design showcase
                                            Speaker: Timo Rissanen (Parsons School of Design)

4:50 pm:                           Closing Remarks: Valerie Paley
                                            Director, Center for the Study of Women’s History, New-York Historical Society

Click here to download a full conference schedule. 

The New-York Historical Society’s new Center for the Study of Women’s History is a landmark undertaking that will transform a substantial portion of the New-York Historical Society’s fourth floor into a cutting-edge permanent museum space and center for scholarship focused on women’s history. Major funding for the Center for the Study of Women’s History is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Joyce B. Cowin, and Jean Margo Reid.


The Robert H. Smith Auditorium at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024

Programs and dates may be subject to change. Management reserves the right to refuse admission to latecomers.

Image: Photo courtesy of Kheel Center, Cornell University

Creative: Tronvig Group