Skip to content


Charlotte Graham Papers

Special Collections

Protesters arrested

When the union agreed to stop the protest as a condition for negotiation, management refused—and chaos ensued. Graham (far left) and a number of other protesters were arrested.

In the early 1930s, Charlotte Duncan Graham was a seamstress in Dallas, working alongside women in insufferable conditions. The environment was hot and dirty, and workers weren’t allowed to leave their seats. Managers found ways to circumvent garment industry labor codes to keep wages low and extend working hours. In response, Graham led a dozen women in requesting a charter from the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU). What followed was a months-long strike against 13 garment shops in the area that ended with Graham being blacklisted from Dallas. She went on to a life of activism, leading a major union strike in Los Angeles, continuing her work with the ILGWU, and advocating for the NAACP and Community Chest.

The Dorothy Frocks company was the subject of ILGWU strikes in San Antonio. The strikes were successful, as the company agreed to the union’s terms. Graham and the Dallas chapter of the ILGWU hoped to leverage that success into support for their cause.

Dorothy Frocks strike

UTA Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives collects and provides access to extraordinary historical research materials. In each issue of UTA Magazine, we highlight some of our most unique pieces. You can explore our digital collection—which hosts more than 50,000 images related to North Texas and state history.

You might also like