Unraveling Workers’ Letters: The Voices behind Nelly Don

Letter by Maids & Janitors at Donnelly Garment Company



Letter by Maids & Janitors at Donnelly Garment Company


The only collaboratively authored text among the more than 700 letters written by employees at the Donnelly Garment Company, this letter is signed by the Black women and men whose employment opportunities were limited to custodial jobs. Like the other letter writers, the maids and janitors describe their satisfaction with their working situation and praise Nell Donnelly Reed.



Date Original

July 22, 1937


Kansas City, Missouri

Collection name

James Alexander Reed Papers, K0433


James Alexander Reed Papers, K0433, Box 34


The State Historical Society of Missouri-Kansas City



Access Rights

The Donor hereby gives and assigns to the University all rights of copyright which the Donor has in (a) the Materials and (b) in such of his works as may be found among any collections of Materials received by the University from others.






Kansas City, Mo.
July 22, 1937

To whom concerned:

Nothing at this particular time affords me greater pleasure than having both the priviledge [privilege] and opportunity to express my appreciation for the generosity of The Donnelly Garment Sales Co.

I can safely say, (and I am voicing the sentiment of all colored employees of The Donnelly Garment Sales Company) the company has ever been loyal and just to the force of workers, showing no discrimination, all of us being treated alike.

I can truthfully say that I have been an employee of this company for fifteen years, and steadily so – the longest I have been employed in any one place. Not yet have I, or any of us, asked a favor that was not readily granted, and I must say without fear of contradiction, This fact is voiced by fourteen of us.

We have never worked for a company or an individual that has treated us any better at all times, paid us a good salary, as well as giving us favorable working hours.

I feel it is my duty to offer praise where praise is due. Allow me to say here, Nelly Don has been a Godsend to all the lest fortunate. Not just in the factory , but with a big heart and broad mind her hospitality has gone out to the outside world to give both aid and assistance to many a worthy cause. Her life portrays, as well as recalls to mind the old familiar poem from which I quote these lines, “Let me live in the house by the side of the road and be a friend to man.”

In conclusion, long live Nelly Don and The Donnelly Garment Sales Company.

Respectfully submitted,

The colored force.