Unraveling Workers’ Letters: The Voices behind Nelly Don

Nettie Ely



Nettie Ely


Letter by factory worker describing her family's desperate financial circumstances before she began working at the Donnelly Garment Company. She expresses her satisfaction with wages and working conditions as well as the annual Christmas gifts from the company.




Date Original

July 15, 1937


Kansas City, Missouri

Collection name

James A. Reed Collection, K0443


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.






July 15, 1937

Dear Mrs. Reed.

Just a word to tell you and every one concerned just how much my job means to me. I came to work here six years ago today. When I came here there was no one working in our family, and we were behind in our bills and rent. Since I have been here we have had a good living, I have been able to pay all of our bills.

About two years after I came to work here my husband almost lost his eyesight. If I hadn't been making as much as I was I could never have sent him to an eye Dr. and he would have been blind by now.

I have the Donnelly Gmt. Co. to thank for that because I don't believe I could have gotten a job in Kansas City that would have paid half what I receive.

I have worked several places besides Donnelly's and there is no comparison in any way to the wages, sanitary condition and working condition.

I don't think there is any place that gives their employs the gifts for Xmas that we recieve [receive]. We always recieve [receive] five dollars and sometimes other gifts such as turkeys or fruit. I have recieved [received] five dollars every Xmas since I have been here.

I appreciate having a recreation room, our large hospital room, our clean sanitary working conditions and above all our hours and wages.

I don't think there is very many places that pay their employs for legal holidays. I hope working conditions will continue just as they are at the Donnelly Gmt. Co. because I think everyone enjoys working here. I know I do.

A perfectly satisfied Employ
Mrs. Nettie Ely
431 S. Hardesty
K.C. Mo.