Union Maids

A vivid history of women organizing in the 1930's
Year Released
Film Length(s)
48 mins


Sitdowns, scabs, goon squads, unemployment, hunger marches, red baiting and finally the energetic birth of the CIO: the 1930s were a landmark period for the American labor movement. Union Maids is the story of three women who lived that history and make it come alive today. It was the first film of its kind–an oral history, using a wealth of footage from the National Archives to chronicle the fight to form industrial unions as seen through the eyes of rank and file women. The film was widely distributed in 16mm, including theatrical dates in about 20 cities.

Featured review

Sylvia, Stella and Kate are three naturals, characters whose hearts and minds leap off the screen with a kind of grace and nobility I haven't seen in a documentary since Jerry Bruck's I.F. Stone's Weekly.
Vincent Canby
New York Times


This inspiring film will be a classic. It makes the 1930s live. It makes you laugh, makes you cheer. It's going to be shown through the years, to millions.
Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger
An inspiring film about three magnificent women. This is the best film on labor history I have ever seen. I plan to show it again and again.
Howard Zinn
Boston University, author A People's History of the U.S.
Union Maids is the most energizing, exhilarating labor organizing movie imaginable. For the first time I could see for myself there really is 'joy in the struggle!'
Alice Walker
MS Magazine
Union Maids is an excellent film which gives the facts and feeling of the role of women in the American labor movement. At a leadership training school, the film received a standing ovation.
Bonwen Zwerner
Education Department, Amalgamated Textile and Clothing Workers
We feel Union Maids has a wide variety of applications and we are making it available to our districts for their use.
John Kulsted
National Training Center, Communications Workers of America
Union Maids is a work of art. Brilliantly edited, it is a piece of oral history so superbly shaped that it leaves you proud to be a human being.
Vivian Gornick
Village Voice
Union Maids is an important, compelling, and happy new film, product of a new class conscious socialist movement that is emerging out of the strengths of both the New and Old Lefts.
Linda Gordon
Professor of History and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University

Awards and Screenings

Academy Award Nomination, Best Feature Documentary
Recently restored by the Women’s Film Restoration Fund
Chosen as one of only 15 films screened at the 40th anniversary retrospective of the Flaherty Film Seminar
American Film Festival, Blue Ribbon
Chicago International Film Festival, Certificate of Merit

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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