NOVEMBER 13, 1936
MILWAUKEE—I have just come back from one of the most interesting mornings I have ever spent. Milwaukee has a handicraft project for unskilled women which gives one a perfect thrill. They are doing artistic work under most able teachers. The interesting thing is that in spite of the fact that these women have had few educational advantages and were so unskilled that they were rejected on the sewing project, they are developing both taste and skill. One woman made her own design for a piece of work which I much admired and she had had just three years in school.
They are binding scrap books for children; books to be used in hospitals; and books for the Braille project which is carried on somewhere else. The materials used are of the least expensive variety, but sometimes they have a block print design or the title is printed in an interesting way. Each book seems to have an individuality and the bindings are attractive. They make rugs and hangings all of original design.
They are making dolls as attractive as any I have seen and much more original by a process which a young boy developed. Their wooden toys for the Federal nursery schools and dependent children's home, are not only well made but so well painted and finished that you long to have them in your own nursery.
They are making costumes for public schools and institutions and the Municipal opera. It would often be a hardship for children themselves to have to provide their costumes but the schools provide the materials, two young people with art training who have not yet found jobs do the research and designs. The costumes remain as a permanent theatrical wardrobe in the schools or institutions to which they are sent.
The cost of materials on this project has been kept at a minimum but there is no way that one can pay for ideas and these have evidently been given in full measure.
We visited a very fine sewing room for women where about nine hundred are employed. The working conditions are excellent and they have an opportunity to work on all types of modern machines, which is a help to future employment. Only five percent of the workers had any training before they entered this work room. Great credit is due the man in charge for the beautiful work which is being turned out.
I visited the Greendale Resettlement project which has a delightful site and is I think a really good development. I wish, however, that every group of architects would have a woman sit at their elbow to advise on such minor details as the proper placing of things which she uses daily in her work. These details seem insignificant but they make all the difference in the ease with which work is accomplished and therefore in the happiness of the women in the family.
We took time also to walk through the chrysanthemum show in the greenhouse in Mitchell Park and nothing could have been lovelier.
We leave here late this afternoon bound for Kansas City.