In the late nineteenth century and through the early twentieth century many female workers were employed at factories such as Ypsilanti Underwear Company (the former Hay and Todd Manufacturing Company) and Scharf Label, Tag, and Box Company. Many women worked as machine operators; however some were even employed as forewomen and supervisors.
Ypsilanti Underwear Company employed around 300 women and allowed the local economy to prosper. Many garments manufactured by these women were sold at the popular Marshall Field and Company store and were even exhibited at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.
Much debate centered on the exterior of the building in the early twentieth century when a new advertisement was revealed. A 15 foot painting of a lady dressed in a tight fitting union suit became a new landmark in the city of Ypsilanti and was known to all who rode past on the Michigan Central Railway, making the building a continual topic for discussion.
Scharf Label, Tag and Box Company became the leading employer of women after Ypsilanti Underwear Company closed in 1906. Without women working at these companies, the factories would never have prospered and produced the praised and well manufactured goods Ypsilanti became known for.
“A sculptor of Nymphs and bacchantes
Omitted the coast and the panties
A kind hearted madam who knew that she
Supplied them with warm Ypsilantis.”
“Sara Schaff’s written history of Ypsilanti Underwear Company, Ypsilanti, MI, August 23,1933” Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives, Ypsilanti, MI
“Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, 1901 Inspection Results for 25 Industries in Ypsilanti” Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives, Ypsilanti, MI
“Knitting Mills, Ypsilanti Mich.” Postcard. Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives, Ypsilanti, MI
“The Scharf Tag, Label & Box Co. Ypsilanti, Mich.” 1907 Advertisement. Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives, Ypsilanti, MI
“1941 Reunion of Woolen Mill female workers at Prospect Park” Photo. Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives, Ypsilanti, MI