In the early 1880s some 50,000 women joined the Knights of Labor, a major national organization that actively supported women workers’ rights.
In the late 1880s, this group was replaced by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which was less supportive of women workers.
Nevertheless, Mary Kenney O’Sullivan became a paid organizer for the AFL. Other women started their own groups to improve women’s working conditions.
Collar factory worker Leonora O’Reilly, for example, organized the Working Women’s Society in New York in 1886, and textile worker Elizabeth Morgan helped form the Illinois Women’s Alliance in 1888.