Plymouth Sportswear Company, Inc., was founded in Fall River, Massachusetts, circa 1940 by Arnold Gerard (1889-1959), a man of Russian birth who had immigrated to the United States with his parents and siblings in 1906. A resident of Brooklyn, New York, he had been employed in the garment trade since his youth, first in the manufacture of cloaks, then as a contractor of children’s dresses, and later a dress tailor; his wife, née Sophie A. Altschuler (1889-1983), also a Russian immigrant residing in Brooklyn, had also been employed as an operator manufacturing ladies’ waists. The couple were married in Manhattan in 1910, and were the parents of three children: Pauline (1913-1920), Irving (1914-1978), and Sylvia (1920-1981).
Gerard relocated with his family to Fall River, circa 1939, and began Plymouth Sportswear. The firm was a manufacturer of ladies’ and boys’ sportswear, and was first located at the “rear 289 Pleasant [Street], 5th Fl[oor]” in Union Mill No. 1. Gerard, president of the company, was joined by his son, Irving, who served as a shipping clerk, and his daughter, Sylvia, who held the position of office clerk. In 1946, the business relocated to 18 Pocasset Street in Fall River. It was at this time that Arnold Gerard surrendered the presidency of the company to his son, assuming instead the position of treasurer. Sylvia was then named plant manager. A family outfit, Arnold’s wife, Sophie, was also employed as the director of boy’s sportswear.
By 1951, the firm was listed in the Directory of Massachusetts Manufacturers, published by the Massachusetts Department of Commerce and Labor, with the classification “Code 8”, indicating that the establishment employed a work force of between fifty to ninety-nine production workers.
By 1957, Irving Gerard was no longer associated with the business in Fall River, and his father assumed the positions of both president and treasurer. He was still actively employed at the time of his death on September 11, 1959. The company continued in operation under the direction of, first, Sophie Gerard, and later her daughter, Sylvia, until it dissolved circa 1962.
Photographs illustrating the day-to-day activities in Fall River’s garment factories are surprisingly rare. The following series of images depicting Plymouth Sportswear Company, Inc., dating to 1940, are contained in the collection of the Fall River Historical Society, Charlton Library of Fall River History.