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The American Museum of Labor

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Zena Merhi

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of The American Museum of Labor

Introduction Thank you for visiting! Despite the hardships and sufferings of women, children and African Americans in the workforce, each struggle influenced the creation of America's workforce today. Throughout the American Museum of Labor, different rooms represent the labor eras from the Reconstruction and New South to the Industrial Supremacy. Explore the history of labor through inspiring tales, heart-wrenching photographs, historical artifacts, and interactive activities. Take our guided train ride through the Far West. Learn how workers used industrial machines such as the Cotton Gin to make clothing and other goods. On your way out, make sure to stick around for the spine-chilling documentary of a haunting in Slater Mill. Reconstruction and the New South New and Old Immigration Industrial Supremacy We would like to thank you for visiting The American Museum of Labor! We hope you will come visit us again and take a walk through history one more time! The American Museum of Labor This is a spinning jenny used by both women and children during Reconstruction for cotton and other raw materials. Spinning jenny's were said to have been invented by James Hargreaves in 1764. Used in textile mills, spinning jenny's were not only extremely useful and efficient, but devastating as well. After the Civil War, the need for workers increased forcing many children to find jobs to help support their families. Children in textile mills worked with the spinning jenny's and accomplished more because of their small hands and bodies. Though working was great, children often developed serious health issues from all the long hours of hard labor. Some health issues were stunted growth, curved spines, tuberculosis, bronchitis, and most child laborers were underweight. It was not rare for a child to get into a serious accident with a machine whether it was losing a finger or being killed. Instead of encouraging an education and a chance to have a better life, parents forced their children to work which often lead to a life of illiteracy, depression, and financial distress. This boy was roping cotton on his machine in a New England mill. These railroad tools were used during the Reconstruction Era before steam-powered hammers were invented. Working on the railroads was hard labor, and most of the laborers were either convicts or freed African American slaves. One of the greatest inventors in the railroad business was Granville T. Woods. Granville T. Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio, in April 23, 1856. At age 10, Granville worked in a machine shop as an apparatus. Working as a fireman in Danville, he also went to night school to improve his knowledge. He later worked on a railroad in Missouri and in 1888, Granville invented electric conducting lines. He spent a lot of time traveling to and from various cities to experiment with different types of thermal power and various types of steam engines. Luckily, Granville T. Woods was not discriminated against because of his race. Though slavery ended in 1865, most African Americans chose to stay in the South and work on plantations. Most of them had nowhere else to go, and farming was the only skill they knew and used well. Others moved up North and worked on the railroads, or out West to look for a fresh start and new life. The African Americans who stayed in the South worked on plantations picking cotton. Instead of being called slaves, African Americans were now known as sharecroppers. A sharecropper was a tenant on a farm that pays rent to live on the land and receive part of the crop grown. Farming tools used on plantations. The Reconstruction era was a wonderful opportunity for women who were looking to expand in the workforce. Instead of continuing to work on farms, white and black women started to work with children and as domestic servants. With cities expanding, more job opportunities opened up such as shop clerks and assistants for girls and young women. The only requirement was the need for an elementary school education. The need for teachers for the students also helped in the effort for a woman's independence. At the time, a woman's role was to be tending to her home and her children, but women like Elizabeth Blackwell and Olympia Brown rose above this stigma. Born on February 3, 1821 in Bristol, England, Elizabeth Blackwell became known as the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States. Elizabeth and her family moved to the U.S. when she was 11 years old. Elizabeth was accepted into the Geneva Medical College in upstate New York in 1847. After graduating in 1849, Elizabeth opened her own clinic called the Dispensary for Poor Women and Children in 1853. She later created a medical school for women in the 1860's. Though she had many accomplishments, Elizabeth Blackwell was highly criticized by the public. Elizabeth's most famous quote was, "It is not easy to be a pioneer -- but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world (biography.com)." Elizabeth Blackwell retired in 1877 and passed away on May 31, 1910. Another cotton spinner in a mill in December. Olympia Brown; the first woman minister. This picture was from the Hopewell Furnace Company where both men and woman had an equal opportunity to work. Women would earn money by using their homemaking skills such as cooking, washing and mending clothing, and selling goods. Single men would pay eight cents for a home cooked meal, and they would also pay the women to wash and sew their clothing. If a woman had a spinning wheel in their home, they had an opportunity to make money by selling yarn and thread. Women at Hopewell also served as teachers in the community schools. In the summers, women and their children worked on Hopewell's farms earning 25 cents a day. This would be enough to buy one yard of cloth or 12 pounds of flour. Women could milk cows, whitewash fences and buildings, or work in the fields. Hopewell Furnace Company was an excellent way for women to expand their independence in a small community. Common clothes worn by working women About 5.2 million people migrated to the United States between 1881 and 1890 which caused many problems in the workforce. The immigrants were poor and could only speak a few words of English, and they were forced to live in filthy tenements. Often children were expected to accompany their parents at factories instead of attending school. This concept was most often seen in immigrant households. Since there were more children working in the factories, there was a surplus of employees. The new immigrants were desperate enough to work harder for less than the native born workers. This resulted in an economic depression in 1893, with no jobs, poor sanitation and health care, crime, and poor housing. The depression ended in the late 1890's though, and as it ended, more immigrants came to the United States. "Newsies" as they were called, were children who sold the newspaper on the streets. These boys are immigrants trying to earn money to help support their families. In chapter 17 of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle", Kotrina, Stanislovas, and their children try to earn a living by selling newspapers on the street. Truthfully, their only income is from begging which was often done by immigrants who could not find work and pay for their expenses. This photograph of an immigrant boy was taken by Lewis Hine. Lewis Hine liked to take pictures of children and the labor they were required to do so he could bring awareness to the working conditions. Hine's reason for taking pictures of children, immigrants and natives, was to promote child labor laws. Lewis Hine always interviewed his subjects. This boy was twelve years old from a textile mill in Columbia, South Carolina. He could not read or write, but told Hines, "Yes, I want to learn, but can’t when I work all the time (utata.com)." This boy was seven years old when he started selling newspapers in Hartford, Connecticut. His name is Tony Casale, and he often stayed out selling papers until 10 pm. Tony was hired because he would work for little money, but also because his father would beat him if he did not bring enough money home. It was said that the boy would have marks on his arms from his father biting him for not selling enough newspapers. These were boots worn by children during the 1800s if they could afford them. Most often children walked around barefoot. When the pace of immigration started to pick up, many African Americans did not know what to do. They could not go North anymore because the immigrants were living and working in the Northern and Northwestern areas. So many of the African Americans continued to work in the South or move out West. The African Americans that stayed up North found it to be extremely difficult to hold a job. African Americans got into many fights with the immigrants out of frustration and competition for the same job. All of the low-paying jobs were easily taken by immigrants and the African Americans. The picture above is from the Great Upheaval in 1877, which was a rebellion against employers because of poor working conditions and pay-cuts. President Hayes sent troops in to stop the protests, and after 45 days of striking, the protests ended. This picture was taken at a canning factory like the ones described in "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair."The Jungle" not only talked about the hardships faced by immigrant men and children, but women as well. Even though the women that worked in the same factories for the same amount of hours as men, they got paid less money for their labor. Ona, from "The Jungle", was a young, wealthy woman before she had moved to America in search of the American Dream. This turned into be more of a nightmare as it was difficult for the men in the family to make enough money to support the family. Ona along with her step mother Teta Elizabeja and Marija get jobs to help as much as possible. Woman were not respected and were told to do easy factory jobs such as milling and canning. Many times the male owners of these factories would take advantage of these women as seen with Phil Connors when he raped Ona in order for her to keep her job. Also many of these jobs became unavailable and the workers would be let go. From here in order to make money to help to family some would go into prostitution, as seen by Marija. This photograph is another one of Lewis Hine's work. He often went to Ellis Island to try to take pictures of the immigrants, and it was not an easy task. Since they could not speak English very well, it was hard for Mr. Hine to stop them and have them pose for a picture. Quick Facts -During the 1900s, women made up 18% of the workforce in America
-1/3 of women worked as domestic servants, 1/3 as teachers, and 1/3 as industrial workers
-Many immigrant women were not used to working, but forced to to be able to help their families
-Created by women and immigrants, the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union was created in the 1900s
-In 1909, the Uprising of 20,000 garment workers won union recognition in the industry and higher wages and benefits -In 1903, Mary Kenny O'Sullivan and Leonora O'Reilly created the Woman's Trade Union League
-This was the first national association dedicated to woman's labor issues
-Some issues included pushing for eight hour workdays, the creation of minimum wage, and the end to evening work for women Railroads became extremely popular after the Civil War, and offered more job opportunities for African Americans. African Americans traveled all over the country building railroads. Some African Americans stayed in the South and worked on plantations, and others went up North. Yet trying to survive with all of the new immigrants was very difficult. Some African Americans could not "beat" the immigrants and chose to either move back down South, out West, or in rural towns up North. Like the lady in the picture above, some African Americans tried holding jobs as nannies, maids, housekeepers, or house chefs in the North. Though John Henry is considered a folklore to many people, his story has inspired many laborers. John Henry was a steel driver, from Virginia, for Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Until the steam-powered steel hammers were invented, men would use their strength and hammers to drive steel. John Henry was not happy about the new invention because it would take away jobs from the men working on the railroads, so he challenged the machine to see who could drive steel faster. Since there is not much information on John Henry, many people believe he is just a folklore. During the Industrial Revolution children were forced to go to work in factories, farms, the streets, and other intense labor facilities. Both boys and girls were abused by their employers, and it was not until 1833 that legal actions took place. Parliament passed the Factory Act which limited the amount of hours children of certain ages could work. Children under nine years old were not allowed to work at all, required to attend school for no less than two hours each day. This 12-year-old boy lost his hand while operating a mowing machine like the one he's sitting on. The boy continued to work on the fields with his family, picking with his good hand, but he could not work for too long. His mother claims they will have to put him in school because he could no longer work as a manual laborer on the farm. Two young girls picking in the fields of New Jersey Sweeper and Doffer in a cotton mill in 1908 Little boy, Chicago, 1910 taken by Lewis Hine Boys working in Arcade Bowling Alley in Trenton, NJ in 1909. They usually work until midnight and later. Newsies selling papers on Capital Hill, Washington, D.C. This video is about Lewis Hine and his efforts to get child labor laws established. He tells us how he took all of his photographs and information about each of them. Between 1830 and 1860, women remained one of the key labor sources for the growing industries. Power looms and Dressing Frames required a woman's height, and many companies swindled young ladies with their accommodations. Their wages were set to $3.00 to about $3.50 a week which was extremely high compared to what they would have earned in their hometowns. Though all of these deals sounded enticing, there was much criticism as to young girls, their marriage, and their home life. Many people were afraid that young woman would prefer mechanics as husbands rather than farmers. In reality, only about one third of women married farmers and about a quarter of those married lived in their hometown for the rest of their lives. The rest of the women married artisans or other urban workers and moved to cities. Out West, children were put to work in coal mines, sawmills, and textile and garment industries. Usually boys would work in the coal mines and sawmills, and the girls in the textile and garment industries. Children were expected to work at an early age, and many of them went to work with their families. This boy is working in a coal mine, 1900. Boys would often have accidents in the mines with their hands. Hands would be cut, broken, or have crushed fingers. Sometimes there would be an even worse accident when a boy disappears in the chute or torn up in the machinery. The smoke that circulates in the mines would often cause asthma. Twelve-year-old boy topping beets. The father, mother, and two boys (9 and 12 yrs.) expect to make $700 in about 2 months time."The boys can keep up with me all right, and all day long," the father said. Begin at 6 a.m. and work until 6 p.m. with hour off at noon. Fort Collins, Colorado. African Americans made their mark as explorers, trappers, cowboys, ranchers, farmers, gold miners, stagecoach drivers, scouts, cavalrymen, outlaws, lawmen, schoolteachers, and saloon keepers. One of the more famous African Americans who moved out West was Nat Love. Nat Love was born into slavery in 1854, and was released after the Civil War. At the age of 15, Nat moved out West on his own and secured a job as a cattle herder. At age 22, Nat took part in the Fourth of July Rodeo in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. At the rodeo, Nat won the nickname "Hero of Deadwood" because he challenged other men to roping and shooting contests. Nat wrote his own his own book full of tall tales and true adventures. Though it is hard to tell which is which, any reader could tell that Nat lived a full life on the Western Frontier. Throughout the story, Nat describes how he herded cattle, survived stampedes, had his share of card games and gunfights. Nat even encountered Indians as both friend and foe, and weathered the rain, snow, sleet, dust storms, and merciless sun of the open prairie. There were many ambitious African Americans during the late 1800s. This man is seen mining for gold which was a common ambition amongst men out West. Women and their families would travel West usually on the Oregon Trail. Most women would do common housework while their husbands worked on the farms. Few single men attempted to operate a farm. Farmers needed a working wife, and numerous children, to handle the many chores, including child-rearing, feeding and clothing the family, managing the housework, and feeding the hired hands. During the early years of settlement, farm women played an integral role in assuring family survival by working outdoors. But as time went on, women went back to doing domestic duties in their homes. New conveniences such as sewing and washing machines encouraged women to turn to domestic roles. The housekeeping movement in newspapers, featured achievements in home cookery and canning, advice columns for women in the farm papers, and home economics courses in the schools. Slater Mill was the first cotton spinning mill in America, established in 1793. Today, ghosts of former employees are said to be haunting Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Works Cited http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/northamerica/after1500/people/blacks.htm
Nardo, Don. The Industrial Revolution's Workers and Their Lives. Detroit: Lucent, 2009.
Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. Cambridge, MA: R. Bentley, 1971. Print. Gold Mines Today, businesses are more organized and fair for all of their employees. Government created labor laws preventing harsh and injustice working conditions in factories and industries. Children no longer work at young ages preforming back-breaking tasks. Women are treated with greater respect in today's workforces. African Americans are equal in society as well. Despite the hardships and sufferings of women, children, and African Americans in the workforce, each struggle influenced the creation of America's workforce today.
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