The Way We Lived, American workers in the early 20th Century

Speed the Plow - farm workers

Speed the Plow – farm workers

This book, by author Martin W. Sandler, offers a short course on the history of American jobs, 1880-1920. Sandler’s own amazing collection of antique glass negative photos illustrate his survey of American workers – from the farm to logging, mining and eventually to factory labor. Along the way, the book offers riveting views of children (some two million worked in mines, on the streets, and in factories) as photographed by Louis Hine.

when children worked

when children worked

Interesting to note that in the 1880s, the average employee worked 10-hour days, 6 days a week. Eventually, some farm hands left the fields to find work in urban areas in the factories churning out cars and goods. But farming remained the biggest source of jobs. After farming, more people worked as servants (nannies, maids, drivers) than in any other occupation. As the Industrial Revolution took hold, a larger urban work force needed more goods and services. These goods were supplied by a growing retail sector. Stores moved from inside private homes to shops on busy city streets.

Shopping, early on

Shopping, early on

My copy is a first edition, but it will not to be sold, since it is a library book. I plan to keep it in my own library. Thank God for libraries.


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