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This text, designed for courses in US labor history or the history of American workers, presents a carefully selected group of readings that allow students to evaluate primary sources, test the interpretations of distinguished historians, and draw their own conclusions. Major Problems in the History of American Workers follows the proven Major Problems format, with 14-15 chapters per volume, a combination of documents and essays, chapter introductions, headnotes, and suggested readings.
Nelson Lichtenstein, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1974. His area of expertise is 20th-century U.S. history. He is also widely recognized as a labor historian and has written books and articles in this field. He is the author of a study of the CIO during World War II, co-editor of a volume on labor in the automobile industry and a book on industrial democracy. His articles have appeared in numerous journals.
1. The Meaning of Work and the History of Labor ESSAYS Harvey Swados, The Myth of the Happy Worker Barbara Ehrenreich, Working Poor Blues 2. The Labor Systems of Early America DOCUMENTS 1. An Indentured Servant Writes Home, 1623 2. "The Trappan'd Maiden: Or The Distressed Damsel" (Popular Song, Mid-1600s) 3. Traveler Peter Kalm on Unfree Labor in Pennsylvania, 1753 4. African Prince Olaudah Equiano Survives the Middle Passage, 1791 5. Ruth Belknap, a Country Parson's Wife, on "The Pleasures of a Country Life," c. 1782 6. Eulalia Perez Remembers Early California, 1823 7. Report on the Indian Villages of San Diego County, 1873 ESSAYS Richard S. Dunn, Servants and Slaves in the East Howard Lamar, Bonded and Contract Labor in the Southwest 3. From the Artisan's Republic to the Factory System DOCUMENTS 1. David Johnson Remembers Apprenticeship Life in the Artisan Shoe Shop, 1830 2. Jessie Hutchinson, "Cordwainers' Rallying Song," 1844 3. A Reporter's Account of Lynn Women's Mass Meeting During the Great Strike, 1860 4. Amelia, a Woman Worker, Protests Lowell Wage Slavery, 1845 5. Journeymen Tailors Protest Wage Slavery, 1836 6. Frederick Douglass Confronts Working-Class Racism, 1836 ESSAYS Alan Dawley, Lynn Shoemakers and the Solidarity of Class David R. Roediger, White Artisans and the Solidarity of Race 4. Slavery and the Transition to Free Labor DOCUMENTS 1. Slave Production at Pleasant Hill Plantation, 1850 2. Slave Solomon Northup's View of Cotton Planting and Harvesting, 1854 3. A Planter on Child Rearing, 1836 4. A Northern Unionist Lectures Ex-Slaves on the Work Ethic, 1865 5. "We Demand Land": Petition by Southern Freedmen, 1865 6. African-American Washerwomen Demand Higher Wages, 1866 7. "Colored" vs. Chinese in Galveston, 1877 8. Sharecropper Nate Shaw Makes His Crop, 1913 ESSAYS Eugene Genovese, The Plantation Work Ethic Eric Foner, Emancipation and the Reconstruction of Southern Labor 5. The Age of Industrial Conflict DOCUMENTS 1. Haymarket Anarchist Michael Schwab Fights for Freedom, 1886 2. "Freedom," Poem by Haymarket Anarchist Albert R. Parsons, 1886 3. "Labor's Great Army," 1889 4. Samuel Gompers Defends the Strike, 1899 5. Preamble of the Industrial Workers of the World, 1905 6. Fitz John Porter Explains How to Quell Mobs, 1885 7. George Pullman Defends Managerial Paternalism, 1894 ESSAYS Jeremy Brecher, The Great Upheaval James Green, Remembering Haymarket: Chicago's Labor Martyrs and Their Legacy 6. From Peasant to Proletarian DOCUMENTS 1. Economist John R. Commons Denounces the "Sweating System," 1901 2. Investigator John Fitch Describes Steel's Long Shift, 1912 3. Photographer Lewis Hine Depicts Child Laborers in the New York City Tenements, 1911 4. African Americans Seek Work in the North, 1917 5. Helen B. Sayre Praises the Progress of Negro Women in Industry, 1924 6. California Employers Evaluate Foreign Beet Workers, 1911 7. "Chinaman, Laundryman" Poet H.T. Tsiang Defends Chinese Immigrants, 1929 ESSAYS Herbert Gutman, The Cultures of First-Generation Industrial Workers Ronald Takaki, Asian Immigrants Raising Cane: The World of Plantation Hawaii 7. Cultures of the Workplace DOCUMENTS 1. Miner John Brophy Learns His Trade, 1907 2. A Student's View of "Soldiering," 1931 3. Frederick Winslow Taylor Explains the Principles of Scientific Management, 1916 4. An A.F.L. View of Women Workers in Industry, 1897 5. The Shirtwaist Strikers Win, 1910 6. Unionist Alice Henry Outlines Why Women Need Their Own Local Unions, 1915 ESSAYS David Montgomery, Work Rules and Manliness in the World of the Nineteenth-Century Craftsman Nan Enstad, French Heels and Ladyhood in the World of Early-Twentieth-Century Garment Strikers Photograph Essay: American at Work in the Industrial Era 8. Labor in the Progressive Era DOCUMENTS 1. In re Debs, 1895 2. Muller v. Oregon, 1908 3. Atkins v. Children's Hospital, 1923 4. The American Federation of Labor Embraces Equal Pay for Equal Work, 1917 5. Industrial Democracy Needed for the War Effort, 1917 6. President Woodrow Wilson on the Labor Question, 1919 ESSAYS Alice Kessler-Harris, Law and Free Labor Joseph A. McCartin, Fighting for Industrial Democracy in World War I 9. Industrial Unionism During the Great Depression DOCUMENTS 1. Preamble of the National Labor Relations Act, 1935 2. Communist John Steuben Organizes Steel, 1936 3. Mrs. Violet Baggett Joins the Union, 1937 4. White Collar Workers Organize, 1938 5. A Union Man Gets His Job Back, 1938 6. Stanley Nowak Organizes a Slowdown Strike, 1937 7. For UAW Shop Stewards: "How to Win for the Union," 1941 8. Union Leaders Oppose Shop-Floor Agitators, 1941 ESSAYS Melvyn Dubofsky, Not So Radical Years: Another Look at the 1930s Bruce Nelson, Radical Years: Working-Class Consciousness on the Waterfront in the 1930s 10. Race, Gender, and Industrial Unionism in World War II and Its Aftermath DOCUMENTS 1. President Franklin Roosevelt Establishs a Committee on Fair Employment Practice, 1941 2. Mildred Keith Protests Discrimination, 1942 3. The War Labor Board Assails Workplace Racism, 1943 4. The War Labor Board Orders Equal Pay for Equal Work, 1944 5. The Crisis Predicts a Surge in NAACP Membership, 1943 6. Women's Work in a California Warplane Factory, 1941-1945 ESSAYS Robert Korstad and Nelson Lichtenstein, How Organized Black Workers Brought Civil Rights to the South Eileen Boris, Racialized Bodies on the Homefront 11. Trade Unions in the Postwar Years DOCUMENTS 1. The CIO Attacks a Communist-Led Union, 1949 2. Betty Friedan Argues for Trade Union Feminism, 1952 3. Arbitrator Harry Shulman Upholds the Authority of Ford Supervision, 1944 4. Shop Steward B.J. Widick Outlines the Frustrations of the Contract System, 1954 5. Fortune Magazine Applauds the U.S. Labor Movement, 1951 ESSAYS Ellen Schrecker, Labor Encounters the Anticommunist Crusade Nelson Lichtenstein, The Unions' Retreat in the Postwar Era 12. New Unionists of the 1960s DOCUMENTS 1. The American Federation of Teachers on the Rights of Teachers, 1951 2. The March on Washington Demands Jobs and Freedom, 1963 3. Union Leader Taylor Rogers Relives the Memphis Sanitation Strike (1968), 2000 4. Cesar E. Chavez, Good Friday Message, 1969 ESSAYS Marjorie Murphy, Collective Bargaining: The Coming of Age of Teacher Unionism Michael Honey, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Memphis Sanitation Strike 13. White Collars, Pink Collars, and Hard Hats DOCUMENTS 1. Sociologist Daniel Bell's "Post-Industrial" Vision, 1973 2. Fred Roman on the Life of an Accountant, 1972 3. Lee Radler Archacki Explains Why She Chose the Night Shift, 1979 4. Computerized Order Taking at McDonald's, 1988 5. Sex Discrimination in the Skies, 1967 6. The Scandal Behind Soaring Construction Costs, 1972 ESSAYS Joshua Freedman, Construction Workers Defend Their Manhood Dorothy Sue Cobble, Feminism Transforms Women Service Workers 14. Mobile Capital, Migrating Workers DOCUMENTS 1. Management's Weapon: Scab Labor, 1990 2. A Unionist Blasts Overseas Office Work, 1987 3. Temp Blues, 1994 4. Sweatshop Workers Speak Out, 1998 5. The AFL-CIO Defends Immigrant Workers, 2000 6. The Battle in Seattle, 1999 7. Senseless in Seattle, 1999 ESSAYS Kim Moody, A Certain Kind of Globalization Andrew Ross, Sweated Labor in Cyberspace Grace Chang, The Nanny Visa 15. New Labor, New Century DOCUMENTS 1. John Sweeney's Victory Speech Before the AFL-CIO, 1995 2. Harvard Union Clerical and Technical Workers State Their Principles, 1988 3. Queremos Justicia! We Want Justice! 1996 4. Big Win at UPS! 1997 5. Republican Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Promotes California's Proposition 226 as "Paycheck Protection," 1998 ESSAYS Harold Meyerson, A New AFL-CIO Robin D. G. Kelley, How the New Working Class Can Transform Urban America Gordon Lafer, Graduate Student Unions Fight the Corporate University Appendix: American Labor: A Statistical Portrait