The Bread and Roses Strike of 1912

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Pat Sherman
In the winter of 1912 the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts, was the scene of war. On one side stood an armed state militia, on the other, nearly 25,000 striking textile workers. The former faction was represented by William Wood, the son of Portuguese immigrants who had worked himself up from errand boy to become the owner of one of the largest woolen mills in the United States. The latter was led by James Ettor, also the son of immigrants, who believed that the profits from labor belonged to the laborers, not just those that employed them. By February, what had started a few months earlier as a protest against short pay had grown into a dispute of national importance, touching on social, economic, community, and even family values. When impoverished workers attempted to send their children to foster homes outside the city, the mayor of Lawrence reacted by arresting the parents and charging them with abandonment. Soon congressmen jumped into the fray, calling for an investigation into a world unknown to most middle class Americans at that time, the world of the "Immigrant City." Employing a wide range of primary sources from personal letters to court testimony, Julie Baker brings the history of this seminal strike to life. The story is both riveting and complex. Though the workers won, subsequent "Red-scares" and anti-Communism cast a long shadow over their victory. Yet, as Baker points out, the essential issues remain the same: a good life includes both bread and roses—food for the body and for the spirit, too. Part of the Morgan Reynolds series "American Workers," this would be an excellent supplement for units about American and labor history. Period illustrations, newsclippings, photographs, and political cartoons enhance the text.
School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up
The town of Lawrence, MA, was conceived as a utopian manufacturing town, where workers could have housing while a never-ending stream of cloth flowed from its mills. This dream brought waves of immigrants, and dozens of new factories. Whole families crowded into unsafe and unsanitary tenements, working long hours for slave wages. Forced by poverty and encouraged by town officials, children left school early and went to the mills. Then, in 1912, the Massachusetts legislature decreased the number of hours children could work from 56 to 54 per week. Families already on the edge anxiously requested that total wages remain the same. Owners refused to hear their pleas. A strike loomed. Once labor organizers from New York arrived, the strike gained focus and purpose. It brought national attention to the miserable conditions of the Lawrence workers and their compatriots in similar circumstances around the United States. This important book gives a clear picture of early industrial poverty. Baker's style is readable, and the well-chosen, well-reproduced photos make the subject all the more real. This title should be on the shelves of any library whose patrons study this time period, the importance of organized labor, or the plight of America's working poor. Katherine Paterson's novel Bread and Roses, Too (Clarion, 2006) is a good companion.
—Tracy H. ChrenkaCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781599350448
  • Publisher: Morgan Reynolds Pub
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Series: American Workers Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1170L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.29 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.54 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 20, 2011


    i liked this book it was very interesting it gave a lot of info about the 1912

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