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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.
Posted October 20, 2011