Working in America

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When the first colonists arrived in what would become the United States, they confronted the reality that in order to survive, they would have to tame the land and make it work for them. In addition to these early settlers were those brought to North America against their will-enslaved Africans who were forced to toil in intolerable conditions. From these beginnings developed the fabled Puritan work ethic that has become the standard for Americans in the workplace-a standard that has both proponents and opponents. The agrarian economy of the early United States was eventually transformed by the Industrial Revolution. Amid the new reality of mass-production, workers organized-demanding better wages, safer working environments, and an end to child labor. The unique challenges that African-American and female employees faced spawned separate movements that are still relevant in a less-than-equal workplace. The future direction of working in America is complicated, as technological innovation and globalization drastically transform both working conditions and the composition of the American workforce.

Each chapter in Working in America, a volume in Facts On File's new American Experience series, begins with an essay that chronicles the experience of workers in the United States. A chronology of events follows this essay. Each chapter closes with a section of excerpts-from such sources as speeches, journals, correspondence, and book passages. Included in this book are the words of Thomas Jefferson, Malcolm X, Samuel Gompers, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Jesse Jackson, Cesar Chavez, Jane Addams, and countless others. An appendix of documents includes such primary source materials as theLand Ordinance of 1785, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Also included are capsule biographies of 141 key figures, maps, graphs and tables, a glossary, notes, a bibliography, and an index. More than 100 black-and-white images illustrate the story of the workers whose contributions have helped shape the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

According to WorldCat, Reef has edited some 40 books ranging from biography to American history to physical fitness. While the "American Experience" series is touted by Facts On File as new and focusing on social and economic themes throughout U.S. history, both of the volumes reviewed here are strikingly similar to entries in the publisher's longstanding "Eyewitness History" series, which is designed to highlight important periods and events in U.S. history. Indeed, Reef's previous Working in America: An Eyewitness History(2000) contains exactly the same chapters as Working in America: The American Experience, titles and all. This is not to say that useful updates are not apparent in the latter title. Workingsports a new "Graphs and Tables Appendix" and, where appropriate, new information has been included. For example, the years 1917-99 are surveyed in the "Eyewitness" edition in the chapter titled "The Labor Movement in Growth and Decline," and coverage is extended through 2006 in the "Experience" volume. This is the case with three other chapters, too. Somewhat oddly, the "Experience" volume ceases coverage of "The Cowboy" at 1886, but in the "Eyewitness" chapter, coverage spans 1840-1904. On the other hand, there is no earlier exact equivalent of Poverty in America, which appears to be a conglomeration of many other titles that Reef has produced for the publisher. Both volumes are arranged in the familiar and accessible Facts On File format. Every essay concludes with a mass of relevant, context-laden quotations culled from a variety of sources. The indexes are thorough, the biographical blurbs useful.
—Katherine Mossman

Comprises a narrative history of major trends in the American working experience from colonial times to the present, supplemented by hundreds of first-hand accounts by farmers, craftspeople, slaves, labor and government leaders, writers, and others. Also includes chronologies of major events in each chapter and appendices listing important documents, a biography of significant figures, and a few b&w maps. Abundant, often moving b&w photographs. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816040223
  • Publisher: Facts on File, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Eyewitness History Series
  • Pages: 448
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.84 (w) x 11.24 (h) x 1.45 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction     xiii
The Yeoman Farmer: 1783-1900     1
The Role of Enslaved Workers: 1619-1865     26
The Factory System Emerges: 1733-1865     49
Building a Transportation Network: 1794-1900     71
The Mining Frontier: 1719-1900     94
Industry in the Gilded Age: 1870-1914     119
Labor Organizes: 1788-1918     143
The Cowboy: 1840-1904     175
The Movement to End Child Labor: 1870-1924     196
The Great Depression: 1929-1941     219
The Labor Movement in Growth and Decline: 1917-2006     248
African Americans Seek Equality in the Workplace: 1865-2006     276
The Changing Role of Women: 1776-2006     307
The American Worker Faces the Future: 1946-2006     336
Documents     351
Biographies of Major Personalities     382
Maps     415
Graphs and Tables     421
Glossary     441
Notes     445
Bibliography     449
Index     467
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