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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Occupational Shifts of Women in the Workforce by Race, 1910-1960

Between 1910 and 1960, the number of women working for wages in the United States grew from just over 8 million to over 23.2 million, rising from 21 percent to 32 percent of the workforce. The types of jobs that women of different races did also [...]

Table of Statistics on Women in the World War II Era Workforce

Before World War II (1941-1945), when women worked outside the home it was usually in jobs traditionally considered to be “women’s work.” These included teaching, domestic service, clerical work, nursing, and library science. [...]

Workers Ask for the Continuation of the W.P.A. (with text supports)

In this letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Works Progress Administration workers in Michigan ask him to continue the program, claiming that it makes them feel more American. This version includes tax supports.

The Jungle (Excerpt)

Upton Sinclair's novel about immigrant workers in Chicago's meatpacking plants shocked readers when it was first published in 1906. Sinclair hoped the novel would awaken Americans to the evils of capitalism; the main character Jurgis ends the novel [...]

"Goddess of Liberty, Answer"

This poem refers to the Statue of Liberty, and appears to be a response to Emma Lazarus's poem "The New Colossus." The location mentioned by the author, "Sandy Hook," is on the coast of New Jersey, and signifies the border of the U.S. beyond which [...]

"Living"

John Boyle O'Reilly was an Irish-born poet and novelist who escaped to America from Western Australia, where he had been imprisoned for being a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, or Fenians. One of his later poems, "Living" (1881) connotes [...]

"I Am the Little Irish Boy"

Henry David Thoreau is one of America's best-loved poets and authors, known especially for his work Walden, with its meditations on nature. In this 1850 poem, Thoreau turns his attentive eye to a "little Irish boy," destined for a life of manual [...]

A California Businessman Contracts for Chinese Immigrant Labor

This labor contract between a Chinese worker, "Affon," and California businessman Jacob P. Leese, was made in Hong Kong on July 28, 1849, and witnessed by A. Shue, C. H. Brinley, and Henry Anthon, Jr., acting U.S. Vice Consul in Hong Kong. The [...]

Discharge Record from the CCC

While the original goal of the CCC was to put unemployed youths to work on natural resource projects, training and vocation in other areas eventually became an important function of the camps.

A Steelworker Strikes for "Eight Hours a Day and Better Conditions"

The steel strike of 1919 saw some 350,000 workers walk off the job, temporarily bringing the steel industry to a halt. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor investigated, interviewing striking steelworkers such as Slavic immigrant Andrew [...]

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