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Learning Page Chat, September 16, 2004:

Labor in America

LeniD joined the room.
BjB: |** ANNOUNCEMENT: the Library of Congress Learning Chat is starting in the ASO. The topic is Labor in America. To participate click on the ONLINE tab to the left of the chat window, single click on LeniD and then click on the door icon at the bottom of the frame. **|

JeffC didn't know there *was* labor in America... thought it was all outsourced to Mexico, India and the rest of Asia.
MichaelH: now, Jeff, don't tell me that, I have a child majoring in "new media" :)
LeniD: Aha! You stole my fire, Jeff :-) That was my first question...
LeniD: What are the “hot” topics about “labor” in the U.S. today?
MichaelH agrees with Jeff's point about outsourcing
JeffC: That I'm unemployed but don't count as a statistic.
LeniD: So what are today's hot topics?
MaryanneC: Unemployment is definitely a big issue
LeniD: Outsourcing is certainly one!
MaryanneC: Though I am employed
MichaelH: high cost of employee benefits, such as health insurance
LeniD: ah, yes.
JeffC: In fact... lost benefits because Oregon had a neat trick on how even though they have the highest rate in the country, their "unemployment statistic" dipped below a magical number, and "voila!" ... no need to pay unemployment benefits.
LeniD: Ouch!
MaryanneC: Oh my
JeffC: Yup... we're losing our health care in two weeks because our co-pay went from 200 to over 500.
MaryanneC: WOW

LeniD: How about the job market itself?
LeniD: We are outsourcing many jobs, but many jobs are just disappearing, as well.
LeniD: Computerized solutions are replacing many middle level service jobs.
MaryanneC: What jobs are being outsourced and then I think we have to rethink the US job market
LeniD: Outsourcing, loss of health benefits, computer solutions...
MichaelH: how about the fact that a lot of jobs created in the Bush economy have been low paying jobs?
DavidWe: And more people are living under the Poverty line
MaryanneC: entry level positions
DavidWe . o O ( at McDonald's )
LeniD: There are "specialized jobs" requiring higher education and advanced training...
JeffC: That's me
LeniD: but many of the service jobs that still exist are at the McDonald's level, as David so wisely points out :-(
LeniD: Do you think many of these concerns were problems in centuries past?
MichaelH: Yes, I do...
LeniD: Tell us more, Michael.
MichaelH: the problem then was a surplus of labor, even skilled
MichaelH: workers who "rocked the boat", or who unionized could easily be replaced by immigrant labor
LeniD: Flooded job markets are difficult in any century.
MichaelH: I'm not saying anything is wrong with a union... but back then there was no "Wagner Act"
DavidWe: hasn't this always been a tension in American history - we started importing laborers for building railroads, yes?
LeniD: Yes!
DavidWe . o O ( indentured servitude during the early 1800s )
MichaelH gets off his US History soapbox
MichaelH: David, of course, let's add slavery to the mix here
DavidWe puts the soapbox up higher for Michael

LeniD: “There is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.”
~Booker T. Washington (1895)
DavidWe agrees 101%
JeffC: Right... he was a poet...
LeniD: Do our students believe this today?
DavidWe: And it is easier to eat farm produce than printed pages
LeniD: Do we?
DavidWe . o O ( although the roughage is probably similar )
LeniD: I can’t help but laugh...though that’s not really very funny :->
DavidWe nods solemnly to Leni

LeniD: “By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss and work twelve hours a day.” ~ Robert Frost (1874-1963)
LeniD: Is this true today?
MichaelH: I think that quote is absolutely true
LeniD: I do, too :->
LeniD: What do we want our students to know about work, and the work force?
LeniD: What do we want them to understand about the work force in America’s past… and why?

LeniD: OK...buckle up... Let’s take a look at the Library of Congress resources you can use to teach about labor. I have a LOT to show...

LeniD: If you want to build background information here are some excellent resources!
LeniD: films showing people at work during the late 1890s and early 1900s....
America at Work

DavidWe: IS this a new page, Leni?
LeniD: Not really new, David.

LeniD: from the Learning Page American Memory Timeline...
Rise of Industrial America (1876-1900)

DavidWe understands that the LOC has a FEW resources that he hasn't seen
LeniD: I suspect David is right!

LeniD: from the American Women collections...
Industry and Labor Union Journals

LeniD: from the Buckaroos in Paradise collection...
Buckaroo: Views of a Western Way of Life
DavidWe: Who are the Buckaroos?
LeniD: (I LOVE that one) Ranch workers :-)
DavidWe: Cool!

LeniD: from the Prints and Photographs division...
Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photographs
DavidWe: Oh, STOP!@
DavidWe covers his mouth
LeniD: Yes, David??? :-)
DavidWe: You know that I have two versions of that picture on my computer, Leni?
DavidWe: I grew up staring at that picture...
LeniD: NO! Migrant Mother? I have a version of it on the wall at home myself.

LeniD: more from Prints and Photographs...
Rosie Pictures: Select Images Relating to American Women Workers During World War II

LeniD: and don’t miss the web cast from Journeys and Crossings...
Rosie the Riveter: Real Women Workers in WWI
DavidWe thinks Leni knows WAY TOO MUCH about the LOC
LeniD: David may be right!

LeniD: from the Working in Paterson collection...
Five Fieldworkers’ Impressions
DavidWe likes posters of Rosie the Riveter*
LeniD: It's a favorite of many...though I still prefer Migrant Mother :->

LeniD: from Prints and Photographs...
National Child Labor Committee collection
Bringing an NCLC Photo into Focus

LeniD: If you are looking for some “ready made” lesson plans from the Learning Page...
for grades 6-12...

LeniD: Who Really Built America?
DavidWe: Neat topic, Leni
LeniD: it's a good lesson, David.
LeniD: Child Labor in America
DavidWe . o O ( even better )

LeniD: for the middle school or high school classroom...
LeniD: United We Stand
LeniD: Brother, Can you Spare a Dime?
DavidWe can't copy all of these websites down LONG HAND
LeniD: nope...that's the beauty of clickable links and transcripts!
DavidWe nods
JayR: bless transcripts
LeniD: Figuring Somepin 'Bout the Great Depression
LeniD: yes indeed, Jay!

LeniD: Here are some resources that will be of special interest to your students.
LeniD: from Exhibitions....
LeniD: Child Labor
LeniD: Women’s Work
LeniD: It's mighty quiet out there...are you overwhelmed, in awe, or???
JayR: Very useful
LeniD: Thanks, Jay :-)
JayR nods yes

LeniD: from Today in History...

LeniD: Congress approved the WPA
MichaelH thinks it is awe :)
LeniD: I hope so, Michael :-)
JayR: lots of awe
DavidWe knows something about the FSA - Farm Security Administration - he gets his reference materials
MichaelH it has been for a LONG time, Leni :)
LeniD: Good to hear...thanks :-)

LeniD: The National Labor Union called on Congress to mandate an eight-hour workday
LeniD: The United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC) was formed
LeniD: And from the Wise Guide...
Labor and Luck
JayR: Great stuff
DavidWe smiles
LeniD: And there I will stop!

LeniD: These resources and many more can be found in the Labor in America Community Center on the Learning Page...

LeniD: Now...questions? Comments? And I believe David has a tale to tell!
JayR: Materials like these make me wish I were still in the classroom!
MichaelH: Jay, we still can enjoy sharing them with others, though :)
LeniD: Aha! We missed introductions, tonight. What are you doing these days, Jay?
JayR: Oh yes
JayR: I work with Kentucky Department of Education
LeniD: Definitely, Michael...but it does make one wish they had students to work with.
JayR: I was late
LeniD: thanks, can share widely! Please do so.
DavidWe waves to Jay in Kentucky
LeniD: David...what's your labor story?
DavidWe gets himself organized
JayR: The archives and LOC have such incredible materials
DavidWe pauses
LeniD: They do, Jay...and we love to share them.
LeniD: Now...sitting on the edge of my chair waiting to hear this story!

DavidWe: I'm holding (well, it is next to my hands as I type) the copy of the Migrant Mother photo that my father got from the LOC probably in the early 60s
DavidWe: It's about 7 x 9 inches in dimension
DavidWe: I've looked at this photograph on a bookshelf growing up my whole life...
DavidWe: So, Dorothea Lange born in Hoboken, NJ - about 10 miles form where I am right now. She took the photograph in the Central Valley of California in a place called Nipomo - it was taken at a "pea picker camp" because that is what the sign on the road said that attracted her attention
LeniD: Talk about personalizing history!
DavidWe warns that this is a bit of a long story and doesn't mind interruptions nor people who need to leave
DavidWe wishes he could type faster...
LeniD: We're hanging on every word.
DavidWe: So, part of the story goes that she was doing a lot of photography for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and was driving back home to Berkeley, CA to her home
DavidWe: It was 1935 or 1936, I believe…
She had passed this "pea picker camp" the year before...
She saw the sign for the 2nd time and she was tired and had lots of photographs already....So, she drove on 20 miles and then...
DavidWe: She turned around
Went back …
And found this woman with her children....
DavidWe: She took 5 or 6 photographs total (there's more to the story) but the one that we know as "Migrant Mother" was THE ONE.
DavidWe: What made her turn around and go back?
DavidWe doesn't know
DavidWe believes that Dorothea Lange is a talented photographer
DavidWe: That's one part of the story...but a pretty good one.
LeniD: Agreed! Excellent story! Thanks, David.
DavidWe wonders what to do next
DavidWe nods
DavidWe: Thanks, Leni
LeniD: Take a bow, of course!
MichaelH applauds
LeniD: Much applause....
DavidWe bows very humbly and appreciates the listeners for listening
DavidWe grins
DavidWe blushes
LeniD: but seriously, it IS those personalized stories that make history come alive for our students.
MichaelH: yes, it is
DavidWe: Well, did for me...
LeniD: We have the "stuff" at the Library, but teachers must make it live and breathe...
LeniD: it’s just easier when there is such good "stuff" to work from.
DavidWe nods and agrees wholeheartedly
JayR: Can't beat the documents
LeniD: Nope...they are an excellent place to start, Jay.

LeniD: Please join us ext month - same time, same place – to discuss Elections!
DavidWe congratulates Leni on a fantastic session
LeniD: Night all...thanks for joining in tonight.
LeniD left the room.

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Last updated 09/21/2004