Co-Sponsored by the History Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northern Illinois University, and the Labor and Working Class History Association
Friday, November 11, 2005, 3:00-5:00pm
The Newberry Library
"How I Suffered": Industrial Violence and the Remaking of Working-Class Childhood, 1880-1930
Jim Schmidt, Northern Illinois University
Commentators: Susan Pearson, Northwestern University and Eric Arnesen, University of Illinois at Chicago
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, workplace deaths and injuries reshaped the lives of working people. Drawing on the legal records those accidents produced, this paper examines how industrial violence transformed one group of workers: the young. Focused on the industrializing South, it explores how young workers and their families experienced death, injury, and recovery, how they explained these events to themselves, and how they sought to prevent industrial violence by "bargaining for safety" with their employers. By seeking a place for children and youth in industrial life, working people opened troubling questions about the nature of industrial authority itself. Rejecting the notion that "child labor" is a fixed construct, the paper calls for historians to reconstruct the story of young workers on their own terms.
All papers are pre-circulated. For a copy of the paper, e-mail Ginger Shulick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 312.255.3524.
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