The Eighth Annual Conference of the
Program in Early American Economy and Society
will be held Friday, October 30, 2009, from 2 to 6 p.m.
at the Library Company of Philadelphia
This conference will feature a discussion of Seth Rockman’s recently published Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore, which brings to life the enslaved mariners, white seamstresses, Irish dockhands, free black domestic servants, and native-born street sweepers who navigated the low-end labor market in booming post-Revolutionary Baltimore. In the city’s variegated workforce, race, age, family structure, and gender were crucial markers of opportunity and vulnerability in this city’s emerging capitalist economy. Scraping By also explores the material experiences of these workers, how they found work, translated labor into food, fuel, and rent, and navigated underground economies and social welfare systems. Rockman analyses what happened when the working poor failed to find work or lost their jobs, and how an urban working class emerged from these everyday struggles.
Distinguished historians Mary Ryan, Michael Zuckerman, and David Roediger will kick off this symposium with comments on the book’s contributions, to be posted by early October. Join us for these presentations, followed by Rockman’s response and audience discussion of this powerful addition to scholarship about the hidden labor of capitalist economies where the unpaid and mundane, but vital, tasks of sewing, washing, feeding, provisioning, and boarding provide the material infrastructure for rapid economic development.
For conference program, registration, hotel information please see
Cathy Matson, University of Delaware and PEAES Director
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