Friday, August 26, 2016

The Working Women of Unit 12

Almost certainly taken during World War 2 when women began working in machine shops like this one.  Too, the hairdos and clothing look 1940s.

When I was in college, one of my history professors used to talk about CK, common knowledge that everyone thought was true but, in fact, was not true.  One bit of CK was that women didn't enter the work force in great numbers until World War 2 created labor shortages.  Actually women of a certain economic class and above stayed home and learned to be good wives and mothers. Women below that class worked just like the men.  They didn't  work in mining or a heavy industry like ship building or steel, but they worked in textile plants, canning, and a whole host of other factory jobs.  Women were also farm laborers and servants.

One of the worst industrial disasters in American history was the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  On March 25, 1911, a fire started on the factory floor, probably caused by a discarded cigarette.  On an upper floor of a New York high rise, with only one working elevator at the end of a long narrow hallway, with only two doors, one locked to prevent theft, and the other opening inward, 146 workers, almost all young immigrant women, burned to death.

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