Cover image for Working Americans, 1880-2006
Working Americans, 1880-2006
Derks, Scott.
Personal Author:
Physical Description:
<1-8> volumes : illustrations ; 28 cm.
This important reference work focuses on the lifestyles and economic life of working class families and looks, decade by decade, into the kind of work they did, the homes they lived in, the food and clothes they bought, the entertainment they sought as well as the society and history that shaped the world Americans worked in from 1880 to 1999. From the wealth of government surveys, social worker histories, economic data, family diaries and letters, newspaper and magazine features, this unique reference assembles a remarkably personal and realistic look at the lives of ordinary working Americans.

Each chapter of Working Americans, 1880-1999 Volume 1: The Working Class covers one decade, except the first chapter (1888-1899), and opens with an overview of important events to anchor the decade in its time frame. The working class is then explored by examining the lives of three to five working class families.
v. 1. The working class -- v. 2. The middle class -- v. 3. The upper class -- v. 4. Their children -- v. 5. Americans at war --v. 6. Women at work -- v.7 Social Movements -- v.8 Immigrants.







Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD8066 .D47 2000 V.6 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
HD8066 .D47 2000 V.2 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
HD8066 .D47 2000 V.3 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
HD8066 .D47 2000 V.4 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
HD8066 .D47 2000 V.5 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
HD8066 .D47 2000 V.7 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
HD8066 .D47 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ
HD8066 .D47 2000 V.8 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

On Order

Central Library1Received on 1/10/07



The introduction identifies this volume as the first in a multi-volume set; v.2 will cover the middle class, but after that, it's not clear what's planned. Volume 1 is a compendium focusing on the working class (which is nowhere defined). Each section deals with a decade and opens with a brief overview. Numerous reproductions of cartoons, advertisements, posters, and photographs of families, workers, and working conditions, as well as portions of magazine articles and quotations are interspersed with information about significant events of the decade and bits of social and economic information. Family profiles (74 in all) are fictional composites intended to represent the financial and social situations of families from an array of ethnic groups and occupations. The author's credentials are not identified, though he draws heavily on another of his works from the same publisher called The Value of a Dollar. Inexplicably, the volume lacks an index, making it more of a "browse" than a useful reference. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

A unique study of the American working class between 1880 and 1999, when the country was shifting from an agrarian to an industrial economy, this ingenious volume uses detailed economic and social data such as income, expenses, and home environment to create a remarkably nuanced portrait of working-class family life during this time. Proceeding decade by decade, economist Derks (who edited The Value of the Dollar) examines 72 families of many different occupations and ethnic groups. In addition to drawing on a wide range of sources"e.g., newspaper and magazine articles, social workers! histories, family diaries, and letters"he provides evidence from the quantitative analyses of government surveys and economic data to create an appreciation of ordinary working-class Americans, showing us what people ate, read, listened to, and spent on everyday items such as hats or bread. The text is enhanced by news profiles, articles from local media, and illustrations of clippings from cereal boxes, postcards, posters, etc. A detailed table of contents and list of sources is included, but traditional footnotes are not. Overall, this volume engages and informs, contributing significantly and meaningfully to the historiography of the working class in America. It nicely complements Herbert G. Gutman!s Power and Culture: Essays on the American Working Class (New Pr., 1992) and Jerome M. Clubb & others The Process of Historical Inquiry: Everyday Lives of Working Americans (Columbia Univ., 1989). A compelling and well-organized contribution for those interested in social history and the complexities of working Americans. [Future volumes in this set will cover the middle class and the upper class."Ed.]"Edward G. McCormack, Univ. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Lib., Long Beach (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Derks adds to the genre of social history known as "history from the bottom up," which examines the lives of ordinary people. Planned as a multivolume work, this first volume covers the US working class, profiling 72 families engaged in 34 occupations and representing more than two dozen ethnic groups. Geographically, the profiled families range from the east coast to Hawaii and occupationally from urban factory workers to homesteaders. The first chapter covers 1880-99, while the remaining chapters each cover a decade. Each chapter contains multiple family profiles, including income, budget, and life at home, at work, and in the community. Economic profiles include income for standard jobs, selected prices, and other indicators. Each chapter includes an introduction to the decade and historical snapshots. Sources are listed by decade at the end of the book and include government surveys, social work histories, economic data, family diaries and letters, newspaper and magazine features. The book complements two other recent reference works, American Decades, ed. by Richard Layman et al. (CH, Jun'95), and American Eras (1997- ). Recommended for all college and university library collections. P. A. Frisch; SUNY College at Old Westbury

Table of Contents

1880-1899 Introductionp. 1
1880 Family Profile: Norwegian Wheat Farmers from Iowap. 3
Life at Homep. 3
Life at Work: Farmingp. 6
Life in the Community: Winnebago County, Iowap. 8
Historical Snapshot 1880-1881p. 11
1880 Economic Profilep. 12
Income, Standard Jobsp. 12
Selected Pricesp. 12
Mail Order Shoppingp. 16
1890 Family Profile: Scots-Irish Textile Workers from Georgiap. 17
Annual Incomep. 17
Annual Budgetp. 17
Life at Homep. 17
Life at Work: Textilesp. 20
Life in the Community: Atlanta, Georgiap. 22
Historical Snapshot 1890-1891p. 24
1890 Economic Profilep. 25
Annual Food Expendituresp. 25
Amusementsp. 26
Income, Standard Jobsp. 26
Selected Pricesp. 27
1892 Family Profile: Portuguese Sweet Potato Farmers from Californiap. 31
Life at Homep. 31
Life at Work: Farmingp. 31
Life in the Community: Northern Californiap. 32
1893 News Profilep. 37
1898 Family Profile: African American Wood and Tobacco Workers from Virginiap. 39
Annual Incomep. 39
Annual Budgetp. 39
Life at Homep. 39
Life at Work: Wood Foundry and Tobacco Shedp. 43
Life in the Community: Farmville, Virginiap. 46
Historical Snapshot 1898-1899p. 50
1898 Economic Profilep. 51
Annual Food Expendituresp. 51
Income, Standard Jobsp. 51
Selected Pricesp. 51
Typical Prices Paid for Commoditiesp. 53
1900-1909 Introductionp. 55
1902 Family Profile: Irish Store Clerk from Massachusettsp. 57
Annual Woman's Incomep. 57
Annual Budgetp. 57
Life at Homep. 57
The Family Financesp. 58
Annual Family Budgetp. 58
Life at Work: Retailp. 60
Life in the Community: Boston, Massachusettsp. 63
Historical Snapshot 1902-1903p. 66
1902 Economic Profilep. 67
Income, Standard Jobsp. 67
Selected Pricesp. 67
Department Storesp. 68
1905 Family Profile: Italian Oyster Inspector from New Yorkp. 69
Annual Incomep. 69
Annual Budgetp. 69
Life at Homep. 69
Life at Work: Oyster Fishingp. 73
Life in the Community: New York Cityp. 74
Historical Snapshot 1905-1906p. 80
1905 Economic Profilep. 81
Income, Standard Jobsp. 81
Selected Pricesp. 81
1907 Family Profile: Polish Tailor from New Yorkp. 85
Annul Incomep. 85
Annual Budgetp. 85
Life at Homep. 85
Life at Work: Tailoringp. 90
Life in the Community: Buffalo, New Yorkp. 91
Historical Snapshot 1907-1908p. 92
1907 Economic Profilep. 93
Annual Food Expendituresp. 93
Weekly Food Expendituresp. 93
Income, Standard Jobsp. 96
Selected Pricesp. 96
1909 Family Profile: German Chocolate Dipper from Illinoisp. 97
Annual Incomep. 97
Annual Budgetp. 97
Life at Homep. 98
Life at Work: The Chocolate Factoryp. 98
Life in the Community: Chicago, Illinoisp. 102
Historical Snapshot 1909p. 106
1909 Economic Profilep. 107
Income, Standard Jobsp. 107
Selected Pricesp. 108
Chicago's Work Forcep. 109
1910-1919 Introductionp. 113
1910 Family Profile: Russian Steel Worker from Pennsylvaniap. 115
Annual Incomep. 115
Annual Budgetp. 115
Life at Homep. 115
Life at Work: The Steel Industryp. 118
Life in the Community: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniap. 122
Historical Snapshot 1910-1911p. 127
1910 Economic Profilep. 128
Income, Standard Jobsp. 128
Selected Pricesp. 128
1912 Family Profile: Cuban Cigar Makers from Floridap. 129
Annual Incomep. 129
Annual Budgetp. 129
Life at Homep. 130
Life at Work: The Cigar Industryp. 133
Life in the Community: Tampa and Ybor City, Floridap. 139
Historical Snapshot 1912-1913p. 141
1912 Economic Profilep. 142
Income, Standard Jobsp. 142
Selected Pricesp. 142
The Golden Age of Lithographyp. 143
1915 News Profilep. 145
Working Children Studyp. 145
Historical Snapshot 1915-1916p. 150
1919 Family Profile: Russian Textile Worker from Massachusettsp. 151
Annual Incomep. 151
Annual Budgetp. 151
Life at Homep. 151
Life at Work: Textilesp. 152
Life in the Community: Lawrence, Massachusettsp. 153
Historical Snapshot 1919-1920p. 155
1919 Economic Profilep. 157
Examples of Weekly Expendituresp. 157
Examples of Weekly Food Expendituresp. 158
Examples of Yearly Clothing Purchasesp. 158
Income, Standard Jobsp. 159
Selected Pricesp. 159
The Impact of World War Ip. 161
1920-1929 Introductionp. 167
1923 Family Profile: Welsh Printer from Oklahomap. 169
Annual Incomep. 169
Annual Budgetp. 169
Life at Homep. 170
Life at Work: Printingp. 171
Life in the Community: Tulsa, Oklahomap. 171
Historical Snapshot 1923-1924p. 175
1923 Economic Profilep. 176
Income, Standard Jobsp. 176
Selected Pricesp. 177
Working Women of Oklahomap. 178
1925 Family Profile: Textile Worker from South Carolinap. 183
Annual Incomep. 183
National Consumer Expendituresp. 183
Life at Homep. 184
Life at Work: Textilesp. 185
Life in the Community: Spartanburg, South Carolinap. 187
Historical Snapshot 1925-1926p. 193
1925 Economic Profilep. 194
Income, Standard Jobsp. 194
Selected Pricesp. 194
1926 Family Profile: School Teacher from New Yorkp. 195
Annual Incomep. 195
Annual Expendituresp. 195
Life at Homep. 195
Sample of Food Pricesp. 198
Sample of Clothing Pricesp. 198
Life in the Community: Syracuse, New Yorkp. 198
1927 Family Profile: Farmer from Virginiap. 201
Annual Incomep. 201
Annual Budgetp. 201
Life at Homep. 201
Life at Work: Farmingp. 207
Life in the Community: Culpeper County and Richmond, Virginiap. 209
Historical Snapshot 1927-1928p. 211
1927 Economic Profilep. 212
Income, Standard Jobsp. 212
Selected Pricesp. 212
The Development of the Automobilep. 213
1930-1939 Introductionp. 217
1930 Family Profile: Automobile Worker from Michiganp. 219
Annual Incomep. 219
Annual Budgetp. 219
Life at Homep. 219
Annual Food Expendituresp. 221
Life at Work: Ford Motor Companyp. 225
Life in the Community: Detroit, Michiganp. 226
Historical Snapshot 1930-1931p. 230
1930 Economic Profilep. 231
Clothing Expensesp. 231
Fuel Expensesp. 232
Furniture Expensesp. 232
Medical Expensesp. 233
School Expensesp. 233
Miscellaneousp. 233
Income, Standard Jobsp. 233
Selected Pricesp. 234
Ford Motor Companyp. 235
1931 News Profilep. 237
Building Hoover Damp. 237
1935 Family Profile: African American Pullman Porter from New Yorkp. 241
Annual Incomep. 241
Annual Budgetp. 241
Life at Homep. 241
Life at Work: The Pullman Companyp. 244
Life in the Community: Harlem, New Yorkp. 246
Historical Snapshot 1935-1936p. 249
1935 Economic Profilep. 250
Income, Standard Jobsp. 250
Selected Pricesp. 250
The Sharecropper Systemp. 251
Roosevelt's Depression Policiesp. 252
1936 News Profilep. 253
The Migratory-Casual Workerp. 253
1937 Family Profile: Welder from Tennesseep. 257
Annual Incomep. 257
Annual Budgetp. 257
Life at Homep. 258
Life at Work: The TVAp. 260
Life in the Community: Norris, Tennesseep. 261
Historical Snapshot 1937-1938p. 265
1937 Economic Profilep. 266
Income, Standard Jobsp. 266
Selected Pricesp. 267
The Creation of the TVAp. 267
1940-1949 Introductionp. 271
1942 Family Profile: Grocery Store Owners from Texasp. 273
Annual Incomep. 273
Annual Expendituresp. 273
Life at Homep. 274
Life at Work: The Grocery Storep. 275
Life in the Community: Wichita Falls, Texasp. 277
Historical Snapshot 1942-1943p. 278
1942 Economic Profilep. 279
Furnishingsp. 279
Annual Clothing Purchasesp. 279
Income, Standard Jobsp. 280
Selected Pricesp. 281
A Nation at Warp. 282
1942 News Profilep. 284
1943 Family Profile: Filipino Maintenance Worker from Hawaiip. 287
Annual Incomep. 287
Annual Budgetp. 287
Life at Homep. 287
Life at Work: Military Supportp. 291
Life in the Community: Honolulu, Hawaiip. 292
Historical Snapshot 1943-1944p. 296
1943 Economic Profilep. 297
Examples of Annual Clothing Purchasesp. 297
Income, Standard Jobsp. 297
Selected Pricesp. 297
Wartime Eventsp. 298
1945 Family Profile: Army Sergeant from North Carolinap. 301
Annual Incomep. 301
National Consumer Expendituresp. 301
Life at Homep. 302
Life at Work: Militaryp. 304
Life in the Community: Kirtland Field, Albuquerque, New Mexicop. 304
Historical Snapshot 1945p. 307
1945 Economic Profilep. 308
Income, Standard Jobsp. 308
Selected Pricesp. 309
The Warp. 310
1947 News Profilep. 315
1950-1959 Introductionp. 319
1950 Family Profile: Telephone Lineman from Missourip. 321
Annual Incomep. 321
Annual Budgetp. 321
Life at Homep. 323
Life at Work: The Telephone Companyp. 326
Life in the Community: St. Louis, Missourip. 327
Historical Snapshot 1950-1951p. 331
1950 Economic Profilep. 332
Income, Standard Jobsp. 332
Selected Pricesp. 333
The Telephone and Telephone Industryp. 333
Post-War Americap. 336
1952 News Profilep. 343
1954 Family Profile: Jewish Clothier from Mainep. 345
Annual Incomep. 345
Annual Budgetp. 345
Life at Homep. 346
Life at Work: Retailp. 347
Life in the Community: Bangor, Mainep. 349
Historical Snapshot 1954-1955p. 353
1954 Economic Profilep. 354
Income, Standard Jobsp. 354
Selected Pricesp. 354
The Jews in Americap. 356
1957 Family Profile: Carpenter from Minnesotap. 359
Annual Incomep. 359
Annual Budgetp. 359
Life at Homep. 360
Life at Work: Carpentryp. 362
Life in the Community: Minneapolis, Minnesotap. 364
Historical Snapshot 1957-1958p. 366
1957 Economic Profilep. 367
Income, Standard Jobsp. 367
Selected Pricesp. 367
A Changing Societyp. 368
1960-1969 Introductionp. 375
1961 Family Profile: Japanese Plumbing Salesman from Hawaiip. 377
Annual Incomep. 377
Annual Budgetp. 377
Life at Homep. 377
Life at Work: Plumbing Retailp. 378
Life in the Community: Honolulu, Hawaiip. 380
Historical Snapshot 1961-1962p. 384
1961 Economic Profilep. 385
Income, Standard Jobsp. 385
Selected Pricesp. 385
Establishing Statehoodp. 388
1966 Family Profile: Longshoreman from Oregonp. 395
Annual Incomep. 395
Annual Budgetp. 395
Life at Homep. 397
Life at Work: The Docksp. 400
Life in the Community: Portland, Oregonp. 402
Historical Snapshot 1966-1967p. 405
1966 Economic Profilep. 406
Income, Standard Jobsp. 406
Selected Pricesp. 407
Emerging Consumer Americap. 407
1968 Family Profile: African American Electrical Worker from Tennesseep. 411
Annual Incomep. 411
Annual Budgetp. 411
Life at Homep. 413
Life at Work: The Manufacturing Plantp. 413
Life in the Community: Memphis, Tennesseep. 414
Historical Snapshot 1968-1969p. 418
1968 Economic Profilep. 419
Income, Standard Jobsp. 419
Selected Pricesp. 419
Civil Rights in Memphisp. 420
1969 News Profilep. 423
1970-1979 Introductionp. 427
1971 News Profilep. 429
1972 Family Profile: Ambulance Driver from Illinoisp. 431
Annual Incomep. 431
Annual Budgetp. 431
Life at Homep. 433
Life at Work: Ambulance Drivingp. 435
Life in the Community: Chicago, Illinoisp. 436
Historical Snapshot 1972-1973p. 439
1972 Economic Profilep. 440
Income, Standard Jobsp. 440
Selected Pricesp. 440
The Vietnam War and the 1972 Presidential Electionp. 443
1974 Family Profile: Truck Driver from Louisianap. 449
Annual Incomep. 449
Annual Budgetp. 449
Life at Homep. 449
Selected Weekly Food Expendituresp. 451
Life at Work: Truckingp. 451
Life in the Community: New Orleans, Louisianap. 456
Historical Snapshot 1974-1975p. 457
1974 Economic Profilep. 458
Income, Standard Jobsp. 458
Selected Pricesp. 458
Trucking in Americap. 459
1976 Family Profile: Korean Fruit Stand Owners from New Yorkp. 465
Annual Incomep. 465
Annual Budgetp. 465
Life at Homep. 466
Life at Work: The Fruit Standp. 469
Life in the Community: New York Cityp. 469
Historical Snapshot 1976-1977p. 471
1976 Economic Profilep. 472
Income, Standard Jobsp. 472
Selected Pricesp. 472
The Korean Migrationp. 474
1976 News Profilep. 479
1980-1989 Introductionp. 483
1981 Family Profile: Mexican Furniture Factory Worker from Californiap. 485
Annual Incomep. 485
Annual Budgetp. 485
Life at Homep. 486
Life at Work: The Furniture Industryp. 487
Life in the Community: Los Angeles, Californiap. 488
Historical Snapshot 1981-1982p. 491
1981 Economic Profilep. 492
Income, Standard Jobsp. 492
Selected Pricesp. 494
Immigration in Californiap. 495
1985 News Profilep. 499
1986 Family Profile: Meatpacker from Minnesotap. 503
Annual Incomep. 503
Annual Budgetp. 503
Life at Homep. 504
Life at Work: The Hormel Companyp. 505
Life in the Community: Austin, Minnesotap. 505
Historical Snapshot 1986-1987p. 507
1986 Economic Profilep. 508
Income, Standard Jobsp. 508
Selected Pricesp. 508
Labor Relations at Hormelp. 510
1987 News Profilep. 515
1990-1999 Introductionp. 519
1994 News Profilep. 521
1995 Family Profile: School Teacher from New Yorkp. 523
Annual Incomep. 523
Annual Budgetp. 523
Life at Homep. 523
Life at Work: Educationp. 525
Life in the Community: New York Cityp. 528
Historical Snapshot 1995-1996p. 529
1995 Economic Profilep. 530
Income, Standard Jobsp. 530
Selected Pricesp. 530
Economics and Educationp. 534
1998 Family Profile: Former Printer from South Carolinap. 539
Annual Incomep. 539
Annual Budgetp. 539
Life at Homep. 539
Life at Work: Printing and the Boy's Homep. 541
Life in the Community: Rock Hill, South Carolinap. 542
Historical Snapshot 1998p. 545
1998 Economic Profilep. 546
Selected Pricesp. 546
The Price of Livingp. 546
1999 News Profilep. 551
Sourcesp. 553