On Working and Labor Day 2017

September 1, 2017

Although the campus is buzzing with the excitement of football — first home game tonight — and the beginning of classes next week, we want to take this occasion to honor Labor Day (September 4, 2017) with titles on working and labor from our holdings.

Our Little Magazines collection includes issues of such titles as Workers Write: 

Issue 17 of the Little Magazine Workers Write! (Plano, Tex.: Blue Cubicle Press).
Defining the cubicle, from issue 17 of Workers Write!
Issue no. 12.
Note the plywood sign reading “Workers Write.”

From our 20th Century authors collection, a pamphlet recounting a debate between George Bernard Shaw and Mr. G.W. Foote over the 8-hour work day (London, 1891):

The legal eight hours question, a debate extending over two evenings, with verbatim report “revised and corrected by both disputants.”

and a slim work by Sinclair Lewis published by the United Textile Workers of America and Women’s Trade Union League.

With subtitle “The picture of a Southern mill town in 1929.”

The Cairns Collection of American Women Writers contains many titles about the labor of women and children — among them,

Title page of Ruth Ashmore’s guide to every phase of the business girl’s life. From the Cairns Collection.
Ruth Ashmore’s well-appointed desk and comfortable chair.
Emma Elizabeth Brown, The child toilers of Boston streets (Boston, 1878). Also from the Cairns Collection.
A street singer, one of “twelve drawings from life, by Katherine Peirson” in The child toilers (and rather at odds with the more cheerful cover).

And, for a different take on work as a concept in physics (defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “The operation of a force in producing movement or other physical change, esp. as a measurable quantity; the result of a force operating through a distance”), an illustration from the tradition of “theaters of machines”

A human powering a pump in Heinrich Zeisings Theatrum machinarum (Leipzig, 1673). We’re at a loss to explain the significance of what must be called the dog’s breakfast.

and examples of mechanical work from a 19th-century collection illustrating ideas and experiments in natural philosophy.

One of ten plates on cardboard comprising Illustrations of natural philosophy (London, 1850). From the Thordarson Collection.