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Keywords: Labor History

Historical Items

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Item 36613

Masons and stone cutters banner, Portland, 1841

Contributed by: Maine Historical Society Date: 1841 Location: Portland Media: Oil on linen

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Item 102549

"For Every Fighter A Woman Worker" Y.W.C.A. World War I poster, 1918

Contributed by: Maine Historical Society Date: 1918 Media: Ink on paper

Item 5626

Strike at St. Regis Paper, Bucksport, 1979

Contributed by: Maine Historical Society Date: 1979 Location: Bucksport Media: Photographic print

Exhibits

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Exhibit

Laboring in Maine

Workers in Maine have labored in factories, on farms, in the woods, on the water, among other locales. Many of Maine's occupations have been determined by the state's climate and geographical features.

Exhibit

Making Paper, Making Maine

Paper has shaped Maine's economy, molded individual and community identities, and impacted the environment throughout Maine. When Hugh Chisholm opened the Otis Falls Pulp Company in Jay in 1888, the mill was one of the most modern paper-making facilities in the country, and was connected to national and global markets. For the next century, Maine was an international leader in the manufacture of pulp and paper.

Exhibit

A Celebration of Skilled Artisans

The Maine Charitable Mechanic Association, an organization formed to promote and support skilled craftsmen, celebrated civic pride and members' trades with a parade through Portland on Oct. 8, 1841 at which they displayed 17 painted linen banners with graphic and textual representations of the artisans' skills.

Site Pages

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Site Page

Lubec, Maine - Canning Sardines in Lubec: Technology, the Syndicate and Labor

… and managers, and two, as part of the history of labor. From the first perspective: At first, the Lubec Sardine Co. was a mystery to people in town.

Site Page

Lubec, Maine - Lubec History

… to difficulties which no other part of the State labors under; on the one hand harassed by the British and commanded to bear a part in the…

Site Page

Lubec, Maine - Exhibits

… Sardines in Lubec: Technology, the Syndicate and Labor McCurdy Herring Smokehouse The Lighthouse at West Quoddy Head Susie Calder: Lubec's Sardine…

My Maine Stories

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Story

My paper making history
by Rick Simoneau

The history of my grandfather, father, and I working in the mills instilled a sense of community

Story

My Paper Industry career and setting up a museum
by Sherry Judd

I worked in and around the Paper Industry all my life. Now I run Maine's Paper and Heritage Museum.

Lesson Plans

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Lesson Plan

Longfellow Studies: Longfellow's "The Village Blacksmith" and "Whitman's Song of Myself" - Alternative Constructions of the American Worker

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: English Language Arts, Social Studies
Most if not all of us have or will need to work in the American marketplace for at least six decades of our lives. There's a saying that I remember a superintendent telling a group of graduating high-school seniors: remember, when you are on your deathbed, you will not be saying that you wish you had spent more time "at the office." But Americans do spend a lot more time working each year than nearly any other people on the planet. By the end of our careers, many of us will have spent more time with our co-workers than with our families. Already in the 21st century, much has been written about the "Wal-Martization" of the American workplace, about how, despite rocketing profits, corporations such as Wal-Mart overwork and underpay their employees, how workers' wages have remained stagnant since the 1970s, while the costs of college education and health insurance have risen out of reach for many citizens. It's become a cliché to say that the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" is widening to an alarming degree. In his book Wealth and Democracy, Kevin Phillips says we are dangerously close to becoming a plutocracy in which one dollar equals one vote. Such clashes between employers and employees, and between our rhetoric of equality of opportunity and the reality of our working lives, are not new in America. With the onset of the industrial revolution in the first half of the nineteenth century, many workers were displaced from their traditional means of employment, as the country shifted from a farm-based, agrarian economy toward an urban, manufacturing-centered one. In cities such as New York, groups of "workingmen" (early manifestations of unions) protested, sometimes violently, unsatisfactory labor conditions. Labor unions remain a controversial political presence in America today. Longfellow and Whitman both wrote with sympathy about the American worker, although their respective portraits are strikingly different, and worth juxtaposing. Longfellow's poem "The Village Blacksmith" is one of his most famous and beloved visions: in this poem, one blacksmith epitomizes characteristics and values which many of Longfellow's readers, then and now, revere as "American" traits. Whitman's canto (a section of a long poem) 15 from "Song of Myself," however, presents many different "identities" of the American worker, representing the entire social spectrum, from the crew of a fish smack to the president (I must add that Whitman's entire "Song of Myself" is actually 52 cantos in length). I do not pretend to offer these single texts as all-encompassing of the respective poets' ideas about workers, but these poems offer a starting place for comparison and contrast. We know that Longfellow was the most popular American poet of the nineteenth century, just as we know that Whitman came to be one of the most controversial. Read more widely in the work of both poets and decide for yourselves which poet speaks to you more meaningfully and why.