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Keywords: workers

Historical Items

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Item 17877

Factory Workers from Swan's Island, ca. 1900

Contributed by: Swan's Island Historical Society Date: circa 1900 Location: Swan's Island Media: Photographic print

Mystery Corner Item

Item 104171

Paper mill workers, Millinocket, 1903

Mystery Corner Item Do you know the people in this image?

Contributed by: Maine Historical Society Date: 1903 Location: Millinocket Media: Photographic print

Item 25228

Mill workers during the lunch hour on Main Street, Biddeford, 1912

Contributed by: McArthur Public Library Date: 1912 Location: Biddeford 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

History in Motion: The Era of the Electric Railways

Street railways, whether horse-drawn or electric, required the building of trestles and tracks. The new form of transportation aided industry, workers, vacationers, and other travelers.

Exhibit

The Irish on the Docks of Portland

Many of the dockworkers -- longshoremen -- in Portland were Irish or of Irish descent. The Irish language was spoken on the docks and Irish traditions followed, including that of giving nicknames to the workers, many of whose given names were similar.

Site Pages

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Site Page

Old Berwick Historical Society

View collections, facts, and contact information for this Contributing Partner.

Site Page

Strong, a Mussul Unsquit village - Bridge

Bridge Workers repair damage to suspension bridge, Strong, 1915 Item 68679 infoStrong Historical Society After a cargo truck broke through…

Site Page

Strong, a Mussul Unsquit village - Bridge

Bridge Walk bridge in place for workers after old bridge removed, Strong, ca. 1922 Item 68683 infoStrong Historical Society It was…

My Maine Stories

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Story

Appreciation sign for essential health care workers
by Henry J Gartley

A neighbor expresses their appreciation for the workers at a local nursing home.

Story

My 41 year career in Maine paper mills
by Mike Luciano

Generations of paper workers, families, immigrants, jobs in the mill, labor strikes, and changes

Story

My career working at Pepperell Mills in the Vellux Division
by David Bishop

My 35 years working in the Vellux blanket division of Pepperell Mills, Biddeford.

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.

Lesson Plan

Bicentennial Lesson Plan

Primary Sources: The Maine Shipyard

Grade Level: 9-12 Content Area: Social Studies
This lesson plan will give students a close-up look at historical operations behind Maine's famed shipbuilding and shipping industries. Students will examine primary sources including letters, bills of lading, images, and objects, and draw informed hypotheses about the evolution of the seafaring industry and its impact on Maine’s communities over time.