Making a Living
Work and Environment in the United States
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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As is always the case with a book, I could not have written this one but for thesupport, assistance, patience, and good humor of many di√erent people. Inow have been privileged to work with Sian Hunter at the University ofNorth Carolina Press on two separate projects. This time around, like before,she helped me broaden the scope of my research and deepen my interpreta-...
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...‘‘When one speaks of increasing power, machinery, and industry,’’ HenryFord wrote in 1922, ‘‘there comes up a picture of a cold, metallic sort of worldin which great factories will drive away the trees, the flowers, the birds, andthe green fields.’’ This was how he began an early memoir, on the defensive,and the rest of the book was an answer to both skeptics and critics. The bleak...
1. I Think Less of the Factory Than of My Native Dell: Labor, Nature, and the Lowell Mill Girls
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In 1840, as part of a defense of factory life in Lowell, Massachusetts, textileoperative Sarah Bagley pointed out that ‘‘mill girls’’ were not really ‘‘so farfrom God and nature, as many persons might suppose.’’ They managed tomaintain their relationship with nature, and nature’s God, by cultivatingroses, lilies, geraniums, and other plants in pots on the mill’s window sills,...
2. Living by Themselves: Slaves’ and Freedmen’s Hunting, Fishing, and Gardening in the Mississippi Delta
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The story of Yankee mill girls’ venture from New England farms to urbanfactories demonstrates the importance of both place and work in shapingpeople’s relationship with the natural world. Yet theirs is not the only story.Examining other regions and sectors of the American economy in the sameperiod or at di√erent times complicates the historical narrative. Former slaves...
3. Men Alone Cannot Settle a Country: Domesticating Nature in the Kansas-Nebraska Grasslands
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As the stories of the Lowell mill girls and Delta slaves and freedpeople makeclear, there were both similarities and di√erences in the ways changes in worka√ected how various groups of people thought about and used the environ-ment around them. Gender mattered to both the Yankee white women andthe southern black men, but race was perhaps a more significant factor for the...
4. Degrees of Separation: Nature and the Shift from Farmer to Miner to Factory Hand in Southern West Virginia
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As was the case with many homesteading women and their male counter-parts, and even more so with the children of homesteading families, theprocess of moving to the grasslands to make a farm was sometimes just a stepon the road to a town or city. Family fortunes declined, forcing the abandon-ment of a quarter section and a search for new means to make a living, and...
5. A Decent, Wholesome Living Environment for Everyone: Michigan Autoworkers and the Origins of Modern Environmentalism
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Part of the power of Harriet Arnow Simpson’s portrayal of the fictional Nevelfamily was its pointed accuracy. Like the family in The Dollmaker, many earlytwentieth-century autoworkers were migrants from rural areas, and theyfound a considerable amount of heartache and trouble when they made theirjourney to a city. Yet the move was not without at least a few good ends....
6. A Landscape Foreign and Physically Threatening: Southern California Farmworkers, Pesticides, and Environmental Justice
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Although cooperation between organized labor and mainstream environmen-tal groups was faltering by the late 1970s and early 1980s, those same years alsowitnessed events that set the stage for formation of an ‘‘environmental justice’’movement. Starting in 1978, Lois Gibbs rallied her neighbors in a Bu√alosuburb after they linked pervasive, chronic illness in the area to toxic chemicals...
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In its most basic form work is the transformation of nature. To produce bothfood and shelter, as well as countless other goods and amenities as needs andwants evolve over time, human beings must change parts of the natural worldaround them. This continuous use of the physical and organic environment,and the remaking of self and communities that it necessarily entails, is the core...
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Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2008