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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > History of Science and Technology > Transportation History

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Tracking Modernity Cover

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Tracking Modernity

India’s Railway and the Culture of Mobility

Marian Aguiar

From Mohandas Gandhi’s nineteenth-century tour in a third-class compartment to the recent cinematic shenanigans of Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited, the railway has been one of India’s most potent emblems of modern life. In the first in-depth analysis of representations of the Indian railway, Marian Aguiar interprets modernity through the legacy of this transformative technology.

Since the colonial period in India, the railway has been idealized as a rational utopia—a moving box in which racial and class differences might be amalgamated under a civic, secular, and public order. Aguiar charts this powerful image into the postcolonial period, showing how the culture of mobility exposes this symbol of reason as surprisingly dynamic and productive. Looking in turn at the partition of India, labor relations, rituals of travel, works of literature and film, visual culture, and the Mumbai train bombings of 2006, Aguiar finds incongruities she terms “counternarratives of modernity” to signify how they work both with and against the dominant rhetoric.  Revealing railways as a microcosm of tensions within Indian culture, Aguiar demonstrates how their representations have challenged prevailing ideas of modernity.

Traqueros Cover

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Traqueros

Mexican Railroad Workers in the United States, 1870-1930

Jeffrey Marcos Garcilazo

Perhaps no other industrial technology changed the course of Mexican history in the United States—and Mexico—than did the coming of the railroads. Tens of thousands of Mexicans worked for the railroads in the United States, especially in the Southwest and Midwest. Extensive Mexican American settlements appeared throughout the lower and upper Midwest as the result of the railroad. Only agricultural work surpassed railroad work in terms of employment of Mexicans. In Traqueros, Jeffrey Marcos Garcílazo mined numerous archives and other sources to provide the first and only comprehensive history of Mexican railroad workers across the United States, with particular attention to the Midwest. He first explores the origins and process of Mexican labor recruitment and immigration and then describes the areas of work performed. He reconstructs the workers’ daily lives and explores not only what the workers did on the job but also what they did at home and how they accommodated and/or resisted Americanization. Boxcar communities, strike organizations, and “traquero culture” finally receive historical acknowledgment. Integral to his study is the importance of family settlement in shaping working class communities and consciousness throughout the Midwest.

Up In the Air Cover

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Up In the Air

How Airlines Can Improve Performance by Engaging Their Employees

by Greg J. Bamber, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Thomas A. Kochan, and Andrew Von Nordenflycht

When both an industry's workers and its customers report high and rising frustration with the way they are being treated, something is fundamentally wrong. In response to these conditions, many of the world's airlines have made ever-deeper cuts in services and their workforces. Is it too much to expect airlines, or any other enterprise, to provide a fair return to investors, high-quality reliable service to their customers, and good jobs for their employees?

Measured against these three expectations, the airline industry is failing. In the first five years of the twenty-first century alone, U.S. airlines lost a total of $30 billion while shedding 100,000 jobs, forcing the remaining workers to give up over $15 billion in wages and benefits. Combined with plummeting employee morale, shortages of air traffic controllers, and increased congestion and flight delays, a total collapse of the industry may be coming. Is this state of affairs inevitable? Or is it possible to design a more sustainable, less volatile industry that better balances the objectives of customers, investors, employees, and the wider society? Does deregulation imply total abrogation of government's responsibility to oversee an industry showing the clear signs of deterioration and increasing risk of a pending crisis?

Greg J. Bamber, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Thomas A. Kochan, and Andrew von Nordenflycht explore such questions in a well-informed and engaging way, using a mix of quantitative evidence and qualitative studies of airlines from North America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Up in the Air provides clear and realistic strategies for achieving a better, more equitable balance among the interests of customers, employees, and shareholders. Specifically, the authors recommend that firms learn from the innovations of companies like Southwest and Continental Airlines in order to build a positive workplace culture that fosters coordination and commitment to high-quality service, labor relations policies that avoid long drawn-out conflicts in negotiating new agreements, and business strategies that can sustain investor, employee, and customer support through the ups and downs of business cycles.

Walking on Air Cover

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Walking on Air

The Aerial Adventures of Phoebe Omlie

Janann Sherman

Aviation pioneer Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie (1902-1975) was once one of the most famous women in America. In the 1930s, her words and photographs were splashed across the front pages of newspapers across the nation. The press labeled her "second only to Amelia Earhart among America's women pilots," and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt named her among the "eleven women whose achievements make it safe to say that the world is progressing."

Omlie began her career in the early 1920s when aviation was unregulated and open to those daring enough to take it on, male or female. She earned the first commercial pilot's license issued to a woman and became a successful air racer. During the New Deal, she became the first woman to hold an executive position in federal aeronautics.

In Walking on Air, author Janann Sherman presents a thorough and entertaining biography of Omlie. In 1920, the Des Moines, Iowa, native bought herself a Curtiss JN-4D airplane and began learning how to fly and perform stunts with her future husband, pilot Vernon Omlie. She danced the Charleston on the top wing, hung by her teeth below the plane, and performed parachute jumps in the Phoebe Fairgrave Flying Circus.

Using interviews, contemporary newspaper articles, archived radio transcripts, and other archival materials, Sherman creates a complex portrait of a daring aviator struggling for recognition in the early days of flight and a detailed examination of how American flying changed over the twentieth century.

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We Are the Union

Democratic Unionism and Dissent at Boeing

Dana L. Cloud

Dana L. Cloud engages union reformers at Boeing in Wichita and Seattle to reveal how ordinary workers attempted to take command of their futures by chipping away at the cozy partnership between union leadership and corporate management. _x000B__x000B_Focusing on the 1995 strike at Boeing, Cloud renders a multi-layered account of the battles between the company and the union and within the union led by Unionists for Democratic Change and two other dissident groups. She gives voice to the company's claims of the hardships of competitiveness the entrenched union leaders' calls for concessions in the name of job security, alongside the democratic union reformers' fight for a rank-and-file upsurge against both the company and the union leaders._x000B__x000B_Incorporating theory and methods from the fields of organizational communication as well as labor studies, Cloud methodically uncovers and analyzes the goals, strategies, and dilemmas of the dissidents who, while wanting to uphold the ideas and ideals of the union, took up the gauntlet to make it more responsive to workers and less conciliatory toward management, especially in times of economic stress or crisis.

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The Wright Company

From Invention to Industry

By Ed Roach

Fresh from successful flights before royalty in Europe, and soon after thrilling hundreds of thousands of people by flying around the Statue of Liberty, in the fall of 1909 Wilbur and Orville Wright decided the time was right to begin manufacturing their airplanes for sale. Backed by Wall Street tycoons, including August Belmont, Cornelius Vanderbilt III, and Andrew Freedman, the brothers formed the Wright Company. The Wright Company trained hundreds of early aviators at its flight schools, including Roy Brown, the Canadian pilot credited with shooting down Manfred von Richtofen — the “Red Baron”— during the First World War; and Hap Arnold, the commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces during the Second World War. Pilots with the company’s exhibition department thrilled crowds at events from Winnipeg to Boston, Corpus Christi to Colorado Springs. Cal Rodgers flew a Wright Company airplane in pursuit of the $50,000 Hearst Aviation Prize in 1911.

But all was not well in Dayton, a city that hummed with industry, producing cash registers, railroad cars, and many other products. The brothers found it hard to transition from running their own bicycle business to being corporate executives responsible for other people’s money. Their dogged pursuit of enforcement of their 1906 patent — especially against Glenn Curtiss and his company — helped hold back the development of the U.S. aviation industry. When Orville Wright sold the company in 1915, more than three years after his brother’s death, he was a comfortable man — but his company had built only 120 airplanes at its Dayton factory and Wright Company products were not in the U.S. arsenal as war continued in Europe.

Edward Roach provides a fascinating window into the legendary Wright Company, its place in Dayton, its management struggles, and its effects on early U.S. aviation.

Young Henry Ford Cover

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Young Henry Ford

A Picture History of the First Forty Years

by Sidney Olson

Young Henry Ford is a visual and textual presentation of the first forty years of Henry Ford—an American farm boy who became one of the greatest manufacturers of modern times and profoundly impacted the habits of American life. In Young Henry Ford, Sidney Olson dispels some of the myths attached to this automobile legend, going beyond the Henry Ford of mass production and the five-dollar day, and offers a more intimate understanding of Henry Ford and the time he lived in. Through hundreds of restored photographs, including some of Ford's own taken with his first camera, Young Henry Ford revisits an America now gone—of long days on the farm, travel by horse and buggy, and one-room schoolhouses. Some of the rare illustrations include the first picture of Henry Ford, photos from Edsel's childhood, snapshots of the interior and exterior of the Ford homestead, Clara and Henry's wedding invitation, and photos of the early stages of the first automobile.

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