Digital Life

Digital security is always something I have been hyper aware of. As a small business owner in an industry where oversharing is the norm I was wary of posting too much. So many of my counterparts would share everything about themselves including their families, homes, vacations, etc. Because of these posts it was easy to glean sensitive information like birthdays, addresses and when they were away from home; this put them at risk and at least one was robbed while on a business trip because someone was able to connect the pieces she had put out there.

I still had to share some information but in order to protect myself I decided to remove as much of myself from social media as possible. I do not have Facebook and my neglected, private Instagram account has mostly photos related to my business or my knitting hobby since I used it to connect with my knitter friends. Because my account is private, I control who can view it and because of that only people I know can see my posts. I did have a personal “about me” page on my very public website that had a photo of my family but even that made me uncomfortable.

In an era where people want to share everything it can be hard to be an outlier. I very much want to share photos of my family but I also want my child to grow up without their every move being documented for the world to see. I also do not want strangers being able to track me down based on information that I carelessly shared on public platforms. Now that my business is closed I am much more anonymous on the internet which I prefer. However, because I used my old business URL for this project, people can see that I am a student at Mason and if you Google my name this is one of the first hits (hi, friends!) I’ve had a few emails this semester asking about the change to my website which clearly is no longer used to document photography sessions or host a business website.

If someone really wanted to know about me though I am sure they could find out more than what I am aware of. I care about government surveillance but solely for the fact that I know minority groups are being targeted. In another class this semester we read a report about targeted surveillance of Muslim Americans in NYC. Aside from the fact that it was unlawful, blatant profiling, the negative effects on the community were staggering. People did not feel safe openly discussing topics such as politics and many pulled away from their local mosques. This type of surveillance has also been used with regards to Black Lives Matter and other groups advocating for change. While I care about the government surveiling citizens I realize I am not a target and should use my privilege to speak out about this injustice.

Digital security is always something I think about before sharing personal data but at the end of the day I do think we are moving to digitized society. Everything is becoming interconnected so I think that for the majority of people education is the best tool. We must become smarter with our information and demand that companies do more to protect us. Once we know where the vulnerabilities are we are better equipped to demand fixes and  can better protect ourselves in this digital world.

Infographics

For generations, the rhetoric surrounding immigrants has been the same. White, native born men especially worry that immigrants are going to push them out and take their jobs. It was no different in the Progressive Era. Through the early and mid 1800s there was not much regulation on immigration and the United States welcomed newcomers. However, animosity started to grow among native born whites and they started pushing for legislation that would hinder the number of immigrants.

The first major piece of legislation was the Chinese Exclusion Act that was passed in 1882. Nativist whites blamed the Chinese for taking jobs; they were willing to work for lower wages and would cross union picket lines which greatly angered white workers. As a result, this piece of legislation banned Chinese laborers from immigrating for ten years and would set the stage for more comprehensive immigration reform bills that would be passed in the Progressive Era.

An Immigration Literacy Act was passed in 1917 as non English speaking southern and Eastern Europeans started coming into the country. Many people believed that this influx would damage the fabric of American society and harm the economy. Much like literacy tests in the south administered to African Americans, this act stated that anyone over the age of sixteen wanting to come to the United States from a foreign country had to pass a literacy test. This act also barred people who were deemed unfit from entering – generally this referred to those with disabilities that rendered someone unfit to work. It also barred all immigration from Asian countries.

Another major piece of legislation passed during this time was the Emergency Quota Act of 1921. This piece of legislation limited the number of immigrants that could come from certain countries to an annual three percent based on the number of residents from that country already living in the United States (Wikipedia) based on the 1910 census. They used this census because it showed lower numbers of people from certain countries and so less people from those places were allowed in. Congress went even further in 1924 when they passed a revised Immigration Act that lowered the census number to two percent and changed the census used for calculation to the one taken in 1890.

While this resentment was felt by many, the United States censuses from this time period can be used to show that, in fact, the United States was not in danger of being overtaken by immigrants as people believed. The reality is that while there was a large influx of immigrants, native born whites were still the overwhelming majority and growing at a much faster rate than the immigrant population. The charts above show the breakdown per state of native born vs. foreign born whites in the US in both 1880 and 1920. However, people are more likely to believe what they feel and use their own insights so with the media playing into stereotypes common during that time native born whites felt that they were at risk and were willing to do whatever it took to preserve what they deemed acceptable society. This type of legislation would continue on through the 1900s and we still see a lot of these sentiments alive today.

Text Mining

Text mining is a useful tool for looking for trends among documents and with these documents regarding women in the Progressive Era it is no different. It is clear from the connections tool that woman, suffrage, national, american, and amendment are linked.  Within the most used words, I thought it was interesting that mrs was one of them but not surprising. While female workers played a large role, upper middle class women, many who were married, took up causes to better society and increase their foothold in society as citizens, not just mothers and wives. They used their experience carrying for their families and community members to garner support for legislation they felt would be of benefit to the well being of all citizens rather than just a select few as was often the case with upper middle class men.

An example of this happened in Chicago with regards to sanitation. Men were strictly concerned with the cost and wanted did not want to take on an extra financial burden for the city; they felt that the system in place was fine and just needed a little bit more regulation. Women were able to use their own knowledge to prove that the health benefits of incineration were worth building a plant because the current system was unsanitary and causing citizens to get sick. They felt that the city should prioritize its citizens and not their bottom line.

With this particular text mining activity, trends that are visible involve women as citizens and links between them and their roles in organizations. Another is how prominent the word men is. All of these avenues would be interesting to further explore; there is a lot of interesting information about the roles women took on to lead Progressive Era movements showing that women were more than worthy of being afforded the same rights as men under the law. It would also be interesting to research roles of men in the suffrage movement because while many were opposed some were not and worked alongside in order to help women gain this important right.

 

Mapping Inequality

 

When people think of racism and segregation often their minds go immediately to Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Era. They think of Martin Luther King Jr and the march at Selma. They think of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat. While all of these are very important events in American history, it is important to understand the laws and constructs put that were put into place that caused these events to occur; most came about after slavery and into the Progressive Era.

White people were used to lording over their Black slaves and greatly benefited from their labor; after slavery ended, they were scared of what this meant for racial hierarchy and race relations. This time period is ubiquitous with gross characterizations of Black people, specifically related to their sexuality and intellect. Black men were seen as hypersexualized and after vulnerable white women. These ideas were used to disenfranchise African Americans both through the creation of social structures as well as new political laws.

One of the main ways this was done was creating complex social structures that made African Americans second class citizens. They were not allowed to use to the same facilities as white people and had to live in specific areas that were always less desirable. Even when there were some Black families who started gaining wealth they were not welcome in these areas and lows were created to keep them out. Whites wanted to keep them out of their neighborhoods and from enjoying the same leisure activities. Black owned businesses started to pop up in these areas because it ensured that goods and services would be available to residents as many white establishments would not only refuse service to them but it could be very dangerous to go into these areas.

This map of Baltimore shows where safe spaces from the Negro Motorist Greenbook were located. They were concentrated around the Upton neighborhood which is in the middle of a large redlined area. Though it was segregated this neighborhood used to be one of the most affluent African American neighborhoods in the country; it was a central hub of African American culture and commerce and boasted famous residents such as Billie Holiday and Thurgood Marshall (Wikipedia). The large population of affluent Black Americans allowed for a thriving business district and as such made Baltimore a desirable place to visit since there were a nice array of amenities that African Americans families could safely use.

The Upton neighborhood was surrounded by working class African American neighborhoods like Sandtown-Winchester. If this map is used to look at how history has effected current events one can see that redlining led directly to these neighborhoods becoming economically disadvantaged with rising poverty and crime. Because there were only so many places for African Americans to live, houses in Upton started to be subdivided and wealthier residents started to leave once segregation was lifted. This left a population who lacked upward mobility with little resources. Controversial revitalization projects were started which included tearing down historic landmarks and putting up government housing. Because of these policies this is still one of the poorest areas of Baltimore today. Sandtown-Winchester is most notably known today as the home of Freddie Gray who was lapsed into a coma while in police custody and later died. Racist policies such as redlining have disenfranchised millions of Americans and created a cycle that destines people to lives of poverty as they lack essential tools to be able to create better lives for themselves. This particular example shows how an area considered affluent and the epitome of Black culture can drastically change.

Historical Databases

  1. What aspect or question did you decide to focus on and how did you build your database to answer that question?
    For this database project the question that was focused on was suffrage parades in major East Coast cities and which organizations and party leaders were there. Proquest was used to research newspapers and created a table that documented the source, location, date, protestor numbers, organization, and party leaders who were present. The organization and party leader columns link to other tables for these topics so it’s easy to see which we associated with what organizations.
  2. Explain the decisions you made about what to include, what to ignore, and how to 
 normalize the data.
    When looking at this we decided that we needed to hone in on specific cities in the East Coast since suffrage activities were taking place all over. We focused on larger cities from Washington DC and north as this is where parades tended to happen. We also included the number of marchers as we wondered if size dictated the number of prominent leaders that were there. We decided to ignore every named person because a lot were local leaders that may have had prominence in their minor chapters but were not famous enough to be found through a Google search.
  3. What did you learn about databases?
    I learned that databases are a good way of organizing information but are hard to lay out initially. There must really be a specific question or there is not a good purpose to use this type of information organization. It is however a good way to keep information related to a specific topic organized and easily accessible. It’s also a good way to be able to manipulate information through sorting in order to ask questions more specific to a topic. For instance if one looked at this specific table they could see which organizations were possibly related to a specific party leader.
  4. How can databases be useful for historical research?
    Databases can be useful for historical research because they can help one to easily identify trends. If a large amount of information is collected over time it can be sorted quickly and easily to identify what the historian is looking for. For example, if one was documenting suffrage parades as this table does it would allow for sorting by date to see if the numbers of marchers at parades increased as suffrage became a more important issue for women to be vocal about. This would most likely show an upward trend through the time when the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed.

Child Labor in the Progressive Era: Secondary Sources

The World of Child Labor: An Historical and Regional Survey

This book is an important resource for learning about child labor in America because it discusses the history of how it came to be and actions taken during the Progressive Era to outlaw it. Some of the history it mentions is that major cities were being overrun with vagrant children who were causing problems and because churches and charities were ill equipped to deal with them, they were sent to live with families in the midwest. Because there was a labor shortage there this led to many more children being sent away from Eastern cities leading to what is now known as placing out on Orphan Trains. These children became essential labor to the rural and agricultural areas they were sent to. This practice was widely accepted at the time but the rise of the Progressive Era changed public opinion.

We also get a brief overview of the coal industry and it’s role in child labor. The numbers of children working in these dangerous mines is staggering; in fact it mentions that “in Pennsylvania alone, in 1902, the Department of Mines estimated that 27,393 boys under sixteen years of age worked in the mines” (Hindman, 466). There were laws in place to prevent very young children from working there but they were not often enforced and children were three times more likely to be injured than the grown men working alongside them (Hindman, 467).

Another industry that was mentioned that I found interesting was the glass industry. Glass making started out as a skilled craft but with industrialization and the invention of molds it became increasingly easier to make and less skilled workers were able to do it. Children had multiple jobs such as taking items from the molds to finishers and also removing them from the finishing oven. Another job was “the ‘mold boys,’ who sat at the feet of the glass blower in a squat, cramped position, closing and opening the molds for hours at a time” (Hindman, 468). The working conditions were very dangerous with the ovens often being around 2500 degrees and the temperature inside the factory easily reaching over 115 degrees. Abuse and illness was also rampant with children being the most severely affected.

The books also discusses child labor in the American textile industry and how by the time the NCLC was founded in 1904 child labor in textiles had decreased significantly except in southern mills where it was still growing. There were no compulsory schooling laws as there were in the north and mill owners were reliant on the cheap labor children provided. Girls were often spinners and boys were doffers (bobbin changers) and sweepers, working twelve hour days with nary a break. This fight went on until the 30s, long after child labor laws were put into place in other parts of the country.

While child labor and compulsory schooling laws were becoming more commonplace they actually did little to reduce the number of child laborers. Rather, it was a shift in public opinion that took place during the Progressive Era due to the work of social reformers. Through the creation of organizations such as the National Consumers League (NCL) and the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC) ideas surrounding childhood shifted and it became much less acceptable to use the cheap labor of children to advance the industrialization of the United States. The NCL pioneered innovative ways to garner public attention for this issue including consumer boycotts which were a very new idea back then. They also instituted a labeling program that identified items that were made by people working under fair conditions. The NCL eventually went on to work more in the legislative arena. As for the NCLC they began with the plan of working on the national level to end child labor. They were primarily investigators but their work, including the now famous photos taken by Lewis Hine, helped spur them on the become incorporated by Congress. Eventually a bureau dedicated to the well being of children was founded which was a testament of this committees success on a national level.

Hindman, H. D., & Hindman, H. (2009). The world of child labor : an historical and regional survey. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.mutex.gmu.edu

 

The Inspector and His Critics: Child Labor Reform in Pennsylvania

This article is about the child labor epidemic in Pennsylvania during the Progressive Era, specifically the relationship between of the head of the inspectors and reformers. Pennsylvania was known to have the most child laborers in its factories, more than all of the southern cotton states combined (Speakman). The appointment of John Delaney seemed like a win for reformers as previous inspectors worked for manufacturers and did not have the interest of the children in mind. Within the first few months of Delaney’s tenure one of his inspectors removed more underage children than the entirety of all inspectors the previous six months (Speakman).

This however, did not last. Delaney was a huge proponent of child labor and his main goal was to prove reformers wrong. He shrunk the annual reports saying that they were accurate and he did not run a statistics agency but this was a problem because they were the only hard numbers available between census. He also placed the blame of child labor on the parents rather than industry. His argument was that the parents got them falsified papers so the factories could not be held liable. While many children were removed from illegal and unsafe conditions, Delaney was also hesitant to prosecute manufacturers unless they were serial offenders.

This piece shows the conflict that often occurred between state agencies, manufacturers and reformers. While child labor was an obvious moral issue the state and manufactures saw it as an essential part of commerce and were hesitant to do too much to quell it.

Speakman, J. (2002). The Inspector and His Critics: Child Labor Reform in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, 69(2), 266-286. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.mutex.gmu.edu/stable/27774412

 

Child Labor In the Progressive Era: Primary Sources

Luther Watson, 14 Year Old Amputee

This image depicts a fourteen year old boy, Luther Watson, who lost his right arm to a veneering saw in a box factory in Cincinnati, OH in 1907. It is a sad but accurate representation of the fate of many children who had to work to help support their families before child labor laws were enacted. While Luther lost his arm, many were killed in accidents as there was no regulation.

Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, (1905 – 1934) Luther Watson…is 14-years-old…His
right arm was cut off…, November 1907. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America, http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-4d5c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

Child Labor Day Suggested: A Letter to Pastors and Churches Prepared by Clergymen

This letter was sent to churches across America by the Secretary of the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), Owen R. Lovejoy. He proposes that churches should set aside a day to help “awaken America against the evil of Child Labor” (Lovejoy) because even though laws had apparently been enacted at the time of writing to improve conditions child labor was on the rise and it was disintegrating the family and deprived children of schooling and health. He argues that the church has a moral obligation to correct this evil so that it is not “lost in the general destruction sure to overtake a bumptuous and brazen Babylon” (Lovejoy). This echoes a lot of what the Progressive era was built on; that society had lost its morals and needed to reform all the ills that had overtaken the country.

Lovejoy, O. R. (1908, Jan 16). Child labor day suggested. New York Observer and Chronicle (1833-1912), 86, 90. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.mutex.gmu.edu/docview/136677860?accountid=14541

The Babies Who Work

This article appeared in Harper’s Weekly in early 1910 about the proposed Children’s Bureau that the the NCLC was advocating for. White argued for the fair treat of treatment and highlighted the fact that if the government could afford to spend millions of dollars on the plant, animal, and forestry bureaus they could surely spend fifty thousand on a bureau that was to benefit children. He also said pointed out that other countries were ahead of the US in studying the welfare of children and that as such we should take note because allowing children to work was depriving them of their childhoods and would affect them well into adulthood. His overall point was that the circumstances of birth should not deprive children of these things as they are already destined to a harder life so the government should make sure children have equal opportunity to their childhoods.

White, F. M. (1910, January 08). The Babies who Work. Harper’s Weekly. Retrieved September 22, 2018, from harpweek.com

Cartoon by Lewis Wickes Hine

This cartoon depicts a larger than life hand labeled as Child Labor Employer trying to crush a group of children who are simultaneously trying to hold it up. The arm appears to be that of an affluent person as noted by the suit jacket, cuff link, and sparkling ring but is faceless as it represents all of the factory owners who are complicit in their treatment of children. The children appear to be exhausted with their vitality gone but can’t stop working or there will be consequences.

Hine, L. W., photographer. (ca. 1912) Cartoon. United States, ca. 1912. [?] [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ncl2004001574/PP/.


Protest Against Child Labor in a Labor Parade

This photograph depicts young women in the Progressive Era at a Labor March protesting child labor. The woman in the forefront is wearing a sash that appears to say “abolish child slavery” though the image cuts it off and the sash in Yiddish if translated says the same. This photograph was meant to show how citizens of this era took up for social causes such as child labor which they likened to slavery. It is also a nod to the treatment of immigrants who were also not treated abhorrently during this time period.

(1909) Protest Against Child Labor in a Labor Parade. New York, 1909. [May 1] [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/97519062/.

 

Searching for primary sources on the internet was really convenient as there are many tools just a few clicks away that allow one to search many archives of photographs, newspaper articles, journals, etc. while sorting for specific dates and subjects. A lot of databases also offer excerpts or thumbnails so it is fairly easy to tell if a source is relevant to what one is searching for.

Histories of the National Mall: Review

The Histories of the National Mall project is a well executed, interactive representation of the National Mall that has comprehensive history of not only famous landmarks, but also important events and people associated with it as well as the history of the place itself and how it came to be. The content is laid out in a way that makes it easy for users to navigate through and each item has a description so that users can find out more if they so desire. If a user is looking for something specific they can also just simply type it into the search bar on the main page which is an essential function of any well-developed website. If a user is still unsure of where to begin there is also a page dedicated to discussing what is in the site, so they can start there in order to get their bearings and figure out where to go.

The creator of the site has an easy to use navigation bar at the top that easily communicates to users the different ways they can explore the history accumulated within. If you want to search a person you simply click on people and it takes you to an alphabetical list. Each listing has a picture accompanying the name which is hyperlinked; when you click through you then find yourself reading a brief description of the image. If you want to know more about the person you can find a brief biography and important dates associated with them such as their birthday if it is available. I especially loved the exploration pages though. I thought it was a truly unique ways of exploring through scavenger hunts and ask me more questions such as “who takes care of the Mall?” that really allowed users to engage with the history within the site.

Every aspect of the site functions as expected. It is unique in that it allows users to view maps of the mall and click on different sites which then leads to a pop up with an event or person listed. Each of these then has an informative paragraph accompanying it allowing the user to expand their knowledge. This is a very effective way of using digital media as this type of interactive experience is not available in other formats such as print or film. It is non-linear, so users can jump around different eras and see what makes this part of Washington D.C. a unique cornerstone of history in the city. It really aims to bring the area alive and allows the user to orient themselves wherever they are exploring so it’s easy to know where they are at all times. Not only that but this site is able to be used with mobile devices which is essential in this day and age when people are accessing media twenty-four seven from all over the world with their phones and tablets. Exploring this project is a joy for historians and regular citizens alike who want to learn more about the National Mall.