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Title: Charities and the Commons: The Pittsburgh Survey, Part I. The People

Author: Various

Release date: June 19, 2014 [eBook #46029]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing, Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


VOL. XXI JANUARY 2, 1909 NO. 14




Robert W. deForest, President; Otto T. Bannard, Vice-President; J. P. Morgan, Treasurer; Edward T. Devine, General Secretary




List of Contents (created by transcriber)


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[Pg 499]



The congestion exhibit in New York last spring proved one of the most effective and startling means of making a contented community sit up and think about its "other half." It formulated questions half formed in many minds and demanded answers. Its influence was felt over the whole country, and its discussions have bobbed up here and there and everywhere ever since in articles, conferences and addresses.

That the congestion exhibit answered questions as well as asked them, and that it has a constructive program to offer not only to New York but to the whole country are amply proved by the decision just reached, and announced to-day for the first time, to hold an exhibit and conference of city planning next March. "Every American city needs a city plan now," is the conclusion of the committee, and the steps by which it has arrived at this conclusion are interestingly set forth in its announcement.

While the organization bears the name of the Committee on Congestion of Population in New York, its scope and purpose are much wider. The program approved by its executive committee is "to obtain a plan for the development of Greater New York, and other American cities, along economic, hygienic and aesthetic lines; and to promote the better distribution of population throughout city, state and nation."

To establish the need for such a program, the committee offers as "admitted facts" the following:

Many American cities with a population of over 50,000 have congestion of population, factories and offices; such congestion creates problems for which we cannot find solutions; no city should use all the land within its boundaries as intensively as is necessary in its most congested areas,—to do so perpetuates congestion; no American city yet has a legal right to prescribe the height and use of buildings in its various sections; no city can develop normally without a plan which anticipates its growth for twenty-five or fifty years.

As a means of stimulating consideration of the subject and of promoting farsighted planning for the future, the committee has adopted as its slogan the statement, "Every American city needs a city plan now." It will show, it announces, the cost of the lack of a city plan in New York, the city planning which has been done in some American and foreign cities, and the pressing need for a city plan in New York to-day. The conference on city planning in March will include an exhibit of the best developments from all over the world. Both exhibit and conference will be keyed up to two major considerations: "the concentration of one-half the population of a great state in one city makes the problem of statewide importance; the concentration of one-nineteenth of a nation's population in one city gives the problem national bearing."

There will be study of the best methods for distribution of population, for promoting feasible methods of locating factories and industrial colonies, and an educational campaign to show the advantages of migration from congested centers.


Massachusetts, almost invariably a leader in preventive measures, is developing this year a most unique and promising kind of co-operative effort in the prevention of tuberculosis. Massachusetts was the first state to organize a board of health, dating from 1869. It was the first state to choose its factory[Pg 500] inspectors from the medical profession, this dating from 1906, and out of these two farsighted provisions of the law has grown during the past two months a plan by which manufacturers are assuming a part of the financial burden in seeing to it that operatives in their factories, found to have tuberculosis in the incipient stage, are sent to the Rutland Sanatorium and given the best possible opportunity for cure.

The plan originated in Worcester which, with a string of neighboring towns and villages, forms one of the sixteen inspection districts into which the state is divided. As a result of the activity of Dr. M. G. Overlock, the state inspector of health in charge, seventy manufacturing plants, employing more than 20,000 hands, have followed the example of David H. Fanning, president of the Royal Worcester Corset Company, in agreeing to pay a part of the maintenance cost of any of their employes sent to Rutland. The cost in the sanatorium is nine dollars a week. Of this the state pays five dollars and the company four dollars. The term usually agreed upon is three months. At the end of that time, a large number of the cases have been so far restored that they can be taken to nearby, supervised boarding houses and farms and make room for new patients,—a plan hit upon to relieve the great pressure upon this institution which accepts only incipient cases. The employer continues his contribution. The boarding houses, conducted along approved lines, have sprung up all over the surrounding hills much as they have at Saranac Lake in New York.

The factory inspection has been keyed up to take the greatest possible advantage of the co-operation of employers. Frequent visits are made to all plants, but to those in which the work rooms are full of dust, or where there are other conditions favoring tuberculosis, Dr. Overlock makes a visit once a month. All minors on the working staff are taken before him, and required to furnish a full family history. If there has been tuberculosis in the family, even remote, a medical examination is at once made. The others are examined more superficially, but the least trace of suspicious symptoms is at once seized upon as cause for an examination. In this way, it is believed, incipient cases among minors will be caught in their earliest stages. The system will later be extended to adults. An extension of the plan to secure the interest and help of employers has begun in some other inspection districts, and will eventually be introduced throughout the state.

But the carefully laid plans to detect and ward off incipient cases comprise only one part of the Massachusetts plan to fight tuberculosis. In May three homes for advanced cases will be opened, and the development of the plan calls for additional homes, scattered through the state, until it shall have made complete provision for all cases, early or advanced. In view of the almost unanimously expressed opinion at the recent International Tuberculosis Congress, that the strategic point of attack in the campaign is in isolating advanced cases, the provision of these homes is, perhaps, the most important plank in the Massachusetts health platform. Governor Guild is much interested in the whole plan. In a recent letter to Dr. Overlock he wrote: "It has been a great pleasure for me to inaugurate the new policy of the commonwealth of provision for all cases of tuberculosis, not merely as at present the care of the curable, but the care of the incurable as well."


The business of lending money on salaries and wages has received a practical knockout blow in Cincinnati through the Commercial Tribune, which instituted the crusade, with the co-operation of the officials of the city and of various private organizations.

Aided by an ordinance which orders the licensing of salary loan offices and which makes a weekly report to the city auditor necessary, the campaigners have already been able to put one office out of business entirely, and to sew up all the others in the courts in such a way that it now seems very likely that most of these will retire rather than face the storm which awaits them.

D. H. Tolman is more deeply involved in Cincinnati than he has ever been before. His son, E. E. Tolman, who is said to be connected with the business of his father, is under arrest and is now waiting a hearing in the police court. His manager has been arrested and convicted on three counts.

Although these cases have been appealed to a higher court, an application for an order to restrain the further interference with the Tolman business has thus far been refused.

D. H. Tolman has ordered his manager in Cincinnati to refuse to comply with the ordinance and unless the courts do issue this order the manager will be arrested every week.

The Commercial Tribune has secured all of the Tolman forms from a former manager. These have all been printed together with a letter from the ex-manager in which the latter makes a complete exposé of the methods pursued behind the doors of one of his offices.

The auditor of Cincinnati has declared his purpose of keeping up the fight. He has forced ten salary loan offices to pay a license fee and to comply with the provisions of the local ordinance. Agents have been permanently employed by the official to watch the loan offices and to ferret out any new agents who may attempt to operate secretly.

The Legal Aid Society which was recently formed to advise the poor, has made it its business to impress upon all who seek its meetings the futility of borrowing money from the salary loan people and has furnished a list of the companies which are classified as "loan sharks," to every man and woman whom it could reach.

In this way people who never read the newspapers are given information which they otherwise would probably never receive.

The Legal Aid Society is also at work on a code of laws which will be submitted to the General Assembly at its coming session and which it is hoped will solve the question of loaning money on salaries and chattels in Ohio for all time.

The attorneys of the society promise a law which will set a fixed rate, which[Pg 501] will include interest and expenses, on all such loans. It is said now that this rate will be either three or four per cent. The contemplated law will also contain a provision which will make the recovery of usury possible.

It is further planned to have a provision in the law similar to the Massachusetts statute, requiring the signatures of the wife, when a borrower is married, and of his employer. Some of the best attorneys in Cincinnati including former Prosecuting Attorney Benton Oppenheimer, are at work on these laws.

Another movement now on foot is the founding of a salary loan office on the same basis as several chattel loan offices which are now operating in the country, whose stockholders are philanthropists and men of wealth.

Cincinnati has such a chattel loan company and the men who are now fighting the salary loan business there are urging the stockholders of this company to take up the other work.

The most gratifying thing of the Cincinnati campaign has been the falling off of business in the loan offices. The companies admit this and one broker left for Florida after explaining that his business had decreased seventy-five per cent during the campaign.


One of the interesting bills to be brought before the 1909 session of the New York Legislature is that drawn by Bernhard Rabbino, relating to a special domestic relations court. Mr. Rabbino believes that if we have courts for the purpose of divorce, for separating mothers from children and children from fathers, we should have a separate tribunal to which families in discord could appeal.

There are probably from 12,000 to 15,000 domestic trouble cases handled yearly in Manhattan and the Bronx alone, but as no records are kept of summons cases,—and these come under that head,—it is not possible to compute the exact number. Probably it is greater than the number of cases handled by the children's court, and a domestic relations court is justified by Mr. Rabbino, additionally,[Pg 502] on the ground that it precedes the children's court, having for its fundamental purpose the preservation of the family as a unit, with an opportunity for fathers and mothers to secure the same expert and individual attention that is given to the children.

Domestic affairs are admittedly out of place in a general police court. The unfortunate participants are not in any sense criminals, and yet they are surrounded by thieves, pickpockets, drunkards, disorderly persons,—the regular rabble of the criminal court,—and an outraged self-respect is the consequence of such treatment. The present organization of magistrates' courts contemplates that the magistrate shall sit one-half of the day on the bench and the other half shall be in chambers for the settlement of just such cases as Mr. Rabbino would bring before the domestic relations court. As a matter of practice, however, so congested are the courts and so pressing their work, that there is no time for this personal consideration which the law contemplates. The magistrate does what he can in the face of tremendous difficulties, but he has not the time to investigate these cases, and without proper attention there can be no adjustment of them. Divorce and separation are the natural results.

The idea of such a court would be to prevent litigation as a whole and particularly to safeguard the homes of the poor, for the poor are those who are obliged to resort to police courts. The better-off take their affairs to the Supreme Court. It is very possible that these lower courts might develop into something higher, and many matrimonial difficulties which now cause a permanent rupture of relations be peaceably adjusted with judicial assistance. Such a court might also have a marked effect on juvenile crime, for any force that makes for better home conditions is preventive of crime. The bill requires also that the court of domestic relations have exclusive jurisdiction over all cases of abandonment, non-support, and the non-support of poor relatives as provided by law.

The bill as drawn would make this domestic relations court part of the city magistrates' courts, on the lines of the children's courts now being generally established throughout the country. The idea, however, would be to have a special court altogether, and if successful, this would probably be done.

The introduction of this bill in the Legislature may bring to sharp discussion the whole question of division of jurisdiction in the city courts. The present established principle is that such courts should be divided geographically, covering a certain borough or section of a borough. The children's court differs radically from this and introduces a functional division. It is an open question whether, with the police courts crowded as they are, such a functional division has not become necessary for more cases than those of delinquent children,—whether the separation of special kinds of cases into children's courts and into courts of domestic relations will not prove more effective than a further division of territory.


A review of municipal events and tendencies for the past year, which might be the title of Clinton Rogers Woodruff's report as secretary of the National Municipal League, centers around efficiency and honesty in government as a result of clear accounting systems and understandable statistics; wide-spread efforts at charter revision; a constantly growing sentiment for nomination reform; and a militant desire, evident in many sections, to tackle the problems which have grown up around the saloon in politics.

The Massachusetts Bureau of Municipal Statistics, the first of its kind, has already resulted, Mr. Woodruff believes, in a number of cities reconstructing their accounts on a sounder and more substantial basis. The first year's report shows a confusing lack of system in handling the receipts and disbursements of towns and cities; a wide variety of dates for closing the fiscal year; many defects in the treasurers' methods of accounting; and the need for consolidation of the administration of trust funds. In many instances, money left to the community for special purposes has been used by the town trustees for general purposes.

But "the movement for uniform accounting proceeds without interruption." Originated by the National Municipal League, it was given momentum by the Census Bureau and by legislation in Ohio and Massachusetts. Accounting investigations and reforms are being made the basis for an approach to the solution of important problems in Boston, in New York by the conspicuous work of the Bureau of Municipal Research, and in Minneapolis. The point of attack in Minneapolis has been the administration of the school fund "which seems to have been particularly inadequate and inefficient." A grand jury found "a startling and deplorably loose state of affairs." The investigation was made by trained men from San Francisco and other Pacific Coast cities. In Wilmington there has been a thoroughgoing examination of municipal account.

Legislative reference bureaus are being established to help in this movement, of particular value to Chicago which "is on the threshold of an era of public improvement which will call for the most intelligent direction from the city government." Mr. Woodruff predicts that "we may expect within the next half dozen years to find a series of similar bureaus established in all the leading cities, gathering for their respective municipalities information concerning improvement; and, moreover, we may expect a further development, in that all of these bureaus and libraries will be so co-ordinated, each with the others, as to form a strong chain of information that will banish from the halls of legislation and the offices of administration, the dense ignorance that all too frequently found a welcome lodgement."

Charter changes are pressed every year more strongly to the front. It is true now that wherever a good government organization of any sort is found, there will be accompanying it a campaign either for a new charter or for amendments to the existing one. Perhaps the most noticeable tendency of the movement is a demand for a greater degree of home rule for the cities which have been "subjected[Pg 503] to a degree of legislative buffeting that has well nigh destroyed the cherished ideal of self-government."

Nomination reform has been much discussed, and a number of laws providing for direct nominations have become effective during the year. Mr. Woodruff holds that the results of direct nominations have, on the whole, "recommended themselves to those who are striving for the elimination of nomination monopoly and for the inauguration of a simpler and more direct form of election machinery." Further, he holds that "it is now generally conceded, except by a very small and diminishing group of men, that the preparation and distribution of the ballots at the general election is a proper state function and expense."

The objections to direct nominations are discussed at length and finally dismissed with the conclusion: "We must realize that we are living in a democracy, and that the election machinery must be democratic and must record the wishes of the people and be responsive to their desires. Direct nominations are a step in advance because they enable the people directly to express their wishes. No doubt they have made their mistakes, and will continue to make them; but they have had to bear the brunt of them in the past, and they must continue to bear them in the future; and this in the long run will prove to be the most effective way of building up an enlightened and efficient democracy."

The initiative and referendum are advocated, because "they are unquestionably proving effective in breaking down some of the privileges and monopolies that have characterized political organizations for many years."


The Council of One Hundred, an auxiliary to the Parks and Playgrounds Association of New York, has been fully organized by Miss Pauline Robinson and Seth Thayer Stewart, with a membership of well known men and women who are interested in playground activities and civic improvement. At the first[Pg 504] meeting of the council at the home of Mrs. Charles B. Alexander, in December, Richard Watson Gilder presided, introducing Mrs. George C. Riggs (Kate Douglas Wiggin), who read a valuable paper. Eugene A. Philbin, president of the Parks and Playgrounds Association, outlined the development of that organization, which is the union of the Brooklyn Society for Parks and Playgrounds and the Metropolitan Parks Association. Howard Bradstreet, the secretary of the association, gave through lantern slides a synopsis of the active work in conducting playgrounds and baseball centers during the last season. Seth Thayer Stewart sketched a possible plan for the extension of the recreation idea throughout the city, and Dr. Luther H. Gulick spoke briefly on recreation for girls.

The Council of One Hundred, of which Mr. Gilder is president, Jacob H. Schiff, George D. Pratt, Mrs. Frederick W. Whitridge and Mrs. Samuel Bowne Duryea, vice-presidents; and Miss Pauline Robinson, secretary and treasurer, will meet two or three times a year. Its purpose is to assist individually and as a body in the active work of the Parks and Playgrounds Association. While much is being done by the city through park and school in the way of offering play facilities to children, nevertheless, so great is their number in New York, that only a small percentage of the possibilities have as yet been realized. With a million children of school age or under, occupied only a small part of the time, the street must be the chief resort for the large majority.

The experience of last summer showed both the feasibility and the good result of organizing the children of the street by play leaders who appreciate the value of free play, and are acquainted with child nature. The plan of work as outlined calls for the placing of such play leaders in various sections of the city; the encouraging of the establishment of places for recreation by different organizations and neighborhood committees, and for the provision and maintenance of various forms of play throughout the year in sections otherwise neglected. During the summer the association maintained eight vacant lots as playgrounds, eleven baseball centers and a camp for boys. The neighbors of several of these grounds have asked to have them extended during the winter, and the association will undertake to do so early in the new year.


Much significance is attached to the recent organization of the New York state branch of the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education. The passage of the industrial education bill last year opened up to the state possibilities in the way of industrial education which it has not thus far been able to measure. A volunteer body of some sort has been needed to awaken interest and stir up the whole state. Particular opportunity offers among the up-state cities and it was with this in mind that the officers and advisory board were elected, for as the list shows, the members are representative of the state as a whole as well as of many lines of industrial and educational activity. The officers are:

President, James P. McElroy, manager of the Consolidated Car Heating Company, Albany; vice-president, Dr. Andrew S. Draper, state commissioner of education, Albany; secretary-treasurer, Arthur L. Williston, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn.

Additional members of the executive committee are:

V. Everit Macy, chairman of Board of Trustees, Teachers' College, New York; Joseph R. Campbell, president Diamond Saw and Stamping Works, Buffalo; Thomas D. Fitzgerald, president Allied Printing Trades Council of New York State, Albany; Frank L. Babbott, manufacturer and member of the School Board, Brooklyn.

At a public meeting following the formation of the branch, considerable enthusiasm was developed and a number of interesting papers were read. Of these, perhaps the most substantial contribution to the discussion of the evening was by Dr. William H. Maxwell, city superintendent of schools, New York, who presided. Among other things Dr. Maxwell said:

Certain things may be taken as demonstrated with regard to industrial education:

First, trade schools are needed. They are needed for the sake of our industrial wealth and efficiency. They are needed for the sake of the boys and girls of this city. The best preparation for a trade is the manual training high school where, in connection with elements of a liberal education, students receive instruction in drawing, in tools, and in applications of art to industry. But these schools breed engineers, not journeymen. Hence we need schools to give training that will shorten and enrich the period of apprenticeship for the journeyman.

Second, such schools must be a part of the public school system and must articulate directly and closely with the elementary schools, to the end that boys and girls between fourteen and eighteen, or at least sixteen, may obtain that training which will enable them to be of use in a shop; because it is in the public schools that the boys and girls are found who need such training.

Third, to carry out this articulation, elementary schools should have manual training to discover these boys and girls who have an aptitude for mechanical pursuits. Brains are as necessary in mechanical pursuits as in law or theology.

Certain difficulties stand in our way:

First, apathy of manufacturers who have shown little desire to obtain really skilled American workmen, as for example, the firm which established a school to train apprentices and found that they were taken away by other firms as soon as they had learned a few tricks of the trade.

Second, apathy of the financial authorities of the city who have just cut out the amount asked for by the Board of Education for shops and kitchens, and given only $22,000 for a trade school. It is encouraging, however, to remember that the first annual appropriation for manual training in Brooklyn was only $5,000. If we make good use of the small appropriation, the demonstration will secure larger appropriations in the future.

Third, the foolish or nebulous arguments of many of those who have been advocating trade schools. Arguments have been foolish when they became pleas for the elimination of existing high schools and the conversion of these institutions into trade schools. Those that have not been foolish have been largely nebulous, vapory exhortations to establish trade schools, without the substance of a well considered plan. Such a well considered plan is now the great desideratum. While the advocates of trade schools have been talking, the Board of Education has established and maintained five prosperous and useful evening trade schools which are patronized largely by apprentices. Those evening trade schools confine their operations chiefly to the building and machinists' trades. Shall we stop there? Will our[Pg 505] friends not give us a plan for teaching our three largest trades, clothing, beer brewing, and sugar refining? What we need farther is a well thought-out plan of co-operation between the school and the manufacturer, such as that at Fitchburg, Mass.

For these reasons,—the apathy of manufacturers, the apathy of the financial authorities of our city, and the need of definite, coherent plans,—the cause of trade schools stands sorely in need of the aid of this local branch of the national society. The time is surely opportune when the Board of Education has appointed a standing committee on this subject and when the state, through the industrial education bill, passed last winter by the Legislature, has decided to give substantial financial assistance to any community that established trade schools.


The mummery and begging in which the children of New York city so generally indulge Thanksgiving Day and other holidays have long been matters of concern and alarm to those who are interested in educational work with young people. Many articles have appeared denouncing the custom. On the morning of Thanksgiving, the New York Times contained an especially well directed effort to protest against this growing evil.

The children of Asacog Social Settlement, 52 Sands street, Brooklyn, partake very generally in these holiday mummeries, masquerading and begging. The harmful results have long been realized, but the efforts heretofore used to modify the custom have been quite ineffective. It was resolved this year to undertake a different method of modifying the nuisance.

It was found in all cases that the children had no idea why they should choose Thanksgiving for begging, beyond the fact that people gave them money on that day and all their playmates chose this method of "having fun," so of course it was necessary to be in the game.

So with "having a good time" in mind, parents, young people, children, were invited to a festival on Thanksgiving eve. It seemed quite necessary to draw a moral lesson in the attempt to overthrow such a deeply seated custom, and this was[Pg 506] done through a series of tableaus and dances with connecting narrative.

The probable historical setting of the Thanksgiving custom was presented through scenes of the Dutch in Holland, during the troublesome times of William of Orange, when the sea beggars made their famous pledge. Two tableaus showing the court scene and the banquet of the beggars were followed by a costume dance by small boys, which was called the "beggars' march." The English contribution to the celebrations was in tableaus from the history of the Guy Fawkes plot. The Dutch and English transferred to America were shown by Peter Stuyvesant and his surrender; the southern scenes with their harvest ideas through a colored plantation sketch; the Puritans and Indians by tableaus and Indian squaw dances. Then followed the times of the Revolution, with the tyranny of the British, the spirit of '76, and the Evacuation Day celebration on November 25, 1783.

The tableaus were given in costume by the young people and children, about seventy-five taking part. The members of the Civic Club, composed of mothers and neighborhood women did a great deal in preparing the costumes and dressing the actors.

The settlement had the valuable help of Miss Mari R. Hofer in preparing Dutch and Indian dances, and of Howard Bradstreet, the narrator of the evening.

Admission was by tickets given in clubs and classes, and the seating capacity of three hundred and twenty-five was taxed to over five hundred. But the carnival spirit was in the midst and no one minded the necessity of standing on a chair with a friend or two in order to catch an occasional glimpse of the stage. Several of the star performers became so interested in the audience that it was necessary to snatch the nearest boys or girls as the occasion demanded, hustle them to the improvised "green" room, hastily dress them in remaining fragments of costumes far removed from the historic time, and with impromptu coaching from the wings, an attitude was struck worthy of any Dutch patriot or Puritan dignitary.

The most gratifying results of the performance were that the begging on the street was greatly diminished. Many of the children did dress up and beg, for of course we could not expect a complete reformation on Sands street. But up to eleven o'clock not a begging child had been seen on Asacog corner. Later in the day little beggars began to appear but in smaller numbers and at three o'clock in the afternoon, a very lively hour, all the children on the block were out playing their ordinary street games, and but one child was in fancy costume. From one tenement from which twenty children begged last year, but two indulged this year, one mother having been to the festival, and really beginning to realize the dangers of street gaieties for the first time, refused to permit her eight year old girl to parade in fancy dress, at which the child volunteered to stay in bed, feeling life was too dull for words, and besides she was tired from the night before, the carnival spirit having worked itself out. In reality it was the "day after the fun."


The pupils in the Lincoln School, situated in the suburbs of Burlington, Iowa, feel no restraint from want of room to play, for the school grounds are as large as a small park, and stretches of prairie land roll before and behind the building. Beautiful oaks and elms form tiny forests round about, a brook rushes through the outskirts, and in each season nature calls so loudly to the boy that it requires all the ingenuity of teachers and truant officers to keep him in school. Many nationalities have congregated in this part of the city, for it is a factory district, and each September there are enrolled little Germans, Russians, Swiss and Irish who are instinctively antagonistic to one another.

The teachers of Lincoln School have found it advisable to be present during the noon hour, as well as during recess, to prevent the playing of rough games in which many children were injured, or which resulted in fighting.

[Pg 507]

About ten years ago a may-pole was introduced, which revolutionized the school. A small organ was carried into the yard and as many as forty children took part in this dance at the same time. About five years ago, fearing that this dance would become monotonous, other folk dances were introduced, and now one may see during all intermissions,[Pg 508] groups of boys and girls dancing the gavotte der kaiserin, Irish reel, Highland fling, sword dance, dance of the Alpine peasants and the minuet. In order that even these should not become uninteresting, costumes have been provided for each dance, and this is bound to be the greatest aid in discipline; for what boy will play truant when he can impersonate Washington in the minuet or some Scottish hero in the sword dance or Highland fling. To defray the expense of the costumes, a play was given,—Spyri's Heidi. This met with such success that they now have a dramatic club, whose members have presented Old-Fashioned Girl, Eight Cousins and Little Baron to large audiences in the Opera House. Many unruly boys have become docile, after impersonating some genuinely honest boy character. The manners and dress of both boys and girls have been much improved since they have taken part in these plays.

The folk-dances have been used in this school for so many years that all are prepared to say that they are a success with the boys in as great a degree as they are with the girls. A boy seldom refuses to join in the dances. The most enjoyable period during the session is the time of the rhythmic play. They need no other punishment for disobedience than to threaten to refuse to play for the folk dances.



Social research on a city-wide scale is a contemporary product. Appropriately old London was the first to have its living conditions comprehensively investigated. To Charles Booth belongs the credit of having initiated and set the type of such enquiry. His great work in seventeen volumes on Life and Labor in London standardized methods and results in some lines of civic investigation. Its data were almost entirely derived from secondary documentary sources furnished by official records and the reports of voluntary agencies, but the originality with which it is everywhere stamped lies in the handling and verifying of the material thus acquired. The whole great analysis and synthesis of the largest city population of the world, thus attempted for the first time, deserves to be ranked as one of the greatest achievements of the closing decade of the nineteenth century. That this brave pioneering was attempted by one of London's great shippers, and that it was so successfully carried through to completion at a cost of twenty years of labor and a quarter million of dollars, also sets a standard of self-exacting citizenship worthy alike of the world's greatest city and of one of its most modest and personally resourceful citizens.

The extent to which this survey of London afforded intelligent incentive and basis for the reconstructive civic spirit and work which attended and followed it is demonstrated by contemporary history. The voluntary efforts to improve conditions, and the London County Council's achievement in increasing open and street spaces and in furnishing housing and other equipment for city life, were on a scale befitting the foundation in fact substantially laid by Mr. Booth's monumental work. Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham and many provincial cities received impetus and direction in their heroic efforts to ascertain and improve their own conditions.

Seebohm Rowntree followed Mr. Booth's example in his study of poverty in York, but went beyond his methods in making a first hand investigation of the facts. Robert W. deForest and Lawrence Veiller set the type for American enquiry into city conditions by their investigation and reports of the Tenement House Problem in New York. And now the Pittsburgh Survey registers the most inclusive standard thus far set in ascertaining the facts of living conditions in a typical industrial community. In cooperating to carry through this constructive survey the Russell Sage Foundation and this magazine achieve the most noteworthy fulfilment of their common purpose to improve social and living conditions in the United States.



These two Christmas stamps are next of kin. Our Red Cross stamp is the youngest child of the Danish Julemarke which sprang out of a country postmaster's brain to take its place among the most effective weapons in the world-wide fight with the white plague. Of what stout stock the family are,—it is a big family by this time, with sons and daughters in many lands,—this year's issue of the Danish stamp tells at a glance. For the big building pictured in it is the "Christmas Stamp Sanatorium," built for tuberculous children out of the half pennies the Danish people have given these five years as their contribution to the great campaign.

Denmark is a little country. All in all it has not much more than half as many people as the Greater New York, if indeed it has so many. Yet in so short a time it has wrought so great a tangible result. What it has further wrought in the way of arousing public interest and guiding public education in this matter is beyond calculation. For the last is the biggest end of the work of the Christmas stamp, wherever it goes.

In New York city two years ago we raised a great outcry about child cripples, made so by tuberculosis. We counted five thousand or more in the tenements of the metropolis and decided that their one chance of life lay in building a hospital on the seashore, on the lines of the little one now run on Coney Island by the Association for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor. Forthwith money was raised, a quarter of a million of dollars, to build a much bigger one with,[Pg 509] and architects were set to work to draw plans. The city appropriated a site in a great seashore park, to be laid out for the people. Then there happened what so often happens in New York when a great public enterprise is to be carried out. It ran into a rut, somehow. Money became tight, the controller could not find the funds, park and hospital were side-tracked and stayed so.

They are side-tracked yet. The money kind-hearted New Yorkers gave for the children is in the bank. The little cripples still crawl around their tenements. The winds blow over the ocean and waste their healing balm. The park is as far away as ever. And the purses of the charitable snap with an extra twist of tightness when they think of it all. Next time we shall plead the children's cause in vain.

That is the way of New York. The picture above tells the way of poor little Denmark. No doubt there is an excuse, or a string of them, for the American city. But excuses do not mend aching joints and wasted frames. How long before New York will catch up with Denmark? Would it not be fine if this lusty son of a worthy sire, the Red Cross Christmas stamp, were to help get us started again?



University of Pennsylvania

The Confessions of a Railroad Signalman by J. O. Fagan is an exceptionally able book, worthy of the serious attention of every student of the causes of railroad accidents.[1] The author gives his qualifications for writing the book by saying that he "has been a telegraph operator and tower-man for twenty-seven years and part of the time chief clerk to a railroad superintendent," and he further adds that "the extent of territory covered by this experience is even wider than one would suppose. For a telegraph operator is, of necessity, one of the best [Pg 510]posted men in the service." In addition to this experience from which a knowledge of the subject has been gained, the author possesses a remarkably well trained mind and has command of exceptionally clean English.

[1] The Confessions of a Railroad Signalman, J. O. Fagan. Pp. 182. Price $1.00, Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1908. This book may be obtained at publisher's price through the offices of Charities and The Commons.

The main thesis of the book is that accidents are due mainly to non-observance of rules. "Railroad managers, therefore, sooner or later will come to understand that the one thing needed in the railroad service at the present day is to educate employes to appreciate the fact that successful and safe railroading in the future will have to depend, not upon the multiplication of safety devices or the reconstruction of rules, but upon the personal effort and conduct of conscientious, alert, and careful men." Furthermore, the author has "arrived at the conclusion that on our railroads the interests of the community have become secondary to those of the employe and his organization." Mr. Fagan also maintains that "it is actually a matter of reasonable demonstration that at least seventy-five per cent of the casualties might be avoided by increase of interest on the part of the employe, and the earnest concentration of his best thought on the subject."


The natural remedy for the situation, as stated by Mr. Fagan, would lie in the observance by employes of the company's rules and regulations, in the discipline by the management of all employes for each and every non-observance of any rule, and the enforcement of discipline with appropriate penalties regardless of the personality of those subjected to discipline. The enforcement of discipline, moreover, should not be made to depend upon consequences resulting from non-observance of rules. Employes should be penalized by loss of pay for their disregard of the rules or regulations whether their actions do or do not result in casualties.

Mr. Fagan, however, believes, and brings convincing evidence to show, that the above remedy is beyond hope. The organizations of which the railroad employes are members take the position that the member who violates a rule is to be defended against condemnation by the public or discipline by the management. Instead of taking the view that the interests of the public are paramount to those of any individual railroad employe, the railroad employes' organization seeks invariably to shield its members against the consequences of their actions. Furthermore, the managers of most railroads have decided that the strict enforcement of the rules and the punishment of those who do not observe the rules result in so many controversies with the labor unions and are so destructive of harmonious relations between the company and the unions, that it is better to strive for harmony rather than to enforce discipline. In other words, discipline and the safety of the public are made subsidiary to the maintenance of harmonious relations with the employes. Such being the situation, Mr. Fagan believes that reform is not to be expected within railway management but must come from the outside as the result of the exercise of governmental authority. The government must punish employes for non-observance of rules and penalize railroad officers for the non-enforcement of their regulations.

The analyses and arguments of the book are convincing. The position taken by Mr. Fagan is one the accuracy of which will doubtless be vigorously denied by the organizations of railroad employes and will be to some extent questioned by the responsible management of railroads. However, it seems to the author of this review that Mr. Fagan has established his thesis.



The simple Italian peasant, he whose meager village life was so accurately drawn by Mr. Mangano in earlier issues of this magazine, is familiar in every city in this country, and we have in America what is probably a fair appreciation of his poverty, his hardships and the longing for better things which send great blocks of the population of rural provinces flocking across the Atlantic. Of industrial Italy we know less, having few sources of information. If the life of the factory towns is really as bad as The Forewarners,[2] by Giovanni Cena, makes it,—if wages are as low, work as hard, housing as squalid and amusements as few,—then we have in the book a story of remarkable growth in wretchedness, for the manufacturing towns of northern Italy are, as Mrs. Humphry Ward points out in the introduction to the English translation, only forty years old.

[2] The Forewarners, Giovanni Cena, 1908, New York, Doubleday, Page and Company. Price $1.50. This book may be ordered at publisher's price through the office of Charities and The Commons.

The book makes clear the source of the socialist vote in the Italian Parliament and the human stuff which the railway and other big strikes are made of. It is, supposedly, the life story of a Turin printer. Starting as the son of a clay digger, he graduates into the working world after a childhood spent in an orphanage. Having some little education more than his fellows, he becomes a proofreader for a house which is putting on the Italian market the standard works of science and philosophy in all languages. This gives him stronger meat than a weak body and an overwrought mind can digest, and he becomes oppressed with the wrongs of his class, with the grind of the factory and the squalid life of the house where he has a tiny cell in the garret. There he piles up, in [Pg 511]proof sheets, a library of the greatest books in the world. Pouring over them by night, half-fed, unsociable, brooding, his mind slips gradually from its moorings and he throws his life away as a sacrifice, for this book, the story of his life and the story of his class, is hidden in his bosom. A tragic death, he believes, will cause it to be published and set afoot nothing short of a revolution.

The book does not tell the manner of his death, but it implies that he threw himself in front of the King's automobile, which he often met in his wanderings outside the city. It typified to him the oppression which he felt,—"the griefs of others I have such a longing to relieve that the desire becomes a torment to me, and I cannot shake myself free from it except by action." Of the automobile drivers he had written: "Whilst the nobility are trying to draw in their claws so as not to exasperate us, here come these bourgeoise parvenus to insult us in our own house. Yes, in our own house, for the highroad belongs to the peasant and the poor man." His studies, which put him above the other workmen, were themselves his undoing, for the substance of Tolstoi and Spencer became so much more to him than the form, that his work grew bad and worse until he was discharged,—an incident convincing to one who has attempted to read proof with an eye to things greater than commas and spelling.

Out of it all he worked a scheme of things as they ought to be, which, whether it came from the proofreader or from the author who takes a proofreader's smarting sense of wrong as his theme, makes an interesting program:

A king who has a lofty ideal of society wishes to lead his subjects up to it by his methods of government, and is willing to abdicate when he feels that they are really free. His chief instruments in the work of redemption are doctors and school teachers. On the one hand freedom, on the other action. Freedom from error whilst doing everything to favor and afford sufficient light. A tendency to abolish all forms of restraint, from the material ones for criminals to the moral ones for all men; from handcuffs to laws. The gradual abolition of hereditary rights of property; every human being to have the needful, and everything[Pg 512] to return to a common fund at his death. The legal personality of women, and the equality of the sexes, to be recognized as steps to the conquest of individuality, liberty, happiness. Each to be free to develop to the utmost his own life, his own affections. Birth and education to be protected. Rest to be ensured to old age. Public hygiene to be watched over till disease be eliminated. Every facility to be afforded to manufactures, commerce and science, so as to encourage man to conquer himself, the earth, the heavens. Faith in progress, as if it were not,—and it is not,—destined to die with our earth. The worship of life.

Such a scheme and the style and force of the book are difficult to associate with the neurasthenic proofreader, skilfully as the author has drawn the background and made the man's thought develop over his proof table.

But whether the character be drawn convincingly or not, the book gives a wonderfully clear and sharp-cut picture of the environment of such a worker. Some bits of description stand out above the others, one of them the Turin tenement, where "from the first flights of stairs, carpeted and warmed by hot air pipes, to the bare flight of our top floor, the steps grew ever steeper and steeper. Each evening we passed through all the social zones, hot, temperate and cold; we were lodged in the arctic regions." There were 142 of these steps to the top floor, where naught but poverty dwelt,—a penniless poet with a sister who supported him, a lonely working girl, a woman of the streets, a drunkard and his screaming, beaten wife and half-witted children, and Cimisin, a cobbler, who always "was whistling at full speed to the accompaniment of his hammer. The tears of women, the curses of drunkards, had for so many years mingled with the merriment of that harmless madman."

His history of the printing shop is complete and modern, even to the point where the men went back to their cases after a strike, only to find that long rows of linotypes with women operators had displaced them. These women, he thought, might have among them one fitted to be his mate, but he was too shy to seek her out. He could see them only as workers at the almost human machines, or where "the cylinders revolved with a loud din, the sheets rained out one on top of the other, the women in their long overalls kept on repeating their monotonous movements, feeding the sheets into the press or collecting them into piles. On two side platforms the women were in constant motion. A hundred women and a hundred men. It was impossible to imagine that relations other than those existing between the several parts of a machine might be formed between these beings created for a mutual understanding." Still he wonders vaguely if

perhaps in this uniformity of action, foreign to and apart from the monotonous toil which exhausts them, something exists, smiles, shines? Have some got a small bird singing in their hearts whilst their hands grow grimy at the wheel?... No love of their work,—that is to say of their life,—inspired them; each of them constantly saw the work of an hour, a mere fragment, leave his hands anonymously and forever, and none of them could ever say of anything, "That is my work!" What will remain of them at the end of their lives to prove that they have lived? In truth, they have not lived.

Of the women in his tenement, girls who were not harnessed to a factory, he found even less of life, though perhaps more of womanhood. Going with his friend to see the latter's young sister in a maternity hospital, he reflects that this is the way with many of them,—"love leads to the hospital." The patients there are mostly unmarried girls. The married ones have few children now. "How talk of love, of family life, in a society which deals out the same ration to the single man and to the father of a family?"

His friend starves, the sister dies, the drunkard's wife, mother of six, takes her life,—everyone whom he knew, it seems, all the associates high up in the attic of the "aëropolis," come to grief and misery and death. He greatly admires the woman, a physician, who visits them. "She picks up, joins, straightens out innumerable threads; she seems to be weaving a tapestry of which she will only complete a tiny bit, a work which she has inherited from one generation and will transmit to another." She offers him a part in her work, but he feels "incapable of giving myself in small doses." He is impatient, irritable for "something ready to hand, swift as lightning," that shall right all wrongs and ease all pain at a stroke. He cannot work with others, or for others, and so he tucks his story into his bosom and starts out to meet the King's car. Almost at the last he confesses, "I have passed beside life."



To the great majority of people the school report is the only tangible evidence of what the school administration is doing. The citizens generally cannot be expected to know what goes on in the school rooms or in the meetings of boards of education, nor what is taking shape in the back of the superintendent's head. Even were they afforded the utmost opportunity and gifted with such unusual perception, it is not likely that without convenient summaries and condensed statements they could form any idea of the public school system as a whole.

[3] School Reports and School Efficiency by David S. Snedden and William H. Allen for the New York Committee on the Physical Welfare of School Children. New York, 1908. Pp. 183. This book will be sent by Charities and The Commons postpaid for $1.50.

If the school report is at once the evidence and test of the school administration, it is clear that its ideal is such a marshalling of the facts regarding the schools of the city as will give the reasonably intelligent citizen a clear notion of just how well the schools are performing the duties entrusted to them.

The book before us is a study of the school reports for the purpose of ascertaining how far and in what manner they seek to embody such ideal. It is a study in comparative administration.

This study reveals so wide a diversity among school reports as to preclude the idea of any consensus of opinion as to what they should contain. While uniformity of scope and treatment is not to be expected, it might reasonably be anticipated that the similar purposes of the school administration in different places would give to these reports a certain family resemblance. In so far as such a resemblance can be traced, it does not [Pg 513]appear to be so much the result of parallel internal development as the product of external compulsion or suggestion. State educational departments charged with allotment of state school funds according to a fixed unit in school work, have led to an emphasis upon such units. A similar influence has been exerted by the United States Bureau of Education in its request for information along certain definite lines.

Apart from these influences tending toward a certain uniformity, there are other forces working in the same direction though less effectively. The trend of present discussion in educational affairs is not without its influence, and when certain facts are needed to point a moral or adorn a tale the experience of other cities points to investigations or arrangements of material which are new to the city in question. Conscious effort to promote uniform treatment of statistical data, a theme which has been discussed almost to weariness by the National Education Association and kindred organizations, has been singularly fruitless.

With these general considerations by way of introduction, the work takes up its main theme, the scope of educational statistics. In them we find the condensation of educational experience, and here more than in other parts of the text we should expect the experience and practice of one city to be helpful to another. Too often, indeed almost universally, the tables of facts are isolated from the text of the report, and no effort is made to explain their meaning or set forth the salient features which they present. In view of the volume of tabular matter there is a painful poverty of interpretation.

The method pursued by the author in his record of the facts, is to furnish a specimen table from the different reports in regard to each matter touched upon, a selection of the simpler and then the more detailed statements to be found in them. The following heads are treated in this way: School plant, expenditure, census, attendance, age of pupils, promotions, survival, compulsory attendance, high schools, vacation schools, libraries,[Pg 514] medical inspection, teachers and summaries. The variety of forms exhibited is highly instructive although, it may be confessed, somewhat bewildering. The author has confined himself so strictly to a study of methods that he is disposed to let the tables speak for themselves. There is here, too, an absence of interpretation. Tables of figures may speak for themselves but to understand them one must know their language. One cannot help but feel that in many cases some explanation why the detailed tables are to be regarded as superior, other than the fact that they are more detailed, would have been more illuminating and would have relieved somewhat the monotony of this important chapter for the general reader.

No attempt is made to outline a model report. We have instead in chapter 5 a series of questions which might be answered in a school report. The list does not pretend to be exhaustive but in reality it constitutes a somewhat formidable program, if it be assumed that the greater part of these questions should receive attention.

Conscious of the fact that somewhat staggering demands are made on the school administration, the discussion of "suggested economies and improvement" comes as an antidote. This is a brief discussion of short cuts and methods to get at desired results. It looks to a simplification of records and such forms and registers as will supply the needed information, without excessive work. This is a very vital point and the suggestions as far as they go are admirable.

While the subject presented in these pages is thoroughly technical, the work may be commended most heartily to school authorities and to all who are interested in the progress of our schools. It is an appeal for exact information and should not be passed by without a hearing. Such information in regard to our schools,—one of the most important branches of our government,—is painfully lacking. It has too often been assumed that the management of schools was a matter for experts of which outsiders could not properly judge. Within certain limits this is true, but it does not distinguish between the scholastic and the administrative sides of school work. We undoubtedly need both among our school authorities, and in the public at large a keener perception of the requisites of a sound and effective administration. It is not, perhaps, too much to say that there is no great business enterprise of the people of which they know so little as they do of their schools. In private affairs such ignorance on the part of directors and stockholders would lead to bankruptcy.

The authorship of the several chapters of the book is distinctly stated. The general considerations herein briefly noted are the work of Dr. Snedden; the particular application to the city of New York is the work of Dr. Allen. Those who are familiar with Dr. Allen's work answer that he can always be relied upon for a readable and spicy statement. But in view of the predominantly local interest of his discussion and the inexorable limits of space, it has seemed best in the foregoing notice to lay the greater emphasis on those large aspects of the subject which are from the pen of Dr. Snedden.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.



My father was mighty Vulcan,
I am Smith of the land and sea,
The cunning spirit of Tubal Cain
Came with my marrow to me;
I think great thoughts strong-winged with steel,
I coin vast iron acts,
And weld the impalpable dream of Seers
Into utile lyric facts.
I am monarch of all the forges,
I have solved the riddle of fire,
The Amen of Nature to need of Man,
Echoes at my desire;
I search with the subtle soul of flame,
The heart of the rocky earth,
And out from my anvils the prophecies
Of the miracle years blaze forth.
I am swart with the soot of my chimneys,
I drip with the sweats of toil,
I quell and scepter the savage wastes
And charm the curse from the soil;
I fling the bridges across the gulfs,
That hold us from the To Be,
And build the roads for the bannered march
Of crowned Humanity.

Published in the National Labor Tribune,
      Saturday, February 23, 1878.[Pg 515]

Chautauqua Photographic Co.



[Pg 516]




[Pg 517]

Engineers have a simple process by which in half an hour's time they strike off a "blue print" from a drawing into which has gone the imagination of a procession of midnights, and the exacting work of a vast company of days.

God and man and nature,—whosoever you will,—have draughted a mighty and irregular industrial community at the headwaters of the Ohio; they have splashed, as Kipling puts it, at a ten league canvas with brushes of comet's hair. Under the name of the Pittsburgh Survey, Charities Publication Committee has carried on a group of social investigations in this great steel district. In a sense, we have been blue-printing Pittsburgh. Our findings will be published in a series of special numbers of which this is the first, covering in order:

  I. The People;
 II. The Place;
III. The Work.

Full reports are to be published later in a series of volumes by the Russell Sage Foundation and, throughout, the text will be reinforced with such photographs, pastels, maps, charts, diagrams and tables as will help give substance and reality to our presentations of fact.

In this sense, then, it is a blue print of Pittsburgh, that we attempt. At least the analogy of the draughting room may make it clear that the work, as we conceive it, lies, like the blue print, within modest outlay and reasonable human compass. Our presentation must frankly lack the mechanical fidelity and inclusiveness of the engineer's negative; but we can endeavor to bring out in relief the organic truth of the situation by giving body and living color, as we see them, to what would otherwise be but the thin white tracings of a town.

Occasional articles have been published during the year, but the results of the Survey are put forward for the first time as a consecutive whole in the pages that follow. Here is the place, then, for a simple statement of the drive and scope[Pg 518] of the work as conceived by those who have carried it forward:

The Pittsburgh Survey has been a rapid, close range investigation of living conditions in the Pennsylvania steel district. It has been carried on by a special staff organized under the national publication committee which prints this magazine. It has been financed chiefly by three grants, of moderate amount, from the Russell Sage Foundation for the Improvement of Living Conditions. It has been made practicable by co-operation from two quarters,—from a remarkable group of leaders and organizations in social and sanitary movements in different parts of the United States, who entered upon the field work as a piece of national good citizenship; and from men, women and organizations in Pittsburgh who were large-minded enough to regard their local situation as not private and peculiar, but a part of the American problem of city building.

The outcome has been a spirited piece of inter-state co-operation in getting at the urban fact in a new way. For consider what has already been done in this field in America. We have counted our city populations regularly every ten years,—in some states every five. We have known that the country has grown and spread out stupendously within the century, and that within that period our cities have spread out and filled up with even greater resistlessness. How goes it with them? What more do we know? True, we have profited by incisive analyses of one factor or another which enters into social well-being,—tuberculosis, factory legislation, infant mortality, public education, to name examples; and we have heard the needs of particular neighborhoods described by those who know them. But there is something further, synthetic and clarifying, to be gained by a sizing up process that reckons at once with many factors in the life of a great civic area, not going deeply into all subjects, but offering a structural exhibit of the community as a going concern. This is what the examining physician demands before he accepts us as an insurance risk, what a modern farmer puts his soils and stock through before he plants his crops, what the consulting electrician performs as his first work when he is called in to overhaul a manufacturing plant. And this, in the large, has been the commission undertaken by the Pittsburgh Survey.

The main work was set under way in September, 1907, when a company of men and women of established reputation as students of social and industrial problems, spent the month in Pittsburgh. On the basis of their diagnosis, a series of specialized investigations was projected along a few of the lines which promised significant results. The staff has included not only trained investigators but also representatives of the different races who make up so large a share of the working population dealt with. Limitations of time and money set definite bounds to the work, which will become clear as the findings are presented. The experimental nature of the undertaking, and the unfavorable trade conditions which during the past year have reacted upon economic life in all its phases, have set other limits. Our inquiries have dealt with the wage-earners of Pittsburgh (a) in their relation to the community as a whole, and (b) in their relation to industry. Under the former we have studied the genesis and racial make-up of the population; its physical setting and its social institutions; under the latter we have studied the general labor situation; hours, wages, and labor control in the steel industry; child labor, industrial education, women in industry, the cost of living, and industrial accidents.

From the first, the work of the investigations has been directed to the service of local movements for improvement. For, as stated in a mid-year announcement of the Survey, we have been studying the community at a time when nascent social forces are asserting themselves. Witness the election of an independent mayor three years ago, and Mr. Guthrie's present fight to clear councils of graft. Within the field of the Survey and within one year, the Pittsburgh Associated Charities has been organized; the force of tenement inspectors has been doubled and has carried out a first general housing census, and a scientific inquiry, under the[Pg 519] name of the Pittsburgh Typhoid Commission, has been instituted into the disease which has been endemic in the district for over a quarter of a century. A civic improvement commission, representative in membership and perhaps broader in scope than any similar body in the country, is now in process of formation.

A display of wall maps, enlarged photographs, housing plans, and other graphic material was the chief feature of a civic exhibit held in Carnegie Institute in November and December, following the joint conventions in Pittsburgh of the American Civic Association and the National Municipal League. The local civic bearings of the Survey were the subject of the opening session of these conventions. Its economic aspects were brought forward at a joint session of the American Economic Association and the American Sociological Society at Atlantic City in December.


From Pittsburgh Civic Exhibit, Carnegie Institute, November-December, 1908.

The present issue is frankly introductory. It deals with the city as a community of people. Pittsburgh is usually defined in other terms. First among American cities in the production of iron and steel, we are told that it ranks fifth as a general manufacturing center. There are forty-seven furnaces within forty miles of the heart of the city, with an annual capacity of over seven million tons of pig iron,—more than twenty-five per cent of the total production in the United States. Statistics of the American iron trade for 1907 show that Allegheny county produced a fourth of all Bessemer steel and a third of all open hearth steel, a fifth of all rails rolled in the United States, a third of all plates and sheets, and very nearly a half of all structural shapes. Pittsburgh proper ranked fourth in foundry and machine shop products, second in brick and tile, pottery and fire clay, and first in electrical apparatus and supplies. In coal and coke, tin plate, glass, cork, and sheet metal,—in products as varied as the fifty-seven varieties of the pickles in which it excels,—its output is a national asset. Pittsburgh stands tenth in postal receipts and[Pg 520] fifth in bank deposits. Its banking capital exceeds that of the banks of the North Sea empires and its payroll that of whole groups of American states. Here is a town, then, big with its works.


Again, there is a temptation to define Pittsburgh in terms of the matrix in which the community is set, and the impress of this matrix on the soul of its people no less than on the senses of the visitor. Pipe lines that carry oil and gas, waterways that float an acreage of coal barges, four track rails worn bright with weighty ore cars, wires surcharged with a ruthless voltage or delicately sensitive to speech and codes, bind here a district of vast natural resources into one organic whole. The approaching traveller has ample warning. Hillsides and valleys are seamed with rows of coke ovens, gaunt tipples bend above mine mouths, derricks and bull-wheels stand over fuel wells, and low lying mill buildings, sided with corrugated iron, rear their clusters of stacks like the pipes of huge swarthy Pans. Then comes the city with its half-conquered smoke cloud, with its high, bare hills and its hunch of imposing structures. The place to see Pittsburgh from is a much whittled little stand on the high bluff of Mt. Washington, where votaries of the national game assemble on a clear afternoon and spy upon a patch of green in Allegheny City, hundreds of feet below them, and more than a mile away across the Ohio River. Their business is with Honus Wagner and the three-bagger he is going to knock out. But yours can be with the great Y of the rivers, churned by stern-wheeled steamers and patched here and there with black fleets of coal barges. Below you to the right is the South Side; to the left across the rivers, is Allegheny City, and between them is a little trowel of land piled high with office buildings. This is the "Point," cut short as it is by the "Hump" and by higher hills behind; and flanked by narrow river banks that grudge a foothold to the sounding workshops and lead up and down to the mill towns. You are looking at commercial Pittsburgh. From the Herron Hill reservoir, mid-way between the forks of the Y, you get a panorama of the other side of the community,—Shenley Park to the right of you, with the Carnegie buildings and the ample residences of the East End, and to the left, long swales of small, thickly built houses that make up Lawrenceville and the adjoining home areas.

But it is at night that the red and black of the Pittsburgh flag marks the town for its own. The lines of coke ovens seen from the car windows have become huge scythes, saw-edged with fire. The iron-sheathed mills are crated flame. Great fans of light and shadow wig-wag above furnaces and converters. From Cliff street, the lamps of Allegheny lie thick and clustered like a crushed sky, but from the bridges that span the Monongahela between the mills,—where choleric trains shuttle on either bank, and the rolls are at thumping war with the sliding, red billets,—the water welds the sparks and the yellow tumult, and you feel as if here were the forges of the sunrise, where beam and span and glowing plate are fabricating into the framework of dawns that shall "come up like thunder." Here,—if we doubted it before,—is a town that works; and that works in a big way.

But the people, rather than the product or the setting, concern us. In December, 1907, Pittsburgh and Allegheny were merged, and the Greater City entered the class of Baltimore, St. Louis and Boston. This is the half-million class. Last September, Pittsburgh celebrated its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, and a street pageant exhibited both the industrial vigor of the community, and the variety of its people. There was a company of Corn Planter Indians, descendants of the aboriginal Pittsburghers; there were floats representing the early settlers; there were Scotchmen with kilts and bagpipes; nor were they all. A wagon load of Italians bore a transparency,—"Romans dig your sewers," and Polish, Slovak and other racial organizations marched in the costumes of their native countries. For the life of the city has become intricate and rich in the picturesque. That old man you passed on the street was a Morgan raider, and behind him trudged a common soldier of the Japanese War. Here is an American whose Pittsburgh is the marble corridors of an office building, and the night desks of the men in shirt sleeves and green eye shades; and here, one whose Pittsburgh reaches back to a stately old parlor with gilt-framed mirrors and spindling Chippendale. Here is "Belle," who exchanges her winter in the workhouse for a summer in a jon-boat, which she reaches by a plank. Here is the gazda who ruined himself that his boarders might not starve. And here, the inventor who works with many men in a great laboratory and scraps a thousand dollars' worth of experimentation at the turn of a hand. Here is a gallery of miners pounding their grimy fists at a speech by Haywood in the old town hall; and here a bunch of half-sobered Slavs in the Sunday morning police court.

You do not know the Pittsburgh District[Pg 521] until you have heard the Italians twanging their mandolins round a construction campfire, and seen the mad whirling of a Slovak dance in a mill town lodge hall; until you have watched the mill hands burst out from the gates at closing time; or thrown confetti on Fifth avenue on a Halloween. Within a few blocks of the skyscrapers of the Point, I have seen a company of Syrians weaving almost unceasingly for four days a desert dance that celebrated the return of one of them to Jerusalem. (An Irishman thought it a wake.) A possum swings by the tail at Christmastide in front of that Negro store in Wylie avenue; long bearded Old Believers play bottle pool in that Second avenue barroom; a Yiddish father and five children lie sick on the floor of this tenement; this old Bohemian woman cleaned molds as a girl in the iron works of Prague; that itinerant cobbler made shoes last winter for the German children of the South Side, who were too poor to pay for them, and stuffed the soles with thick cardboard when he was too poor to buy leather. Here is a Scotch Calvinist, and there a Slavic free thinker; here a peasant, and there a man who works from a blue print; engineers, drag outs, and furnace-men from the mill district; yeggs and floppers and '69ers from the lower reaches of the city; strippers and core makers and coffin buffers. There a Russian exile with a price on his head, and here a Shaker of old Pennsylvania stock! You have heard of Shakespeare's London, of the port of Lisbon in the days of the Spanish Main, of the mixtures of caste and race and faith on the trade routes of the East. They are of the ilk of Pittsburgh. How to get orderly plans of social betterment out of the study of such a community is at first sight a staggering question. But the clue to its answer is that same fact that stood out when we looked at Pittsburgh as a city of tonnage and incandescence. These people are here to work. This fact once grasped in its bearings and we get a foothold for estimating Pittsburgh. The wage earners become a fairly well-defined belt in the population. What the issues[Pg 522] of life and labor mean to them will help us in understanding the trend of conditions in industrial communities generally.

First, you have the mere fact of aggregation. Pittsburgh has as many people as the whole state of Pennsylvania had at the opening of the last century; Allegheny county as many as at that time the commonwealths of Massachusetts and New York combined. The Greater City has twice as many as all the future cities of the United States had in 1800; as many as Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, combined, in 1850. Here, then, is a community worthy of as serious statesmanship as that which has served whole commonwealths at critical periods in our national advance. Now in all history, cities have never reproduced themselves. They draw on the country districts to replace the stock that they burn out. But when one-third of the total population comes to live in cities, they can no longer do this. It becomes vitally important that city people live well, else the race lapses. At risk, then, of going over old ground, let us look at some of the dynamic influences that affect the life of this particular community.

No American city presents in a more clear-cut way than Pittsburgh the abrupt change from British and Teutonic immigration. Sociologists tell us that in the mid-eastern valleys of Europe successive waves of broad-headed, long-headed, dark and fair peoples gathered force and swept westward to become Kelt and Saxon and Swiss and Scandinavian and Teuton. They were the bulwark which obstructed the march of Hun and Goth and Turk and Tartar, sweeping in from the East. It is from Slavs and mixed people of this old midland, with racial and religious loves and hates seared deep, that the new immigration is coming to Pittsburgh to work out civilization under tense conditions. A vineyard blighted, a pogrom, torture, persecution, crime, poverty, dislodge them, and they come.

Further, the sociologists tell us that by mixed peoples the greatest advances have been made. It was in Amsterdam, Venice, London, and the Hanse towns, places of mart which brought together the blood and cultures of distant races,—it was here that democracy gathered head and the arts flourished. But in Pittsburgh are the elements of a mixture yet more marvelous. A common fund of Slavic words, almost a Pittsburgh dialect, is finding currency. The Pole still speaks Polish, but he makes an adaptation of his words, and the Slovak understands. The Syrian and Arabian peddlers know these words and use them in selling their wares in the courts and settlements,—a contrast to the great gulfs that still separate the Slav and the English-speaking.

Furthermore, the city is the frontier of to-day. We have appropriated and parcelled out most of our free land. The edge of settlement is no longer open as a safety valve for foot-loose rebels against the fixity of things. They come to the cities. They swarm in new hives. To Pittsburgh especially where men deal with devil-may-care risks and great stakes, come the adventurous and the unreckoning. A smack of the mining camp is in the air about the mill yards.

The life to which these people come is different from that known of any previous generations. We have seen how in Pittsburgh traction lines, tunnels, inclines, telephone wires, weave a city of a size and on a site which would have been impossible in the old days. The householder is far removed from the sources of his food supply. He lives two or three families deep and many to the acre. The very aggregation of people breeds disease, a complication which in turn may yet be balanced by those revolutions in medical science which have brought glad, new optimism to sanitarian and physician.


Each dot a man.

[Pg 523]

The work to which these people come is not the work of their fathers. The discipline of the mill is not the discipline of the field. Human nature is put to new and exacting tests. It works unremittingly as it has not worked before,—eight, ten, twelve hours a day, seven days in the week, with the chance of twenty-four hours once in the fortnight. It works by artificial light and at night. It works in great plants and creates and puts together in fierce new ways. Of that growing share of the population of Pittsburgh which is continental born, a large proportion is from the country and small villages. This is no less true of the influx of southern Negroes,—a north-bound movement here and in other cities, the final outcome of which we do not know. The newcomers, it is true, may be groomed in passage. A railroad may open up a Hungarian back country and the peasant get his first training there; a Ruthenian may work on the plantations and sugar beet factories of Bessarabia before coming on; a southern Negro may hire out in the mills of Alabama before starting north; or a Slovak may work as a slate picker or miner's helper in the anthracite fields on his way westward. The drift through it all none the less is from field to mill.

New stock, then, a mixed people, venturesome, country-bred,—so much the sociologist has pointed out to us; the economist has other things to tell. He sees about him the potent aftermath of those great changes from household and domestic forms of production to the factory system. As each new peasantry leaves the soil, the history of the industrial revolution is repeated, but processes are accelerated and the experience of a generation is taken at a jump. With this has occurred a great lateral stratification of industry. There is no longer the feudal loyalty to a particular concern, but to the men of a particular trade. Unions have sprung up, and have grown or broken. The thing above all others which has tended in Pittsburgh to their undoing in certain great trades has been the subdivision of labor. The flea on the hair of the tail of the dog of the wild man of Borneo just come to town, is an entity large and complete compared with the processes which occupy many men in the electrical works and car shops. This change has multiplied product, and set unskilled labor to busy itself at a thousand stints; but it has fore-shortened trade knowledge and ousted much craftsmanship. Along with it has come another physical change. The skilled men of the old time hammers and anvils work with electric cranes and at continuous processes that reach from the heat of great ovens and the jaws of soaking pits to the piled and finished product. An intricate dovetailing of flagmen, brakemen, engineers and train despatchers makes up a train to carry huge dynamos and steel structural shapes across the continent. This fact has a new and vital social significance. Its essence is team play. Its reactions upon the psychology of associated effort have yet to be explored. Once again, new and unheard of crafts are ushered in, to engage their quota of the time and strength of the working force, and to put it to new tests of adaptability. Take the implications of the steel industry itself, in the building trades. The old time carpenter and builder gives way to the house-smith and the structural steel worker.




[Pg 524]

In Pittsburgh, too, we have a stupendous example of the influence upon the wage earners' city of a mighty fiscal change in industry, combining in one corporation all processes from the ore to the completed bridge. Work is organized nationally. The steel center like the mill town is not a thing by itself. It is a step in a bigger process managed from without and owned by a multitude of nonresident stockholders. Pittsburgh must build up an active, native citizenship or be merely an industrial department. The community and the workshop are at issue.

Finally,—in our roster of dominating influences,—within the last twenty-five years, has come the invasion of women into industry. This is not a simple thing, nor a little one. It can directly affect half the population. Pittsburgh is not primarily a woman's town, yet 22,000 women engage in the trades, and each year they invade a new department. These women workers are affected by all the forces noted and in turn affect and complicate those forces.

These are some of the dominant influences that affect wage-earners in cities assembled. One element runs through their complications and brings us clear-seeing and hope. It is the element of change and flow. In the Royal Museum at Munich are the miniatures of a group of medieval towns carved out of wood. The spires of the churches, the walls and gates of the city, markets, houses, outbuildings and gardens are reproduced with a fidelity that has stood these centuries. They embody the old idea of a town, of the fixity of things. A man was his father's son. He worked as his father worked. He was burgher, or freeman, or serf as his father was burgher, or freeman, or serf. His looms and his spinning wheels and vats were as his fathers had contrived them. He lived in the house of his father as his father had lived and it served him well. Pittsburgh is the antithesis of such a town. It is all motion. The modern industrial city is a flow, not a tank. The important thing is not the capacity of a town, but the volume and currents of its life and, by gauging these, we can gauge the community. We must gauge at the intake,—the children, the immigrant, the countrymen who come in; gauge at the outlets; and gauge at the stages in the course of the working life. If there be unnecessary death, if strong field hands are crippled or diseased through their manner of living or working, if the twelve hour man sees everything gray before his eyes in the morning, if women work in new ways that cost their strength or the strength of their young, if school children are drafted off as laborers before they are fit; if boys grow into manhood without training for the trades of this generation,—then we have a problem in social hydraulics to deal with. We must put old social institutions and usages to the test of these changing tides. Herein lies the essence of constructive philanthropy. In this light, tenement house legislation is no more than an adaptation of domestic necessities and customs to the difficulties of living three stories deep, and factory acts no more than an effort to work out the law of skull crackers, freight yards, and electrically driven mines. We have to fashion a city not alone for the hereditary householder, but for the mobile and transient and half-assimilated, for workers with multiple tools and above all for people on an upward trend.

Faced with its great task of production, Pittsburgh has not set itself to the thrift of self-knowledge. When half a thousand[Pg 525] people were dying each year from typhoid fever, the movement to clear the water supply was blocked and exploited at every turn. Half a thousand workmen are now killed each year in the industries of Allegheny county, and yet the public has not taken the trouble to sift the accidents through and see which can be prevented. Nobody knows how many men are seriously injured every year; nobody knows how many men and women are beset with trade diseases. Nobody knows how much the community is paying for such wastes as these. Nobody knows how far the seeping off of human integers into hospitals, and jails, insane asylums, brothels, and orphanages, could be checked; the guesses of the town's best men are that much is needless. Pittsburgh is a town which does not know the number of its children of school age, nor, the physical status of the children of its classes; it is a town which, for five years, did not so much as demand a report from its health department. In such an arraignment, we must bear in mind that there are notable exceptions in one phase of social concern or another to this lack in Pittsburgh's self-knowledge, and that Pittsburgh is not merely a scapegoat city. It is the capital of a district representative of untrammeled industrial development, but of a district which, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for vigor, waste and optimism, is rampantly American.

The Pittsburgh Survey has been carried out with such a working conception of the field it had before it. We have brought to one city people of special experience in others, to gauge its needs. We have measured its institutions against standards worked out in this city or in that, or in other local enterprises; and we have estimated civic and industrial conditions by their effect on groups of individual families. In the present issue we put forward the composite situation as reflected in the lives of two groups—the immigrant and the Negro. Later issues will go into the social bearings of courts and schools, hospitals, houses and factories. But such individual problems have no reality unless[Pg 526] seen in their human relations and for this reason, this issue begins with an interpretation of the genesis of the community by a native Pittsburgher, who has become one of the civic leaders of New England. We have an estimate of new immigration by a Welshman from the Anthracite region, who is representative of the old, and an estimate of his fellows by one of the Slavs. The outlook of the steel mill worker is appraised by a man whose eyes have known the broad sweep of prairies of the American Northwest. A description of the working women whose hours and wages and conditions of employment will next concern us, and of the families into whose lives come the tragedies of industrial accidents, are included. And finally, the issues of life in a representative mill town are put forth, standing out more isolated and clear cut for the purposes of analysis than it is possible to find them in the more intricate operations of the Greater City.

One of my earliest recollections of a canvas covered geography is the prime fact which is Pittsburgh,—that here the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers unite to form the Ohio. Huge economic foundations buttress this fact (oil and gas and clay and iron and coal). History in the making has rolled it into new shapes and a changing significance. The junction is the great left fist of the Father of Waters. The three rivers give the town common cause and intercourse with the Atlantic coast ranges to the east, and the mid-continental bottom lands, north and south, to the west. Their waters carry the ores and fill the boilers and douse the hissing billets of the steel makers. They are not easy overlords, this triumvirate of rivers. They carry fever which scotches one town and the next. They rise a bit too far and the fires are out, the streets flooded. But grudgingly and inevitably, they yield mastery. They are dammed and sluiced and boiled and filtered to suit the demands of navigation and power and temperature and thirst.

The mastery they yield is to another current—the eddying peoples which make up the community and all its works—a current more powerful and mysterious than the bulk of brown waters. The War Department engineers can tell you the exact number of cubic feet which slide past either side of the Point every minute. The sanitarians can give you the number of bacteria, friendly or plague-besetting, which infect any cubic centimeter. The weather man in a high building can forecast the exact stage which the water will register hours hence. But what of the people?—they have largely taken themselves for granted. They have rarely taken the time to test their own needs or consciously gauge the destination of the currents that possess them. They are here—the strong, the weak, the cowed, the ambitious, the well equipped and the pitiful. They jostle and work and breed. For the most part they run a splendid course. But they do not keep tally, and their ignorance means sorrow and death and misunderstanding.

To give a little help to those who are trying to understand, and measure these currents, and deal with them as intelligently as the locks and channels of the rivers are dealt with, has been the purpose of the Pittsburgh Survey. Such chartings as we have attempted have been of these living waters.





[Pg 527]

Pittsburgh has always been unique among American towns. Known as the dingy capital of a "black country," during all but the latest period of its growth it has attracted few visitors save those whose business motive brought them. The nucleus of its population is different from that of any other of our large centers. Its situation at the gateway of the Middle West was sure to bring it into significance as the center of the country's population and activity shifted, but the Allegheny mountains were for a long time a barrier against the easy movement of population in this direction. It is the varied mineral resources of western Pennsylvania, and the pertinacity of the chief element among its inhabitants in developing them, which has created a new metropolitan district, having virtually a population of a million, to be added to the seven or eight urban centers which now dominate different sections of the United States.

Beginning as a little hamlet about the fortifications used first by the French, then by the English, at the junction where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers form the Ohio, the settlement developed from a trading post to a market town. It would have been limited to the career of such a place much longer if, in spite of the excellent soil of the surrounding region, the farmers had not found it difficult to compete in the matter of the staple crops with the slave-tilled plantations of the South. It was as a sort of forced alternative that small iron-working plants began to spring up along the rivers. The ore was brought down from the Alleghenies. Bituminous coal,—the distinguishing asset of the coming industrial center,—had already been discovered by the French in the river valleys.

The "town beyond the mountains" again found itself embarrassed in marketing its commodities,—not by competition this time, so far as America was concerned, but by the heights over which its ponderous new output must be carried. This obstacle was overcome by a system of canals with inclined cable portage lines up the mountain slopes. Meanwhile the great trade with the West for the supply of its incipient civilization was being established through the river traffic as well as by newly dug canals.

Some of the first citizens of the town after the revolutionary days were naturally men who had been prominently engaged in the war. Two of them were Irishmen who had leaped to the opportunity to fight England. At the close of hostilities they had foresight to discern that large developments were to come at the juncture of the rivers. The descendants of these men,—some of whom by a curious irony are English and have never seen this country,—are at the present moment the greatest holders of Pittsburgh real estate. The great bulk of the early immigrants into the town were Scotch-Irish, who began to come in large numbers early in the nineteenth century, and almost two generations before the inrush of the southern Irish. Until recent great developments, when the skyscrapers began to appear, the older part of the city in its aspect was distinctly suggestive of British towns of the same size and character. Two of its local sections were very naturally called Birmingham and Manchester, names which have almost passed out of use among the American born generations. The manners and customs of the people showed about equally the traces of pioneer days in the Ohio valley and the traditions of the old country. Unlike the large cities that have grown up along the Great Lakes, Pittsburgh owes nothing to successive waves of migration from New England. It is only in very recent years, with the varied developments of technical and educational interests,[Pg 528] that there have been enough New Englanders living in the city to develop any of the organized front which they maintain in all other northern cities. It is natural therefore that, though Pittsburgh was strongly loyal for the union during the Civil War, the spirit of the city should in many respects suggest the South rather than the North.

Around the nucleus of Scotch-Irish, gathered, as time went on, large numbers of southern Irish, Scotch, Welsh, Germans and German Jews. But these different types are still to a noticeable degree always considered as being marked off by themselves as against the dominant Scotch-Irish. It is only as individuals from among them gain a position of influence by special achievement that they are considered a part of the bone and sinew of the city. The Scotch-Irish with their contrasted traits of sturdiness and ardor, have two great separate interests in life,—industry and religion. The other nationalities have either had the same traits in good measure, or by process of selection individuals have caught the spirit and have come to the front while the rest have fallen to the rear. Yet those who fell back have in most cases found a reasonable opportunity in the great material progress of the town.

Pittsburgh is all the more characteristically American for having been built up from first to last by immigrant stock, not merely by unsettled natives. It remains to this day a sort of natural selection of enterprising spirits from out of every European nation and tribe, Americanized not by any tradition or other educational process than that of having the typical American experiences in what still remains the heart of the country.

Pittsburgh has never been a place to emigrate from. It has held its own, and constantly invites each nationality to bring more of its kind. The only deserters were those who found it in them to care for a reasonable measure of cultivated life, difficult to secure in a town where there was not a library worthy of the name until 1895 and where a whole winter would sometimes pass without a single lecture on a significant theme intelligently treated. It was natural that in the formative period there were some who sought more congenial associations in the seacoast cities.

In religion until comparatively recent days it could be said that there was not a more Calvinistic atmosphere about Edinburgh, Glasgow or Belfast. The early Pittsburghers had almost as strong a tradition of what it means to fight for their faith as the Puritans themselves, and this sense has not had time yet altogether to fade. The orthodox spirit of the town has all along palpably affected the religion of the other racial types. So it is hardly surprising to find that certain regulations of the Catholic Church seem to be more insistently promulgated and more rigorously observed in Pittsburgh than in other places.

There is not a city in the country, and probably not in the world, where strict Sabbath and liquor legislation is more strenuously put into effect. Unusually genial people to those who do well, they are summary and even relentless with those who would lower the moral decorum of the city. But as is very likely to happen where there is a rigid ethical creed, there is here a very anomalous double standard. The amount of Sunday work in the steel mills is appalling. There is a certain sanctity in the operations of business which enables it in specific ways to nullify the precepts of religion, as when the over-strain of seven days' work a week is measured in the gradual destruction of the religious sense in great sections of the population. Local option sentiment is easily bewildered by political cross-currents. Though the Brooks law maintains a severe standard as to the conduct of the saloon business, applied by the county judges to whom a complaint is prima facie adverse evidence; yet Pennsylvania remains, in the midst of an unexampled national temperance movement, among the small and ignoble company of states marked black on the reformers' map.

Few cities have had a greater degree of political machine control, and the prime sources of this corruption have been nowhere else than among the Scotch-Irish. Ever since the days of Simon Cameron a clan-like political organization has dominated the state of Pennsylvania; and the city of Pittsburgh has been only a less important headquarters for its operations than Philadelphia. The condition of politics in Pennsylvania has led many to think that the people of the state were characterized by a generally lax moral sense. On the contrary, and in Pittsburgh particularly, this situation is because of a too intense and therefore too restricted ethical motive. The passage and enforcement of certain types of legislation having an immediate and obvious ethical bearing satisfies this restricted ethical demand, and sidetracks tendencies which might check the indirect causes of great underlying demoralization. A long list of charities each year receives substantial appropriations from the Legislature. The 20,000 earnest and influential people in Pennsylvania who are members of managing boards of philanthropic institutions receiving state subsidies, are by the same token so much less inclined and less able to be alert and watchful against such matters as the theft of millions from the state treasury and from banks which carry state accounts.

The difficulty with Pennsylvania, and emphatically with Pittsburgh, is not degeneracy; it is simply public moral adolescence, and the confusion that inevitably accompanies it. The materialism of Pittsburgh is that of the overwrought, not of the over-indulgent. No one can study the life of the city without feeling a mighty under-current of moral capacity not yet in any sufficient degree brought to the surface. Its religion cultivates definite restraints and reassurances, rather than aspiration and moral enterprise. This is, however, always the case when a community's moral powers are absorbed in the subduing of nature and the achieving of a great material destiny. The spirit of adventure in Pittsburgh has been thus far economic. The moral movement of this people in any case is slow: but it is unyielding always; and once fully aroused knows how to be irresistible.

[Pg 529]

The situation can hardly seem abnormal when one realizes the unsurpassed material resources of the Pittsburgh district and the pressure which has been laid upon a single community by the whole world for the products out of which the foundations of world enlightenment are laid. It is of particular importance in the case of Pittsburgh, that the social student should take the full measure of the function of the city as the almost limitless and tireless creator of the solid means of civilized existence, for this and other nations. The simple fact that it is the first city in the country in the tonnage of its product, and the second city of the country in banking capital, largely on account of its great wage payments, will suggest both the service which it renders and the power which it has achieved. It is significant that in this district the two greatest individual fortunes in history have been amassed and the two most gigantic concentrations of economic power built up.

Without in the least abating the test of moral and legal standards upon the policy of industrial leadership in the great activities of western Pennsylvania, it can hardly be doubted that later generations will include the leaders in such enterprise among the master builders of modern civilization. The place of Pittsburgh in the American system of life is that of the city which in an altogether unparalleled way is made up of producers, of those whose purposes are focused in bringing to pass the creation of durable and indispensable utilities. Contrasted with Pittsburgh, every other city in the country is rather a market-place, made more refined but in some sense less noble by the dominance of traders and consumers.

It is one of the curious anomalies of American legislation that it should have so zealously guarded against foreign competition in price standards, while withholding all protection against competitors bringing with them a low wage standard. Pittsburgh, in its larger estate, may be said to be a monument to this anomaly. Severe restrictive protection against foreign steel, and unlimited immigration, have enabled Pittsburgh, [Pg 530]well-enough otherwise provided, to throw the reins upon the neck of her prosperity. And it must be borne in mind that the protective system, for years tacitly acknowledged by Pittsburgh manufacturers to be unnecessary, is yet clung to as an exclusive and powerful tribal fetich, from whose point of view every question as to the welfare of the nation must first be considered. The fresh constructive moral aspects of politics and patriotism impress Pittsburgh probably less easily than any other community in the country.

So great and continuous has been the tide of immigration, that the insistence of the new immigrants for employment on any terms has made it comparatively easy for industrial captains to control industrial administration, to the exclusion of all substantial efforts on the part of the workmen to organize in their own behalf. Beginning with the British operatives and coming down through the successive types to the present southeast Europeans, each type up to the present has gradually raised its demands, made some headway, organized to reach still higher ground, lost by attack from both front and rear, and disappeared up and down the social scale in the general community. This very costly process has been thought necessary to industrial prosperity. There is, of course, no doubt that the holding down of the wage standard, like the artificial maintenance of the price standard, has conduced largely to the making of some of the great personal fortunes; but it is certain that the future historian will find this checking of the normal and typically American aspirations of successive waves of newcomers, to have been distinctly detrimental to the economic, quite as well as to the social and political well-being of the Pittsburgh community. This unthrift in the matter of the prime essential productive force and economic value is again partly accounted for by the very pressure of opportunity afforded by unlimited resources and the insatiable demand of the world market. There has not even been sufficient time for consideration of many economies in process and administration whose value to manufactures would be unquestioned.

It is to the point here to remember that the two great fortunes just mentioned began to be great as individual fortunes through special privileges gained in railroad rates. The topographical convergence of the Great Lake region on the one side and the Ohio river valley on the other to a territory less than a hundred miles wide, brought all the chief means of transportation between the West and the Atlantic seaboard through this particular territory. These exceptional facilities for transportation gave a culminating stimulus to industrial progress.

The intense localization of resources and transportation facilities led almost inevitably to the phenomenal concentration of industrial capital, followed by highly centralized industrial administration. This process has in a sense been its own undoing, so far as Pittsburgh is concerned, because the financial and even the administrative center of the great combinations have inevitably gravitated to New York, and the old type of self-reliant leader of industry is fast disappearing. Yet the lesson of the large spirit of associated production is constantly being inwrought into the consciousness of the community. A later article in this series will show that the statesmanlike initiative, which until recent days had been inevitably swung into the strategy of business, is beginning to express itself in many promising forms of public spirited activity.

Physical environment, no less than racial stock and economic factors, condition the development of public sentiment in a community. The growth of Pittsburgh as a center of population under the pressure of business opportunity would have been very greatly hampered if electric transit had not prepared the way. The ground plan runs up and down almost impossible foldings of hill and valley. The electric cars make possible the utilizing of all the slopes and hilltops for homes. This has weakened the inevitable centripetal force of urban growth, and led to the building up of suburbs very accessible to the central business section, and comparing for attractiveness and comfort with those of any other city in the country. Such a transfer of well-to-do population has made possible other important shiftings both of poorer population and of business, by which the business center has gained in area and in the character and adaptability of its structures.

Pittsburgh has grown into an industrial metropolis with outlying manufacturing towns reaching along the rivers, and following the course of all the railroads for a distance of thirty or forty miles. The time is soon coming when all the large industries will be eliminated from the city, and Pittsburgh proper will become simply the commercial and cultural headquarters of its district.

Meanwhile all these methods of expansion and relief have not been sufficient to give adequate room in the downtown section either for industry, trade or housing. This area, which is closely hemmed in by the rivers and the hills, now includes the great central commercial activities, the railroad terminals, several large industrial plants and numerous smaller ones, together with the homes of the unskilled population which finds employment within it.

The congestion within these tight limits brings out, in a peculiarly acute way, the breakdown of many branches of the social administration of the city, from the point of view of the welfare of its population as a whole. Here not only the unfitness of hundreds of houses under existing conditions for human habitation, but the actual and serious shortage of roofs under which to shelter the lower grades of the industrial population, is most strikingly seen. Here typhoid fever, for which Pittsburgh has these many years held a tragic pre-eminence, is at its highest rate. Here the actual congestion of machinery within industrial plants which cannot get land to expand upon, is particularly conducive to the diseases, and to accidents which are associated with the different branches of industry.

In this situation appears another of the strange contrasts of Pittsburgh life. The problem of the downtown district is further complicated by the fact that great sections of it are held under a landlord system like that of the old world. Thirty-three[Pg 531] million dollars' worth of real estate located almost wholly in the downtown district is held by five estates, some of the holders living abroad permanently, others traveling much of the time. Commercial enterprise is handicapped by the difficulty of securing an independent title to real estate. Much of the most objectionable tenement house property is held by two of these estates. Absentee landlordism thus oddly parallels absentee capitalism. To the fact that the industrial authorities are remote and, by controlling many plants, can take the fiscal rather than the close range administrative view of industry, must be largely traced that stern reprobation of any equity on the part of the workman in his work, which has on occasion made, and will again make Pittsburgh the country's chief point of social unrest and danger.

The anti-trade-union policy tends strongly to fix and standardize the immigrant rate of wages, and has given strong cumulative force to the personal profit-reapings of the past two decades. Recognizing clearly the serious limitations of trade unionism as part of the organization of a tumultuous industry like that of Pittsburgh, it must still be said that there is substantial evidence to believe that the community cheats itself when it keeps up a glutted labor market and a lower than standard wage. However this may be, the Pittsburgh employers' point of view, more than that of any other city of the country, is like that of England in the early days of the factory system,—holding employes guilty of a sort of impiety, and acting with sudden and sure execution, if they undertake to enforce their claims in such way as to embarrass the momentum of great business administration. A sound standard of living for the workman and his right by organized competition to win it, Pittsburgh must eventually recognize as fundamental to the country's economic and political welfare. Should she persist in excluding trade unionism, European experience shows that her hordes of immigrants will quickly learn to carry their alien types of unrest to the ballot box.

The backwardness of Pittsburgh in the development of culture and public spirit,[Pg 532] must be traced in part to the negative attitude of a serious minded people toward the amenities of life, and their distrust of the process of government. There has been no sufficient tradition in the city of more balanced and varied human interests. The city's population, instead of finding an increasing social unity, has been increasingly sectionalized by the overwhelming influx of every type of immigrant. There has not been leisure for the consideration and discussion of public questions. The very ground plan of the city, which scatters all of its responsible citizens through the suburbs at night, tends to deprive the city of their disinterested co-operation out of office hours toward raising its tone and standards. But other American cities have shown how, when many of their people began to be released from the treadmill of the purely industrial stage of their growth, it is possible to take advantage of the experience of older communities and move by long strides toward a humanized type of urban life.

From the foremost absentee capitalist and the foremost absentee landlord have come as gifts the two epoch-making improvements toward the finer public life of the city. Schenley Park and the Carnegie institutions located at its entrance form a civic center whose possibilities of civic influence are very great. It may be noted that the coming in of these improvements was coincident with the work of a city engineer who, indifferent to the political principles under which the city was administered, and acting as a kind of despot within his domain, carried through many great improvements in the layout of the new districts of the city, and with the first move in the direction of a great hospital, which is one day to be built with money left for the purpose by the man who for many years was the political master of the city.

The effect upon the city of benefits wrought out in this undemocratic fashion will of course be subject to heavy abatements; but it would be a strange doctrinaire who could not see that these specific steps represent most substantial net gains in the life of the community. There is indeed a distinct undertone of feeling that such benefactions represent simply a return to the city of what the city itself has produced. One can find comparatively few indications that the park, the library and the rest have placed the city under the depressing bonds of patronage. The existence and service of these institutions, in any case, give a new and strong focus to the rising city sense, and the evidence goes to show that, rather than weakening the spirit of collective initiative on the part of the citizens themselves, they have conduced to give shape and force to it.

There are several instructive ways in which this growth of civic consciousness is expressing itself. The movement for a greater Pittsburgh now consummated in the union of Pittsburgh and Allegheny with a few adjacent towns, arises no doubt in the general effort toward power and prestige; but the step toward inclusiveness is entirely normal, and has gathered up into a public movement aggressive impulses which had never before run in that channel. Happily the expansion was preceded by the election for the first time in a generation of a reform mayor. The movement came directly as a result of the impudent interference of the state machine in unseating a mayor who had been elected by an opposing local faction. This action, carried out under the forms of legislation, brought Pittsburgh people into a new feeling of municipal self-respect, and led to their electing on a democratic ticket George W. Guthrie, who is in every respect one of Pittsburgh's first citizens and has for many years been earnestly interested in the cause of municipal reform.

The date 1898 may be taken as marking a kaleidoscopic shifting in the Pittsburgh ensemble. Then the city emerged into the day of large things,—into the great concentration of capital, and the incidental liquidation which gave many families overpowering fortunes of cash in hand; the assembling of vast heterogeneous multitudes of laborers to keep up with the demands of a period of unparalleled prosperity; the ampler civic sense signalized by the Carnegie institutions with their unusual cultural opportunities,[Pg 533] and embodied after a time in solid municipal reform and progress, in a truly enlightened Chamber of Commerce, and in excellent forms of social service. On the one hand, irresponsible individuals have gone forth with boundless power to represent the city to the world at her worst. On the other, Pittsburgh is gradually and quietly taking to herself the world's lessons in the making of the modern city and in the building up of citizenship. The former phenomenon, in which to many this city is allegorized, is but the froth and the scum; the latter has the beginnings of a tidal energy behind it.




The day laborer of a generation ago is gone,—a change which has been swifter and more complete in Pittsburgh than in many other of our industrial centers. "Where are your Irish? your Welsh? your Germans? your Americans?" I asked an old mill hand. "Go to the city hall and the police station," he said. "Some of them are still in the better paid jobs in the mills; but mostly you'll have to look for them among the doctors and lawyers and office holders; among clerks and accountants and salesmen. You'll find them there."

The day laborer in the mills to-day is a Slav. The foreign-born of the steel district comprise, it is true, every European nation, but I shall deal here only with the races from southeastern Europe, which for twenty years have been steadily displacing the Teutonic and Keltic peoples in the rough work of the industries. The tendency of the Italians is to go into construction and railroad work, a few entering the mines, rather than into the plants and yards; and my group narrows itself down to the dominant Slav and Lithuanian. What I have to say of them in Pittsburgh and Allegheny City is in the main representative of the manufacturing towns of the whole district.

Roughly speaking, one-quarter of the population of Pittsburgh is foreign-born. The foreigner is nowhere more at home than here, and nowhere has he been more actively welcomed by employers. The conflict of customs and habits, varying standards of living, prejudices, antipathies, all due to the confluence of representatives of different races of men, may be witnessed here. The most backward of these foreigners are superstitious and ignorant and are the victims of cunning[Pg 534] knaves and unscrupulous parasites. On the other hand, the whole territory is thrown into a stern struggle for subsistence and wage-standards by the displacements due to these resistless accretions to the ranks of the workers. The moral and religious life of the city is not less affected by this inflow of peoples. Their religious training differs widely from that of peoples of Protestant antecedents, and institutions that were dear to the founders of the city are fast undermined by the customs of immigrants from southeastern Europe. Yet as a whole, they bring with them physical and cultural resources which the English-speaking community fails to elicit or thoughtlessly wastes.

Such an exhaustive study as could be made of the immigrant population of the steel district is outside the possibilities of this paper. I shall set down only what a month brought me as I visited the lodging-houses and the courts and the mills of Greater Pittsburgh; as I talked with priest and leader, policeman and doctor, banker and labor boss, the immigrants themselves and those who live close to them; but I shall put it before you in the light of many years' residence in the anthracite coal communities, where in another section of Pennsylvania, at Mahanoy City and Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, I have known the Slav and the Lett and their efforts to gain a foothold in America. I shall deal with the situation, not as I have seen it in my visits of the past year, during which the immigrants have returned home by thousands, but as I came to know it in the heyday of prosperity, the early fall of 1907, when conditions were as they are likely to be again when industrial prosperity returns. This is the situation which we must reckon with in a permanent way.

In 1880, Slavs, Lithuanians and Italians did not form one per cent of the population in either Pittsburgh or Allegheny. By 1890, they had reached four per cent, and out of an army of 90,000 wage earners, one in every ten was an immigrant from southeastern Europe. By 1900, one-third of the foreign-born were of this new immigration, and the movement of the Teutonic and Keltic races had practically ceased. We must wait until the census enumeration of 1910 before we may definitely know what proportion these newcomers form to-day, but it may safely be assumed that the percentage of foreign-born in the greater city will equal that of 1900, thirty per cent, or roughly, 200,000, half of whom will be from southeastern Europe.

Poles, Italians and Jewish immigrants lead the list. Lithuanians, Croatians, Servians, Slovaks and Ruthenians are numbered by the thousands, and Magyars, Greeks, Bohemians and Roumanians are here in lesser groups.

The representatives of these nations touch elbows in the streets so that the languages heard when the people are marketing in the foreign quarters on Saturday night are as numerous as those of a seaport town. Twenty dialects are spoken. Yet the polyglot mass that confuses the visitor and induces pessimistic impressions as to the future of the city, is each morning marshalled without tumult. The discipline of the industrial establishments converts this babel of tongues into one of the chief forces of production. Therein lies an appraisal not only of the American entrepreneur, but also of these men coming from nations of low efficiency, who are able so quickly to fall into line and keep step in an industrial army of remarkable discipline and output.

There is no way of knowing the annual inflow of immigrants into Pittsburgh, for the city is a distributing point. The records of the ports of entry show that in 1907, 187,618 persons gave Pittsburgh as their destination, but many of these scattered to the neighboring Pennsylvania towns and many undoubtedly went to the mills and mines of Eastern Ohio. Every day brings its quota of immigrants in normal times; occasionally they come by the carloads. Owing to the shifting of the newcomers, however, the outflow may often equal the inflow. Conditions of the local industries determine which of these two currents runs the swifter. During the first seven years of the century, the city possibly added 15,000 annually by immigration.

[Pg 535]

Before taking up the living conditions in Pittsburgh as they especially affect these immigrant laborers, let us consider for a moment certain characteristics of these people, and their relation to the general economic situation. First, it is the wages that bring them here. The workers in the mills of Galicia, the vine-lands of Italy, and the factories of Kiev, earn from twenty-five cents to fifty cents in a day of from twelve to sixteen hours. When the American immigrant writes home that he works only nine, ten, or twelve hours and earns from $1.50 to $2.00, the able-bodied wage earner in the fatherland who hears this will not be satisfied until he also stands where the shorter day and the higher wages govern. It is these home-going letters more than all else which recruit the labor force. They are efficient promoters of immigration. "There are no able-bodied men," said Big Sam to me, "between the ages of sixteen and fifty years left in my native town in Servia; they have all come to America."


Up to September, 1907, the men in charge of furnaces, foundries, forges and mills, in the Pittsburgh district, could not get the help they needed. The cry everywhere was, "Give us men." A foreman, therefore, could assure Pietro and Melukas that if their brothers or cousins, or friends were sent for, they would get work as soon as they arrived. More than that, the Slav and Italian are no longer dependent on the English boss in the matter of finding work for their countrymen. The inflow of immigration from southeastern Europe has assumed such proportions in the industries of the cities that superintendents have, in some instances, appointed Italian and Polish and Lithuanian foremen; and with these, as with German and Irish, blood is thicker than water. They employ their fellow countrymen. They know the condition of the labor market and can by suggestion stimulate or retard immigration.

The tonnage industries of Pittsburgh have expanded tremendously in the last two decades. Such industries need manual laborers as do no others. The Slavs have brawn for sale. Herein, at bottom, is the drawing force which accounts for such a moving in of peoples and the readiness with which they find their places in the specialized industries of the district. Pittsburgh has clamorous need for these men. Take the average Lithuanian, Croatian, Ruthenian, or Slovak, and his physique would compare favorably with that of any people. Most of the immigrants are from agricultural communities. Their food in the fatherland was coarse, their habits simple, their cares few. They had an abundance of vegetable diet, pure water, pure air and sunshine, and they developed strong physical organisms. Taking them as a whole, we get the best of the agricultural communities. The day has not yet come when the weak emigrate and the strong stay at home. No ship agents, however active, can reverse the natural order of the tide of immigration, and natural selection added to federal scrutiny gives us a body of men physically[Pg 536] most fit for the development of our industries. Nowhere has this been better illustrated than in Pittsburgh.

These men come to be "the hewers of wood and carriers of water." There are representatives of each race far removed from the lowest industrial stratum, but taking these people as a whole, it is safe to say that the bulk of the unskilled labor in the city,—the digging and carrying in the streets, the heavy labor in the mill, the loading and unloading of raw material on railroad and river, the rough work around forge and foundry, the coarse work around factories, and the lifting necessary in machine shops,—all is performed by them.


This is the level at which they enter the economic order. What trade equipment do they bring into the work with them? Their industrial efficiency is low and I should estimate that ninety-five per cent have no knowledge of modern machinery or methods of modern production; they are children in factory training. Further, those who have trades find themselves in an industrial environment where their previous training is of little value. They are in ignorance of the English language, and the few mechanics and tradesmen among them can do no better than join the ranks of the common laborers. We must bear in mind, however, that those of them who know how to use tools, once they are put to work that requires some skill, adapt themselves quickly to the situation. Hence we meet not a few Slavs and Lithuanians who execute work of a semi-skilled nature. Sons, also, of men of these nationalities who settled in the city a generation ago have risen to positions of standing in the industries. Thus it is not unusual to hear of this man or that who has become a foreman in the mills or taken a place in business or in the professions.

But on several counts the average Slav, Lithuanian and Italian are not as acceptable as day laborers as were the immigrants from northwestern Europe. The common opinion of American employers is that they are stupid and that the supervisory force must be much larger than if they had English speaking help. Many employers would no doubt, prefer the latter; but they cannot get them for the wages offered; they must take the Slav or run short handed. The United States commissioner of immigration in Pittsburgh is constantly besieged by employers of labor who need help. Many stories are told of one firm stealing a group of laborers marshalled at the ports of entry and forwarded to another.


I have spoken of the influence which letters and money sent home have in recruiting immigrant workmen. These people make little or no use of labor agencies unless the saloon and the small bank may be so denominated. There are men in each nationality, acknowledged leaders, who play the part of intermediaries between superintendents and their people. But such investigations as I have made at Ellis Island do not lead me to believe that the employers of labor in Pittsburgh violate the contract labor law. Labor agencies in New York city make a specialty of distributing Slavs, Lithuanians and Italians to firms in need of hands. The leader who supplies men to a mill or mining concern gets so much for each man supplied. Whatever contract there may be is executed this side of the water. For instance, a leading Croatian had a specific understanding with one of the mills of Pittsburgh that all men he brings will find employment. No contract was executed and in the opinion of the local immigration agent, there was in it no violation of the contract labor law.


I have noted the drawbacks to the new day laborer as such. On the other hand, it is a common opinion in the district that some employers of labor give the Slavs and Italians preference because of their docility, their habit of silent submission, their amenability to discipline, and their willingness to work long hours and over time without a murmur. Foreigners as a rule earn the lowest wages and work the full stint of hours. I found them in the machine shops working sixty hours a week; at the blast furnaces working twelve hours a day for seven days in the week. The common laborer in and around the mills works seventy-two hours a week. The unit of wages is an hour rate for day labor and a Slav is willing to take the longer hours (twelve hours a day for men who work fourteen and sixteen in the fatherland) with extra work on Sundays, especially in connection with clearing[Pg 537] the yards and repairing. Possibly sixty to seventy per cent of the laborers in the mills come out Sundays and the mechanics and other laborers on occasions work thirty-six hours in order that the plant may start on time. In one mill I found Russians (Greek Orthodox) in favor for the reason that they gladly worked on Sundays.


My belief is that certain employers of labor have reaped advantage from racial antipathies. The Pole and the Lithuanian have nothing in common and each of them despises the Slovak. Foremen know this and use their knowledge when foreigners are likely to reach a common understanding upon wages or conditions of labor. All these considerations have helped make it less difficult for factory operators to keep open or non-union shop in Pittsburgh. The constant influx of raw material from backward nations into the industries of the city has had somewhat the same effect as the flow of water at an estuary when the tide is rising. All is commotion. It will continue to be so as long as the inflow of Slavs and Italians continues as it has in the last decade. But when they have become permanently placed and their average intelligence and grasp of American conditions rise, racial prejudices will give way to common interests. When this time comes, Pittsburgh will witness the rise of stronger labor organizations than were ever effected by Teuton and Kelt.

We have seen, then, the Slavic day laborers coming into the steel district in vast numbers. Of their strength and lack of skill at the outset there is no doubt,[Pg 538] and we have noted some of the snap judgments that are current about them; such as, that they are stupid, and submissive. All this puts us in better position to consider more in detail my first statement that it is the wages that bring them to Pittsburgh, and to see what advances they make once they have gained a foothold. The Slav enters the field at a rate of pay for day labor which is higher than that which brought the Germans and the Kelts. The lowest wage I found Slavs working for was thirteen and one-half cents an hour. The wage of common labor in the average mill is fifteen or sixteen and a half cents. The day laborer around the furnaces gets from $1.65 to $1.98 a day.

But the newcomers know nothing of a standard wage, and when work is scarce, they will offer to work for less than is paid for common labor. Such was the case of a band of Croatians who offered their services to a firm in Pittsburgh for $1.20 a day. When the superintendent heard it, he said, "My God, what is the country coming to? How can a man live in Pittsburgh on $1.20 a day?" The foreman replied, "Give them rye bread, a herring, and beer, and they are all right." [I have known a coal operator in the anthracite fields to pay Italians and Slovaks ninety cents a day, and ask neither what was the country coming to nor how they could subsist.] More, the Slavs will consciously cut wages in order to get work. A man who knows something about blacksmithing or carpentering will work at a trade for $1.65 or $1.75 when the standard wage may be $2.50. They count their money in the denominations of the fatherland and estimate its value according to old country standards. I have known foremen to take advantage of this. Again, those who are skilled will at the command of the boss render menial services without a murmur. "These fellows have no pride," said an American craftsman to me, "they are not ruled by custom. When the foreman demands it they will throw down the saw or hammer and take the wheelbarrow."

So the Slav gains his foothold in the Pittsburgh industries, and in the doing of it, he undermines the income of the next higher industrial groups and gains the enmity of the Americans. Shrewd superintendents are known not only to take advantage of the influx of unskilled labor to keep down day wages, but to reduce the pay of skilled men by a gradually enforced system of promoting the Slavs. In the place of six men at ten dollars a day, one will be employed at fifteen dollars, with five others at half, or less than half, the old rate, who will work under the high-priced man. Inventions, changes in processes, new machines, a hundred elements tend to complicate the situation and render it difficult to disentangle the influence of any one element. But this much is clear, the new immigration is a factor which is influencing the economic status of the whole wage-earning population in Pittsburgh; it is bound to be a permanent factor; and its influence will be more and not less.

My estimate is that possibly twenty per cent of these laborers from southeastern Europe now work at machines which require a week or two weeks to acquire the skill needed in their operation. To be sure, they are machines "so simple that a child could operate them, and so strong that a fool cannot break them." Many Slovaks work in the Pressed Steel Car Company in Allegheny, as riveters, punchers, and pressmen, while others are fitters, carpenters, and blacksmiths. Some Croatians and Servians are rising and are found in the steel mills as roughers and catchers. I saw Ruthenians feeding machines with white heated bars of steel. It was simple, mechanical work, but of a higher grade than that of scrap-carrier. The Poles who in recent years emigrated from Russia and Austria-Hungary are as industrially efficient as any group of immigrants and work in both mills and foundries. A foreigner who has a chance to become a machine operator generally goes into piece work and earns from $2 to $2.50 a day. But all men at the machines are not on piece work. A foreman explained this to me as follows: "If the machine depends upon the man for speed, we put him on piece work; if the machine drives the man, we pay him by the day." The man operating a machine by the day gets from $1.75 to $2. Many boys and young women of Slavic parentage work in the spike, nut and bolt, and steel wire factories. They sit before machines and pickling urns for ten hours for from seventy-five cents to $1 a day. The Slovak riveters, punchers, shears-men and pressmen in the Pressed Steel Car Company's plant are paid by the piece, and for the most part make from $35 to $50 in two weeks. Fitters, carpenters, blacksmiths and painters are getting from $2 to $2.50 by the day. Mr. Bozic, the banker, told me of Croatians and Servians who made as high as $70 in two weeks, and others who made between $3 and $4 a day—many of them in positions which once paid English-speaking workmen twice those sums. High and low are relative terms and they signify very different standards to a Slav and to an American. But it is a mistake to imagine that the Slav or Lithuanian cannot adapt himself to modern industrial conditions. There is considerable of prophecy in the thousands of them already doing efficient work in the mills. The sooner the English-speaking workers recognize this and make friends of these workers, the better. No class of work is now monopolized by Teutons and Kelts, and the service rendered by the Slav and Lithuanian will before many years equal theirs in market value.

With this rapid statement of the economic position of the Slavs, we can more intelligently approach the problem of their living conditions. But first let us bear sharply in mind that their work is often cast among dangers; is often inimical to health.

Many work in intense heat, the din of machinery and the noise of escaping steam. The congested condition of most of the plants in Pittsburgh adds to the physical discomforts for an out-of-doors people; while their ignorance of the language and of modern machinery increases the risk. How many of the Slavs, Lithuanians and Italians are injured in Pittsburgh in one year is not known. No reliable statistics are compiled. In their absence people guess, and the mischief wrought by contradictory and biased statements is met on all hands. When I[Pg 539] mentioned a plant that had a bad reputation to a priest, he said, "Oh, that is the slaughter-house; they kill them there every day." I quote him not for his accuracy, but to show how the rumors circulate and are real to the people themselves. It is undoubtedly true, that exaggerated though the reports may be, the waste in life and limb is great, and if it all fell upon the native born a cry would long since have gone up which would have stayed the slaughter.

In the matter of compensation for injuries, the foreign-speaking are often subjected to hardships and injustice. If the widow of a man killed in a mine or mill of Pennsylvania lives in Europe, she cannot recover any damages, although the accident may be entirely due to the neglect of the company. Because of this ruling, certain strong companies in the Pittsburgh district seldom pay a cent to the relatives of the deceased if they dwell beyond the seas. I asked a leader among the Italians, "Why do you settle the serious cases for a few hundred dollars?" He replied: "We find it best after much bitter experience. The courts are against us; a jury will not mulct a corporation to send money to Europe; the relatives are not here to bewail their loss in court; the average American cares nothing for the foreigner. Every step of the way we meet with prejudices and find positive contempt, from those in highest authority in the courts down to the tip-staff. When I settle for $200, I can do nothing better."

The influence of the industries reaches still further into the lives of the immigrants. Each people has a tendency to colonize in one section of the city and work in some one mill. The Bohemians are strong in Allegheny City, but few of them are found in Pittsburgh. The Slovaks predominate in McKees Rocks and Allegheny City, and many of them are found in the Soho district of Pittsburgh. The Poles are numerous in many parts of the greater city. The Lithuanians live in large numbers on the South Side, and near the National Tube Works and the American Steel and Wire Company.[Pg 540] Many Ruthenians work in the Oliver Steel Works, while the Croatians and Servians have worked for the most part in the Jones and Laughlin plants. My information is that foremen try to get one nationality in assigning work to a group of laborers, for they know that a homogeneous group will give best results. National pride also enters into selection. In talking to a Lithuanian of the serious loss of life which occurred when a furnace blew up, I asked, "Were any of your people killed in that accident?" He answered quickly, "No; catch our people do such work as that! There you find the Slovak." Of the grades of unskilled labor, the Slovak, Croatian, Servian and Russian (Greek Orthodox) may be said to perform the roughest and most risky, and the most injurious to health. There is, then, a more or less natural selection of peoples in the neighborhoods of the different great mills.

The geographical contour of the region has also had its influence in keeping the foreign population within certain limited districts. The two rivers, the Allegheny and the Monongahela, have cut their beds in the Allegheny range, leaving a narrow strip of land on either side of their banks which offers limited sites for dwellings, mills and factories. The lowlands were preempted long ago, and the contest for parts of them between the mills and the homes has been intense. There is an advantage to the employer, however, in having his crude labor force within easy call, and night work and the cost of carfare help keep the mass of men employed in common labor near the mills and on the congested lowlands. The deplorable conditions I found among them I shall describe, but let me say here that all the houses on the flats are not the same. I visited homes of Slavs and Lithuanians which were clean, well furnished, and equal in comfort to those of Americans of the same economic level. These foreigners have been in the country many years and their children have risen to the American standard. But our first concern is with the recent comers, who too often live in lodgings that are filthy; whose peasant habits seem to us uncouth; and whose practices are fatal to decency and morality in a thickly settled district.

Yet the foreigner pays a higher rent than does the "white man." In Bass street, Allegheny City, I found English-speaking tenants paying fifteen dollars a month for four rooms, where Slavs were charged twenty dollars. Landlords who received ten dollars and twelve dollars a month for houses rented to the English-speaking, were getting seventeen and eighteen dollars from the Slavs. On Penn avenue a Slav paid seventeen dollars for three rooms, while a family renting eight rooms in the front of the building paid but thirty-three dollars a month. As nearly as I could estimate, the average monthly rent paid by the foreigner in Pittsburgh is more than four dollars a room. I found one family paying nine dollars and a half for one large room in an old residence on the South Side; another paid ten dollars for two rooms, another sixteen dollars for three; and on Brandt street I found a man who paid twenty-two dollars a month for four. The rent is not always fixed by the landlord. Where lodgers are taken, it is sometimes regulated by the number the "boarding-boss" can crowd in, the landlord getting one dollar a month extra for each boarder. Houses of from eight to twelve rooms have in them to-day anywhere from three to six families. They were built for one family, and until the owners are forced by the Bureau of Health to install sanitary appliances, have equipment for but one. Too many landlords when they rent to foreigners have apparently one dominating passion,—rent. They make no repairs, and with the crowded condition above described the houses soon bear marks of ill usage. Whenever foreigners invade a neighborhood occupied by English-speaking tenants, property depreciates. The former occupants get out, the invaders multiply, and very often the properties pass into the hands of speculators. Houses once occupied by Slavs can seldom be rented again to Anglo-Saxons. Foreigners under stress for room use cellars as bed rooms, and it is against these that the health bureau within the last year[Pg 541] has taken action. I saw one of these beside which a common stable would have been a parlor.


Three men in the far bed, two in the others, twelve in the room. In some of these lodgings day workers sleep nights in beds occupied by night workers in the daytime.

But it is in the immigrant lodging houses that conditions are worst. These conditions are not always the choice of the men. The Croatians, Servians, Roumanians and Greeks have only from five to ten per cent of women among them; hence the men of these nationalities have but few boarding houses conducted by their own people to go to, and crowding is inevitable. English-speaking and German families will not open their doors to them. Single men in groups of from six to twenty go into one house in charge of a boarding-boss and his wife. Each man pays from seventy-five cents to a dollar a week for room to sleep in and the little cooking and washing that are to be done. Food for the company is bought on one book, and every two weeks the sum total is divided equally among the boarders, each man paying his pro rata share. The bill for two weeks will hardly amount to three dollars a man, so that the average boarder will spend ten dollars a month on room rent and maintenance. The mania for saving results in many cases in skimping the necessaries of life. A priest told me of a Lithuanian who lived on ten cents a day, and by helping the landlady in her house work, the man saved room rent. I found Russians (Greek Orthodox) on Tustine street who were paying three dollars a month for room rent. They buy bread made by Russian Jews, get a herring and a pot of beer, and live,—not always,—in peace. When they pay three dollars and fifty cents for room rent, soup is included in the contract. Domestic tragedies sometimes invade these communal households, such as a case of assault and battery which came up in an alderman's office. The complainant was a single man who appeared with a ghastly scalp wound. When this boarding-boss presented his bill at the end of two weeks, the charges were five dollars more than the man[Pg 542] thought they ought to be. He protested and the boarding-boss took a hatchet to silence him. The Italians are close livers; but possibly the worst conditions I saw were among the Armenians in the neighborhood of Basin alley.

In these boarding establishments as a general rule, the kitchen is commonly used as a bedroom. When the boarding boss rents two rooms, he and his wife sleep in the kitchen, and the boarders take the other room. It is not unusual for a boarding-boss to rent but one room. He and his wife put their bed in one corner; the stove in another; and the boarders take the remainder. Sometimes the rooms are so crowded that the boss and his wife sleep on the floor; and I repeatedly found cases where beds were being worked double shift,—night and day. The city Bureau of Health has endeavored to reduce the number of beds in a room, but it does not follow that the people occupying that room get out,—they sleep on the floor minus the bed. Here as elsewhere the problem is one of the hardest for sanitary inspectors to cope with.


Four beds; two in a bed. The young fellow at the table was writing home. Before him were pictures of his mother and sisters in immaculate peasant costumes.

Sometimes four or six men rent a house and run it themselves, doing their own cooking and washing and occasionally bringing in a woman to do a little cleaning. They may stand this for about six months and then get out when the room is past the cleaning stage. Such crowding is very prevalent in the low lying parts of the South Side, in the neighborhood of Penn avenue in the city proper, and in sections of Allegheny. Among the Russians of Tustine street I found thirty-three persons living in one house in six rooms and an attic. These were distributed among three families. The Croatians also are bad crowders. A milk dealer told me of twenty-eight who lived in a house in Carey alley. When I asked, "How do they live?" his reply was, "I don't know and don't care if I get my money for my milk." In Pork House row and near Eckert street in Allegheny, things were no better, and some blocks of houses under the California avenue bridge were as bad as any thing I saw.

Before we condemn immigrants for the filth of their lodgings, we must remember that they are largely rural peoples unused to such city barracks. This fact is illustrated especially in their ignorance regarding that terror which has waited upon foreigners in the Pittsburgh district,—typhoid fever. Dr. Leon Sadowski estimated that as high as fifty per cent of all young foreigners who come to Pittsburgh contract typhoid fever within two years of their coming. Dr. Maracovick told me that in four years no less than 100 Croatians in the neighborhood of Smallman street had come down with the fever, and that most of them died. "You cannot make the foreigner believe that Pittsburgh water is unwholesome," said Dr. Welsh of Bellevue. "He comes from rural communities where contamination of water is unknown." Physicians told me of men who had been warned, deliberately going to the Allegheny to quench their thirst.

Where so many single men are huddled together the laws of decency and morality are hard to observe. The boarding boss seldom has a family and, in going the round of these houses, the absence of children is conspicuous. A physician among them told me, "The average boarding-boss's wife cannot get any,—the moral condition makes it a physical impossibility." This stands in striking contrast with the average Slavic woman who in her natural environment, is the mother of children. These mid-European peoples are not so passionate as the Italians, but many of the single men, as the case is in all barracks life, fall into vice. A physician told me that gonorrhea is very prevalent among the Croatians and Servians. Another physician said of the Slavs in general, "They frequent cheap houses and come out diseased and robbed." Many bawdy houses are known in Pittsburgh as "Johnny Houses," for the reason that they are frequented by foreigners whose proper names are unpronounceable and who go by the name of "John." The number entering these on a "wide-awake"[Pg 543] (pay) Saturday night is large. A man who knows this section fairly well, said, "Sometimes these men have to wait their turn." These are houses of the cheapest kind given over to prostitutes in the last stage.

The presence of young immigrant women in the immigrant lodging houses adds to the seriousness of the situation. Here again it is a question of wages that brings them to this country. They do the drudgery in the hotels and restaurants which English-speaking girls will not do; and they are to be found in factories working under conditions their English-speaking sisters would resent. If any persons need protection, these young women do. There is no adequate inspection of the labor employment agencies in Pittsburgh which solicit patronage among them, often to wrong them. Not only do some of these agencies take their money but they send girls to places unfit for them. An innocent girl may learn the character of the house only when it is too late. And even in the boarding houses their lot is a hard one, especially when the men of the place are on a carouse.

The Slavs and Lithuanians are fond of drink and spend their money freely on it. Some spend more money on beer than they do on food. The evidences of drink in the homes are apparent on all sides; and not only do national customs and national tastes and usages make for drunkenness, but the undeniable fact that the liquor interests are the only American institutions which effectively reach the great mass of the non-English speaking immigrants. Where else does the stranger find opportunity for recreation at his very hand? Empty beer kegs and bottles are to be seen everywhere among the houses of the immigrant lodgers. In Latimore alley, on a September morning, I counted twenty empty kegs in the yard; and in another corner there was a pile of empty bottles. It is nothing unusual for a beer wagon on Saturday to deliver into one of these boarding houses from eight to twelve cases of beer. When a keg is open the boarders feel that they must drain it. "It won't keep," they say. Sunday is the day for drinking. One man often drinks[Pg 544] from fifteen to twenty bottles; while he who drinks from the keg does away with from two to three gallons. No social gathering is complete without drink. Marriages, baptisms, social occasions, holidays are all celebrated with beer and liquor. There is no good time and no friendship without it. The Slavs usually rent a hall to celebrate their weddings. The scenes of debauchery with which such festivities sometimes end are discountenanced by the respectable element among these people. Pool rooms afford loafing places for the young men of the worst sort. The cheap vaudeville shows, nickelodeons, and skating rinks are run for profit and not for the sake of clean recreation such as the community should in some way provide. But such places cannot be eliminated unless the craving of young people for amusement is met intelligently and sanely.


Where the environment of the home is unsanitary and repulsive, and where opportunities for recreation are limited and sordid, crime is bound to flourish. Approximately one-fifth of the persons incarcerated in Allegheny county in recent years have been immigrants from southeastern Europe. A visit to the police stations of the South Side on Sunday morning when the police magistrate dispenses justice after a "wide-awake" Saturday night, is a thing never to be forgotten. In such a section the foreigners form a majority of the offenders. On one of my visits to a South Side court, a young Pole was brought up who said he wanted to be arrested just to find out how it felt. The judge asked him, "How do you like it?" "All right," he said laughing. He got a full taste by being sent to jail for ten days. Another young Slav had violated a city ordinance. He could not speak English. The judge asked him how long he had been in the country. "Four years," he replied. "And you cannot talk English?" said the judge. "Don't you know that you ought to learn English that you may know we have laws and ordinances which must be obeyed?" In the judge's remark there was more of a commentary on civic duties unfulfilled than he perhaps realized. But who was to blame? Was it the Slav boy? Or was it the community which had failed to meet him halfway?

Here it is well to point out that the public school authorities have not made any strenuous effort to open evening schools for foreign adults in the city. The notable exception to this rule has been the work carried on by Principal Anthony among the Jewish people of the hill district, which grew out of classes carried on at Columbian Settlement. Another evening school, in the establishment of which a priest was the prime mover, met with fair success, but the foreigners dropped out very quickly. When asked why the school was given up, one of the school officials said that the pupils did not want it to continue; but their hours of work and changing shifts are probably still more important factors. Kingsley House, Woods Run and Columbian Settlement have carried on successful classes for foreigners, and the Y. M. C. A.'s of the districts are entering the field of civic and language instruction. The development of the evening courses of the Carnegie Technical Schools has been significant, but as yet they do not reach many unskilled immigrants, who need a nearby elementary help. The camp schools carried on by the Society for the Protection of Italian Immigrants, at Aspinwall and Ambridge, have illustrated what could be done, and the response which comes from the immigrants themselves. More important, they were the means of securing the passage of legislation enabling local school authorities to open classes for adults. But in Greater Pittsburgh, it remains true that the school authorities are not yet awake to the importance of opening schools for foreign-speaking people and inducing them to attend. There could be no greater service rendered these young foreigners (or the city that harbors them) than that of aiding them to form clubs, and of engaging competent men to teach them English and give them some idea of the history and laws of the country.

In police station No. 3 on Penn avenue, the cases averaged four hundred and forty-five a month during the ten months I studied them. Drunkenness and disorderly conduct formed sixty-eight per cent of these cases, and the foreigners from southeastern Europe were charged with twenty-seven per cent of them. Three-quarters of the criminals were single men, and the large number of single men among the foreigners who lack decent homes, doubtless partly accounts for the frequency of their arrests. Similar proportions governed at police station No. 7 on Carson street.

A study of the docket of the Aldermen's Court on the South Side, in a prescribed area where Slavs and Lithuanians form an essential part of the population, showed a total of 167, or 39.5 per cent for these nationalities; but these cases varied greatly from those in the police stations. 48.3 per cent were cases of assault and battery and 45.6 per cent of the culprits were foreigners. The cases of fornication and bastardy, adultery and rape, numbered seventeen, more than half of which were to be laid at the door of the foreigners. Cases of larceny, disturbance of the peace, and disorderly conduct were about[Pg 545] equally divided between the English-speaking and the non-English-speaking of southeastern Europe. Out of thirty-one cases of desertion and non-support, not a Slav, Lithuanian or Italian was implicated.


A closer study of this list indicated that aldermen were giving preference to cases where the returns were sure. Pittsburgh suffers under a system of petty aldermen's courts such as Chicago only recently put an end to, and from which Philadelphia is exempted by constitutional provision. The aldermen are dependent upon their fees and the immigrants, ofttimes innocent, are the special prey of such as may be unscrupulous.

Profits are not what they used to be for those who prey upon ignorance, as I gathered from the constable who told me, "The foreigner knows too much now; old times are past." In the good old times he had made from fifteen to twenty dollars a day. But even if the most flagrant abuses are now infrequent and if some of the aldermen are of unquestionable character, the system is[Pg 546] wrong and the foreigner is its most grievous sufferer.


But we must not over-estimate the lawlessness among these people. We have seen the manner of life of the single men, and the dangers that beset them. In the Pittsburgh situation what encouragement is there to the immigrant who seriously wants to get ahead in life? I have it from a priest that one-tenth of the young men of his race who come to this district go to the bad; the other nine-tenths may drink more or less, but they manage to save money and in time acquire property. Of the Lithuanian families of Pittsburgh more than ten per cent own their own homes. Many Poles and Slovaks also have purchased their own homes. When an Italian resolves to stay in this country, he buys a house. But as yet few Croatians, Ruthenians and Servians own real estate in Pittsburgh. While the wages of the day laborers in the district are high for the single man who lives on the boarding boss system, the foreigner who brings his family here and pays American prices for the necessities of life, faces a different situation. The father of a family cannot hope to get accommodations for less than twelve or fifteen dollars a month, and then he has only two or three rooms. The Slav, as we have seen, has to pay more than the English-speaking man for the same house. The man who earns thirty-seven dollars a month and has to pay twelve dollars in rent has not a large fund on which to raise a family. He belongs to one or two lodges which means an outlay of a dollar to a dollar and a half each month. He must pay fifty cents a month to his church, and he is compelled to send his children to the parochial school at, say, another fifty cents a head, or three for a dollar. He must buy the school books needed by the child; this may amount yearly to from three to four dollars. Is it surprising, then, that the children are sent to work at an early age and that many are raised in cramped and dirty quarters? But this question of the children, of their health and education, we must leave to later issues. When the mills are working regularly and the father is able to work each day, the family manages to get along. But when sickness comes or work ceases, then the pinch of hunger is felt. Mrs. Lippincott of the Society for the Improvement of the Poor tells me that in good times but few Slavs or Lithuanians apply for aid; that only when the father is killed or injured, is aid needed, and that then it is for medicine and proper food for the patient.[4]

[4] A study of the records of the charity department of Pittsburgh and Allegheny indicated that the percentage of foreign born dependents exceeds by perhaps ten per cent the percentage of foreign born in the population. I refer to the city home, the city hospital, the poor houses, the tuberculosis camp and outdoor relief. In the institutions for the insane as many as forty-nine per cent were foreign born and of the $311,470 appropriated for their maintenance on a given year, half was thus bestowed upon the foreign born.

It must be remembered that influential men among the Slavs and Lithuanians are prosperous and live in residential sections of Pittsburgh. Some Poles and Italians are in the professions and some Lithuanians are well to do business men. All these people, however, do business among their own countrymen, and as yet their influence is largely restricted to this circle. Sections of the [Pg 547]city where foreigners live are well supplied with banking facilities, which are generally conducted by men of those nationalities. The leading banks of Pittsburgh have learned that the immigrants save their money, and many of them have a foreign exchange department at the head of which is put a foreign-speaking man who is a leader among his countrymen.

In this connection, it is interesting to examine more closely what might be called the personal ledger of the Slavic day laborer in Pittsburgh.


We have seen that more than half the Italians, Croatians, Servians and Ruthenians are single men, and that a large proportion of the other races are similarly placed. Many are married but their wives are across the seas. Their policy is to make all they can and spend as little as possible. We have also seen that the wages of common labor are from $1.35 to $1.65 a day and that those who have acquired a little skill earn from $1.75 to $2.25. The monthly expenditure of single men bent on saving will not exceed ten dollars a month. Some Russians complain when their monthly bill amounts to eight dollars. The drinking bill will not exceed five dollars a month; and the sum spent on clothing will hardly equal that. Hence a common laborer can save from ten to fifteen dollars a month; the semi-skilled workers from twenty to twenty-five dollars; and boarding bosses accumulate what is to them a competence. A banker doing business among the Servians of the South Side stated that each pay day he sent back between $20,000 and $25,000 to the old country on deposit. In September of 1907, one of the banks on the South Side where the foreigners do business had $600,000 on deposit. Such a showing has come only after a vigorous campaign on the part of the banks of Pittsburgh to overcome the mistrust which foreigners feel toward private institutions. Individual small banks conducted by men of their own nationality were the rule for many years. The institutions were ephemeral and the impression prevailed among the laborers that they were schemes of sinister men to wheedle their money from them. Some men still secrete their savings, trusting no one.

Through the kindness of one of the Pittsburgh bankers, this table of twelve representative Slavic depositors is given:

Single Men. Married Men.
1906-1907. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 5
Sept.-Nov. $95 $103 $45 $35 $110 $100 $60 $240 $70
$100 $105
Dec.-Feb. 115 63 25 135 60 100 60 150 190

March-May 20 93 25 95 60 100 60 50 145 100 200 90
June-Aug. 207 76 105 73 50
55 115 120 200 140 40
Totals $437 $335 $200 $338 $280 $300 $265 $555 $525 $300 $440 $285
[Pg 548]


Drawn by Joseph Stella.



[Pg 549]

The fraternal organizations also among the Slavs, Lithuanians and Italians provoke an increasing amount of thrift and provide various forms of insurance. They are the dominant form of social organization and afford opportunities for leadership to the stronger men. The National Slovak Society, for instance, has a membership of 50,000, and the Polish National Alliance one of 75,000. Pittsburgh has some thirty locals of the latter alone, each with a list of from forty to 300 members. The lodge organizations of these people cannot be discussed in detail in such a paper as this; here it is sufficient to note that in case of sickness and death they look after their members; they provide social centers for the more thrifty of the people, and tend generally to raise the standard of life.

Outside these lodges, the Slavs, Lithuanians and Italians have their organizations for enjoyment and amusement. Among the Poles there are societies for self-culture, such as dramatic clubs and singing societies.

There is reason to believe that the home governments of these people foster the formation of organizations along racial lines; the church also fosters these national societies. In so far as such organizations perpetuate national customs and habits in America, they tend to make assimilation difficult. A strong people swayed by racial consciousness on foreign soil will either thrust its own concepts and ideals into the social elements around it and modify them; or it will build around itself a wall which the customs and habits of the country will find difficulty in penetrating. This is seen going on in Pittsburgh. The Poles and Italians form a city within a city; their customs and habits are distinctly Polish and Italian.

When we come to political life, we must accord leadership to other than the Slavic groups,—to the Italians. A political leader among them in Pittsburgh claims that four fifths of all Italians who have been in the country five years are naturalized. He held that the Italians of Pittsburgh poll about 5,000 votes[Pg 550] which are scattered over eleven wards. Next to the Italians come the Poles. Many of them have been voters for years, but of the influx that has come to Pittsburgh in the last ten years not twenty per cent are naturalized. The Polish vote is set at 4,000 and the Poles have two or three political clubs. Political clubs are also found among the Lithuanians and Croatians. Too frequently these racial leaders,—often saloon keepers,—are the satellites of some English-speaking politician, and through them he controls "the foreign vote." Some of the more intelligent of the foreign-speaking are dissatisfied with this manipulation of their people; among these are rising young men with political aspirations. It will not be long before the city will feel their presence. If the Polish and Italian votes were to be crystallized in some fifteen wards, the leaders there would have the balance of power and control them.

Slavs, Lithuanians and Italians have a strong religious element in their make-up which plays a never-ending part in such racial communities as are to be found in the Pittsburgh district. Unless this element is reckoned with they are not to be understood. The vast majority belong to the Roman Catholic Church. Some Protestants are found among each of the races, but they form only a small percentage.[5] Certain of the Southern Slavs are subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Russians maintain a Greek Orthodox church. Religious ceremonies and observances have strong hold upon the Poles and Lithuanians, the Croatians and Servians.[6] We have seen that the number of males far exceeds that of females among the immigrants from southeastern Europe. This the church attendance corroborates. I have seen in Pittsburgh a congregation of one thousand men, all in the prime of life, so intent upon the religious exercises that the least movement of the priest at the altar found immediate response in every member of the audience. The ritual of the church has a deep hold upon Slav and Lithuanian; often the men go to confession at six in the morning that they may go to communion the day following. When men are so employed that they cannot attend mass on Sundays, they will attend one on Saturdays. The home must be consecrated once a year, and hundreds take their baskets laden with provisions to church on Easter morning that the priest may bless the feast they hope to enjoy that day.

[5] The Protestant denominations in the city are conducting mission work among the Slavs and Italians. Several missionaries, colporteurs and Bible readers are employed. There are among the Slovaks, Lithuanians, Magyars and Italians, adherents of various Protestant churches.

[6] The Roman Catholic Church has not the influence over the Bohemians and Italians that it has over the above mentioned people. The Bohemians are many of them free thinkers. The Italians are deeply religious but for the most part lukewarm in their attitude toward the church, and their edifices do not compare with those of the Poles.


[Pg 551]


If we measure the efficiency of the Roman Catholic Church among the Slavs and Lithuanians in Pittsburgh by money spent on buildings and maintenance, it cannot be equalled either by American Catholicism or Protestantism. The people give freely of their hard earnings to erect costly church edifices and support the priesthood. The Slavs and Lithuanians have been on the South Side of Pittsburgh only for the last twenty years, but to-day they possess church property valued at three-quarters of a million dollars, and most of it is paid for. They also give toward the erection of parochial schools and maintain them.

The priests have great power over the lives of their people. Some of them are charged with accumulating riches, but taken as a whole, I view them as a body of men loyal to their vows and honoring the profession wherein they serve. With the great numbers constantly coming from Europe, it is surprising how carefully they keep in touch with the newcomers. Slav and Lithuanian priests whose parishes are constantly changing take a census each year. They know the affairs of their people. They know their housing conditions, their hardships in mine and mill; are familiar with the wrongs they suffer. In trouble the priests are their counselors; they sympathize with them in their struggles; they institute and manage insurance societies against sickness and accident. Some of the priests found and control building and loan associations. They at all times stimulate their people to rise to the level of other people around them. The priests are busy men. A parish of two thousand or three thousand means endless activities. With the influx of Slavs and Lithuanians into the country, and the necessity of organizing parishes where many of them settle, the difficulty has been to secure properly qualified priests to take charge of the work. Hence, many of the Slav and Lithuanian clergy are overworked and no assistance can be furnished them. Their influence lies first with the adults who come from the fatherland. The children are not as amenable to the discipline of the church; neither do they give their earnings as freely to its support. The growing problem of the church is to meet the religious needs of people of Slavic blood raised in a new country.

This sketch,—brief though it is,—of the foreign-speaking peoples of Pittsburgh shows clearly how dependent the industries are upon a supply of able bodied men from Europe. The enterprising from agricultural communities freely bring their strength to the expansion of American industries, and never was there an army more docile and willing than these newcomers. They believe in mutual protection and organize and conduct various societies for this purpose. They find their pleasure in many crude ways. They are loyal to their church, and the many churches owned by them represent offerings made by men who literally earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. Many of them save money and the number of those who own their homes is annually increasing.

[Pg 552]

There are imperative needs of this element of the city's population which must be met if the cause of civilization is to be served. The fatal and non-fatal injuries of the mills fall heavily upon these peoples. Each week a tale of wrong and suffering, agony and death, is sent across the water, which seriously reflects upon the industrial life of America. The value placed on human life here will not bear comparison with that of older countries whose civilization we say is lower than ours. The great need of the hour is a current and detailed record of the serious accidents of the district, that the public may know exactly at what cost of life and limb industry is carried on, and may exhaust every means for lessening the sacrifice.


We saw that the housing conditions of many of these peoples are a disgrace to civilization. The insufficiency of houses, the greed of landlords, the exigencies of some foreigners and the penury of others, bring about this condition. There should be stricter regulation of immigrant boarding houses. Men who coin money in shacks and those foreign born who are too greedy to pay for decent quarters, should feel the firm hand of the law. Crowding, dirt and filth are not American and should not be tolerated in any American city.

But negative work is not enough; positive and aggressive work must be done if the foreign-speaking are to rise to the measure of their opportunity. Every nationality has its aesthetic side, and Pittsburgh has done nothing to bring this to the fore. Other cities have fostered the national dance, have encouraged works of art, and have induced the foreigner to show the artistic side of his nature. Cannot this be done in Pittsburgh? Give these people a chance to bring out their needle-work, to show their artistic skill, to sing their national songs, and to dance their native dances, and the life of the city will be richer and stronger.

Then why should the people who gave Lafayette a welcome that has become historical, and who championed the cause of Kossuth, not go forth in sympathy to these people of Slav and Iberic extraction? They are left in ignorance of our language, our laws, our government, and our history. This rich inheritance we cherish, and we believe it is more excellent than any of which the older countries of Europe can boast. If this be so, is it not our privilege and duty to train these peoples of southeastern Europe in the principles of democracy? Thousands of these peoples yearn for a knowledge of our language and an insight into that form of government that has made America great among the nations of the earth, and we should be willing to go half way and meet the need.

The public school can take up this work with greater zeal; the social agencies of all sorts can stretch the cords of their tents and take in the men who are anxious to learn.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.






[Pg 553]

It is estimated that between 70,000 and 80,000 men are employed in the manufacture of steel in Allegheny county. Their homes are clustered about the mills along the rivers, they are clinging to the bluffs of the South Side, and they are scattered over Greater Pittsburgh, from Woods Run to the East End. Up the Monongahela valley are the mill-towns,—Homestead of Pinkerton fame, Braddock with its record-breaking mills and furnaces, Duquesne where the unit of weight is a hundred tons, and McKeesport, home of the "biggest tube works on earth." Here are countrymen of Kossuth and Kosciusko, still seeking the blessings of liberty, but through a different channel,—high wages and steady employment. Here are English, German and Scandinavian workmen, full of faith in the new world democracy; and here are Americans,—great-grandsons of Washington's troopers, and sons of men who fought at Gettysburg.

[7] This is a description of leading types of steel workers. A discussion of the labor problem in the steel industry is reserved for a later number.

Fully sixty-five per cent of these men are unskilled, but the remaining thirty-five per cent, the skilled and semi-skilled, are the men who give character to the industry. This is the class from which foremen and superintendents and even the steel presidents have been recruited, and it is the class that furnishes the brains of the working force. It is of them that I write. To know these men you must see them at work; you must stand beside the open-hearth helper as he taps fifty tons of molten steel from his furnace, you must feel the heat of the Bessemer converters as you watch the vessel-men and the steel pourer, and above the crash and roar of the blooming mills you must talk with rollers and hookers, while five-and ten-ton steel ingots plunge madly back and forth between the rolls. You must see the men working in hoop mills and guide mills, where the heat is intense and the work [Pg 554]laborious; you must see them amid ladles of molten steel, among piles of red hot bars, or bending over the straightening presses at the rail mills.

But to know them best you should see them at home. There the muscular feats of the heater's helper and the rough orders of the furnace boss are alike forgotten, and you find a kindly, open-hearted, human sort of men. You grow into an understanding of them as they tell of hopes and plans or mistakes and failures, and understanding becomes sympathy as it comes home to you how close some half-spoken disappointment presses in upon them. It was in this way that for nine or ten months I lived among the steel workers, and came to number some of them as friends.

The skilled workers are generally of Anglo-Saxon, German or Keltic origin, the largest proportion being American born. They are not educated, so far as school and university training are concerned, but they are post graduates in the school of experience.

The visitor in a steel mill sees only faces reddened by the glare of fire and hot steel, muscles standing out in knots and bands on bare arms, clothing frayed with usage and begrimed by machinery. The men do not differ materially from other workmen, and the visitor passes on and forgets them. The world is full of men in greasy overalls. But a workman is not merely a workman, any more than a business man is merely a business man. He is also a man, whether he works in a mill or sits at a desk. So I shall introduce some of these men and let them talk to you, as they talked to me. Bear in mind that the things they talk about could be taken up from another point of view. In the following interviews I am making no interpretation of the workers from the employer's standpoint. These are the issues of life as seen by the men themselves.

Courtesy Carnegie Steel Co.


Jack Griswold is a Scotch-Irish furnace boss who came to America and got a laborer's position at a Pittsburgh blast furnace, when the common labor force was largely Irish. Those were the days before the advent of the "furriners." I sat in Griswold's sitting room in his four-room cottage one evening and he told me about the men who work at the furnaces, and about the "long turn."

"Mighty few men have stood what I have, I can tell you. I've been twenty years at the furnaces and been workin' a twelve-hour day all that time, seven days in the week. We go to work at seven in the mornin' and we get through at night at six. We work that way for two weeks and then we work the long turn and change to the night shift. The long turn is when we go on at seven Sunday mornin' and work through the whole twenty-four hours up to Monday mornin'. That puts us onto the night turn for the next two weeks, and the other crew onto the day. The next time they get the long turn and we get twenty-four hours off, but it don't do us much good. I get home at about half past seven Sunday mornin' and go to bed as soon as I've had breakfast. I get up about noon so as to get a bit o' Sunday to enjoy, but I'm tired and sleepy all the afternoon. Now, if we had eight hours it would be different. I'd start to work, say, at six and I'd be done at two and I'd come home, and after dinner me and the missus could go to the park if we wanted to, or I could take the childer to the country where there ain't any saloons. That's the danger,—the childer runnin' on the streets and me with no time to take them any place else. That's what's driven the Irish out of the industry. It ain't the Hunkies,—they couldn't do it,—but the Irish don't have to work this way. There was fifty of them here with me sixteen years ago and now where are they? I meet 'em sometimes around the city, ridin' in carriages and all of them wearin' white shirts, and here I am with these Hunkies. They don't seem like men to me hardly. They can't talk United States. You tell them something and they just look and say 'Me no fustay,[Pg 555] me no fustay.' That's all you can get out of 'em. And I'm here with them all the time, twelve hours a day and every day and I'm all alone,—not a mother's son of 'em that I can talk to. Everybody says I'm a fool to stay here,—I dunno, mebbe I am. It don't make so much difference though. I'm gettin' along, but I don't want the kids ever to work this way. I'm goin' to educate them so they won't have to work twelve hours."

There is a considerable difference between a blast furnace foreman and a Bessemer steel pourer. The furnace man gets rather low wages, while the steel pourer is well paid and works eight hours a day for six days in the week. It was Jerry Flinn who told me how he had worked up from his first job as laborer, to a position as steel pourer. I met him just as he got home from the mill one day, and I asked how he managed to work only an eight-hour shift when other men had to work twelve. He told me that attempts have been made to introduce a twelve-hour day in the converting department but without success. Two Pittsburgh mills have tried it and both went back to eight hours because the heat is so great as to make it impossible for the men to work that long.

"It must be hard," said Flinn, "for the twelve-hour men to have to work alongside of us eight-hour men. During the twelve hours of their day they work with all three crews of the eight-hour men. One crew gets through and goes home soon after the twelve-hour men come out, the next crew works its eight hours and goes home, and the third crew comes out before those twelve-hour fellows can quit. The eight-hour men get a lot more pleasure out of life than the twelve-hour men do. We can go to entertainments and social affairs as we couldn't if we had to get up next morning and go to work at six o'clock."

Flinn is fifty-two years old, and tells you his strength is not up to what it was, say fifteen years ago. The men who went to work with him as young men are nearly all dead, and to-day he is one of the oldest men in his mill. He speaks lightly of the danger of accidents, and[Pg 556] says that he has encountered only the minor ones. Once when they were changing stoppers, the crane dropped the old one just as it swung clear of the edge of the ladle. It fell on him, burning him and breaking his leg. At another time he failed to lower the stopper in time, and the stream of molten steel struck the edge of a mold as the train was shifted; it splashed onto the platform, burning his legs so severely that, for six weeks afterwards, he was unable to turn over in bed. It is a common thing for metal to fly that way; the sparks strike his face, they lodge in his nose or his ears, and once he nearly lost the sight of an eye. He refers to these things as trifles.

What I said of the half concealed disappointments which are real and tragic in the life of a steel worker, would have been clear to you had you heard the story of Robert Smith, as he told it himself. As a boy he went to work in the coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania and did not get into the mills until he was about thirty years old. Then he came to Pittsburgh, took a laborer's position, and began to work up slowly year after year until he occupied a place of some importance, though not in the first class of skilled men. After he had been there a few years, there was a labor difficulty in this mill and he left and went to another plant where he took a position similar to his last one. As a new man he could not advance as rapidly as he might have done in the old mill, and before he could get into the best of standing, he was thrown out of work by further labor troubles. He secured a position in another mill where he remained for two years till forced out by a strike to seek work in a fourth mill. Here he remained for ten years in a subordinate position. At the end of that time, he was promoted and became for the first time in his life, the first man in the crew. Then, in some way, he incurred the dislike of the superintendent, and the man on the opposite shift worked against him because he wanted Smith's job for a friend.

So, after working for three years in a position for which, as he said, he had served a ten years' apprenticeship, Smith again lost his place and was obliged to apply for work in still another mill. He had been a leader in the union, and it was a feeling almost religious in its devotion that bound him to it. To get into this new mill he had to agree to give up his union card. To-day he says that he is a strong union man at heart, but his connection with it is over. Now, at nearly sixty years of age, he is working in a semi-skilled position, although fitted to take his place among the men of the best skill and to handle a crew.

Smith is a man of more than ordinary intelligence. He is a man of religious inclinations and a church member. He regrets the twelve-hour day now chiefly on the ground that it keeps the young men away from church. If he had not become a church-member when he had an eight-hour day, he doesn't see how he ever could have become interested in religious matters. He lives in a comfortable home which he owns and where he spends most of his time when not in the mill. After supper he sits down to read for a short time before going to bed, but he told me with considerable regret that he was unable to do any systematic reading. A few years ago he read several of Shakespeare's plays, but he had to force himself to do it, he gets sleepy so soon after supper. Since that time he has not attempted anything more serious than the daily paper.

Of course, the question of organized labor suggests a number of other considerations. The old union attitude towards employers is not of consequence now in Pittsburgh, for most of the steel mills of the district have been non-union for ten or fifteen years. This fact, however, makes it all the more worth while to consider the present attitude of the men as individuals.

Jim Barr is a man thirty-five years old who came from England when he was a small boy. It has been only during the last ten years or so that Barr has worked in a steel mill, but he has lived in the steel district longer than that. He occupies a skilled position in one of the mills where he works every day but Sundays from seven in the morning until six in the evening, and on alternate Sundays he has the long turn of twenty-four hours. This Sunday work, he told me, came in after the union had been driven out, and the twelve-hour day is more general now than it was under unionism.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.



"Tell me, how can a man get any pleasure out of life working that way?" Barr asked me almost with a challenge. We were sitting before the grate in his comfortable and tastefully furnished parlor. There were pictures on the wall, a carpet on the floor, and the piano in the corner spoke of other things than endless drudgery. He seemed to interpret my swift glance about the room, for he went on, "I've got as good a home here as a man could want. It's comfortable and I enjoy my family. But I only have these things to think about, not to enjoy. I'm at work most of the day, and I'm so tired at night that I just go to bed as soon as I've eaten supper. I have ideas of what a home ought to be, all right, but the way things are now I just eat and sleep here."

Barr works in a position where he encounters considerable heat, and he says that alone is very exhausting even when a man does not do hard physical labor. There is great danger, too, in the sweat that keeps a man's clothing wet all of the time. If he gets into a draught he is likely to contract a cold or pneumonia. Working under such conditions shortens a man's life, to Barr's mind, and although he is but thirty-five years old he tells you he feels a decline in his strength. The men find that it costs more to live, too, when working in the mills, for they need the best of food and the warmest clothing in order to keep going. The little chance for recreation leads them to the saloons as the natural place for relaxation. They go there much oftener, in his opinion, than they would if they had more time for social enjoyment; and of course there is a good deal of money spent there that is needed for other things. He says that men frequently spend twenty dollars in a single night after payday. But the thing on which Barr seems to have the strongest convictions is the plan of the United States Steel Corporation of issuing stock to employes.

[Pg 557]

"The men have been fooled by this proposition," he declared, "and they really believe that the corporation wants to do big things for them in offering such liberal dividends. But let me tell you something that maybe you haven't noticed. The first stock issued in 1903 was followed by a slashing cut in wages in 1904, and it amounted to a lot more than the extra dividends. It's only a scheme to fool the men. They take away in wages more than what they give in dividends and they will do that every time, so that the corporation is always ahead of the game. But that isn't the only thing; it ties the employes down to the corporation. They've got to stay in its employ at least five years from the time of getting the stock in order to enjoy all of the benefits, and even then they won't get the extra dividends unless they have shown what the corporation calls a 'proper interest' in its affairs. It's a fine scheme for keeping out unionism and keeping the men from protesting against bad conditions."

Now, just by way of contrast, listen to the story of George Hudson, who occupies a position similar to that of Barr, and has been in mill work about the same length of time. After having tried another line and found it unsatisfactory, Hudson came to the mills at about thirty years of age. He did what American young men dislike very much to do,—he took a common laborer's position along with the "Hunkies." Being a man of perseverance and some education, he worked up very rapidly until he now occupies a skilled position.

"The Steel Corporation is a fine one to work for," said Hudson to me with enthusiasm. "It gives every man a chance for promotion, and listens to every workman who has a plan for improvement. All the intelligent men are satisfied. If you can find any dissatisfied men, you will find that they are men who would be discontented anywhere you put them. Take the way they loan money to men who want to build homes. A good many men have their own cottages now just because the company helped them. The company has a savings department too, and it pays five per cent on all deposits, and that is[Pg 558] more than the savings banks pay. Then, on the other hand, it charges only five per cent interest on the money that is loaned, and that is a lower rate than you can get anywhere else. The company owns houses which it rents to employes at thirty per cent or more below what other people charge. I pay twenty-five dollars rent, and I've got a friend in a company house which is better than mine, and he only pays eighteen." Hudson is ambitious and he was very proud that his department during recent months had succeeded in beating all previous records known.

To turn to the second question raised by Smith in our talk before his fire,—if number of organizations is any criterion the churches in the mill towns must be strong. I found a considerable number of loyal church members among the steel workers. Those of them who have to work on Sunday chafe under the necessity that drives them to such a disregarding of the Sabbath.

Especially does this bear heavily on the wife who must attend church alone, while her husband is in the mill or at the furnaces. A Scotch Presbyterian mother at a home where I called one afternoon just as the man was preparing to go to the mill for the night, spoke regretfully of having left Scotland. They might not have been able to live so well there, but "Oh, man, we could have brought up the children in the fear o' God and in a land where men reverence the Sabbath." There are men like Smith, too, who fear the effect of twelve-hour work on the lives of the boys.

In spite of this religious sentiment that exists among the workers there is, on the other hand, a good deal of feeling that the churches do not understand the needs of the workingmen. Frank Robinson, for instance, believes that the churches are not interested in some problems that are to him very real.

"There are a good many churches in this borough," he said to me one day, "and they are supported generally by the women. The preachers don't have any influence in securing better conditions for the men,—they don't try to have. They never visit the mills, and they don't know anything about the conditions the men have to face. They think the men ought to go to church after working twelve hours Saturday night. The preachers could accomplish a lot if they would try to use their influence in the right direction; let them quit temperance reform until they get better conditions for the men. It's no time to preach to a man when he's hungry; feed him first, then preach to him. The same thing with a workingman; get a decent working day with decent conditions, then ask him to stop drinking. Let the preachers go into the mills and see the men at work in the heat, and outside the mills let them notice the men with crushed hands or broken arms or with a leg missing. If they would stop their preaching long enough to look around a little they could do something for us, if they wanted to try."

There seems to be some reason for such a feeling. I talked with ministers in some of the mill towns who knew very little of the problems of the workingmen or of the conditions under which they work. Some of them said that they had never been inside the mills, and, of course, such men cannot be entirely sympathetic. Of a different sort was another minister whom I met who had been a mill-man himself. He had gone into mill work as a boy and had worked up through a common laborer's position to a skilled job before he left the mill to go to college. I have met few men with more understanding and sympathy for the working-men's problems.

Unionism is not entirely dead in the mill towns; at least the spirit of it is to be found among the men, though the form is absent. Some of them expect to see an organization in the mills again. Others have given up hope of gaining shorter hours or higher wages through collective bargaining, and are looking for government interference and a legal eight-hour day. There is considerable variety of opinion as to how this is to be brought about. Pittsburgh steel workers are traditionally republican in politics; Speaker Cannon himself does not fear "tinkering" with the tariff more than they. The majority of them have been hoping that their representatives would get time after a while to consider and pass the labor legislation that the workingmen desire. However, there has been much loss of faith in the last few years.

A good many men in the mills are socialists at heart, and though they still vote the republican ticket, they would vote with the socialists if that party were to manifest strength enough to give it a chance at carrying an election. A considerable number of others have gone the whole way and are active working socialists. One of these is Ed. Jones, a skilled steel worker. He was left an orphan, came to Pittsburgh from New York as a boy of eighteen years, and worked for a short time as a laborer in one of the mills. After trying his hand at several unskilled trades he went back to a small mill in New York, where his wages were $1.25 a day. He was determined to work up in the industry, and after a year or so as a laborer he found himself in a semi-skilled position with wages correspondingly better. A year or two later he returned to Pittsburgh and became a full fledged skilled man at $5 a day. Since then, in spite of reverses, he has worked up slowly until now he holds one of the most important positions in his mill. Jones has never been a union man. He says he does not believe in unions because they accomplish things only in prosperous times, and go to pieces in a panic. "It is no use for them to try to regulate wages, anyhow," he says, "for labor is a commodity and its price is regulated by supply and demand. The only way out for the laboring men is to get together in a labor party,"—and this to him means the socialist party.

"We must go back to the condition when workmen owned their own tools," declares Jones. "We must own the instruments of production. Labor is now the helpless victim of capital, and capital must be overthrown. The workman is given enough to buy food and clothes for himself, and no more if the capitalist can help himself. They keep these workmen employed twelve hours a day at some work, while if every man in the[Pg 559] country would work two hours a day, all the labor that would be necessary to support the population of the country could be performed. Now all of this excess, these ten hours over the necessary amount, goes to the employer in profits, and many people throughout the country are living in idleness because other people are working overtime for them." Jones is in comfortable circumstances himself; he owns his house and he owns some United States Steel stock, but he says he is one out of thirty-eight men in his whole plant who could have done as well.

One of the near-socialists who hopes for both unionism and for governmental relief, gave me a statement of his belief one Sunday afternoon as I sat in a comfortable chair in his little parlor. "I think there will be a labor organization in the mills again," he said. "It may not come in our day, but it is bound to come; the men will be driven to it. There would be a union now but for the foolishness of the men. They begin to talk as soon as a movement is started, and of course the news reaches the ears of the bosses before the organization is really on its feet. Then the men, who are not in a position to resist, are threatened with discharge. That has happened in this very mill. It may be that political action will be necessary before a union will be possible. There are two things that we've got to have: an eight-hour day and restriction of immigration. I think that we will have to get together in a labor party. I'm not a socialist, myself, though quite a good many of the mill men are, and there are a good many things about socialism that I like, all right. I would vote with them if I thought they were going to win and there are others who feel the same way. I used to vote the republican ticket, but I'm tired of it. They haven't done much for the workingmen when you consider the length of time they've been in power. I'm disgusted with the whole thing and I haven't voted at all for several years."

Several of the men had said to me: "Go to see Joe Reed; he can tell you more about the mills than anyone else." So[Pg 560] one day I climbed the hill to his home, and found him. I had been led to expect a good deal and was not disappointed, though he was just recovering from an illness and was unable to talk as much as I had hoped. Reed is just the man that one would pick as a leader,—six feet tall, broad shouldered, with strong intellectual features,—and he was in truth a leader of the Amalgamated Association years ago, before the steel mills became non-union. He took a prominent part in a strike that was of considerable importance in the steel district. He is a skilled man and if he had cast his lot with the company in the dispute, it is quite likely that he would have best served his own interests. But he stayed by the men and when the strike was lost, Reed left the steel district. He might have had his former position again, but he was too proud to ask for it, and lived away from Pittsburgh until the bitterness engendered by the struggle had begun to die out. After several years he came back and got a job again in a Pittsburgh steel mill. It is a non-union mill and of course Reed is a non-union man.

Reed told me some of his experiences and how during the strike he had received letters of encouragement from all over the country, from men prominent in many walks of life. I asked him what he had done with them. He shook his head. "I burned them," he said, "when I came back to the mills. I have nothing in my possession now which would suggest in any way that I ever had connection with the union. When I came back here, I knew I was coming to a non-union mill and I took a job in good faith as a non-union man. That is a chapter in the history of my life that is ended. The whole matter of unionism is a thing of the past and as an employe in this mill, I have no part in it." This fine sense of honor in conforming to the new regime is not so unusual among this class as one might expect.

So these are the steel workers. I have not chosen extreme cases; on the contrary, it has been my aim to select men who are typical of a class,—the serious, clear-headed men, rather than the irresponsibles,—and with one exception, each case is fairly representative of a large group. The exception is the man whom I called Hudson. Not over three men out of the hundred and more with whom I talked at length indicated like sentiments, and he is the only one who gave them such full expression. It should be understood that these are the skilled men,—it is only among the skilled that opinion is so intelligently put forth.

The number of positions requiring skill is not large, relatively speaking, and competition for them is keen. The consequence is that the skilled workers are a picked body of men. Through a course of natural selection the unfit have been eliminated and the survivors are exceptionally capable and alert of mind, their wits sharpened by meeting and solving difficulties. Such a disciplinary process has developed men like John Jarrett, consul at Birmingham during Harrison's administration; Miles Humphreys, for two terms chief of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Industrial Statistics, one-time nominee of the Republican party for mayor of Pittsburgh, and now chief of the fire department of the Smoky City; M. M. Garland, collector of customs for Pittsburgh, under both McKinley and Roosevelt; A. R. Hunt, general superintendent at Homestead; and Taylor Alderdice, vice-president of the National Tube Company.

In telling about their fellows who are numbered to-day among the rank and file, I have tried to introduce the leading types,—the twelve-hour man with the eight-hour man, the embittered man and the contented man, the man who is at outs with the church, the union man and the socialist. There are many others who talk and think like Flinn and Smith and Robinson, and I could furnish examples of much more radical thought and speech. These are typical cases representing different degrees of skill and different shades of opinion. It is highly significant that there are such men as these in the Pittsburgh mills. In a discussion of the labor problem in the steel industry, it must be borne in mind that these men are more than workers; they are thinkers, too, and must be reckoned with.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.






[Pg 561]

To study industrial accidents from the "home" side has been my business for a year. To acquaint myself daily with households doubly disabled by sickness and loss of income, to see strong men, just learning to face life maimed, to visit home after home, where sudden death has visited,—a dreadful business, you might say. Yet it has left with me impressions of personality, character, and spirit, which make the year's work a precious experience.

The first thing brought home to me was that working people do not have "the luxury of grief." The daily tyranny of hard work in their lives, leaves little time for pondering the unanswerable "Why?" of sorrow.

For instance, Mrs. Dennison, the widow of a brakeman who was killed on the Pennsylvania Railroad, spent no quiet days of solitary mourning. She was left with six children, the oldest eleven. All the money she had was $500 from the Railroad Relief Association,[8] to which her husband had belonged, $450 which the men on her husband's division raised, and $30 which his own crew gave. The company gave her $20 toward the funeral.

[8] The company pays the running expenses of this association.

With some of this money she rented and stocked up a little candy and notion store, using the three rooms in the back to live in. Here she tended store, and cooked, and sewed, and ironed, for herself and the six. She would have done her own washing too, she told me, but she couldn't leave the store long enough to hang her clothes up in the yard. She made a reasonable success of the enterprise, enough to pay for rent and food, until the hard times came. After that she steadily lost money. So now she has put in her application for a chance to clean cars for the railroad at $1.21 a day. For this privilege she must wait her turn among the other widows; and when she gets it she must leave her children in one another's care from six in the morning till six at night. They are now two, four, six, eight, ten, and twelve, respectively. Mrs. Dennison will not have time to sit down and grieve over the death of her husband for many years to come.

One mother, whose thin face haunts me, has been able to endure her tragedy only through this necessity of work. She had a daughter, just seventeen, who was employed in the dressmaking department of one of the big stores in Pittsburgh. This girl, Ella, was eager and gay, with a heart full of kindness. She was everybody's favorite in the workroom; at home she meant laughter and good will for them all. To her mother, Ella was joy and gladness,—life itself. One morning this little dressmaker, after leaving her wraps on the eleventh floor, found that she was a few moments late. She ran for the elevator to go to her workroom above. The elevator was just starting up, with the door half closed. Ella tried to make it, slipped, and fell down the shaft.

This tragedy demoralized the working force of the store for two days. In the hunted, suffering eyes of the mother one reads that she cannot forget, night or day. She feels that Ella's employers were generous in giving her $500, but it would make no difference "if they gave her the whole store." In the back of her mind are always two visions alternating,—the merry girl who sat eating her breakfast at a corner of the kitchen table that morning, laughing and teasing her mother, and then, as she ran out to take the car, looked back to smile and say goodbye,—this is one. The other,—that unthinkable fall down eleven stories and the crash at the bottom of the shaft. I felt that nothing but the daily insistence of work,—cooking and washing for her husband and two grown sons, and caring for the two younger children,—had saved this mother's reason.

[Pg 562]

Another striking instance of the pressure of work in poor people's lives was in the family of Harry Nelson. They lived on the South Side, near the Jones and Laughlin Steel Works, where the father and two grown sons and Harry, who was nineteen, were employed. Two younger boys were in school. One Sunday night, on the way home after his twelve hours' work, Harry said to his father that he'd "give a lot" not to go back to the mill that night. (There was another twelve hours' work to come before he could sleep, for this was Harry's "double shift.") He didn't tell his mother he was tired, because he knew she would beg him not to go back to work. Harry was ambitious; he was an electrician's helper, getting fifteen dollars a week, and he did not want to lose his job. At 7:30 he was back in the mill, and at 8:00 he was up on an electric crane, making some repairs. When he was through he started along the narrow run-way of the crane to a place where he could climb down. The air was full of steam; some say that he was blinded by this; others, that he must have been a little dizzy. At any rate, to steady himself, he reached for an electric wire that was strung along there. He happened to touch a part that was not insulated, got a slight shock, and fell thirty-five feet to the floor of the mill.

After Harry was killed, the two older boys left the mill and looked for work in another city. But the father had no choice; he was too old to find new work. His fifteen a week was all the more indispensable now because Harry had given all his money to his mother, and the two older boys had paid generously for board. In three days the father was back in his old place at the cold saw, within sight of the place where Harry fell.

Thus work may be a cruelty as well as a blessing. But in any case it leaves the workers little time to dwell upon their misfortunes. When they do speak of them, it is almost always in a "matter-of-course" way. This is not, I think, because they lack feeling, but because they are so used to trouble that the thought of it has ceased to rouse them.

That poor people are used to trouble is a commonplace. I mean by "trouble," the less subtle disappointments of life, those which come with disease, injury and premature death. Of all these rougher blows of fortune, the poor family gets more than an even share. This stands to reason, if experience has not already convinced one of it. To the ordinary causes of sickness,—unsanitary dwellings, overcrowding, undue exposure, overwork, lack of necessary vacation, work under poisonous conditions,—to all these poor people are much more constantly exposed than others. To injury and death caused by accident they are also more exposed. Poor people's children play in dangerous places, on the street, near railroad tracks. The poor man's dwelling is not often fire-proof. Poor people do most of the hazardous work in the world, and the accidents connected with work form the majority of all accidents.

Moreover, the poor family is, in a material way, less able to meet these disasters when they come, than the well-to-do family. This is in some degree due to ignorance, for ignorance, whether as cause or result, almost always goes with poverty. In a very large degree, however, it is due to poverty itself. It is because they have no reserve fund to fall back on in emergencies. Suppose a young steel worker with a family gets a long, sharp chip of steel in his eye. He cannot go to the best specialist, to the man who knows all that anybody knows about saving eyes. Through ignorance or lack of interest on the part of the doctor who treats him, he loses his eye. Thus an injury which might mean but a few weeks of fearful anxiety to a well-to-do man, may result in lasting misery to a poor man. In the same way, too, what might often be in a well-to-do family a short struggle with disease, crowned with success, is more likely to be in a poor family an unrelieved tragedy.

Thus are the poor, by reason of their very poverty, not only more open to attack from these bodily foes, but also, and again by reason of their poverty, less equipped to fight and conquer them. "St. George killed the dragon; St. George wore the finest armor of his day and his sword was tested steel."

With these workers whom I met,—poor people, not as the charity visitor knows them, but poor, as the rank and file of wage earners are poor,—misfortune is almost part of the regular course of things. They are used to hard knocks, if not yet in their own lives, then in the lives of their relatives, friends, and neighbors. Consequently, there is often in their attitude toward trouble a certain matter-of-fact calmness, which looks like indifference. Thus, I have had a mother tell me about her sixteen-year-old son's losing two fingers in the mill. She couldn't remember exactly how or when it happened; she thought he had lost only a week's work; and she had no comment upon it but that it might have been worse. An old steel worker whom I questioned about his injuries answered, "I never got hurt any to speak of." After persistent inquiry, however, he recalled that he had once fractured his skull, that a few years later he had lost half of a finger, and that only three years ago he was laid up for nine weeks with a crushed foot. Troubles like these are the common lot; they are not treasured up and remembered against fate.

Often I have found in young women a surprisingly "middle-aged" way of looking at trouble. I remember, for instance, Mrs. Coleman, whose husband was a freight conductor. They had been married nine years, and had made out pretty well up to the last two years, although the wife, as she somewhat proudly explained, had had three children, two miscarriages, and an operation, during this time. On Christmas night, 1903, Coleman had his arm crushed in a railroad accident. He was disabled for three months, and went back to work with a partially crippled arm. Three weeks later, as he was numbering cars, an iron bar rolled off the load and broke his nose. This laid him up again for five weeks, and left his face permanently disfigured. He has been troubled ever since with nose-bleeding, so that he has to lay off every little while, and the doctor says he must have an operation before he can be cured. Since this second injury, a fourth child[Pg 563] has come. When I saw her, Mrs. Coleman was just recovering from a bad attack of grip, which had increased their expenses. To help along in this hard luck time they took two railroad men to lodge and board in their three room flat; one of these men had been killed on the road the week before I called. Here are troubles enough, and yet this young woman had no special complaint against fortune.

"Yes," she said, as she rose to open the door for me, the last baby dangling over one arm,—"we've had a bad time these last two years, and now with him only working two or three days a week, I guess it'll be worse. But then,"—with a smile, "what can you do about it?"

On the same day I talked with a much older woman. She was too worn out to smile at her troubles, but she had the same "everyday" attitude toward them. Ten months ago they had been doing well. Her husband was earning ten dollars a week at odd jobs; two sons, twenty and seventeen, were getting fifteen dollars a week each as lead buffers in a coffin works; she and her daughter kept house and did a little sewing; and they all lived happily together. Then one day her husband was brought home with a smashed foot and a leg broken in two places, as a result of a bad fall. He had been on a ladder, painting, when the cornice gave way and he jumped to save himself. For five months they kept him at the hospital free of charge, and for four months more he went back on crutches for treatment. Finally they told him to come back for an operation, but on the day after the operation they sent him away again with a bill of three dollars for the time he had been there. His wife had to help him home, and he was in bed when I called. The doctor had said it would be better for him to stay at the hospital, but the superintendent decided that they could not treat him in the ward for nothing any longer. The wife laughed a little grimly when she told me this.

"Why," she said, "I can't pay a dollar and a half a day to that hospital. Ever since he got hurt I've been cleaning offices. All I can make is six dollars a[Pg 564] week and I have to pay car fares out of that."

"Well," I said, "how about your sons? They are making good wages."

"Oh, they were," she answered, "but Harry, the oldest one, has been home for five months. He's got gastritis, and the doctor says it's from lead poisoning. You know he's a lead buffer on coffins. He don't seem to get much better."

"And the other boy," I said, "does he go right on doing the same work?"

"Yes, Charlie,—I don't know what we'd do if he lost his job. He's been on half time now for three months, and that means only $7.50 a week."

To add to the general desolation in this home, the flood had been in and covered the lower floor, leaving everything smeared with a dry, muddy paste. In the midst of it all sat this tired woman of fifty, who had just come home from her five early morning hours of office scrubbing; and she was less concerned with the bitterness of her struggle with life than she was with the immediate problem of how to get her maimed old man up to the hospital every other day for treatment.

This unquestioning acceptance of misfortune does not often amount to either a commendable cheerfulness or a deplorable apathy. Occasionally, however, it approaches heroism. I think the most courageous person I met during the year was Mrs. Herman Baum, a German woman of forty-five or thereabouts, who, after nine years of disappointment and defeat, still meets the days as they come with an unbroken spirit. She came to America as a girl of nineteen and went out to service. At twenty-three she married. Her "man" turned out ugly; he drank and was always mean to her. His parents, who thought he had married beneath him, took a dislike to her and joined him in making her unhappy. They lived along in this way for fifteen years, during which time she bore him seven children. One day, in his work as a moulder, he received a slight injury, from which blood poisoning set in. After this his mind was affected; he became silent, morose, and uglier than ever, giving his wife hardly a moment, day or night, when she was not in fear of him. After a year or so during which he grew steadily worse, he shot himself one night, leaving her with the seven children, another one coming, and no resources except a heavily mortgaged house and $800 insurance. She had no relatives; her father had been run over by a train, soon after coming to America, and her only brother had been drowned in river work a few years before.

It was in August, 1906, that Mrs. Baum's husband killed himself. In September a baby was born, only to die before winter. The two older children got work and brought in ten dollars a week between them, while Mrs. Baum took in washing and made two or three dollars a week. Thus things went pretty well until June, 1907, when the second boy, Harry, the jolly one, who "kept all their spirits up with his jokes," was all but killed in an elevator accident at the box factory where he worked. When, after four months at the hospital, he came home with a permanent lameness, and strict orders never again to do heavy work, he turned to selling papers, and is now making about $1.40 a week. After half their small income was cut off by this accident, Mrs. Baum tried to run a grocery store in the front part of her house, but she lost money at it and was forced to give it up. When I saw her, she was hanging somebody's washing up in the yard. She took me into her spotless kitchen and told me this story, not eagerly, as if pouring out her troubles, but only after many questions, rather reluctantly, and with sometimes an apologetic smile. Here, I thought, is a heroine of modern realistic tragedy; the dramatist would have her lost in bitter retrospect. But she was not; she sat there smiling a bit ruefully, and wondered whether she must put aside her sturdy German pride next week, and go to the Poor Board for help.

Some people, especially the Irish, even get amusement out of the number and variety of their troubles. This is true of the Learys, whose six years of married life have been crowded with disasters. To begin with, Andy, the husband, who is a brakeman, has had nine accidents on the road in five years, so many that his wife could not distinguish in her memory the one of a year ago which I had come to inquire about. Twice he has been near death. Once the priest performed the last offices, but Andy pulled through after all. Besides all these injuries, none of them less severe than a broken bone, he accidentally shot himself one day and nearly died from that. "And look at him now!" said Mrs. Leary. (Andy is a handsome Irishman, and the picture of health.) In addition to all this, they have lost two children by diphtheria. Mrs. Leary's outlook on life seems to be a mingling of humor and superstition. She told me, with incongruous awesomeness in her Irish brogue, how she had heard the "death whistle" outside the door three times on the night that her little boy died. And one night, when Andy had to stay at home to take care of her, the brakeman sent in his place was killed. She thinks this is a "sign," and has no doubt of Andy's ultimate fate.

"Oh yis," said she, "the docthers say ye can't kill Andy,—but I know betther. He'll be a-comin' home dead soon. Ivery time I hear a knock at the dhoor, I thinks to mesilf, 'There now,—it's thim, comin' to tell me Andy's kil't.' Andy, he jokes about it. Ony this marnin' afther I'd been givin' him his breakfast, he starts to go to work out the back dhoor, an' I says, 'Andy, why don't you niver go out the front dhoor?' 'Oh, Leary;' says he,—(that's what he calls me—Leary) 'Leary,' says he, 'the back dhoor's good enough for me. I'll be a-comin' by the front dhoor soon enough, an' I won't be walkin'."

With so many misfortunes the Learys have not been able to save anything. Four times Andy tried to join the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, but each time after his papers were made out and he had paid down his dollar, and the day had come to join, he couldn't get together the necessary nine dollars for the first payment. With all this, there is an unfailing humor and philosophy in the Leary household which is irresistible.

Among railroad men generally there is a certain laughing, soldier spirit. It is part of the faith; no true "railroader" is without it. Perhaps this spirit leans to[Pg 565] recklessness with some of the younger ones, but I believe it is just as essential to the running of a railroad as is the executive skill of the Hills and Harrimans. This spirit stands by the men in danger and makes them meet death bravely. It stands often a harder test; you will not break the spirit of a railroader by cutting off his arm or giving him a wooden leg. Out of fifteen railroad men I visited, who had received permanent injuries, all but four have gone back to the road. Two of the four are totally unable to do work of any kind. Another has gone home for a few weeks until he can "get used to his wooden leg," when he will be ready for any job the road will give him. The other, a twenty-year-old boy who lost his right arm at the shoulder, has learned to write with his left hand and is studying telegraphy as hard as he can, in order to stick by the railroad.

Of the eleven who are back on the road, nine were able to go into the same work and pay, but two had to take lower jobs on account of partial disability. This meant in each case five or six dollars a week less, but neither man complained; he took it as part of the day's work. What the railroader dreads is having to quit the road altogether. A watchman's job will be accepted with a good deal of cheer. Notice the spirit of the one-legged watchman at your crossing, who is very likely a man dropped from an active, exciting occupation at eighty dollars a month to flagging a crossing for forty. He is still in the game. But try to retire a railroader on a pension while he is able to work, and you will break his heart.

To a large extent, the railroaders' wives reflect this spirit. They are quite resigned to the risks and dangers of the "mister's" trade. But with the mothers, especially those whose husbands have followed more quiet callings, it is different. They lead an anxious life.

In every dangerous occupation there is not this sustaining common courage to help a man endure gaily a lifelong deprivation. A certain degree of independence and fraternity in a group is necessary to bring it about. Many go forth[Pg 566] from the steel mills maimed for life, who have no such spirit to uphold them. I remember one night in Homestead seeing a boy on crutches, with one leg gone. He was about nineteen, with blue eyes and a shock of yellow hair falling down low on his forehead. In his face was that desperate look of defiance which comes with a recent deformity. He was trying with all his young will to be indifferent to the stares of the crowd, while in every nerve he felt them. All this and a weary hopelessness were written in his sullen child-face.

I have shown how grief is crowded out of the lives of working people, and how their frequent experience of trouble gives them an ordinary manner in speaking of it. These things largely account for the opinion held by many, that working people do not feel their sorrows as keenly as others do.

Furthermore, I found among working people almost no pretence of feeling where none exists. This too, might give rise to such an opinion. Where the death of a husband has meant merely a loss of income, with the attending problems of struggle and adjustment, there is no effort to have it appear otherwise. Where it has aroused only a feeling of bitterness toward the employer, this is not concealed either. But where the death of the bread-winner, has meant not merely an economic problem, not merely a legal battle, but heartache and emptiness,—that is written, real and unmistakable, in the faces of those left. And in the case of sons, where there may be no question of income, it is often possible to tell in the first glance at the mother whether this boy who was killed was "one of her children," or the child of her heart. There is an outspoken genuineness about these people which allows them neither to make a show of grief where there is none, nor to hide real suffering, even from a stranger.

Mrs. Leary took the accidents of "Andy" lightly. If he should happen to be killed some day her heart would not be broken. She spoke of the death of her baby three months before without feeling, mentioning the doctor's bills. But when I asked her to tell me about her oldest boy who died two years ago of diphtheria, I could see at once that I was on different ground. Her eyes filled with tears, and there was grief and longing in her voice as she talked about him. You see he was only five, but they understood each other. When she was unhappy he knew it. He would climb up in her lap, she said, and put his arms around her neck and say, "Don't cry, Mommy; I love you."

Mrs. Burns, a pretty Irish widow, whose husband was crushed while coupling cars, is obviously well satisfied with the $4,000 insurance he left. She takes boarders and is carefully saving the insurance money for her little girl's education. Her affections are set on this child. She has a tender memory of her Tom as he started off to work whistling that last morning, but she makes no pretence to mourn for him. She frankly admits that her marriage was not successful enough to make her risk it again.

Thus it is with Mrs. Andrews, a woman whose husband was killed in the mill. I found her smiling and contented a year later. Her man had been good and faithful while he lived, but after he died, her brother came to live with her and help her raise her two boys. He earned just as much, and she was perfectly satisfied with the situation.

On the other hand, I knew of a six months' bride who shot herself three weeks after her husband was killed. And a young German woman, whose father had been run over by a dinky engine in the mill, said to me in a choking voice, "Oh, when it comes to tellin' how he died, it breaks my heart." I have seen mothers and fathers in middle life who had become broken and old in a year after the death of a son, and a few women whom I visited eighteen months after such a tragedy, were literally unable to speak of it.

There was one wild-eyed little Scotch woman, Mrs. MacGregor, who refused to talk with me at all. I learned from a neighbor that she had twice been insane. Some years ago, when they had lived near the railroad, a little three-year-old girl of hers, who was playing before the house, ran in front of a train. The mother reached the child just in time to touch her dress as the engine tore her away. The mother lost her reason and was sent to an asylum. After six or eight months she recovered and came home. Then, one morning two years later, she got word to come at once to the hospital, that her son was dying. He was a lineman at Edgar Thompson, and had left home to go to work as usual two hours before. In some way,—no one ever knew how,—he had fallen from a ladder and broken his skull. After this second blow the mother was again insane.

Then there was an old father, Macdougal, who had had three sons. One died of smallpox, and one was killed in a steel mill. The third was a railroad engineer. On the night of March 13, 1907, he was taking a heavy freight across a bridge at Deer Creek, Harmarsville. The creek was high and the pier gave way; the engine and first cars went crashing into the water below, carrying three men to death. The bodies of the fireman and conductor were recovered next day, but young Macdougal, the engineer, was never found. They say the old man's hair turned white in twenty-four hours, and that he can still be found on fair days walking along the banks of the creek, looking for his son. But for the most part mothers and fathers do not lose their hold on things. Their lives go on as before. You can know perhaps only from a weary sadness in the mother's eyes that the light of their lives has gone out.

Death does not always mean sorrow, and these working people, it seems to me, feel no pressure of convention upon them to appear sorrowful when they are not. But where affection is strong and love is deep, tragedies are as real with them as with any people I have known.

Wherever love is found there is the chance of grief; there is potential tragedy. And it is in poor families, I think, that one finds the most close and lasting affection.

So often, in looking up a fatal accident case, I would come upon an intimate and devoted family group. The case of Will Gordon, for instance,—there was a[Pg 567] holiday drama I shall not soon forget. The Gordon family was a large one. Father and mother were living, and three working sons lived at home, besides four younger children. Then there were two married daughters, who lived near by and kept in close touch with the family. Will, the oldest son, although he was twenty-eight, was the greatest "home boy" of them all. He still handed every pay envelope over to his mother, unopened, as he had done when a child. His working life had been varied. First he tried the railroad, but he was slight, and the work was too much for him. Then for a while he did river work with one of his younger brothers who was on a government job. But in this he soon developed a chronic cough, and his mother was afraid of consumption. So finally he got a job with the Pressed Steel Car Company, as a pipe fitter's helper. Here the work was lighter and seemed to agree with him. Every two weeks he brought home twenty-five dollars and handed it over to his mother. Meanwhile his father, who was fifty, had taken a job at the Oil Refinery, firing boilers at night.

The boys considered this a dangerous job for the old man, and almost every night one of them would go with him. Will felt most strongly about it and was always begging his father to give it up. On Christmas evening, 1906, the son's arguments prevailed and his father promised to give up the job. This made them all especially happy on the next day, when the two married daughters came home with their families to celebrate Christmas. During the day they planned that the whole family should gather at the oldest daughter's house for New Year's. All the boys were to have a holiday except Will, and he promised to get off at noon, if he could, to eat the New Year's dinner with them. The day came, the family was gathered and the dinner was ready. With much joking and laughter and good-humored impatience, they were waiting for Will. In the midst of it came a boy with a scared face to say that Will had been killed at the works. He had been sent to repair a leak in a pipe. The steam was left on; the pipe burst; and he and Wilson, the pipe fitter,[Pg 568] were scalded to death. The father put on his coat and hurried down to the mill to keep them from sending his boy's body to the morgue.

This family affection shows its true nature in times of trouble. Barring what seemed to me an unusual number of deserting husbands, I was impressed with the faithfulness of these people to one another in struggle and distress. There was Mrs. Frederick, for instance, a Swiss woman whose husband was killed in a runaway, while driving for a wholesale liquor dealer. Just a week before the accident they had bought a small house with a $600 mortgage on it, and Mr. Frederick said to his wife, as they were looking over the deed: "Now we can begin to get along, and lift up our heads, and stop worrying."

Since her husband's death, even with the $1,000 insurance, it has been hard to keep things going and continue payments on the house. There are four children and only one is old enough to work. Just in this troublous time, too, the family burdens have increased. Mrs. Frederick's mother has come from Switzerland, old, feeble and without income; and her step-daughter, who had been away from home and independent for years, after lying in a hospital six weeks with a fever, has now come home, weak and helpless, to stay until she is able to work. Mrs. Frederick does not for a moment question the rightfulness of these burdens. The old grandmother and the convalescent daughter help her around the house; she takes in washing; the boy's wages are good. On the whole she is cheerful. The last thing she said to me, as she stood in the open door, was, "Oh, we'll get on somehow. We'll all work together, and if we have to, we'll starve together."

Another pathetic and almost humorous instance of family loyalty is the case of a man named Benson. I was hunting for the wife of a brakeman, who had been killed in the same wreck with the engineer Macdougal of whom I have spoken. I was told that I could learn about her at this Benson's house. I went there and found it a tumble-down, three-room shanty with a small shed for a kitchen, crowded in between brick tenements. There was no carpet on the floor and only a bare table and two kitchen chairs in the living room. The man's wife was unspeakably slovenly and, I think, half-witted.

When Benson came in, however, I could see that he was different. He was only twenty-six. His father had been a river-man, and he himself was born in a "shanty-boat." Owing to his mother's early carelessness he had lost one eye. When he grew up, he left the river and became a teamster, and in good times he made a living. At the time I saw him, however, he had had only one or two days' work a week for four months. The hard times, and the wife, I am sure,—not any natural shiftlessness in the man,—accounted for the desolation of his home. There was something fine in Benson's face, a certain modest look of steadfastness and pride,—the pride of the "family protector." This protector-ship extended even to the remote connections by marriage of the miserable creature who was his wife, for I found that the brakeman's widow, whom he had taken in and cared for after her husband's death, was his wife's sister-in-law. Further questioning revealed that this widow had an old mother who had also been dependent on the earnings of the brakeman.

"And what has become of the mother?" I asked.

"Oh," he said, "she lives here, too. She makes her home with me."

There he sat, this one-eyed teamster, in his barren, rented, three-room castle, and told me in a simple, serious way, as though it were to be expected in good families, that his wife's sister-in-law's mother "made her home with him."

It is not uncommon to find a loyalty like this in relations where one would least expect it. I have quite lost faith in the unkind stepmother of fairy-tale tradition. It is a step-daughter whom Mrs. Frederick, the Swiss woman, is caring for in the midst of her struggle. Three or four times I found a woman utterly uncomforted after the loss of a stepson. There was Conley, for instance, a car inspector who was killed in a wreck. A stepmother had brought him up since he was ten years old, loving him as few mothers love their own sons. And he gave her back a real devotion. When his friends would ask him why he didn't have some fun with his money instead of giving it all to his folks, he used to say,

"Well, fellows, home ain't a boarding house."

It is not unusual to find young men giving up their own prospects, to take up the burden of the family at the sudden death of the father. But the most memorable instance I remember of self-sacrifice on the part of a son was that of James Brennan, a switchman, who was killed on the Baltimore and Ohio in November, 1906. He, too, was only stepson and stepbrother to the family he fathered. Thomas Brennan, an Englishman, had married in the seventies and come to America, where his wife bore him two sons and then died. Soon after, he went back to England and married a sister of his first wife and brought her here to take care of his children. He soon proved worthless as a provider. He lived off and on with his family, but contributed less and less to their support, and finally left them entirely. The second wife was not strong, and after the birth of her last child, became an invalid. The burden of the family thus fell upon the shoulders of the two boys, her nephews and stepsons. They went to work at eleven and twelve. Arthur, the younger, was drowned at eighteen, leaving James, the older son, as the only support.

This young man never deserted his post. During the later years his burden increased. His stepsister made a runaway marriage at eighteen and in two years was deserted by her husband and came home with a child. A feeble old grandmother of eighty-eight came over from England to be taken care of. His stepmother became crippled with rheumatism and lay in bed for two years. In June of the year he was killed, he sent her away to a sanatorium to get well. She had been there for five months, had gained twelve pounds and was doing well when the telegram came to tell her of his[Pg 569] death. She came home to face the struggle of life without him,—an aged mother on her hands, a boy of ten, and an in-consequent daughter with a baby,—and she herself an invalid, suffering constantly. One would say that the mere problem of existence would be all absorbing for that woman. Yet, when I found her a year later, it was the emptiness of her life without this son rather than the loss of his income that was her tragedy.

There are all kinds of people everywhere. This is the only final conclusion. It is not easy therefore, to describe the spirit in which the working people meet trouble. They meet it in all the ways there are. But most of those I met, had an "everyday" attitude toward misfortune. This seems to support the opinion many hold, that poor people do not feel their tragedies deeply. But I think it is to be explained rather by the fact that they are too busy to entertain grief, that trouble is too common among them to arouse exclamation, and that they make no show of feeling where there is none. That they know the deepest sorrow, is obvious to one who has seen the loyalties and lasting affections which make up so much of their lives. I found usual in families, a generous affection which could rise to self-sacrifice and devotion in time of trial; and sometimes between two members of a family, a rare love, exclusive and complete, so that the death of one left the other in an empty world.

Tales of trouble like these are worth listening to, chiefly as they reveal the spirit of the people who suffered. It is with this thought that I have told them. But if by revealing a dreary recurrence of the same kind of misfortune in home after home, these stories have roused in the reader's mind a question, perhaps a protest, this too, is worth while. In a later issue, by a study of these work accidents in their happening, by a counting of the cost to the worker and his family, to the employer, and to society,—as at present the cost is distributed,—we hope to answer that question. Possibly we shall justify that protest.

[Pg 570]




It requires a moment's readjustment of our angle of vision to see Pittsburgh as a city of working women. To dig crude ores, to fuse and forge them, are not among the lighter handicrafts at which women can readily be employed. The old cry of the dwarfs under the earth, the first metal smiths, rings out in Pittsburgh in the tap of the miner's tools and in the shouts of gangs of furnace-men and engine crews in the winding recesses of the mill.

Yet even in a city whose prosperity is founded in steel and iron and coal, there has come into being beside the men a group of co-laborers. If we listen again, we hear the cry of the dwarfs (the productive forces of earth) not only in the shouts of gangs of furnace-men, but from the mobile group of workers at the screw and bolt works, and among the strong-armed women who make sand-cores in rooms planned like Alberich's smithy in the underworld. Listen still more closely, and we hear the dwarf voices in the hum of machines in a garment factory, in the steady turn of metal rolls in a laundry, and even in the clip of the stogy roller's knife in the tiny workroom of a tenement loft. Side by side with the men, the women workers have found a place in the industry of the steel district in the Alleghenies. In a district that calls pre-eminently for strength in its workmen, and if not for strength, for a high degree of training and skill, there is yet place in the congregate activity of factories and shops for women. Individual and group necessities have forced them out into an increasing number of occupational ways and byways, winding net-like over the city.


To understand fully the place that women have taken in the industries of Pittsburgh, we should need to know the history of the "forks of the Ohio," from trading post, frontier settlement, mill-town, to the growing, complex city of to-day. We should need to follow the women's share in the life of the district from the time of the woman pioneer, who was herself a producer of goods and of values, on through the active days of life in a small and struggling town, and later, into the ramifications of the industrial city, when the days came that English speaking labor did not suffice and a new immigrant population was brought in.

We know a little of the life of the frontier women and the work that they did. We have hints here and there, of the home industries of intermediate decades, of the weaving and the stogy making[9] especially, of production for the use of the individual home, that helped to make the lives of women in miners' households active and significant. There are gaps in our recorded knowledge of the process of change, of the forces that little by little have been a call to the high-strung girl of American birth, to the unconquerable exiled Russian, to the field worker from Austria, and to the fair-haired Pole,—a call away from the four walls that sheltered the industries of the home, and toward factory and shop, toward division of labor and specialization of work at a machine. The census in the first half of the nineteenth century is small help to us. Even in later years, we can learn from it comparatively little about the industrial life in individual cities.

[9] See Jour. Pol. Econ. 5: 1-25.

One fact significant of the situation in Pittsburgh to-day is that according to the last census, the excess of male over female population is a trifle less than 10,000. When the industries of the district grew to a magnitude that drew on foreign labor forces, it was the men of Ireland and Germany, of Italy, Austria and Poland who came. Later, in smaller numbers, the women followed. They came because their husbands and brothers were here; not often for the purpose of forging out a life of their own. The women of the later immigrant races, the Slavs and the southern Europeans, are lagging behind. Giuseppina is still keeping the little Italian cottage with the thought that Pietro will return or will have made his way more surely before he sends for her. Life in America for her is not a settled destiny. It is a probability of growing importance for those populations whose need exceeds the productive power of the soil; but even to the strong it is something of an experiment, something for which women,—not industrially adjusted,—must await the issue [Pg 571]before they too follow in numbers equal to the men.

In the different districts of the city, one can trace something of the effect of this varying feeling of permanence on the ways of life among earlier and later immigrants. Irish and German, in fact, we no longer think of as immigrants. They are as much wrought into the fabric of the nation as those whom we are pleased to call American. The Jewish immigrants from Austria, Germany, and Russia, while their coming has been hastened by religious persecution, have yet been part of the life of the city for so long, that among them there is a distinct family grouping; and there is a normal proportion between men and women. This is in part due to race tradition as well as to length of settlement, but the latter has unquestionably served to diminish the proportion of single men, who from this race as from others, have come to make a place for themselves in the new country.

In the congested Italian neighborhoods, on the other hand, women are but an unimportant factor in the industrial life of the city. In the midst of the city itself, there are to be sure streets of Italian families; streets where the women still honor the custom of life in their households. A scattered few roll paste-smeared tobacco leaves into tobies after the Italian fashion, or follow with painstaking docility the signs of the forewoman in a garment workshop. But there are not many of these pioneers of congregate activity. The ties of tradition that keep the girl to her house and early marriage are still too strong for more than the very few to break. There is small opportunity in this smoke-filled city among the hills for the Italian girl to preserve her self-respect by staying at home, and at the same time to increase her income by sewing or making flowers. Flowers of delicate tints and fine embroidered fabrics, belong rather to the trade of eastern cities. The garment industry here is of a different sort from that which has nourished and given employment to its thousands of out-workers in New York city. Such outwork as there is dates to a time before the Italian women were here in numbers, or had grouped themselves into particular districts, and it fell naturally into the hands of Irish and Germans whose homes were, and still remain, in the early settled regions in the coal filled hills.


[Pg 572]

Leave "the hill," and go down toward the mills and to some of the outlying sections, and you will find still fewer women in the colonies of young Italian laborers, advance guards from their native towns. Some of these men are workers on the railroads, others are day-laborers in the mills. They bring up the numbers of the Italian population and contribute to the excess male population of the entire city. Among still later immigrants, this situation is intensified. Near the Pressed Steel Car Works, there are streets of low unpainted houses, each exactly like the other, each filled with its family of "boarders,"—single men who club together and rent a house or hire a bed by turns in order to make their pay serve both for their own support and for the help of those at home in the old country. They are Slavs,—"Hunkies." They are the under-workmen in mill and mine and machine shop, who have helped push the earlier comers a step higher and push themselves into the subordinate jobs. Some of the first comers have since brought their families. Some few sisters and friends with the desire to try new fortune have come, too, leaving their families behind. But the bulk of the "boarding house" population is made up of single men, immigrants of this race. Where families and single women have come, they have tended to settle in the glass-making district, or near the manufactories of iron and steel products that can use quick fingers as well as strong untrained arms.


[Pg 573]

The Polish women have not the conservatism which keeps the Italian girl at home. They have not the same standard of close-knit family relationship. There is a flexibility in their attitude toward life and toward their part in it. In numbers and in kind of work, they are an element of industrial importance.

Altogether, 22,185 women wage earners outside of agricultural, professional, and domestic service, are employed in Pittsburgh. These figures are based on a careful census of the women-employing trades made during the winter of 1907-8. This working force is distributed in 448 factories and shops, and can be arranged[Pg 574] according to the numerical importance of the different trade groups as shown in the accompanying table.

1Mercantile Houses7540
2Food Production:
3 Cleaning Industries:
       Dyeing and Cleaning
4Stogy Industry              2611
5Metal Trades                1954
       Paper Boxes
       Brooms and Brushes
       Trunks and Suit-cases
7Needle Trades:
       Mattress and Bedding
8Lamps and Glass              864
9Telephone and Telegraph      777
10Millinery (wholesale)406
11Printing Trades397
Total Women Workers22185

In the U. S. census of 1900, women's work is grouped under the headings: Agricultural Pursuits, Domestic and Personal Service, Professional Service, Trade and Transportation, Manufacturing and Mechanical Pursuits. In the accompanying table, agricultural pursuits, and professional service are excluded. Under domestic and personal service come only the cleaning industries, with 2,685 women, 12.10 per cent of the number under consideration. Under trade and transportation, come saleswomen and telephone and telegraph operators to the number of 8,317 (37.48 per cent). The remainder, 11,183 women (50.4 per cent), are included in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits.

It is worth while to consider not only the broad groupings and the characteristics of the several trades, but the women whom they have called to them, old and young, native born, or from the fields and towns of another country. Each trade has its characteristic racial group, and in some cases a secondary racial group; and on the other hand one racial group may be found in several trades. When the work room is a mercantile house, there is small need to describe it. We know something of the work and of its demands; we know, too, that no other occupation seems so desirable as "clerking" to the girl with some personal ambition but without the training necessary for an office position. A majority of the girls are native-born of Irish or German parents, but there is a scattering of bright Jewish girls who have a characteristic dislike for the noise of machines.

The mercantile houses, the stogy factories and the garment factories are employers of Jewish girls. In all three industries many Americans are to be found, but they are in the more desirable positions, in shops of the better class, with provision for light and air. These girls have the nervous readiness to learn new ways, the adaptability, the measure of skill, which tend to bring them the best work, the better workplaces. But where the cheap, hustling business is done, the Jewish girls predominate. They endure the drive in the rarely cleaned upper room, where between narrow walls, faint daylight finds its way toward the machines and where drifting lint and ten hours' stooping over a power-driven needle, have their effect in time on a girl even with the strength of rugged generations behind her.

Newcomers cannot choose either workshop or wages. With the subordination of the industrially unadjusted, they crave a chance to learn, whether it be by the[Pg 575] whirr of the needle or by team work at cheap mold stogies to supply the workingman's demand. In one or two of the small box factories on "the hill," one finds occasionally a Jewish girl. Box makers paste the bright colored strips of paper along the box edges. They stay the corners by the clamp of a machine. For heavier boxes they glue into place the wooden supports. Such work for a Jewish girl is exceptional, however, and in violence to tradition. The three industries mentioned above make up her circle of possible choices.


Yet each industry, notably stogy making and the needle trades, has drawn upon a second racial element in response to a specific industrial demand. When the garment makers, spurred to production by the presence of an army of laborers in mills and mines, began to increase and cheapen their output, they gave the jeans and railroad jumpers to Irish and German women who would make them at home. The sweating system, as old and older than the ready-made trade, has adapted itself to the city, and has taken a form scarcely recognizable to one familiar with the contract shops on New York's East Side. There is no contract system here. Outwork entrenched itself in individual homes before Italians and immigrant Russians had settled into districts, and the only available out-workers were the wives of Irish and German workingmen in Carrick and Lower St. Clair. Even to-day, it takes a rambling journey along muddy foot-paths, across brooks and fields and along the edges of the barren hills to bring you to the sweated district. The workroom here is not a crowded tenement, but a small wooden house with six machines someway placed in the living room, and there is occupation for the whole family, from father to baby. The[Pg 576] family has to pay the driver a percentage on every dozen garments that he brings, according to the distance from town. As the driver knows the people and often gives them the chance to work, his position is in some respects that of a middleman. The workers are obliged to meet his terms or to turn to some other means of livelihood. A seemingly inaccessible hill country within city limits, wooden shacks swarming with chickens and children, a whirr of machines audible from the field below,—these contradictions characterize the sweating system of Pittsburgh.


We have seen that Jewish and American girls are in the garment factories, while Irish and German women, the hill-dwelling wives of the miners, hold the subordinate place in the trade. In the stogy industry, the Polish women, some of them married and others immigrant girls, have the inferior and unpleasant work. The least desirable occupation for women in stogy factories is tobacco stripping, pulling the stems out of the moist leaves and weighing and tying them in pounds for the rollers. In tenement shops, one may find the strippers in a cellar, their backs against a damp wall, working by the light of a flaring gas jet. In a large factory, one will see them sitting in their low stalls, row behind row, stemming and weighing and throwing the waste to one side. "They would work all night," one foreman said, "if I would give them the chance. We never have any trouble with them; we can't give them enough work to do." They were married women in this case; but the rule holds good and there is seldom trouble with the Polish hands in a stogy factory. They are there too much on sufferance for grievances to be worth their while. They have entrenched themselves in the stripping rooms and are[Pg 577] found now and then at a bunching machine or rolling stogies at the suction table, but this more skilled work is still largely in the hands of American and Jewish girls.


The Polish women have pushed their way into a wider circle of industries than have the Jewish girls. They are limited by lack of training and by trade indifference, as well as by the stolid physical poise that cannot be speeded at the high pressure to which an American girl will respond. They have not an industrial standard that would tend to react progressively upon the character of their work and the arrangement of the workrooms. They accept factory positions that girls of other races regard as socially inferior. They consent to do the rough and unpleasant work, the work that leads and can lead to nothing except coarsening of fiber and a final break in strength. They change from one place to another with an irresponsibility, an independence, born perhaps of long-slumbering memories of revolution in their own land.

In canneries and cracker factories, we find Polish girls who are lighter-handed, fairer, more delicately built than those of the metal trades and the glass houses. These girls have rapid work to do. They have the nervous energy to pack or to fill cans at high speed. They stand beside the travelling conveyor which carries cans of beans, and slip a bit of pork into each can as it passes. Without turning their heads or changing their position, working with high concentration and intensity, they can keep pace with the chains. While they do much of the mechanical work, the hulling[Pg 578] and stemming of berries, the preparing of fruit, the filling and labeling of cans, they are found too among the bottling girls on whom responsibility for the appearance of the finished product largely rests. These latter place each pickle or piece of preserved fruit after the model design taught them in the beginning. They use a grooved stick to slip the pickles into place, and are obliged to be accurate as well as quick, for they work under inspection on a piece basis. A piece of onion misplaced in a bottle of mixed pickles is held sufficient ground for requiring the bottler to do the work over at the expense of her own time. The odor of vinegar and of preserves, an odor that seems to have saturated the air in nearby streets, has made the cannery unpopular among Americans who have acquired fastidiousness in the choice of a trade.

It is possible that between the Polish women in this latter industrial group and those in the metal trades, there is the difference between the child of the city and the child whose life and the life of whose parents has been near the earth. At any rate, there is the general difference between the small, slight, fair-haired girl, and the rough-skinned stolid women, whom even a piece-rate scarcely avails to keep up to the pace of the machine. These latter are the women who with knee and hand and metal-centered glove, open the sheets of tin still warm from the furnaces of the sheet and tin plate mill; these are the women who screw nuts on bolts by a fish-oil process, and these are the women who carry trays of sand-cores in the foundries where they have displaced men. They are the packers in glass factories, the riveters and foot-press operators in lamp works. They have a hundred miscellaneous things to do, no one of which is a trade, or can be a trade so long as a shifting group of women, women with muscular strength and the readiness to do disagreeable things, is at hand for the odd jobs about a factory. They learn to operate one machine, but they are not among the hands who know the ways of the shop, and work up to better occupations. Either through the barrier of language, or in part through their own indifference, they are used for the least desirable work in those occupations which in a measure they have made their own.

Polish girls of both types are to be found in laundries, but in most cases they are employed in the mangle room only. Their work is to feed in sheets under the metal rolls, to shake them out before feeding, or to receive and fold them at the other end while steam rises from the hot metal and from the huge washing cylinders below.

There remain unaccounted for the workers in the candy industry, in many of the miscellaneous trades, in telephone and telegraph offices, in the wholesale millinery houses, and in press rooms and bookbinderies. Here there is variation as the individual and the location rather than as the trade group. In large measure, the employes are of American birth. Telephone and telegraph work share with mercantile houses the advantage of social esteem, and by reason of this, claim the American girl. The same is true of the millinery workroom, in spite of its irregular hours and short seasons. Perhaps a reflected "odor of sanctity," an association by proxy with clerical work, has made press rooms and binderies favored above more obviously manufacturing pursuits. Perhaps, too, the location of the binderies in the business section of the city has given them a force of American employes, for the Polish girl, like her Jewish co-worker, is limited in her imaginings to factories and shops within the few streets that make up the sum of her experience. Yet to an extent press rooms and binderies employ girls of foreign birth, and in the cork factory, many of the sorters are Poles. For some reason, the candy trade is largely in the hands of Americans, and is in high esteem among women workers.


[Pg 579]

Surveying the city, then, we see American and German girls holding the positions for which a few months' training is needed, a knowledge of English, or of reading and writing. We see them yielding the inferior and unpleasant work to newcomers from Poland and Russia and we see these same newcomers, sometimes by sheer physical strength, sometimes by personal indifference and a low standard, competing on the basis of lower wages with men. Work that otherwise would never have been given to girls to do has come into the hands of Polish women. Workrooms that would not long be tolerated by Americans,—they have been regarded with indifference, perhaps because of inability to share the sensations of a foreigner. The place of the Polish women, scrubbing floors and sorting onions in a cannery, packing crackers, stripping tobacco for the stogy makers, or making sand-cores in a machine shop,—this place is lowest industrially among the women workers of Pittsburgh. It is the place of the woman who is fighting her way but has not yet thought whither she is going. A determination to work and to earn is uppermost. Marriage is not suffered to act as a hindrance. There is notable absence of standard as to conditions of work and rate of wages. With light foothold here and there, the Italian girl scarcely figures, but within a limited circle of industries immigrant Jewesses hold positions beside girls of native birth.

From trading post and frontier settlement,[Pg 580] from ambitious mill-town, Pittsburgh has come to be a city whose workrooms number a force of over 22,000 women. From home industry and from household work, the younger generation of girls has entered the field of collective service. From doing the whole of a thing and from knowing the user, the younger generation has gradually found its work more and more minutely subdivided; the individual worker makes not even a whole hinge but a tenth part of it, and knows neither the use nor the destination of the finished product. She does not know the relation of her fraction of the work to the other fractions or to the interwoven threads of industry that make up the plant. These younger women have pushed past the traditional activities of cleaning and cooking and sewing; even the congregate form of these industries engages but a few of them. They have not only gone into press rooms and binderies, into cork factories, and into workrooms where candies are made and where fruit is preserved, but they help finish the glass tumblers that the men in the next room blow, they make the cores for the foundry-men, and they are among the shapers of metal for lamps and for hinges and bolts and screws. In a city that is preeminent for the making of steel and iron and the products of steel and iron, women have taken to-day a place in industries that seemed wholly in the province of men.

It means readjusting our angle of vision, but it is not a difficult readjustment, to see Pittsburgh as a city of working women. From river to river, women have their share in its industrial life. More than a theory, more than a reform movement, is needed to turn back a tide that is twenty-two thousand strong, that has its roots deep in commercial methods and commercial success. Change in industrial method, when such change makes for cheapness or for efficiency or for the utilization of a hitherto only partially utilized labor force, cannot be stayed by any theory as to its inappropriateness. Industrial forces, in that they are the forces of production, are still dominant in America. There is nothing in the Pittsburgh situation that looks toward undoing the change that has come about in the industrial position of women; but we can find out more exactly in this steel city how the work of women is related to that of men, how far women have reached the point of being self-supporting and independent, and what the social effect of labor under these new conditions seems to be. Through change in some of these conditions, much that seems evil in the nature of women's work may be undone and the real value of it released as a permanent and useful factor in industrial life.

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Photograph by Lewis W. Hine.


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[Pg 589]




Above one of the busiest corners in Pittsburgh, an immense advertisement in Croatian solicits patronage for an American bank. In the railroad stations and on the principal thoroughfares you can see groups of people who bear unmistakably the Slavic physiognomy. But the Slav is reserved; even the Southern Slav lacks the unrestrained animation so characteristic of the Italian. He is slow in making an impress on the imagination of the community. Though the Slavs are one of the three largest racial elements that immigration is adding to our population, though in the Pittsburgh district they constitute over one-half of the workers in the steel mills, yet in spite of their large numbers and their importance as an industrial and business factor, there is, I believe, little actual understanding and appreciation of them on the part of Americans. The bosses know them chiefly as sturdy, patient, and submissive workmen; their American fellow-workmen hate and despise them largely because of this patience and submissiveness to the bosses and their willingness at the outset to work at any wages and under any conditions; the public at large knows the Slavs by their most obtrusive and objectionable traits,—especially by the newspaper stories of their rows and fights when they get drunk on payday or when celebrating a wedding or a christening. Few people realize that the "Hunkie" in spite of his proclaimed "stolidity" is capable of all the finer emotions,—that his aspirations are the same in character, though as yet not so ambitious nor so definitely formulated as those of his neighbor Americans.

It is my design in this article to present the immigrant Slavs as they have not yet been generally seen,—as human beings even if crude, with some virtues along with their widely recognized vices,—to present something of their spirit, their character, their attitude toward America, and the effect on them of the conditions under which as in Pittsburgh and the neighboring mill towns they live and work. For this design I feel I have at least the qualification of knowledge; in preparation for this immediate task I visited some two hundred families; moreover, I am a Slav by birth, and all my life I have lived and worked among the Slavic people.

The natural question rising in one's mind is, Why did these great hordes[Pg 590] come to America and to Pittsburgh? Let me answer in terms of men. The main cause is of course economic. On the one side there is the old world surplus of labor accompanied by low wages, the barrenness of the land which every year becomes more insufficient to support growing populations, and economic disasters affecting sometimes individuals and sometimes whole communities; on the other side, the stories of the wealth of some bolder pioneers and of the great opportunities in this country, confirmed and exaggerated by the crafty agents of transportation companies. An illustration of this economic impetus is the simple story of Grigory Leshkoff. Grigory comes from a Russian peasant family in which there were seven sons and twenty poor acres of land. "What were we to do at home?" Grigory demanded of me with a shrug. "Just look at one another,—hey?" One by one these sons left the crowded farm and sought work in the few mines and factories located near them. Grigory's younger brother was the first from the village to seek America, coming here in 1902. But soon others followed him, "and now," said Grigory, "there are in Homestead at least fifty young men from our village."

Grigory, by the way, is a veteran of the Japanese war, having come to America immediately after its close. But he has little to say about this one of the great conflicts of modern times; in fact, he looks upon his experience upon battle fields as quite commonplace compared with his experience in the steel mills. From the first he emerged without a scratch; in the second he lost a leg. When I saw him he was deeply concerned with what a strong man of twenty-seven with only one leg was going to do with his future,—and the simple peasant was not seeing much hope ahead.

Grigory came from Chernigov. From this government, and from Minsk and Grodno, where the soil is exhausted and where the shares of the villagers in the communes grow less with each redistribution of the land, the Russians are setting out in increasing numbers. Not altogether dissimilar causes operate in certain districts of Austria-Hungary. Pribich used to be one of the richest wine growing regions in Croatia, but some fifteen years ago the vines were devastated by a blight, necessitating replanting with American stock. In this way hundreds of once prosperous farmers were reduced to poverty. Many of them came to the United States in the hope of earning enough money to pay for the necessary replanting of their vineyards. Lazo Milutich, who gave me this information, was himself one of those affected by the calamity. He came to Allegheny about twelve years ago, where he tried different jobs, and after two years wandering landed at Wilmerding. Here he has worked for the last ten years in the same foundry.

Other causes than economic pressure have of course played their part in this great migration. Political oppression is one. I have met a number of political refugees among the older Slavs, many now persons of importance. And another is the blandishment and trickery of the steamship agent. John Godus, a Slovak living in Braddock, is one of a group of twelve young men brought here in 1901, by the last influence. To their village came a man dressed as a common workingman. We can imagine him in high boots, wearing an embroidered shirt, and smoking a long-stemmed pipe. He was a steamship agent, thus disguised to escape the attention of the gendarmerie. He quietly found out what young men were at the age when one has to present himself for conscription in the army,—for such youths he had discovered, were the easiest induced to be customers; secretly argued with them that it would be foolishness to give three of their best years to the army, where they would be slapped, kicked and cursed; and in the end sold them all tickets.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.



It is perhaps but natural that Pittsburghers should believe that the fame of their industries should draw these Slavs straight from their villages to Pittsburgh. Yet this is rarely true,—true only in exceptional cases, such as that of Joseph Sabata, a Bohemian. He was an iron-worker at home and was employed in a large rolling mill in Moravia. Their machinery was imported mostly from the United States and he, noticing the name of an Allegheny firm on some of the pieces, thought that in that city he could learn more about his business; and so five years ago decided to come over. After being landed at Ellis Island, he discovered while in line waiting to be questioned, that everybody was asked to show an address. Such an address he did not have, but he does have quick wits; he hastily scribbled on a piece of paper "Allegheny," and the name of a cousin still in the old country who had probably never even heard the name of that city. He was readily admitted, went straight to Allegheny, and when I saw him was earning $2.75 a day in a machine shop.

In another case I met with, the coming straight to Pittsburgh was quite accidental. Václav Málek, a Bohemian, who came here with his parents eighteen years ago when a lad of sixteen, had intended to settle with the rest of the family on a farm in Wisconsin. But on the way across the ocean they became acquainted with another Bohemian family, bound for Pittsburgh, who had been robbed of their money, and to these people Málek's father loaned eighty dollars. In order not to lose the money they decided to keep near their debtors and they too came to Pittsburgh. John even to this day is sorry they didn't go on a farm,—and for a double reason: first, he has a natural preference for farm labor which is never to be gratified; second, in the course of his work for an Allegheny company, an accident crippled him for life.

In the vast majority of cases the Slavs in Pittsburgh had not the slightest intention of settling there when they first came to America. Usually their location there has been preceded by a period of a year or two or even longer during which they have wandered hither and thither, from one factory to another, from town to town, looking for the right place to settle.

Large numbers of the Slovaks come to Pittsburgh by way of the anthracite fields. At the time of the strike,—and for several years before when conditions were bad in hard coal mining, half-time, and the like of that, the Slavic mineworkers[Pg 591] drifted west,—across the state to the steel mill district.

The experience of a Ruthenian named Koval is typical of a great number of men. He came to America three years ago, and was sent by an immigrant home in New York to work in the forests of West Virginia as a woodcutter. The wages there were only fifty cents a day, and in other ways the conditions were so bad that he and three other men ran away. They wandered through the woods until they came to a little settlement with a saw mill, where they were offered work and stayed for about two months, earning $1.50 a day. Then a surveyor came to the village, who spoke Polish, and told them that in Allegheny they could earn a good deal more money than in the woods, so to Allegheny they decided to go. There they obtained work as laborers in the locomotive works at $1.50 for a day of ten hours.

Such a wanderer also, was Smulkstis, a Lithuanian who started life as a messenger boy in the telegraph service in St. Petersburg. He came to a friend in Wilmerding four years ago, but, unable to get the kind of work he wanted, he sought out another friend in Worcester, Mass., where he got a job in a woolen mill. The next spring found him back in Pittsburgh as a machine operator in an electrical plant. To-day,—he is still only twenty-two,—he is a crane man in the Homestead steel mills. Similarly, a Croatian who was spending the winter in Duquesne, was a type of the migratory railroad laborer, who drifts from one contractor's gang to another. He had been all over Indiana, Ohio and the Middle West and had taken his wife and children with him. They made shift in cars and shanties and construction camps of all sorts.

One fact that was continually striking me in Pittsburgh was the number of ordinary men, earning low wages, who seem to be fitting themselves permanently to their new environment. John Gerza, an engine cleaner in the Fort Wayne yards, and his family impressed me as having, in their five[Pg 592] years in this country, adapted themselves very readily to the atmosphere and to the life of Pittsburgh. There are no regrets nor looking backward, nothing to draw him away from the present life. The explanation for this adaptation is the explanation in so many other cases that it is worth setting down. Gerza lived in a Moravian village where till sixteen years ago there had been no impulse to move away from the soil. The villagers were rooted to their ancient homes; they thought only of the land, and they tilled it in the same old, primitive manner of their forefathers. Then a railroad was built through the country, and factories sprang up. These drew agricultural laborers from the villages, and thereby unsettled the population; unsettled the old conditions of life, and practically destroyed that love for, that almost physical kinship with, the soil and the old home which I found so strong among the Slavs in general. Gerza's wife used to work in a sugar factory at home; he himself used to be a brakeman on a freight train. With them it was not the severe and wrenching change from farm to factory, with the involved breaking away from loved surroundings; it was the comparatively simple change from one industrial pursuit to a comparatively similar industrial pursuit.

Palinski, a Russian Pole of forty-five who has been in America eighteen years, is another example of that really considerable class of ordinary, low-paid workmen who have made a small success,—if owning a home and having a happy family and being content is termed success. The highest pay Palinski has ever received was $1.65 a day, and yet, though he has five children, he managed five years ago to buy in conjunction with his brother the house in which they live. They paid $1,600 for the property, and now Jones and Laughlin want to buy it and Palinski expects to sell for at least $3,000. The oldest child, a girl of fifteen, is kept in public school, and the three other children of school age are sent to the parochial school where tuition must be paid. The house is strikingly clean and well arranged. Palinski seems to be well satisfied with himself, his family and his work.

It was a marvel to me how a man with Palinski's wages could own such a pleasant home, raise so large a family of children, educate them, and keep them well-dressed and healthy. The explanation lies in a great measure outside Palinski. He is a good man, but, as in so many of the cases where the Slavs have wrought pleasant homes out of little wages, the credit is largely due to the wife. Mrs. Palinski must have been a wonderful manager; even to the casual eye, she was neat, bright and energetic. In estimating the worth to America of this pair, one must not consider alone the hardworking husband and the able wife; one must consider their contribution of healthy, educated children.

These men are fixtures; in a generation or two their children and children's children are likely to be an indistinguishable part of that conglomerate product, the American citizen. In contrast to these men are the great numbers who are not content, who are not fixtures,—whose great dream it is some day to get back to their native village, live out their years there and, what is no small consideration with many, be laid at rest in friendly soil. Why these men, even though successful here, have this yearning and take this action, presents a rather tough question to most persons. That question, I think, I can best answer by reciting the case of Mike Hudak.

Hudak is a Slovak who came to this country seventeen years ago when a youth of nineteen. He is a fine type of a man in every way; physically he could almost be classed as a giant, for he stands six feet two, is deep of chest and broad of shoulders. He works in the Pennsylvania repair shops at Oliver, earning eighty dollars a month, which is good pay for a Slav when one considers that the work is regular and not dangerous. He seems to be quite a figure in his neighborhood, for when I walked home with him one day he was addressed from all sides in tones that showed liking and respect. He dresses neatly and has a fluent command of English. If there is any type of immigrant that we need above all others it struck me that Mike Hudak is that type.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.



I first discovered his yearning by asking him why he was not a citizen. "Why should I forswear myself," said he.

I did not understand and asked for an explanation. "As I am going back to my old country, it would not be right to give up my allegiance there and make myself a citizen here." I pressed him for his reasons for going back, and he gave them to me,—reasons that fit thousands and thousands of cases. With him that preliminary process of being separated from the soil had not taken place, as with John Gerza. He was a farmer by age-old instinct; his love for the land was a part of his being, was a yearning which would leave him only with death. Now, since over here he had been plunged straight into industry, the only land he had ever known in a way to become attached to it was the land in which he was born, and when the time came when he was able to gratify his longing for land his thoughts went only to the land in his old country. So, though socially as well off as he would be there, and economically much better off, he was going back. Undoubtedly he, too, would be a fixture in America could he have gone on a farm immediately upon his arrival here,—for then his instinctive land-love would have been weaned from the old country and fixed upon America. Few Slavs who settle upon the land ever change back to Europe.

The Slavs are strong, willing workers, and are generally considered by the steel mill officials the best laborers they get,—but now and then there is a man who is too slow for America. One of these was John Kroupa, a Bohemian who has been here twenty-two years. Faithful, strong, willing, it wasn't in him to keep up the race. He was in his earlier years here employed in a steel mill, but he was dropped. As he frankly said to me, "You have to be pretty quick in those[Pg 593] mills, and it isn't a job for a man like me." Later he got a job as watchman on a Pennsylvania Railroad crossing in Woods Run, and there he worked for sixteen years, his wages forty dollars a month for a twelve hour day and a seven day week. (In the last two years, forty-four dollars.) All this while he hoped for promotion, but it did not come and this non-recognition rankled within him. "Other men, who were all sore from sitting down so much, were promoted," exclaimed he, "but I, who was always hustling, was never thought of, and I can tell you it wasn't an easy job to watch that no accident happened, as more than 300 trains passed that way every day and very often at full speed, disregarding the city ordinances,—thirty or forty miles an hour." Three years ago the crossing was abolished, the tracks having been elevated. The superintendent came to him at that time. "Well, John, I am sorry for you; going to lose your happy home. But you'll get another just as good." This was too much for John; his long smoldering disappointment burst out. "Go to hell!" said he, "A happy home! I could just as well have been in the penitentiary over there; I would have been much better off, without the responsibility and worry I have here. During sixteen years I didn't have a single day off. Sundays and weekdays both I have to be here for twelve hours. Do you call that a happy home?"

He refused the new-old job. He now keeps a little store in Woods Run, which he has established out of his savings and with the help of his children,—a store which might have served Dickens for one of his grotesque backgrounds, for here are on sale hardware, candy, crackers, bacon, eggs, molasses. Kroupa cannot be classed as a failure, for he has managed to buy a home and raise and educate a good sized family, but he has not made the success that his qualities of constancy, honesty and sobriety should have won him. His inborn slowness was too great a handicap.

Among the Slavs the Slovaks strike me as the most ambitious and pushing. This is all the more surprising when one remembers that the conditions out of which they come are as bad as the conditions[Pg 594] surrounding any of the Slavs, and worse than most. The Slovaks when they come here, are poor, illiterate, have no training, are inured to oppression; yet they have pluck, perseverance, enterprise and courage. From their ranks are recruited many of the foremen in the mills and an ever increasing number of merchants. In the Woods Run district, with which I happen to be best acquainted,—a low-lying mill neighborhood along the Ohio in Allegheny City, probably one-half of the stores and saloons are in the hands of Slovaks, or their close neighbors, the Hungarian Rusnaks. They were all common laborers at one time. Most of the stores are well kept and, in general, prosperous-looking, and among their customers are not only Slavs, but Americans as well.

A type of this class of men, the men who succeed, is John Mlinek. When I first saw him I had not the least thought that he was a Slav, so well-dressed and thoroughly Americanized did he seem, and such good English did he speak. He came to America thirteen years ago when only fifteen years old. He worked successively as a breaker-boy and driver in the mines at Mahanoy City, then in the iron-works at Elizabeth, New Jersey, then as a riveter in the Pressed Steel Car Company at Allegheny, where he was soon making three to four dollars a day. As he neither drank nor indulged in any other form of dissipation he saved considerable money. In 1905, he married a Slovak girl born and brought up in this country who for several years before her marriage, had clerked in a store where they had foreign customers. She is a little more refined than the average English-speaking girl of the working class, and holds a high position in her own circle. She is quite ambitious and induced her husband to start a store in Woods Run. He sells cigars and candy and is doing very well; from what I could gather, they already must have several thousand dollars saved. These young people seem to be much liked in the community; they are prominent both in their social circle and in their church, and Mlinek is an influential man among the Slovak societies, though he does not at all push himself to the front. Mlinek, I would say, is at the beginning of a considerable success; his prospects and his personality favor his achieving it; only some untoward set of circumstances can keep him down.

A few paragraphs back, in the case of Hudak, I spoke of the powerful call their native bit of earth makes upon so many of the immigrants. But frequently when men go back, intending to stay, in response to this call, the old country is not strong enough to hold them. Such was the case with this same John Mlinek. It was his ambition to be a well-to-do farmer in Hungary in a few years, and recently he and his wife made a preliminary visit to his old home and bought a farm. They remained a few weeks,—but those few weeks were quite enough. He came back quite cured. "Every little clerk in the village looked down on me, because I didn't speak the official language, Magyar," Mlinek said to me. "He was an official while I was just a peasant. He didn't earn a quarter of what I do, yet I had to bow to him. That made me sore. In America I'm a free man. Besides, I've got a better chance to do well than in the old country. Yes, America is good enough for me."

Mike Mamaj is another successful man; he also returned to Hungary, expecting to live there, and he also turned his back on his native country and came again to America, this time to stay. He has learned to speak, read and write English, and he is full of energy, though rather rude and domineering in his manner. During the early part of his career in America (he came here twenty years ago) he had a hard time, but for the last seven years he has been a foreman in the car shops at Woods Run. He has seventy men working under him, and part of the time he has earned $100 a month. He owns the house in which he lives, worth about $2,500, has property in the old country to the value of $1,500, and has money in the bank.

Mamaj is proud of his success, of his home, of his children. So proud that, on the occasion of our first meeting, though the bed-time hour of nine had come, he dragged me off to show me the evidence of what he had done in America.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.



First I had to inspect his home, which was neat and well-furnished. Then he ordered his children (three daughters, eight, ten and thirteen) who were going to bed, to dress and recite their lessons for the stranger. While the girls rather sleepily displayed some of their English learning, Mamaj stood by, hands in his pockets, and nodded proudly.

A quality that I have noted again and again among the Slavs is their readiness to help their countrymen,—already instanced by the case of Málek's father loaning money to a robbed fellow immigrant. Sometimes this generosity shows itself amid the most adverse circumstances, as it did with Koval. Koval (the same man that I mentioned as having wandered about before settling in Pittsburgh) has himself had enough misfortune during his three years in America to drive all unselfish feeling for others out of a man's heart. Two years ago he sent for his family and his younger brother. Immediately upon their arrival his three children and his brother fell sick with typhoid fever. They were no sooner well than Koval himself went down with the fever. This illness, since it drained their resources, forced them to fill their home with boarders,—which was a hardship on the slight wife, all the more keenly felt because keeping boarders had been no part of their original plan. Then all three of the children were taken ill with the croup. The usual price for a doctor's call is one dollar, but the doctor charged three dollars each visit inasmuch as he had three patients; Koval protested, but had to pay. Two of the children died, and Koval, by this time financially exhausted, had to go in debt to the undertaker for the funerals. And then amid these last disasters came the financial crash, with its misery of unemployment.

Certainly enough to sour the milk of human kindness in any man. But the penniless Koval did not drive out his penniless boarders, now only a burden. Instead, he gave them a sleeping place, divided with them the food he could get on credit from the grocery, for since he was a steady man and a householder Koval still had some credit; and for the rest of the food, he and his boarders[Pg 595] would go and stand in the bread line, which had been established in Woods Run. Not only did Koval not throw out the penniless boarders, who already encumbered him, but he took in seven additional people who were in distress. Two of these latter were young men from his native village who had landed in Pittsburgh in the midst of the depression; two were Russians who had been found wandering through the streets, nearly frozen, by a policeman, who brought them to Koval; the others were a countryman, his wife and child of six, and to accommodate these Koval had to give up his own bed. During the period of my acquaintance with him Koval was supporting twelve boarders, only one of whom was paying him a cent.

What he was doing seemed quite the natural thing to Koval; he hardly seemed conscious of his generosity. "Why do you keep all these people?" I asked him. "Why, what else could I do?" he returned. "They have no work and no other place to go. I cannot throw a man into the street. They will go themselves when they can."

Frequently circumstances throw the burden of the home upon the child. In looking into an accident case I called at a home in Saw Mill alley,—a cheerless, dingy neighborhood that is flooded every year by the high water. I was received in the kitchen by a slight Polish girl of fifteen, and soon discovered that she was the real head of the home. Annie had just finished the wash, and at such a time even the best of houses are apt to be in disorder, but here everything was neat and clean. She told me her story willingly enough. Her father, who had been a laborer in one of the mills, had been killed by an engine while working in the yard at night. Her mother had remarried, and soon had herself been killed by the explosion of a kerosene lamp. Annie was now keeping house for a brother and her stepfather. As the seventeen-year-old brother was rather shy, and as the stepfather was a night-watchman, naturally a man of no authority and allowed by his work little opportunity to exercise it even[Pg 596] had he possessed it, the main control of the household has passed into Annie's hands. That authority she was using well, as was shown not only by the tidiness of the house, but by the fact that it is chiefly through her influence that her brother is attending night school. She has energy, determination and character. She reads and writes both English and Polish. She said she liked to read books, history especially, but that she hadn't the time.

Annie's stepfather is soon to marry a widow, but this further complication of her already complicated family relations does not seem to trouble her in the least. In fact she was quite enthusiastic over her future stepmother. "She came to see me the other day," she said, "and she was awful nice. Oh, she's fine all right, and she's rich!"

"Rich? How rich?" I asked.

"Oh, she's got a lot o' money! It's a benefit she got from a society when her first man died. She's got $1,200!"

One deplorable trait I frequently met with among the Slavs was contempt for American law. The existence of this trait is largely due to the teaching of experience,—and experience of one particular sort. The story of Vilchinsky, a Ruthenian boarding-boss, is such a common one, it illustrates so well a wide-spread condition in the administration of law by the petty aldermen's courts of the Pennsylvania industrial districts, that it is worth repeating for the sake of its general significance. October 14, 1907, one of the boarders was celebrating his patron saint's day. This meant a lot of drinking by all, and during the festivities they got more or less under the influence of liquor, but they were in their own home, there was no public disturbance, and toward midnight they all went to bed. About two o'clock in the morning, however, when they were all asleep, policemen came to the house, wakened everybody and loaded them into patrol wagons and buggies and took them to a police station. The boarding-boss, four girls and three men were all taken before the magistrate, charged with disorderly conduct. Without any regular hearing,—none of them could speak English and there was no interpreter,—the squire asked for twenty dollars apiece for the boarders and fifty dollars for the boarding-boss. All but two girls paid the fine immediately, and these two were then sentenced to the county jail. During the following day, their friends succeeded in collecting enough money to pay their fines and the $1.50 extra for board in the jail.

Abuses such as this are generated by the fact that aldermen and constables obtain fees out of the fines, which makes it to the financial interest of these officials to get as many cases into court as possible. Many men I have talked with have stated that the constables often provoke disorder when none exists for the sake of the profit in the arrests. The Slavs know that they are victimized, and at the same time they realize their helplessness; the natural result is a bitter contempt for law.

"Huh!" sneered Vilchinsky, "the police are busy enough all right stopping disorder when the men have got money. But when there's hard times, like there is now, a man can make all the noise he pleases and the police won't arrest him. They know he hasn't money to pay a heavy fine and costs. It ain't law they think about. It's money."

There are plenty of Slavs who are quarrelsome, just as there are among other races; and when you have a combination of Slavic ill-temper and the above-mentioned judicial practice, then there is basis for trouble indeed. Zavatsky and Yeremin, Russians, and neighbors in a steel town, drank more than was good for them one Saturday afternoon in a saloon, and at last Zavatsky spoke his mind about Yeremin's wife, whom he did not consider as good-looking as she should be, and indulged in drunken threats against her if she did not stop throwing ashes on his side of the yard. Yeremin repeated to his wife these threats and remarks and Mrs. Yeremin, being a choleric woman, went to the squire in spite of the fact that it was very late in the evening. But as it was payday, he was in his office ready for business.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.



A constable was sent to Zavatsky's house to arrest him. The constable went into the kitchen and, finding nobody there or in the next room, went upstairs. Here there were a number of boarders talking, but they were not drunk. The constable, seeing these men, thought it would be wisest to have assistance, so he brought two policemen and then went for Zavatsky. They broke open the door of the room where Zavatsky was sleeping, dragged him out of bed and told him to get up. He was in a drunken stupor and claims that he did not resist the constable, in fact, scarcely knew what was going on; but the constable felled him with so heavy a blow that it made a scalp wound and the blood rushed out and blinded him. While on the floor, Zavatsky remembered a revolver under his pillow, and raised his hand and got it. The constable wrested it from him and according to Mrs. Zavatsky's version, he exclaimed, "I'll give you a revolver, you son of a gun," and shot Zavatsky in the chest. Mrs. Zavatsky, catching up a hammer, rushed at the constable, but he knocked her unconscious by a blow on the head and she fell down in a swoon. Before that, she had screamed to the men, "Come down, boys, come down, they're killing the gazda!" One of the first to come to Zavatsky's assistance was his kum, (the kum is one who is godfather to one's children, or one to whose children one is godfather; a very close relationship,—generally the dearest friend). As the kum tried to rush into the room, the two officers gave him several violent blows on the head. The other men rushed down, but they were all seized by the officers, with the exception of one whose flight was suddenly stopped by a shot in the leg.

As a result of the melee, the whole household of ten men and one woman was taken in patrol wagons to the squire's court and committed to jail, charged with disorderly conduct, felonious assault and interference with an officer[Pg 597] in performance of his duty. Zavatsky and the boarder who was shot in the leg were sent to the hospital for treatment. At first it looked as if Zavatsky were not going to live. After a hearing four days later they were all committed to the grand jury, and my reports say that they were all sentenced to jail for varying periods. None of the policemen or the constable had even a scratch to show, although they charged these ten men with felonious assault. The house, when I saw it just following the affair, looked like the day after a battle.

Not even so brief a sketch as this would be complete without an instance or two of the men who have been handicapped by industrial accident. Such men are met everywhere in Pittsburgh,—they are so common as to excite no comment. In proportion to their numbers, the Slavs are the greatest sufferers from accident in the Pittsburgh region, for to their lot falls the heaviest and most dangerous work. The report for 1905-1906 of the National Croatian Society, to give a general example of what industrial accident means to the Slav, shows that out of its membership which averaged about 17,000 for that period ninety-five men were killed by accident [almost a third of the deaths from all causes] and that ninety-seven died from consumption, the inception of which is often traceable to the character of their work. In addition, eighty-five other men were permanently disabled.

Andrew Jurik's job was to run a "skull-cracker" in the Homestead mill. This is a contrivance to break up scrap so that it can be easier melted, and its main feature is a heavy steel ball which is hoisted into the air and then allowed to drop upon the scrap which has been heaped beneath it. This crash of the ball throws pieces of the scrap in all directions. The work is very dangerous, especially at night when it is hard to see and dodge the flying scrap. One Monday night [the day before he had worked on a twenty-four hour shift] Jurik failed to see and dodge. A chunk of scrap weighing four or five hundred pounds struck his leg and so crushed it that it had to be amputated.

[Pg 598]

Almost a year after the accident I went to visit Jurik, and found a mild-faced, kindly-looking, not very intelligent man of forty, sitting in his landlady's kitchen rocking his landlady's baby. That was Jurik's job now, to take care of his landlady's children in part payment for his board; and that was all he was good for yet, for he had only a leg and a stump. He had been paid $150 by the Carnegie Relief Fund; of this he had sent fifty dollars to his wife in Hungary and had used the balance to pay his board. The company had promised him an artificial leg and light work as soon as he was able to get around, but as his stump was not yet entirely healed, as he had not a cent, as his wife was writing him letters begging for money for the children, Jurik seemed worried.

Jurik looks at the future blankly, helplessly. He had at first planned to bring his family here, but now he can never get the money for that. Nor can he go back to them. He would be more useless, more helpless, on a farm than here. The only solution Jurik can see to the lifelong problem suddenly thrust upon him by that flying piece of scrap, is for him and his family to remain indefinitely apart: he working at whatever poor job and at whatever low wage he can get, and sending a little to Hungary to help out,—his wife to continue working as a laborer on a farm at twelve or fifteen cents a day.

Often the handicapped man's problem is thrust directly upon the wife for solution, as it has been upon the wife of John Hyrka. Hyrka is a Ruthenian of thirty; his wife is twenty-eight. He was making fair wages in the Duquesne mills; they were both healthy and strong, and they had high hopes for the future as is natural with the young. But May 26, 1907, John, who was working on a platform directly over a limestone mill, stepped on a rotten plank and both his legs shot down into the mill. Before he could be extricated the flesh had been torn from the soles of both his feet.

Since then (or at least up to the time of my last report) Hyrka had been in the McKeesport hospital, where attempts were made to graft flesh upon his soles. When I last heard about him his feet were still not healed, and it was practically certain that the grafting would be a failure and that he would be a cripple for life.

When this tragedy descended upon Mrs. Hyrka she was within a month of confinement. Into this grim situation entered the baby, adding its cares. Until months after the accident she was in no condition to work, and when she did regain her strength the demands of the infant would not permit her to take up regular employment. For six months she lived upon thirty dollars a month the company paid her, then the company cut off this allowance, and after she had felt the pinch of want for a time, she demanded a final settlement. They offered her $600, she to pay all further hospital bills, which up to then had been paid by the company. She talked the matter over with John, and between them they decided that to have the flesh scraped from your feet and to be a lifelong cripple ought to be worth as much as $1,000. But this seemed an exorbitant estimate to the company, and as Mrs. Hyrka held firm to her own figures, the matter was still unsettled when I left Pittsburgh. She was then living on what she could borrow; the high hopes of twenty-eight were all blasted; she knew she had a cripple on her hands for all his life, thirty or forty years perhaps, and she was wondering, desperately wondering, how she was going to be able to support him.

In citing these various types I have not tried to make out the Slavs as better than they are. I have, to repeat my opening statement, merely tried to show that these generally unknown people are above all human beings,—that they have not alone vices and undesirable qualities, but virtues,—that though crude, they have their possibilities.

Drawn by Joseph Stella.






[Pg 599]

To-day it is the young north-bound Negro with whom we reckon in Pittsburgh. Seldom is a white-headed Negro seen on the street; but rather the man on the sand cart hard at work. That with every year there is an increasing migration from the South to our northern cities is known in a general way; but if our estimate of these newcomers is to be worth anything, it should be based upon something more than impressions gained from those we notice on the street-cars (the best are too well-behaved to be conspicuous), from loafers at saloon doors, and from newspaper accounts of Negro crime. Here, too often, the knowledge of white people ends. Of the industrious, ambitious Negroes, they know little; and of the home life of those who are refined, nothing at all. As a man who officially comes into daily contact with the criminal Negro said to me, "All must bear the reproach for the doings of this police-court ten per cent." Anyone who is sufficiently interested to desire more accurate information as to Pittsburgh's Negroes than may be gained by a walk down Wylie avenue will readily find signs enough of the differentiation that is rapidly taking place among the members of this race. While with the increasing influx a class of idle, shiftless Negroes is coming, who create problems and increase prejudice, a far larger number are taking advantage of the abundance of work and of the good wages, and are rapidly bettering themselves. There is here a chance, such as perhaps few northern cities give, for the industrious Negro to succeed, and he is improving his opportunity.

There was a considerable Negro population in Allegheny county before the Civil War. Both Pittsburgh and Allegheny were important stations of the "underground railroad" and many a man and woman sought refuge here from the nearby slave states. In Allegheny a school was founded for them before the end of the half century. The growth of the Negro population is shown by the following chart:

1850 3431████
1860 2725███
1870 4459█████
1880 7876████████
1890 13501██████████████
1900 27853████████████████████████████

These figures show a steady increase except from 1850 to 1860, gradually reaching the point where the Negro population doubles in a decade. The marked increases from 1870 to 1880 and 1890 to 1900 are probably due to the fact that in those periods more Negroes were able to get work in the steel mills. The percentage of Negroes in the total population of the county was 2.2 per cent in 1880, 2.4 per cent in 1890, and 3.6 per cent in 1900. Three-quarters of the Negroes in the county live in Pittsburgh and Allegheny City. Since 1900, the migration of Negroes to Pittsburgh has been greater than before. It is estimated that there are not less than 50,000 in Allegheny county and at least 35,000 of these are in Pittsburgh and Allegheny. In 1900 considerably more than half of these were males, and Pittsburgh was one of three cities in the United States (the others were Chicago and Boston) with a population of 10,000 or more Negroes, to have an excess of males.

In general this migration has been from the middle southern states. The greater number, fully one-half, has come from Virginia and West Virginia; others have come from Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, with a few from Ohio and states further west. Some of those from Alabama and Tennessee have already been "broken in" in the new mill districts of those states.

As in the migration to other northern cities most of these people, when they come north, are in their best working years,—between eighteen and forty. According to the census of 1900, over seventy per cent of the Pittsburgh Negroes[Pg 600] were between fifteen and fifty-four years of age; less than five per cent were over fifty years, while but fourteen per cent, about 2,400, were children of school age, between five and fourteen. Many of the children remain in the South, and many of the old people go back there, so that the city of Pittsburgh is under little expense for educating the children and less for caring for the aged.

The principal Negro street is Wylie avenue. This leads up to the "Hill District" which, forty years ago, was a well-conditioned section. Now it is given over largely to Negroes and European immigrants. Forty-eight per cent of the Negroes in Pittsburgh live in wards seven, eight, eleven and thirteen. In 1900, sixteen per cent were in the thirteenth ward, and the number has increased since then. They constituted fourteen per cent of the total population of the ward in that year. How fast this movement into the thirteenth ward is taking place is indicated by what a colored woman told me who keeps a grocery store on Wylie avenue near Francis street. When she opened there three years ago, there was scarcely a colored family in the district. Now there is another grocery store, a shoe store and two confectionery stores, kept by colored people. Horton street near by is filled with colored people who have recently come from the South. There is a tendency on the part of the Negroes, however, to get out from the center of the city, and fully a quarter of them lives further out in wards nineteen, twenty and twenty-one. In all, sixty-two per cent of the Negroes lived in 1900 in six wards.

In these wards there is a large foreign element. In the seventh, eighth and eleventh wards there are many Russian Jews. A Negro church in the eighth ward was sold last fall for a Jewish synagog, and the Negro congregation is building in the thirteenth ward. In the twelfth ward where many of the Negroes live who work in the mills, they have for neighbors the Poles and Slavs. The well-to-do Negroes of the city are moving out towards the East End.

Two or three apartment houses have been built especially for Negroes, but in general, though living in certain localities, they are not segregated. This does not mean that there are not some Negro streets, but very often a row of from three to seven houses will be found in which Negroes are living, while the rest of the street is filled with white people. Again, a single Negro family may live between two white families. When Negroes gain a foothold in a new street in any numbers, the Americans move away; but the Jewish immigrants do not seem to object to living near them, sometimes in the same house. And this is true of more than the poorest of them.

In a way the Jews have been a help to the Negroes, for they will rent houses to them in localities where they could not otherwise go. In many cases the Jews have bought or built houses, filled them with Negro tenants at high rents, and thus paid for them. But the Negroes have learned from these experiences and many of them have started to buy homes. They have decided that they might as well buy houses for themselves as for the Jews.

The poorer Negroes live in a network of alleys on either side of Wylie avenue in the seventh and eighth wards. For years the conditions here have been very bad from every point of view. There are respectable people living here, but the population consists chiefly of poor Negroes and a low class of whites. As a result, there is much immorality in this section,—speak easies, cocaine joints and disorderly houses abound. I think I never saw such wretched conditions as in three shanties on Poplar alley. Until a year ago many of the landlords had not complied with the law requiring flush closets, and I found old fashioned vaults full of filth. Where the flush closets had been put in they were in many cases out of repair. In some alleys there were stables next to the houses and while the odor was bad at any time, after a rain the stench from these and from the dirt in the streets was almost unendurable.

The interiors of very many of the houses in which the Negroes live were out of repair,—paper torn off, plastering coming down, and windows broken. The tenants told me they had complained to the landlords and had tried to get something done, but without success.

The twelfth ward near the mills also has some bad conditions. In Parke row and Spruce alley, on the day of my visit, the rubbish, which is removed only every two weeks, was piled high. On top of one pile was an old dirty mattress. The houses I visited in Parke row were so dark that it was necessary to use a lamp even at midday. There were also depressing conditions among the Negro homes on Rose, Charles and Soho streets. While some of the more ambitious are moving out from these unhealthy localities, many who would like to move have not the opportunity. One of these said to me, "The only place where there is plenty of room for Negroes is in the alleys."

Yet even the very poorest Negro homes are usually clean inside and have a homelike air. It would surprise one who has never visited such homes to see with what good taste they are furnished. There is always some attempt at ornamentation, oftenest expressed by a fancy lamp, which is probably never lighted. Almost every family except the very poorest has a piano. The best Negro houses,—usually not in Negro districts,—are what people of the same means have everywhere. I was fortunate enough to visit at least a dozen of these comfortable, well-furnished, attractive homes and in them I met courteous, gracious and refined women. Only in Spruce alley and Parke row did I find disorder and a general indifference to dirt and there were some exceptions even there. The hopelessness of keeping clean in such a location may have had something to do with these conditions.

Compared with certain of the foreigners, the Negroes do not overcrowd their houses, but they do often shelter too many people for comfort or decency. I visited a house of three rooms where a man and wife, five children and a boarder were living. In another house, also of three rooms, there were a man and his wife, her mother, two children and a lodger. These I think are not unusual cases. I also found a family of ten in four rooms, and another family of seven and a boarder in three rooms. Where a house of[Pg 601] four rooms is taken by two families, they do not often take lodgers, but if one family takes such a house it usually cannot meet the expense alone. What is more serious than the number of people in a house, is the carelessness in allowing young girls to sleep in the same room with men lodgers. Such a case was that reported by a probation officer of the Juvenile Court, of a girl of fifteen who slept in the same room with her father, two brothers and a lodger. It was "nothing," she told the court; the man was "an old friend of the family." The suggestion that she occupy the vacant room in the house plainly surprised her.

The low ebb of living conditions in a Negro neighborhood is illustrated by Jack's Run, a narrow, deep ravine leading down to the Ohio river between Bellevue and Allegheny. Here, during the past six or seven years, about one hundred and seventy-five colored people from the rural districts of North Carolina and Virginia have found lodgement. Engaged chiefly in domestic service and common labor, they have settled here because the rents are cheap. Mixed in with them is a class of low whites, and the standards of civilization are sucked down by immorality and neglect, for the run is practically isolated from the rest of the world. A mission Sunday school connected with the white Presbyterian church in Bellevue has been held there for about five years. The superintendent of this mission, who is a colored man, has endeavored to reach the children of the run. As he feels the Sunday school alone cannot do this, he is working to get a day school there. To be sure, the children are enrolled in Bellevue or Allegheny, but he says they really do not attend. A long climb up the hills shuts them off, and the white children pester them when they show themselves. It is hard to know what could be done to better the conditions in a place like Jack's Run, but up to the present time, with the exception of this one man, few people have tried to find out. The run has few visitors, and these are not altruists. "I have seen a politician here," the superintendent told me, "and an insurance collector; but never a preacher."

[Pg 602]

One of the most encouraging signs of the economic progress of the Pittsburgh Negroes is found in the variety of occupations in which they are engaged. In 1900, 146 were engaged in professions: actors, artists, clergymen, dentists, engineers, lawyers, physicians and others. Domestic and personal service, house servants, barbers, janitors, hotel and restaurant keepers, soldiers, policemen, etc., employed 6,618; while in trade, and transportation, clerks, teamsters, merchants, railway employes, telephone operators, etc., there were 1,612. Manufacturing and mechanical pursuits employed 1,365. There was a total of 10,456 Negro wage earners: 8,382 males and 2,074 females. The proportion of those engaged in professional pursuits is small,—only a little over one per cent; and, with one exception, the number does not seem to be increasing. In Pittsburgh and the vicinity there are now eighteen Negro physicians, about three times as many as in 1900. Six were graduated from Harvard University, five from the Western University of Pennsylvania, two from Shaw, and one each from Ohio State, Medico-Chirurgical, and Western Reserve. Four of these men took also the degree of A. B. Ten have practiced five years or less. Among the five practicing lawyers is one graduate of the Harvard Law School, one from New York University Law School and one from Harvard University Law School. Two of these lawyers were admitted to the bar in 1891. They were the first Negroes to be admitted in Western Pennsylvania, as all who had applied up to that time had been turned down. There are four Negro dentists.

Most of the men in these three professions have some practice among white people. A young physician who has been in Allegheny about three years, and who at first had such difficulty in renting an office in a suitable location that he almost gave up in despair, has now a number of white patients. One of the first was a German girl to whom he was called at the time of an accident because he happened to live near by, and through her family he has been recommended to other white people.

Newspapers conducted by Negroes have not flourished in Pittsburgh but last year there were two,—the Pioneer, a small sheet run in the interests of the Baptists, and the Progressive Afro-American, a weekly.

Twenty per cent of the men follow manufacturing and mechanical pursuits. Because of the abundance of work good Negro mechanics have no difficulty in keeping busy, though they have made little headway in the unions. An occasional Negro is a union member, as, for instance, four or five carpenters, a few stone-masons and a few plasterers. Here, as elsewhere, they gain admission easily only to the hardest kinds of work. The Negro hod carriers indeed make up the greater part of the hod carriers union. In McKeesport there are but two white hod carriers. In Pittsburgh and the vicinity there are over a thousand colored hod carriers. The colored stationary engineers and firemen have a union of their own, the National Association of Afro-American Steam and Gas Engineers and Skilled Laborers, incorporated June, 1903. It was once a part of a white organization. It has three locals in Pittsburgh and it has been allied with other labor organizations and represented in central labor bodies, but it is yet rather weak. Three or four colored contractors hire plasterers and masons.

Early in the seventies a few colored men found work in some of the mills. One of the first to employ Negroes was the Black Diamond Mill on Thirtieth street. There were a few here before 1878. In that year, through a strike, Negro puddlers were put in, and since then the force of puddlers has been made up largely of Negroes. About the same time Negroes were taken into the Moorhead Mill at Sharpsburg, and also through a strike, Negroes got into the Clark Mills on Thirty-fifth street. Since 1892, there have been Negroes in the Carnegie Mills at Homestead. It is the prevailing impression that numbers of Negro strike-breakers were imported at the time of the "big strike," but I have been told by an official of the Carnegie company, by a leading colored resident of Homestead, and by a Negro who went to work in the Homestead Mills in 1892, that this was not so. Word was given out that anyone could find work who would come, the Negroes with the rest. Negroes were brought up from the South at this time to take the place of strikers in the Clark Mills. But Negroes already worked there and some of them who went out at that time eventually went back to work. Unquestionably Negro strike-breakers have been brought to Pittsburgh, but I judge not in any large numbers. When the mills were last running full there were about one hundred and twenty Negroes at the Clark Mills; one hundred and twenty-six at Homestead, and about 100 in the other mills of the Carnegie company, making in all the Carnegie works three hundred and forty-six colored men. A conservative estimate would put those at the Black Diamond and Moorhead Mills as at least three hundred more. Many of these mill men are unskilled, but at the Clark Mills two-thirds, and at Homestead nearly half are skilled or semi-skilled. It is possible for a man of ability to work up to a good position.

A small but increasing number of Negroes are on the city's payroll. On the date of my inquiry there were in the employ of the city of Pittsburgh 127 persons of Afro-American descent, or one out of every 237 of the Negro population, while a total of 635 directly profited by the $91,942 paid annually in salaries to colored persons. These city employes include laborers, messengers, janitors, policemen, detectives, firemen, letter carriers and postal clerks, and their salaries range from $550 to $1,500 a year.

The first Negroes to set up establishments of their own, dating back twenty years and more, were the barbers and hairdressers. Formerly these had much of the white patronage, but they are gradually losing it. With a few exceptions, notably the Negro barber in the Union Station, their shops are now found on Wylie avenue and in other Negro localities, and are patronized by Negroes.

[Pg 603]

A partial list of Negro business enterprises,[10] with the number employed is as follows:

No. of
Barbers 20 78
Restaurants and hotels 12 66
Groceries, poultry, etc. 8 9
Tailors 7 19
Pool rooms 6 6
Hauling and excavating 5 170
Saloons and cafés 3 15
Printers 3 19
Pharmacies 4 8
Undertakers and livery 3 14
Confectioners and bakeries 3 2
Caterers 3 6 to 30
Miscellaneous 8 105

85 514-547

[10] Furnished by R. R. Wright, Jr., of the Armstrong Association, Philadelphia, who investigated the Negro in Business in Pennsylvania for the Carnegie Institution.

The number employed does not include the proprietors, so that over six hundred persons are earning a living from these shops. Not counting the barber shops, saloons or restaurants, there are certainly over one hundred small stores kept by Negroes and until the financial depression new ones were opening each month. Three or four drug stores were opened in 1907. One of the Negro hotels doubled its capacity in a year.

The nine business enterprises listed under "miscellaneous" include an insurance company, a stationery and book store, a men's furnishing store, a photographer's gallery, a real estate company, a loan company, a shoe store and repairing shop, and a manufactory of a hair growing preparation, which has sent out sixty-five agents. The insurance company has twenty-eight agents, all of whom are colored. Several of the barbers have laundry agencies and boot-blacking stands and some have baths. There are at least a dozen men who own their horses and wagons and take contracts for hauling and excavating. One of the largest of these Negro contractors was employing 135 men. Another employs thirty men for hauling and also works 100 to 200 men on asphalt paving. There are many more men who own a horse or two and do general expressing. One of these told me that he spent his first one hundred and fifty dollars saved after coming to Pittsburgh for a horse, which left him with a capital of seventy-five cents. He now owns [Pg 604]four horses. A Negro has had one of the stalls in the Allegheny Market for many years and there is another in the Diamond Market.

One of the most successful Negro business men lives in Homestead. As a small boy he moved from Virginia to Ohio, and came to Homestead in 1879. Up to 1890 he was an engineer on the river, the only Negro to hold a chief engineer's license. Then he went into boat building and built twenty-one river steamboats. Five years ago he organized the Diamond Coke and Coal Company, in which he is now master of transportation. There are ten men in this company; the others are white. They own a mine, docks, and steamboats, and employ about a thousand men. This colored man owns considerable property. He lives in a large comfortable house and owns one on either side which he rents. His older son entered Penn Medical School last fall. His younger son was captain of the Homestead High School football team. His daughter, who graduated from the high school and had an additional three years at the California Normal School, is teaching in the South. She could not get a school in Homestead.

It is noticeable that the Pittsburgh Negroes show an encouraging variety in their independent business enterprises as well as in their general occupations. Of course they have usually been able to go into only those that require small capital. The Negro who comes to Pittsburgh or any northern city with no capital, no business experience and no business traditions, and succeeds even in a small way in the midst of such competition as he must face, is doing remarkably well.

But the mass of the Negroes in Pittsburgh are found in the same occupations that are open to them in most northern cities with perhaps fewer men (fifty-eight per cent) and rather more women (ninety per cent) in domestic and personal service, and more men in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits than is usual. This shifting of the men's activities is due to the nature of the industries in Pittsburgh, to the fact that the city is rapidly growing and consequently that there is much building going on in which labor can be utilized, and to the fact that Negroes gained a foothold in some of the mills during the strike periods. While the largest and best hotels no longer have colored waiters, many are still employed in hotels, restaurants and cafés. Comparatively few Negroes are employed as porters and helpers in stores while large numbers are employed as teamsters, probably more now than in 1900, as most of the sand wagons and other hauling carts are driven by them. There are also many coachmen and chauffeurs.

While the Negro men find a varied field for their labor, comparatively few occupations are open to colored women. There is one woman who has conducted a very successful hairdressing establishment for twenty years and a half dozen others have opened little shops. A dozen or so find work as clerks and stenographers in offices and stores of colored men, but most are working as maids or laundresses. There are about a hundred dressmakers and seamstresses. That there is not a greater variety of openings for colored women works a great hardship. There is no hospital where they can be trained as nurses; there is no place for them in the department stores, except for a few as maids; they can look forward to no positions in the public schools. Many who would stay and graduate from the high school drop out because they see nothing ahead. They are, of course, unwise in doing this, for more than most girls they need to take advantage of every educational opportunity. A woman who is a stenographer in a Negro insurance office, said her father thought she was very foolish to study stenography as he was sure she could never get a chance to use it. She went into this office to write policies. When the agent found she was competent to do the higher work, he let his white stenographer go and gave her the place. Another woman told me that her daughter seriously objected to going to the high school; she said she could never use what she would learn there. But her parents felt able to send her, and insisted that she graduate. She is now employed in the court house at a salary of $600 a year.

In 1900 the Negroes of Allegheny county paid taxes on property valued at $963,000. Since that time wage-earning Negroes have commenced to buy homes in still larger numbers. They usually pay something down and the rest as rent until the entire sum is paid. In Beltzhoover there is a settlement of a hundred or more families more than half of whom are buying homes. To buy a house of any kind on small wages means industry and many little sacrifices. One couple whom I visited in Beltzhoover were buying a house of five rooms with a piazza and a generous sized front yard. The husband, when he was married, had saved $300, which went for the first payment. In the four years since then they had paid $800 and they had $1,000 more to pay. He was a janitor getting forty-eight dollars a month, while his wife made six dollars a week as a seamstress. To increase their income, they rented out a room to a man and his wife who paid them ten dollars a month. They also raised and sold chickens which brought in additional money. Most of the houses which colored people of this class are buying are valued at from $2,500 to $3,300. On Francis street, near Wylie avenue, there is a group of five six-room houses occupied by Negroes. Three of these families were buying their houses. One of the men was a waiter, one a porter in a bank, and one owned a horse and wagon and did expressing.

The following experience, told me by a Tuskegee graduate, is an example of what may be done in Pittsburgh by an industrious Negro who is ambitious to establish a home: "I came to Pittsburgh in March, 1900," he said, "on a freight train, arriving about three A. M. I asked for the police station, but they wouldn't let me stay there when they found I had fifty cents in my pocket. I was turned up Wylie avenue and finally came to a colored lodging house. All the beds were full, but they said that I could sit in the rocking chair for the balance of the night for a quarter. The next morning I started out to look for[Pg 605] work and found it in a brick yard where I worked until August. Meanwhile I sent for my wife and child. My wife, who is a dressmaker, soon found work. She happened to sew for the wife of the manager of one of the steel mills. He asked about me and said he thought he could give me something good in the mill. I went there in August and have been there ever since. Now I am a heater. All you see here was gotten together in the last seven years." This man and his wife have paid $4,400 for a six-room house and have furnished it attractively.

The churches have the same prominent place in Negro life in Pittsburgh as elsewhere. They include one Presbyterian, one Protestant Episcopal, one Congregational, one Roman Catholic church, ten Methodist churches and between thirty and thirty-five Baptist churches and missions. The largest is the Bethel A. M. E. Church on Wylie avenue, which has recently been built at a cost of $50,000. Colored slaters and roofers, colored plasterers and three colored carpenters were employed in the building of it. The interior decorations were in charge of a Negro firm. The building together with the land, is valued at not less than $110,000. The people give liberally to the churches; Bethel raised over $10,000 in ten months toward paying off its mortgage.

But there is a large number not reached by the church in any real sense. Though the new Bethel Church is in a district where the alleys and all the bad conditions they imply are numerous, the pastor's plans for the year as he outlined them were: first to pay the debt on the church, second to have a revival to fill it up. Not a word was said of the great need for active social work at its very doors. The rank and file of the forty or fifty Negro ministers in Pittsburgh and Allegheny have not a very high order of equipment or ethics. There are notable exceptions. I met one minister who seemed filled with the desire to work for the betterment of the Negroes of his neighborhood. In connection with the new church which he was[Pg 606] building he was planning to have a day nursery and kindergarten and, if possible, a gymnasium. He hoped to have a deaconess to visit the homes and was also trying to organize a colored Y. M. C. A. At a meeting last fall in his church, the following subjects were discussed:

"What is the influence of the Sunday School on the children?"

"Is the church accomplishing the desired end toward the masses?"

"Practical education and character making for the masses."

Some of the laymen among the colored people, especially the women, are working in similar directions. In 1880, in a small six-room house, a group of these started a Home for Aged and Infirm Colored Women. The present beautiful home on Lexington avenue was built in 1900 at a cost of $42,500. It contains twenty-one rooms, six bath rooms and a hospital room. The furnishings cost about $28,000. Several rooms were furnished by the different Negro women's social clubs. The home is attractive, cheery, clean and well-managed. The Working Girls' Home was similarly started three years ago by some colored women who realized how much it was needed. Girls coming to the city not only found it difficult to get boarding places, but they were sometimes directed to undesirable houses. In three years after it opened, the home had cared for forty to fifty girls. As most of these girls go out to service, they do not remain long at the home, but by paying a dollar a month a girl may store her trunk if she wishes, and may come back there to spend Sundays and other days "out," and to receive her callers. This is an arrangement which is much appreciated by the girls, and its introduction in other places might help solve the servant problem. A few girls who are seamstresses live in the house. They pay $1.25 a week, buy their own provisions, and have the use of the kitchen and gas range. The home has had a struggle financially. Last year the Legislature granted it an appropriation of $3,000 and it moved into a somewhat larger, though still too small house. For this house, by the way, it had to pay thirty-two dollars a month though the rent had formerly been twenty-five and the house had been empty for some time.

The State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs formed five years ago, is raising money to establish a colored orphan's home in New Castle, Pennsylvania. A year ago these twenty-eight clubs had already raised enough to make the first payment on seven acres of land. The Colored Orphans' Home in Allegheny is under white management, and the colored women are ambitious to have one of their own; a colored auxiliary to the Juvenile Court Association was formed in 1906 to care for colored boys and girls between nine and twelve years of age who are brought to the court. The auxiliary also pays board for a group of colored children who are in institutions outside the state. One member is a faithful volunteer at the Juvenile Court.

More than twenty-five social clubs are formed of colored women. The leading social organization for men is the Loendi Club. Besides this and other private associations there are many such orders as the Odd Fellows, Masons, Elks, Knights of Pythias and True Reformers.

Since 1874, when separate schools for Negroes were abolished, the colored children have attended the public schools with the white children, and all the educational agencies of the city are open to them. I was told that while a few stood well in their classes, the majority lacked concentration. One principal attributed this to the impoverished home conditions, lack of food and housing,—while another principal to whose school came many of the children from the alleys, laid their backwardness largely to their irregular attendance and immoral tendencies. It was agreed that the average colored child requires about two years longer than the white child to finish the grammar grades.

The total enrollment at the high school for the year 1906-7 was about 2,300, and of these only forty were colored. Forty-two were enrolled last year, twenty boys and ten girls[11]. Few of these colored students graduate. Five who were graduated in 1907 ranked well in their class.

[11] Transcriber 20 + 10 obviously does not equal 42

Thirty colored students attended the evening high school last year. Two girls are in the day classes, and four in the night classes at the Carnegie Technical Schools, and they have three colored boys. Five or six boys have been graduated from the Schwab Manual Training School in Homestead.

In writing of the Negroes of Chicago, Mr. Wright says "What Chicago Negroes need is a great industrial school to teach Negroes domestic science and the skilled trades." Greater Pittsburgh has a school that should do this work. As early as 1849, Charles Avery, a Methodist minister of Quaker descent, who was much interested in the colored people, established for them in Allegheny the Avery College Trade School. At his death he left the institution an endowment of $60,000 which has since increased in value, and it has also received a yearly appropriation from the state. The school is controlled by a board of trustees, of whom six are colored, three white. The principal and teachers are colored. The courses which have been offered include millinery, dressmaking, tailoring, music, some English courses and some domestic science. Last spring, a hospital department was organized under separate charter and offers a training course.

There is no doubt that the Avery school is not fulfilling the purpose for which it was founded. It is inferior in equipment and in methods and does not employ trained teachers. It is not reaching the colored boys and girls of Pittsburgh and giving them the up-to-date training which they so sorely need in those trades in which they can earn a livelihood. It should be crowded and would be if it were offering what the people want. Instead the enrollment at the end of the school year is about one-third what it was at the beginning. There is no difficulty in placing responsibility for success or failure, for the superintendent is also secretary and treasurer. The colored people have brought many complaints to the trustees in regard to the management of Avery but no action has been taken. Here is a clear cut illustration of a badly managed trust fund.

[Pg 607]

Mr. Avery also left twelve scholarships of $100 each to be awarded to colored boys in the college and engineering departments of the University of Pittsburgh, where a total of nineteen colored students is enrolled.

Of the 1,124 cases brought before the Juvenile Court in 1906, 168 (14.9 per cent), dealt with colored children. The court records show most miserable conditions in the homes from which such children come. Usually both mother and father are working away from home all day, so that out of school hours there is no one to look after the children. They stop going to school and begin to stay out late at night and the descent to petty thieving and other offenses is swift and easy. On the morning of my visit to the Juvenile Court several colored children were brought before the judge. Harry D., a boy of eleven years, was under arrest for his second offense. Twice he had broken into a chapel, the last time stealing a lamp. The probation officer reported that on investigation, she found Harry had scarcely been in school for a year. His mother worked all day, earning three dollars a week and many days she came home only early in the morning to cook. With three brothers and a sister this boy slept on a cot in one room in which there was no other furniture except two plush chairs and a plush sofa. An uncle who lived with the children had taken to drinking and had not worked for some weeks. The neighbors also bore testimony that Harry was neglected rather than bad. Following Harry came a group of four colored boys on the charge that on the previous Sunday they had broken into a liquor store and done much mischief, such as turning on the spigots, breaking bottles full of beer and smearing pretty much everything in the store, including some cats, with black paint. The next morning they were arrested in a new house near by where they were stealing lead pipe. Eugene, the youngest boy, nine years old, had been in court two months before on the charge of incorrigibility. His father was dead but his mother, by working out by the day, managed to[Pg 608] keep the home fairly clean and comfortable. But Eugene was a truant; he stayed out nights and was in the habit of stealing. For the lack of a more suitable solution, this nine-year-old child was committed to the reformatory at Morganza. Two of these boys, thirteen and eleven, were brothers. Their mother was dead; their father was at work in a blast furnace, while their nineteen-year-old sister, who might have kept the home, had left soon after the mother died because she thought her father was too strict. The younger boy had been staying out nights and playing truant. The older boy had never been in trouble before. He had a good reputation and claimed, as did the fourth boy, that he was not stealing but was trying to get the others away. In other cases that came before the judge the parents were themselves immoral and it is safe to say that the colored children who reach the Juvenile Court have, as a rule, seen little but the seamy side of life. A ready market for any bottle or piece of junk that these children can beg or steal is found among the numerous junk dealers. The children will be under a constant temptation to petty thieving for the sake of a few pennies so long as this kind of exchange with juveniles is allowed.

The percentage of commitments among the adult Negroes (fourteen per cent), is all out of proportion to their percentage in the population (three and six-tenths). Women are most commonly arrested for disorderly conduct; men for fighting and cutting, petit larceny and for gambling, of which craps is the favorite form. There is much drunkenness. For some time the police department of Pittsburgh has been warring against the sale of cocaine. To the mind of the warden of the Allegheny county jail the greatest single cause of crime committed by Negro men and women is the use of this drug.

It is evident that the Negroes of Pittsburgh are making commendable progress along industrial lines. Some few have been conspicuously successful while many more are earning a comfortable living and attaining property. Negroes of this class present no special problems, for they are usually good citizens and are educating and training their children to be good citizens likewise. Their needs are the needs of the rest of the community. They would be benefited by better housing, better schools, better sanitation and a clearer atmosphere. But the problems in connection with the poor, ignorant, incompetent or vicious Negroes are many and pressing.

We have seen the need for eradicating the sale of cocaine, which drags men under; and we have seen the need for rousing and equipping the ambitious among them through industrial training, comparable to that offered the southern Negro by Tuskegee and Hampton. A few of the more obvious needs of the people who live in the alleys are day nurseries to care for the babies of mothers who must go out to work; some sort of supervised play after school hours, either in connection with the schools or at playgrounds, for the older children of these same families, settlements; and most pressing of all, a building on lower Wylie avenue for social purposes with free baths, club rooms, a gymnasium and other amusements as a counteracting influence to the saloons and pool rooms that abound in this neighborhood. There is now no place in Pittsburgh where a young colored man, coming a stranger to the city, as so many are coming every year, may find innocent diversion and helpful companionship. It is becoming increasingly clear that these needs must be met by the Negroes themselves. A few, singly or in small groups, are already working for social betterment, but so far there has been no concerted, organized action. Left to themselves the Negroes are slow or unable to organize but until they do, much of their efforts as individuals will be wasted and but little definite good can be accomplished. If the white people who have had greater experience in dealing with civic and social needs realized this and extended to them their co-operation, the community as a whole, no less than the Negroes, would be richly repaid.




[Pg 609]

The greater part of the Jewish community of Pittsburgh is situated in what is known as the Hill District. This immigration brings with it characteristics so entirely its own that much that is significant of the common life was found summed up in a study of the families of two blocks in the heart of this district. A census of them proved more surely than even those of us who had long been residents in the neighborhood would have anticipated, the permanence and stability of this new element in the population. The two blocks reflected the sort of foothold which is open to this distinctive people in what is for most purposes, a purely industrial center; what relation their new occupations bear to their training and experience in the old countries of Europe; and what, as measured in terms of livelihood and accomplishment, comes to them in this new setting.

The blocks selected were two adjoining Center avenue at different points on the incline of the hill. Pittsburgh has no really large tenement houses. These homes were originally built for two families, and while some still contain but two, many have been converted so as to house a great many more. In the process of rebuilding, downstairs front-rooms have been changed into small stores where grocers, butchers and tailors supply the needs of the neighborhood. The houses are of brick, and many are garnished by a government license sign, which indicates that somewhere in these already crowded quarters, a small stogy-factory is located which sells in the larger market. The many synagogs where the men still wear the old time praying shawls, and each repeats for himself in monotonous, low, musical tones the ancient Hebrew prayers, bring into this capital of the steel district, the wonderful and fascinating spirit of the East. The Cheders where the Hebrew language, which every hardworking father and mother, no matter what else is sacrificed, feel must be taught to the boys, and the Kosher butcher-shops, where the dietary laws are still observed, are all distinctive of a people, which though it adopts American customs, still keeps many of the traditions in its own communal life.

There were 1,080 people in these blocks, 817 of whom were Jewish. Of the 143 Jewish families, 110 were from Russia, twenty-seven from Roumania, five from Austria-Hungary and one from Germany,—all largely from small towns. Among them there were very nearly three hundred children of school age or younger.

A third of these families had been in America over ten years and two-thirds over five years. Of course, the fact that the census was taken in a year of industrial depression may have had a large influence on the comparatively small number of more recent immigrants in residence in the neighborhood, for these would have less resources to keep them in Pittsburgh during a period of hard times. But the actual number of stable family groups was very considerable as shown in the following classification:

Under 2 2 to 5, 5 to 10, 10 to 20, 20 to 40
Years in America10 33 50 32 18
Years in Pittsburgh 12 36 49 29 17

This permanence as an element in the citizenship of Pittsburgh is in contrast to an uninterrupted shifting among them as tenants. On the one hand, the latter is merely a reflex of the success of particular families in making their way and raising their standard of life; but the greater part of it is due to the lack of[Pg 610] proper houses at a fair rental in Pittsburgh. It is a common occurrence for a family to move from place to place in an effort to secure more livable quarters. One family went through the torture of moving six times in one year. Two have lived from ten to twenty years in the same place, eight from five to ten, forty-six over two, while eighty-seven had been living in their present homes less than two years.

Unsuspected by the casual visitor, there is a background of tragedy and national crises to such a neighborhood. Among the great nations of Europe, Russia and Roumania have absolutely refused political and industrial freedom to their Jewish subjects. The concrete forms which oppression and restriction assume are very real: prohibitions against their owning land, their exclusion in one part of Russia from the learned professions, in another from taking part in a government contract, and in whole districts from owning their own homes. Here in these blocks there are many families who have lived and traded in daily terror of an outbreak or of the tyranny of an unscrupulous governor; who have been deprived of the rights and privileges of citizens and yet subjected to the full strain of military law and the brunt of religious persecution. You chance to meet a man in the corner grocery,—he is tall and gaunt; his long beard is well sprinkled with grey. On talking with him you find he has served in the Russo-Turkish War, that his only son served for four years in the Russian army, and that a "pogrom" finally drove him to leave everything behind and flee to these shores. One man was robbed and his family outraged,—a son and brother-in-law killed in a recent massacre; another man already past forty, had to take up his burden, and, like the pilgrims of old, go forth and search for a new home, because the edict had been given in Moscow.

It was found that forty-one of the families had come for purely religious and political reasons, ninety-two to better their economic condition and thirty-four had followed relatives, friends and townsmen who either sent for them or urged them to make the journey. Indeed, this personal relationship is on many counts the most important factor in swelling the population of a Jewish neighborhood. As a rule, no matter how poor the immigrant may be, he saves, often by the most drastic measures, to send for some loved ones. Such was the experience of a young man, educated in the public schools of Roumania, who had suffered in the uprisings there. His first employment in Pittsburgh was with a local druggist. He went through the usual apprenticeship, and soon another brother had come over and was working as a barber. They saved and sent part of their earnings to their parents in the old country, while the first, by work and study, prepared himself for entrance into the local college of pharmacy, was graduated and his earning capacity thereby increased. Then, the parents, a sister and two brothers were brought over and, when an opportunity for buying a drug store offered itself to him, the combined forces of the family made the purchase possible. To-day, after eight years of hard work, he owns a well-established business, is married and the entire family seems well started on the road to success.

The question of what a man does, when he comes here an uninterpreted stranger, is interestingly reflected in these two blocks. The stogy industry and peddling are dominant; of those who have become stogy-makers, four were students, two grocers, one was a peddler, one a tailor, one a lumber trader, one a merchant and another a butcher.

The peddlers represent an even larger variety of skilled trades and other occupations. A jewelry peddler and a rag peddler were printers; a weaver, two lumber dealers, a gardener and a grocer have become peddlers of clothing; a carpenter sells pictures; two blacksmiths, a tailor and a farmer are peddling rags. Of those who were skilled, a goldsmith has become a presser, a shoemaker is working at iron beds, an umbrella-maker runs a pool room and a Hebrew teacher is now an egg-candler.

In contrast, and much more encouraging, are the six blacksmiths, eleven tailors, three barbers, two bakers, three shoemakers, two printers and a locksmith, a machinist, a plumber and a glazier, who started and continue to use the trades they learned in the old country.

One of the most interesting facts brought out was that the number of peddlers, grew from ten in the old country to twenty-eight on their arrival in America and to thirty-two as the first work in Pittsburgh, dropping again to seventeen who are peddling at the present time.

The following table compares occupations in the old country with those practiced in the new:

Store keepers 20 20
Craftsmen 37 28
Laborers 4 7
Peddlers 10 17
Hucksters 4 16
Factory workers 1 9
Factory owners 1 5
Restaurant keepers 2 4
Lumber dealers 3 ..
Gardeners, farmers, etc. 7 ..
Clerks 1 4
Travelling Salesmen .. 2
Miscellaneous 2 7
Note.—Under miscellaneous were classed a foreman, manager, agent, contractor, collector.

The meaning of this table will be made clearer by telling two stories, one of a man who is succeeding, and one of a man who has known the keen anguish that to the great masses of men is involved in the words "hard times." For the results of an industrial depression show themselves with promptness in such an immigrant neighborhood. One man, married and the father of three children, was employed as a porter in a downtown store. He was thrown out of work, and to the terrors of rent was added the fact that his wife was soon to give birth to another child. Four weeks afterward, the landlord levied on the furniture for the unpaid rent and the weak, under-nourished mother became temporarily insane. She was placed in a sanatorium, two of the children were sent to a day nursery and the youngest child,—too young to be taken by the nursery,—was sent to a private family. And then, for the man, began the struggle to get work. He bought a small quantity of fruit and peddled[Pg 611] it in a basket from house to house. He was arrested one morning, in a freight yard where he was charged by the yard policeman with stealing. He was acquitted at the trial and the police sergeant claimed that cases of injustice of this kind were not infrequent. Next, he secured work as janitor in a hospital at five dollars a week, and after a time, his wife's condition improved and he was able to reunite his family. Thereupon, he borrowed ten dollars and bought a second-hand pushcart with a license, and now he is once more trading in fruits and vegetables in his struggle against odds to care for them. Another man, forty-eight years old and the father of eleven children, had spent his early life in a small town. His first job on coming to New York was that of a clothing operator. The over-strain of the sweatshop caused the only too frequent breakdown in health. Two years later he came to the Pittsburgh District, where, as a peddler in the country towns, he gradually regained his strength. To-day, he owns his home and has a paying grocery business.

Of the 263 non-Jews in these blocks, nine out of ten were Negroes; and among them four questionable houses were found. Such an environment, with the change from former surroundings and conditions, does not always work out satisfactorily; the higher cost of living, the severe struggle for existence, the sudden transition from oppression to freedom, often have a deteriorating influence. They result in cases of wife-desertion, in laxity of religious observances, in gambling sessions at the coffee-houses, in occasional moral lapses, and in contempt for the ideals, customs and beauties of the traditional family and religious life of the old country. Yet, as a whole, we know the people of these blocks, and of the hill, as immigrants who have suffered oppression and borne ridicule; who in the face of insult and abuse have remained silent, but who have stamped on their countenances a look of stubborn patience and hope,—always hope,—and of capacity to overcome.




[Pg 612]





[Pg 613]

Seven miles from Pittsburgh, up the valley of the Monongahela River, lie the town of Homestead and the largest steel plant in the world. Seventeen years ago, Homestead was, for a time, the center of national interest, while the men and the Carnegie Steel Company fought to the finish one of the most dramatic battles in the history of the labor movement. The men failed,—public interest died out,—but the mill has gone on growing steadily and the town has kept pace, until now it numbers about 25,000. Throughout this time, the corporation, through its practically unquestioned decisions as to wages and hours of labor, has in large measure determined the conditions under which the men shall live. There is only one other industry in the town, the Mesta Machine Company, and little other work except in providing for the needs of the mill workers. We may consider then that the conditions resulting when a great organized industry creates about it, without a definite plan, a town dependent solely upon it for development, are fairly represented in Homestead. For, after all, the town is to be considered in part as a product of the steel industry, as well as the rails and armor plate shipped in the great freight trains that puff away down the river, and the success of the corporation must be estimated, in part, by its share in creating the homes and moulding the lives of the workers.

Thirty years ago, two farms occupied the land now covered by the vast plant and the homes of hundreds of workers. In 1881, when Klomans built the mill, now a part of the United States Steel Corporation, the change began. The very aspect of Homestead shows how during the twenty-seven years that have passed, the plant has been the unifying and dominating force in the town. The mill has now stretched itself for over a mile along the river and the level space between the river and a hill rising steeply behind, which was the original site of both mill and town, has been entirely shut[Pg 614] off from the water front. The smoke from the many furnaces and from the two railroads which cross the town settles heavily, making the section gloomy even on the brightest days. Wash day for some must wait for a west wind, if the clothes are not to come in blacker than when they went into the tub, and mothers find it a problem to keep children even reasonably clean in a place where the grass itself is covered with oily dust.

This level space was originally large enough to accommodate the houses as well as the mill, but with the growth of the town, the homes have spread up the hill, and even out into the region beyond. For the English speaking people who were earlier comers, have been glad to leave the level, smoke-hidden section to the more recent immigrants. Here, in houses huddled together, where the totally inadequate sanitary provisions and overcrowding are comparable to the worst sections of a great city, we find now the homes of the Slavs. Courts where seventy-five, or even in a few instances more than a hundred people, are dependent for water supply on one hydrant, and houses with an average of four or five persons to each room are frequent. These facts will be considered more in detail in another article, exemplifying as they do conditions existing in many small industrial centers.

Though there are no definite figures available as to the composition of the population of Homestead, the nationality of the men employed in the mill in July, 1907, will serve as a clue to the make up of the town as a whole. Of 6,772 employes, 3,601 or more than half were Slavs, 1,925 were native whites, 121 colored, 397 English, 259 Irish, 129 Scotch, 176 German, and 164 were of other Europeans.

Aside from the Slavs, there is almost no tendency among the different nationalities to live in separate sections. The more desirable part of the town, which includes aside from the upper part of Homestead proper the politically independent boroughs of West Homestead and Munhall, is occupied by the whole English speaking group and it is with their life that this paper deals.

Parallel to the main thoroughfare, along the side of the hill, runs street after street lined with simple frame houses. These stand detached from one another, though often with only a passageway between. There is usually a porch in front and a small yard where growing flowers or shrubs give a cheerful homelike air. The streets are full of merry children, coasting in winter down the steep hillsides, or in summer playing marbles and jumping rope. The hill lifts this section out of some of the smoke, but even here the sky is seldom really bright, and the outlook is over the stacks of the mills with their plumes of smoke. In general arrangement, the town shows an absence of interest in future development on the part of its original planners. The avenues, which run parallel from east to west with alleys between, are crossed at right angles by the main streets, cutting the town into rectangular blocks. Here and there are beds of old water courses down the hillside, on whose banks small houses, hardly more than shanties, have been built. The narrow lots of the original plan have had, moreover, a bad effect on the houses built on them. These houses are small, usually consisting of four or five rooms, but the middle room in the latter case opens only on the passage between the buildings, which is of necessity very narrow, and is never reached by sunshine. Moreover, the narrow lot which limits decidedly the choice in plans has resulted in a uniformity of design and a lack of artistic quality in the houses. This, especially in winter when there are no flowers to relieve it, gives to the streets an air of monotony.

As Homestead grew, houses were built to the east of it on property outside the borough limits, owned by the Carnegie Land Company, a constituent part of the United States Steel Corporation. This district and a section including most of the mill property were formed into the separate borough of Munhall, said to be the richest one in Pennsylvania. From the beginning the mill officials have taken a marked interest in its development, and the general effect of Munhall shows the results. In the center stand side by side,[Pg 615] the imposing library with its little park, the gift of Mr. Carnegie, and the handsome residence of the superintendent of the mill. Behind are the houses of the minor officials, whose wide lawns are kept in beautiful condition by men in the employ of the company. On the streets farther back, where the employes live, are many attractive houses, and on Sixteenth avenue cottages of varying design set back from the street, show the possibility of securing effective yet inexpensive plans.

But neither the presence of the mill nor the dull sameness of the streets can hamper the sense of home-likeness which the workmen feel as they step across their own doorsteps. The burden of creating this falls on the shoulders of the housewife. Usually in these homes there is that proof of an upward social trend, a "front room," which with its comfortable furniture and piano or other musical instrument is the real center of the life and amusement of the family. As one woman said, "The children don't realize how much it costs to keep up the parlor, but they want it to look nice so they can bring their friends in, and as long as it keeps them home I'll manage it somehow." And no outsider can understand the sacrifices involved, the ceaseless economies if parlor curtains and pianos are to be evolved from a wage of fifteen dollars a week.


Of course extremes of thrift and inefficiency are met. In one home, where the man earns but $1.65 a day and there are six to feed, they had not only managed to buy an organ and give one of the girls lessons, but had saved enough to tide them through the hard winter of 1908. But the wife, the daughter of a Pennsylvania farmer, had learned the thrifty ways of such a household. For this is skill amounting to genius and cannot be expected of all. I remember, in contrast, a kitchen where all is wretched, the children unwashed, the woman untidy, the room unswept. In such a scene, it is not surprising to have the woman complain that the man always goes to Pittsburgh with a crowd to spend the evening. Though he earns nearly twice what the other man does, his wife, who had been trained as a servant in a wealthy home and had learned extravagant ways, realized in a helpless sort of way her inability to "get caught up" financially, or to display any efficiency in managing her home and training her children. Between these two types is that of the average family, where the effort to make life wholesome meets with mingled successes and failures.

[Pg 616]


The recognition among the people of the value of home life, finds perhaps no more striking proof than the zeal shown by many of them in purchasing their houses. According to the census figures of 1900, 567 families owned homes in the borough, 27.3 per cent of the entire number of houses, and 268 of these were free from encumbrance. Such business organizations as the Homestead Realty Company have met the needs of those wishing to buy on a slender income by a system of selling on the instalment plan, which in large measure takes the place of building and loan associations. The initial payment is small, sometimes as low as $150 for a house of four rooms, the real estate company assumes the obligations for insurance, taxes, and interest on the mortgage, and the buyer pays a monthly instalment large enough to cover all this and make a small reduction on the principal. For example, one family I know bought a four-room house worth about $1,750. Of this, they paid down $150, and thereafter a monthly instalment of sixteen dollars, which was little more than they would have had to pay for rent. Though it has taken fifteen years to buy the house, they now have a home of their own; and without unreasonable sacrifice.

No phase of this attitude towards saving was to me more interesting than the reasons given for and against buying. Two sisters were typical of these different opinions. One with six children, whose husband made something over three dollars a day, said: "I didn't try to buy, because I wanted to give my children everything that was coming to them, and I wouldn't stint them." So, as far as she could, she had given them what the other children in school had, and truly three dollars goes but a little way in a town where the rent is four dollars a room and food-stuffs are said to be the highest in the country. The other, wiser perhaps, had begun early to buy her home. Though she has been married only five years, to a man whose income is about the same as the brother-in-law, and there are two little ones to care for, they have already made the initial payment on their home. It is a neat five-room house on one of the good streets, with running water in the kitchen and a bath-room, and is worth about $3,000.[Pg 617] Of this they paid $300 down, and their monthly instalment is twenty-five dollars. Since their family is small, by subletting two rooms for eight dollars a month, they reduce the monthly expenditure to about an ordinary rent. While it will take some years to pay off the indebtedness, by the time that the children are large enough to need the other rooms, they plan to be well on their way toward accomplishing this.

With many, however, the initial purchase is only the beginning of their home making, and, as soon as the house is paid for, the family take the most genuine pleasure in its improvement. Sometimes it is the addition of a bath-room; sometimes it is the repapering which the busy mother finds time to do in the spring; sometimes the building of a wash-house in the yard. But wherever such improvements are made it means always the development of the sense of family life and its common interests.

In home buying there lurks, of course, an undeniable danger to the workman: the danger of putting all his savings into a house, when death, discharge, or a season of hard times may mean the necessity of a forced sale with its inevitable loss. That the owning of a home tends to lessen the mobility of labor is a factor to be considered in upholding it as a desirable form of thrift. In Homestead, however, this danger has been minimized by what has otherwise been a disadvantage to the town, the lack of a sufficient number of houses.[12] Buildings have not been erected fast enough to keep pace with the town's growth, and consequently rents have risen and desirable houses are hard to secure. This situation, while it stimulates people to buy their own homes, also makes it possible to sell at almost any time.

[12] During the depression of 1907-8 there was an abundance of houses, as families were doubling up to save rent, but this was only a temporary situation.

There are many, however, to whom these real homes are not possible. There rises to my mind, in contrast, a two-room tenement down in the grimy corner where the mill joins the town. Here a woman was trying to support four little children by sewing and washing. Her husband had died after eight years of [Pg 618]semi-invalidism resulting from an accident in the mill. With his small wages they had not been able to save, and as the injury had occurred so long ago, she was not eligible for a benefit from the Carnegie Relief Fund. The kitchen was small and hot and the younger children noisy, and the not unnatural consequence was that the oldest girl drifted to the streets, mixed with a gay crowd, and eventually became a charge of the Juvenile Court. The girl was not bad at heart, and had there been a cheerful home where her friends could come, the end might have been different.


This instance illustrates the fact, more or less true of the whole town, that local conditions are such as to lay too large a responsibility for providing enjoyment on the skill of the wife and mother. Where she succeeds, the home becomes the center of the family's happiness, yet even so, we should look to the town itself for those wider opportunities for mental and physical relaxation which help maintain a normal life. But to the stranger approaching Homestead, the town speaks more eloquently of toil than of pleasure. The river, elsewhere so often a source of endless enjoyment, is muddy and swift. Moreover, one bank is preempted by the railroad, the other by the long and unsightly stretches of mill yard. In the second ward, near the river, which is almost solidly built up, the only place for the children to play is the street or the alley. That the boys do not find these a wholly satisfactory playground is shown by the following clipping from the local newspaper:

Boys Claim Their Rights Are Being Interfered With.

The boys of Homestead want to know why they cannot play basketball on the street, and they want to know what they can do. Burgess please answer in Monday's Messenger.

On the top of the hill there are open places where the bigger boys find room for recreation, but it is a long climb, too long for the small children in the section where a place for play is most needed.

The two recreation parks within a five-cent fare of the town, owned by the street railway, are the scenes of many school and church picnics and lodge gatherings. Here the young people find the skating rinks and dancing pavilions and the shrill music of the merry-go-rounds, while tired mothers seek quiet grass plots where they may sit and watch the children play, and where they may have the rare chance to gossip with their neighbors.

In Homestead itself the two popular forms of amusement are the skating rink and the nickelodeon. The former fills the papers with advertisements for moonlight[Pg 619] skating parties, a "marriage on rollers," and other devices for attracting patronage. The gaiety and swing of this pastime, which appeal to the young and vigorous, have made it in general very popular. It offers, however, those dangers common to the indiscriminate meeting of young people, which make some mothers hesitate to let their girls go unless with "our own crowd."


The nickelodeon, whose small cost brings it within the financial reach of most families, is perhaps the most popular entertainment. You are admitted to a room the size of a small store, with rows of chairs, a small stage, and an atmosphere that is soon unbearably close. Here you witness for five cents a show lasting about fifteen minutes. On the Saturday afternoon when I attended, there was a series of moving pictures illustrating a story on the same theme as Camille, and two sentimental songs illustrated by colored slides. While none of them was of a high grade of amusement they evidently really entertained the audience, at least half of whom were workingmen. To them the nickelodeon seems to make a special appeal since it offers the variety they crave after long days in the mill. This limited range of amusement offered is almost the only entertainment which is available for older people, or which can be enjoyed in common by them and by the young and active members of the community. While this lack is met, in a degree, by the entertainments which lodges and churches give, the latter are rather sedate. The festivities which appeal to young people are all money-making enterprises, with the abuses likely to result under such conditions. Many of the clergymen expressed their belief that there was need of a better kind of amusement, a need which might be met by such institutions as the public recreation centers of Chicago.

Among the causes contributing to this lack of amusement is the possibility for those with more money and leisure of securing the better class of entertainment in Pittsburgh. Still as it is a forty-five minutes' ride to the city, mothers tied down by the care of children, and men wearied by the day's work seldom avail themselves of what Pittsburgh offers. Another cause is found in the fact that the owners of the mill are non-residents, and give neither money nor influence to help the everyday normal development of the town. There is a marked contrast in this between Homestead's situation and that of independent towns of similar size. In the latter, where there is a larger proportion of the well-to-do who are dependent for entertainment on what the town offers, it is possible to secure fairly good theatrical performances, as well as concerts and lectures.

[Pg 620]


Two additions to the opportunities for relaxation have, however, been made by prominent officials of the steel corporation. At the Carnegie Library there is a club providing classes for musical training which give occasional concerts, as well as a gymnasium with a swimming pool, bowling alleys, etc. This club, which is open to all on payment of two dollars a year, is popular with the young men, especially those on the clerical force. A series of entertainments, however, given during the winter of 1907-8 under the management of a lecture bureau was not successful.


The second, the gift from Mr. Frick of a small formal park transformed from an ugly hole at the end of one of the ravines, is the source of much pride to the town. A need which it does not supply, however, was shown by a visit there one hot afternoon. Three or four men were sitting in the sun on the benches set along the cement paths. The grass had recently been cut and in a pile which lay on the edge of the street, half a dozen little chaps were turning somersaults and revelling in the coolness. For them, the park with its set flower beds and well-kept lawn offered few inducements. They would prefer a real playground.

The chief obstacle to the development of amusements is, doubtless, the hours and nature of mill work. Every other week the men work on night turn. Then they get home early in the morning and are ready, right after breakfast, for the much needed sleep; at four o'clock in the afternoon they must be called, and after an early supper they are off to the mill for the long night. That week there is no chance for outside festivities, nor chance even for the family to have quiet evenings together. Sometimes when sons who are also in the mill are on the opposite shift, the family is not able to meet even for meals. This irregularity not only tends to break into the family life, but also by making regular engagements impossible, lessens the interest in outside things. Even when the men are on day turn and are through work at half-past five, the ten hours of heavy labor in the mill leave them little ambition to seek out amusements. The exhausting nature of the work, coupled with the lack of sleep due to this constant change of habits, makes them weary enough, as they show by the slow steps and bent shoulders of the homeward procession. Change of thought and genuine relaxation are nevertheless a necessity, if the men are to maintain even mere physical efficiency.

The spirit of the mill is the spirit of work. We have found that the town itself provides for the men little opportunity for genuine relaxation after the strain of the day's work; and when we turn to the town again, seeking whether it offers any stimulus to mental activity, we find in it the same failure to help in the development of a normal life. There is the[Pg 621] Carnegie Library to be sure, which has classes in metallurgy, and provides expensive periodicals dealing with the steel trade as well as general reading matter. But as many a man said to me, "Oh what's the use of a library when a man works twelve hours a day?"

Although efforts towards a reorganization of the union are practically at an end, because of the opposition of the mill officials, there is earnest thinking going on among some of the men about the great corporation which controls wages and hours, and so much of the rest of life as is dependent upon them. One man, who during the recent hard times was not earning enough to pay his rent, said, "I don't blame the superintendent here for our being out of work, but the men in New York could help it, only they don't know or don't care what a cut in wages means to us."

That the changes in wage scale or the decisions to work but half time last winter, which came to them without explanation, were related to an industrial depression which affected a whole continent, was but dimly understood. They knew of dividends, and they knew of wage-cuts. With the feeling that they are impotent to change conditions, some of the more thoughtful men are turning to socialism for the larger solution it seems to offer. I was surprised to hear socialism advocated by the wife of a mill clerk making two dollars a day. She and her husband were thrifty people who had just succeeded in buying a piece of property,—not at all the typical socialists of a conservative man's fears. But in their twenty years of married life, the clerk's wages had been cut fifteen per cent. With a growing family, needs had increased, and only stringent economies, the cutting out even of five cents for the nickelodeon, had made their home what it was. And now with mills idle and their little savings rapidly going, a sense of social injustice was making itself felt.

[Pg 622]


This picture grimly sums up Homestead—the mill at the left, the Carnegie library on the hill in the center, and the mean houses of the second ward to the right.

Recently considerable agitation in regard to the subject was aroused by the preaching of a minister, who is a Christian-socialist. While many of the men were keenly interested in his theories, there was so much opposition among the conservative members of the congregation, that finally he was obliged to leave. I was told that in one of the first committee meetings to discuss the situation, his position was approved by the workingmen members, while opposition was expressed by two men who served corporations in a professional capacity.

Again, a Scotchman, feeling the capitalist's lack of sympathy for the working man's problems, expressed surprise that a number of wealthy Scotchmen had joined in the celebration of Burns's birthday. "How can they," he said, "when they think of his social theories? I should think they would be ashamed to." To him, Burns was the man who wrote A Man's a Man for A' That.

But men such as these are the exceptions. One of the most intelligent men I know, an ardent socialist, told me of his exasperation because his fellows were, he held, so unintelligent and were so unwilling to talk about social questions. This he thought was due to the long hours and hard work, since it took the other twelve hours to rest from the day's labor. Most of them, truly, are both too tired to think and too conscious of the dominance of the corporation to believe it worth while to seek a solution of these problems. Neither is there much within the mill to develop intellectual keenness. The men, it is true, are encouraged to invent improvements, but though these undoubtedly influence their promotion it is currently reported that the men receive no direct reward. The general feeling, moreover, that promotion is due to favoritism, lessens the stimulus to study and work up. With the attitude of the mill officials toward trade unionism, men are more or less afraid to discuss industrial questions with one another. An old resident gave me this as a current maxim,

"If you want to talk in Homestead you must talk to yourself."

In one respect, however, the men do unite to meet conditions arising under the industry. The work in the mills brings them constantly face to face with the danger of accident. Almost daily, occur minor accidents: a foot bruised by a heavy weight, a hand lacerated by a machine; accidents not serious enough to[Pg 623] prevent work for any length of time, or perhaps to justify damages. But where the margin is small, two weeks or even one of enforced idleness means a serious problem in family finances. While the men injured are eligible to the Carnegie Relief Fund, this fund gives assistance only when a man has been disabled for a year or more, and consequently is of no help in minor accidents. In order to meet these emergencies, then, the men have utilized the fraternal orders which form one of the chief centers of interest in Homestead life. There are more than forty lodges, and while it was impossible to learn the exact membership, twenty-three lodges report a total membership of 3,663, of whom 3,400 are men. The strongest of these is the Odd Fellows, with a membership of over 1,000, most of whom are steel workers. In all but two out of twenty-seven, concerning which data were secured, there are benefit features; a sick benefit usually of five dollars a week for three months with a smaller sum thereafter; and a small death benefit of only $150 or so. The fraternal insurance orders, which vary the assessments with the amount of the benefit, give as high as $5,000. Sometimes both regular and lodge insurance policies are carried. In sixty-three families investigated, only nine of the heads of families were uninsured, while eighteen carried both kinds. What this insurance means, however, is but feebly shown by the amounts involved. One woman, speaking of her early struggles, told how in the first year of her married life, her husband was seriously burned in the mill and for three months was unable to do a stroke of work. Fortunately, from the three benefit orders to which he belonged came $12.50 a week, which supported the family. "My baby came then," she added feelingly, "and if it had not been for that money, I could have bought no clothes for her."

In addition to this benefit feature, the lodge offers an opportunity for the development of sympathy and the consciousness of social solidarity. A woman, who was a rather recent comer to Homestead, had been a member of one of these lodges in another town. Her little baby[Pg 624] became ill and died, and where otherwise she would have been alone in her grief, her fellow members came at once to watch with her during his sickness, and to console her after his death. "Why, they were like my own sisters," she said, and it was this which counted rather than the twenty-five dollars which helped meet the funeral expenses.

The lodge also affords an opportunity to show that interest in outside matters, which otherwise finds scanty means of expression. I saw one day a half bushel of fine potatoes ready for baking, which a woman told me were her contribution to a supper being given for an emergency hospital in Homestead. "We don't need that hospital," she said, "because my man isn't in a dangerous place in the mill, but I'm glad to help even if most of them are 'Hunkies.'" During the winter of 1907-8, almost every lodge in town gave some sort of entertainment for the benefit of this hospital. Aroused by the suffering of men seriously injured in the mill, who have to be taken on the train to Pittsburgh, the whole town united in a determination to meet this need of their community. While the individual contributions of the workingmen would have been discouragingly small, their real interest could express itself through the existing lodge organizations. In fact, aside from the church, the lodge seems to offer the one possibility of co-operative effort.

Many men also find here their one chance of meeting other men socially. All the lodges, even the purely insurance ones, have social features, and often at special meetings the whole family go together. While these features of fraternal orders are of course common in all communities, in Homestead, with its danger of accident and its limitation as to other amusements, they play an especially important role.


Illustrating how accidents become everyday happenings in a steel town. Period: two weeks when the mills were running slack.

Yet life needs some outlook for the future other than preparation to meet its disasters. With the increase in the size of the corporation, the days are passing when a rise to a position of eminence is possible for a poor boy, so that personal ambition has become a negative factor. But to the parents who seek for their children a better position, more education and more of the refinements of life, the future is full of interest. One woman complained that her neighbor was "all right, only she talks too much about her children," but when one realized how much the mother's interest and devotion had done to make her sons successful, it was easy to forgive her. Another woman, of natural sweetness and grace of manner, told of her efforts to teach her little girls those formal niceties in which she had not been trained. "I bought a book on manners," she said, "so as to teach the children, and I make myself do the things so they will. It's awfully hard to say 'excuse me' when I leave the table, but if I don't they'll never learn," and the greeting given a stranger by the little daughter showed how well this mother was succeeding.

The center of interest, especially to the fathers, is in the future of their sons. Often the sons go ahead of their fathers in the race, and one elderly man told me with pride that he owed his easy job to his son who had become an assistant superintendent. Sometimes parents, most frequently the mothers, are unwilling that their boys should enter the mill, for the fear of accident makes the long nights a time of terror. Many a woman has said, "When I was first married, I couldn't sleep when the 'mister' was on night turn, but, of course, I'm used to it now." Still when their sons grow up, they begin again to dread the danger. The great mill, however, has a fascination of its own, so that most of the boys "follow the stacks." They then live at home, contributing their share to the family income, and we find that economic bond which Mrs. Bosenquet has pointed out as so dominant a factor in strengthening family life in England. This mutual affection is undoubtedly the most potential factor in keeping pure the moral life of the town.

Morally the town is an average one. Along one of the railroads is a section comparable in a small way to some of the dark parts of a great city, and there gambling, immorality and drunkenness have their meeting place, but in the districts where most of the workmen have their homes, the former two evils are practically unknown. A doctor in a position to know the situation well, believes that in the main this town is clean morally, and his statement is confirmed by clergymen and other physicians.

Intemperance, on the other hand, is a serious factor. In Munhall there are no saloons, but in Homestead, there are fifty,[Pg 625] eight in a single block on Eighth avenue next to the mill entrance. As one resident summed up the situation, "I think we have at least sixty-five saloons, ten wholesale liquor stores, a number of beer agents, innumerable speak-easies and a dozen or more drug stores,"—and this in a town of 25,000. In addition to their usual attractions of light and jollity, the saloons appeal to the thirst engendered by hours of work in the heat. Though this heat-thirst is frequently offered as an excuse for drinking, men who do not drink are emphatic in their belief that alcohol lessens their ability to withstand the extreme temperature. While intoxication is not very frequent, the saloons do a thriving business and their patrons were among the first to feel the hardships of the industrial depression. A clergyman assured me that preaching against intemperance did no good and that substitutes must be offered, but so far none has been developed. The library, which is on the hill out of the men's way, cannot be reckoned as a counter attraction, for they are too tired to be often tempted by it.

The church, too, finds it hard to hold them. The fact that they usually have to work either Saturday night or Sunday night, and some men during Sunday as well, affects the attitude of the whole town towards Sunday keeping. A clergyman who complained because a certain store was open on Sunday, was told that as the mill ran that day, nothing could be done about closing the store. "We can't take the little fish and let the big one go." The men feel the inconsistency in being urged to attend church when they have to work hard part of the day. Then too, they are often very tired. One big, jovial colored man told me how he came home Sunday morning from the mill expecting to go to church, but fell fast asleep while waiting for the hour of service.

The churches, however, play an important part in the life of those, especially the women and young people, who are actually connected with them. The thirty churches represent all denominations, some of them preserving their[Pg 626] original race distinctions. Two Welsh churches still have their service in the Keltic language. There are a number of missions, among them one on the main street, whose transparency bearing the legend, "The Wages of Sin Is Death," suggests a Bowery type. The Salvation Army, while it has a short muster roll, has a strong grip on the community which seems impressed by its earnestness, simplicity and poverty. For whatever its intellectual limitations there is throughout the town a profound respect for genuine spiritual devotion. During the winter most of the churches, in addition to their regular weekly services, held special revival meetings. These, while they have little of the tense excitement sometimes associated with such meetings, seem to be a strong force in developing the real spiritual power of the churches.

The church, moreover, meets certain of the social needs of the town through its wholesome festivities. All winter the stores were full of signs of "chicken and waffle suppers," and the papers told of socials of all the varieties that a small church evolves. These were usually to raise funds, sometimes for church expenses, sometimes for charity, and in one instance, I remember, to help send out a foreign missionary. But, whatever the object, they serve to increase the happiness of life under wholesome conditions.


A.—Profile of line A. B. in map opposite, showing slope on which Homestead is built.—B.

So the church plays its part, both spiritually and socially, in helping its members to a fuller individual life. It does not, however, furnish an opportunity for that discussion of matters of everyday concern to the men, which might serve to arouse their interest in the whole life of the church and to quicken their sense of civic responsibility. Moreover, in a town where industrial questions are of paramount importance, the church is only beginning to take an interest in them. In the larger question of leadership in civic life, the churches seem also to have missed a great opportunity. Though they took some action in the local option campaign, this was an isolated instance, and in general they do not appear to have accepted their full responsibility in arousing men to a realization of the duties of citizenship.

[Pg 627]


The town-site back of the mills is divided into two boroughs.

Munhall embraces most of the property of the U. S. Steel Corporation: the tax rate is 8-1/2 mills and the corporation pays $40,000 in taxes.

In Homestead, where most of the workmen have their homes, the tax rate is 15 mills, and the corporation pays $7,000.

[Pg 628]

That a sense of civic responsibility is needed, is emphasized by those who know the life of the town, and who find there a serious political situation. In Homestead, which is by far the largest and most important of the three boroughs, the political conditions are worst. The borough government consists of a burgess elected every three years, and a council, which is also elective. Of the two important committees, the Board of Health is appointed by the burgess with the consent of the council, and the School Board is chosen directly by the people.

In spite of the possibility of influencing some of the local conditions through these elected representatives, there is general indifference in regard to local politics. In one matter where their direct family interests are concerned, the people have demanded and received an efficient administration. They are proud of their schools and the personnel of the School Board, and certainly this is the best service given to the people of the town. But while the men all agree that the situation is dominated by the wholesale liquor interests, schemes for political reform arouse little enthusiasm. In spite of years of casual agitation against inadequately guarded railroad crossings, it was not till the summer of 1908 that any effective protest was made. People still pay a neighbor fifty cents a month for the privilege of getting good water from his well, instead of insisting that it be provided by the borough. A river, polluted by the sewage of many towns above it, and by chemicals from the mills strong enough to kill all the fish, furnishes the drinking water for the town.

To a certain extent at least, mental sluggishness due, as we have seen, to the conditions under which men work, is at the root of their indifference. It is, of course, true that the mill is not the source of all the undesirable conditions in Homestead. Many of the disadvantages of the town are similar to those of other suburban and industrial centers that are less definitely influenced by a great industry. But for a large part of the evil the mill must be considered responsible. There was its influence, for example, in making Munhall into a separate borough, thus securing a lower tax for its plant and real estate and by that much adding to the burdens of the majority of its working people. For in Homestead, the mill owns little property. In Munhall, the tax rate is eight and one-half mills and the mill pays $40,000 a year in taxes, while in Homestead, where the larger part of the workers live, the tax rate is fifteen mills and the mill pays a tax of but $7,000.

The mill has, moreover, done nothing to give the town an effective leadership, the most striking need of the situation. On the one hand by the destruction of the union it has removed the one force by which workingmen could have been trained for leadership; on the other hand, since its owners are scattered throughout the country, it has not supplied such a group of educated men with free time and public interest as have been the strong influences in developing normal communities. When I asked, in discussing the sanitary condition of the Slavic courts, if anything could be done to improve the situation I was assured that only a man of strong local influence could accomplish such a reform; but no one could suggest the man.

In contrast then to the wonderful development of the industry itself, with its splendid organization, its capable management, its efficient methods, we find a town which lacks sound political organization, which lacks true leadership, which lacks the physical and moral efficiency which can come only through leisure to think and to enjoy. The only genuine interest we find centers about the individual home life, and, in spite of outward physical disadvantages, the hindrance of inadequate income, the lack of proper training in household economics, and the limited outlook which the town affords, the men and the women are creating real homes. That many fail against these odds is not surprising. "Life, work, and happiness, these three are bound together." The mill offers the second, indifferent whether it is under conditions that make the other two possible.



[Pg 629]

American spread-eagleism has matured notably in the past ten years, but there is still youth and ginger enough in it to make my first postulate simply this,—that the civic responsibilities of democracy in an industrial district are to come abreast of and improve upon any community standards reached under any other system of government; and, second, to do this in a democratic way as distinct from a despotic or paternalistic way.

[13] An address given before the Joint Convention of the American Civic Association and the National Municipal League, Pittsburgh, Nov. 16, outlining some of the findings of the Pittsburgh Survey and drawing upon data secured in various fields of investigation.

It was my good fortune to spend a week the past summer in Essen and other industrial towns of the Rhenish-Westphalia district of Germany, following something over a year spent in the Pittsburgh district. I fancy that in our attitude toward the old countries, we are inclined to regard their cities as long established and to find justification for any lapses of our own in the newness of America. But Essen, for instance, as an industrial center is new. The chronology of the development of the steel industry there is not altogether different from that of the same industry in Pittsburgh; and one of the great problems of Fried. Krupp was to mobilize and hold within reach of his furnaces and rolls a large and efficient working population. Entering the industrial field generations later than England, German manufacturers have not had a trained working force ready to hand. Krupp had to draw his men from the country districts,—healthy, unskilled peasants, unused to the quick handling of their muscles, unused to working indoors, unused to machinery, unused to living in large communities. The wages offered, as against the wages of agricultural districts, drew them there; he must keep them there out of reach of his competitors, and he must see that they worked at the top notch of their efficiency. It was a loss to Herr Krupp when a man with five years' training in his works left Essen, or was sick, or was maimed.

As a town, Essen was unprepared to absorb this great new industrial population. There were not houses enough; the newcomers were sheltered abominably and charged exorbitant rents by the local landlords. There weren't food supplies enough within reach of the growing city, and the workers had to buy poor bread and bad meat, and to pay heavily for them. The town had not enough sanitary appliances to dispose of the waste which a congregation of individuals sloughs off and which, if not properly disposed of, breeds disease. The rents and high provisions pared away most of the incentive in the wages which must attract this working force to Essen; poor houses and poor food made directly for stupid, half-roused workers and for poor work. Primarily as a business proposition, then, Herr Krupp started that group of social institutions which have since been expanded from one motive or another, until they supply an infinite variety of wants to the Essen workers. The firm bought up successive plots of land, laid them out, sewered them, parked them, and to-day, at the end of fifty years, over thirty thousand persons are living in houses belonging to the Essen works (ten thousand of the sixty thousand Krupp employes are thus supplied). There has been a growth in quality as well as in numbers of houses. The buildings of the first workmen's colony, West End, are rough, crude boxes; the new colonies of Alfredshof and Friedrichshof are beautiful, with their red roofs, graceful lines, lawns, housekeeping conveniences and modest rents. Not less than seventy-seven Krupp[Pg 630] supply stores, operated on a profit-sharing basis, sell meat, bread, manufactured goods and household furniture. One of the greatest bakeries in Germany is operated on a cost basis, and there are slaughter houses, flour mills, ice making establishments, tailor shops, etc. Hospitals, convalescent homes, pensions, and invalidity and accident funds have been instituted, and have since been fortified and expanded under the imperial scheme of industrial insurance, which governs throughout Germany.

This welfare work of the Krupps has not succeeded in keeping either trade unionism or socialism out of the ranks of the working force; it has tended to put the workers in a position of semi-feudal dependence for comforts and to sap their initiative; and in those bearings it is not in accord with American ideas; but it has served to gather at Essen, to keep there, and to keep there at a high standard of working efficiency, one of the most remarkable labor forces in Germany.

It is solely the latter aspect of the case that concerns us here. I think it is agreed that when it comes to armor plate, I-beams, tubes, or rails, the Pittsburgh steel plants can beat the world. But a week's stay among the Krupp colonies at Essen brings with it the conviction that we in America have considerable distance to go if we are to match the Germans in the science of improved community conditions. The question is how some of these higher standards can be worked out in an American industrial district where one corporation does not dominate; where you are dealing with a much greater aggregation of people spread over a much greater territory, and where you must work out your solution in democratic ways through democratic agencies.

It must be borne in mind that much that I say of Pittsburgh is true of practically all our industrial centers; our severest criticism of any one comes not from a comparison with its fellows, but from a comparison of the haphazard development of its social institutions with the splendid organic development of its industrial enterprises. And more, in the methods and scope of progressive business organizations we have some of the most suggestive clues as to ways for municipal progress.

My first point has to do with administrative areas. The most effective city administration cannot act to advantage unless the units through which it operates are workable and bear some relation to the function they are designed to perform. The radius of the old time city, as one English writer has pointed out, was the distance you could walk from your work in the center to a home convenient in the outskirts. To-day, for most purposes, a city is a rapid transit proposition. For most purposes, a municipal area can be governed most effectively if it includes all such districts as can be reached by city workers, by subway, steam, or surface lines. The movement for a greater Pittsburgh, which, within the last year, has been advanced by the merging of Allegheny and the movement for a greater Birmingham, which is now in progress in the corresponding English industrial center, are recognitions of this fact. The police, fire,—in fact, every department of municipal activity is cramped and rendered less effective by restricted bounds.

But for certain functional activities much wider areas must be covered. The sanitary inspection force of Cleveland, for instance, inspects dairies and slaughter-houses throughout all that part of Ohio that supplies the Cleveland market; in contrast with the Pittsburgh inspection service which is at present able to inspect supplies only as they come into the city and sources in the immediate neighborhood. Again, the sewer and water problem of Pittsburgh is a water-shed problem. One hundred and twenty-nine towns and boroughs are dumping their sewage into the rivers which run past Pittsburgh and from which Pittsburgh must draw its water. No one of these governmental units can work out its sanitary problem alone. Close co-ordination of sanitary work is needed throughout the whole river district.

There is necessity, then, for increasing our municipal administrative areas and for relating them to the functions which must be performed through them; and this very fact raises the distinctive civic problem of creating this enlarged municipal machinery, without sacrificing that local loyalty and interest which in neighborhoods and smaller districts make for good government. In Pittsburgh we have a central city,—a market and office center with groups of outlying mill towns and half-agricultural districts between. The opponents of city congestion would break up all our big urban centers into such an open work structure; and if the citizenship of the Pittsburgh steel district can work out effective methods of government and high standards of community well-being for this ganglion of working communities, it will have made an original contribution to municipal science.

But let us look more carefully at this question of area as applied to the functioning of particular social institutions. We have the theory in America, for instance, that common school education should be supplied by the public, and to this end, besides state subsidies and other revenues, a general millage is laid on all taxable property in Pittsburgh for the salaries of teachers and for other general expenses. But the actual operation of the schools continues on an old vestry system of ward control,—a system given up by Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Baltimore and other cities of Pittsburgh's class, because the ward has proved an ineffective administrative unit. Let us see how it works in Pittsburgh. Each ward lays and collects a tax on property within its limits for the erection and maintenance of school buildings. Thus, ward two in the business district, with a total of only 363 pupils, can draw on property with an assessed valuation of $37,491,708; while ward fourteen, with 2,423 children, can draw on property worth $34,264,077 (less taxable property and seven times as many children); while ward thirty-one has 1,173 children and only $3,074,085 in assessed property (or three times as many children as ward two and not one-tenth the taxable property). No wonder, then, that the valuation of school buildings and equipment ranges from approximately $41 per school child in the thirty-first ward to $1,033 per school child in the second; and the income for maintenance[Pg 631] of buildings, etc., from $6 per school child in the thirty-fifth ward to $84 per school child in the first. No wonder, then, that in these ward-school buildings and their equipment there is the utmost divergence. Our investigators found buildings every room of which was overcrowded, with children sitting on benches, with chairs in the aisles; wards in which basement rooms were thrown into commission without adequate heat, light, desks or ventilation; schools unconnected with the sewer; schools without fireproofing, without fire escapes, without fire drills;—all these in contrast to progressive schools in other wards with first-rate equipment, small classes, good plumbing and adequate light. Wards which have the most children, whose children have the least cultural environment and stimulus at home, have, many of them, the least resources to tax for school purposes. By an out-worn system of ward control and taxation, then, the teaching force of Pittsburgh is supplied in districts where the work is hardest with schoolhouses and other tools which are least effective. Some districts have schools which in equipment and spirit rank with any in the country; while in some the school plants ought to be scrapped offhand.

Turn to another social institution,—the hospitals. We may conceive that the first service of hospitals is to be accessible to the sick and injured, and that an adequate hospital system should be at all times quickly available to the people who may have use for it. We may compare it with the efficiency of the telephone company which, through sub-exchanges, centrals and private connections, effectively reaches every district. How stands the case with the hospitals of Pittsburgh? The city is served by a group of private institutions, many of them adequately equipped and progressively managed; but there is no system of co-ordination between them, either in the operation of their free wards or in the maintenance of an effective ambulance service. New hospitals are erected under the eaves of old hospitals. Sick and injured people are carried long, unnecessary distances at great risk. Seven new hospitals are going[Pg 632] up in Pittsburgh and yet, when they are all completed and other changes which have been decided upon are carried out, there will be a great belt of river wards, thickly populated, without a convenient hospital plant,—wards in which we shall see disease is most rife. This failure of a co-ordination of hospital work in Pittsburgh is appreciated by a number of the most progressive superintendents, and no one would welcome more than they a movement to interlock the hospital service of the city in some effective way.

Another point of contrast between Pittsburgh, the industrial center, and Pittsburgh, the community, lies in the progressiveness and invention which have gone into the details of one and the other; for instance, aldermen's courts which dispense justice to the working population of Pittsburgh and deal with the minor civil business of a city of half a million. They serve very well in an agricultural district. They are of the vintage of the village blacksmith. But with the exception of a few well conducted courts, the forty or more ward courts may be said to clutter up and befog the course of minor justice, and to be an exasperation in the conduct of civil business. They add to rather than subtract from the business of the higher courts, and there is no effective supervision of their operation. They compare with the new municipal courts of Chicago about as the open forges of King John's time compare with a Bessemer converter.

Again,—Pittsburgh is the second city in Pennsylvania in point of population; in some respects it is the center of the most marvelous industrial district in the world. Thousands of men and women are engaged in hundreds of processes. But the state factory inspection department has not so much as an office in this city. There are inspectors, but they are not easily get-at-able for the workingman who may be laboring under unsanitary conditions or with unprotected machinery, or for the citizen who may know of violations of the factory acts which he conceives it his duty to report. My conception of an adequate labor department office in Pittsburgh is more than that of an industrial detective bureau. My conception is rather that of a headquarters, with an adequate force of technical experts and physicians who would be constantly studying the work processes of the district with the idea of eliminating wherever possible, those conditions which make for disease; with laboratory facilities for experiment and demonstration of protective devices calculated to reduce accidents; drawing, to this end, upon the industrial experience of the whole world. The factory inspector's office in Birmingham, for instance, is in close co-operation with courts, with employers and with workmen. Within three years, its suggestions have reduced the number of deaths due to one variety of crane from twenty-one to three.

The old time city built a wall about it. That kept out invaders. The invaders of a modern city are infectious diseases. In the development of sanitary service and bureaus of health of wide powers and unquestioned integrity, the modern city is erecting its most effective wall. In Pittsburgh, the health authority is still a subordinate bureau without control over appointments under the civil service, and without that final authority which should go with its supreme responsibility toward the health of 500,000 people. Until the present incumbent was appointed, there had seldom or never been a physician at the head of this bureau. For five years there had not been so much as an annual report. Two-thirds of the appropriations to the Pittsburgh Health Bureau are to-day engrossed in a garbage removal contract; only one-third is free for general health purposes. With such an inadequate barricade, we can imagine that disease has sacked Pittsburgh throughout the years; and comparison of death rates with four cities of corresponding size,—Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis,—for five years, shows this to have been the case. In her average death rate per 100,000 for typhoid fever, for diarrhoea and for enteritis, Pittsburgh was first and highest. Pittsburgh was only fourth or next to the lowest in the list in pulmonary tuberculosis; but in pneumonia, in bronchitis and in other diseases of the respiratory system; and in violence other than suicide, Pittsburgh was highest. To retrieve the lost ground of years of neglect of health conditions has been a task upon which the present superintendent of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Health has entered, but it is a task in which the city must invest increasing resources. For such work it needs more than a health bureau. It needs a health department.

My point, then, is that democracy must overhaul the social machinery through which it operates if it would bring its community conditions up to standards comparable to those maintained by its banks, its insurance companies and its industrial corporations.

There are at least two tests to which the community can put such social machinery. The first is that of operating efficiency. In hospitals, in schools, in municipal departments, units of work and output can be worked out as definitely as are the tons of the steel workers, the voltage of the electricians, the dollars and cents of the banks. By vigorous systems of audit and intelligent systems of budget-making, understandable to the ordinary citizen, the community can see to it that the output of these social institutions is comparable with the investment it makes in them; that the taxpayer gets his money's worth. The Bureau of Municipal Research in New York embodies this idea in its program.

There is another, equally intensive test to which social institutions and sanitary conditions can be put. It is conceivable that the tax payer may get his money's worth from the municipal government, while the families of the wage earning population and householders may be suffering from another and irreparable form of taxation, which only increased municipal expenditure along certain lines could relieve. So it is that while I subscribe to the movement for stiffer standards of municipal accounting as a basis for effective government, for knowing the waste of a city's money, I subscribe further to the movement for such methods of social bookkeeping as will show us the[Pg 633] larger waste of human life and private means; and will stand out not only for honesty and efficiency, but for the common well-being.

Let me illustrate by the case of typhoid fever which has been epidemic in Pittsburgh for twenty-five years. To eliminate typhoid Pittsburgh has erected a 5-1/2 million dollar filtration plant,[14] for the years of delay in the erection of which the city has suffered a terrible toll of deaths and misery. There were 5,421 cases of typhoid fever in Pittsburgh last year and 622 deaths. Computing death rate per 100,000 population for the larger cities having the highest rates in 1901, Pittsburgh was first with 124, New Haven second, Allegheny third; in 1902, Pittsburgh was first, Allegheny second, Washington third; in 1903, Pittsburgh first, Cleveland was second, Allegheny third; in 1904, Columbus was first, Pittsburgh second, Allegheny third; in 1905, Allegheny was first, Pittsburgh second and Columbus third; in 1906, Pittsburgh was first, and Allegheny second. But even these figures, startling as they are, fail to afford a grasp of the meaning of this typhoid scourge in the lives of the wage earners of Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Survey undertook to gauge this. In co-operation with Columbian Settlement, we collected data as to 1,029 cases in six wards reported in one year; 448 cases were found and studied. Of these 26 died. 187 wage earners lost 1,901 weeks' work. Other wage earners, not patients, lost 322 weeks,—a total loss in wages of $28,899. The cost of 90 patients treated in hospitals at public or private expense was $4,165; of 338 patients cared for at home, $21,000 in doctors' bills, nurses, ice, foods, medicines; of 26 funerals, $3,186; a total cost of $57,250 in less than half the cases of six wards in one year,—wards in which both income and sickness expense were at a minimum. But there were other even more serious drains which do not admit of tabulation. A girl of twenty-two, who worked on stogies, was left in a very nervous condition, not as strong as [Pg 634]before, and consequently she could not attain her former speed. A blacksmith will probably never work at his trade with his former strength. A sixteen-year-old girl who developed tuberculosis was left in a weakened physical condition. A tailor who cannot work as long hours as before, was reduced $1 a week in wages. A boy of eight was very nervous; he would not sit still in school and was rapidly becoming a truant. A mother developed a case of pneumonia from over-exposure in caring for children who had the fever, and she has not been well since. So the story goes,—very real to the lives of the many who are so intimately concerned. The money losses can be replaced. My figures include no estimate of the value of human lives lost. And it is impossible to compute in terms of dollars and cents, what it means to a family to have the father's health so broken that he cannot work at his old job, but has to accept easier work at less pay. It is impossible to put in tabulated form the total value to a family of a mother's health, and strike a proper balance when typhoid has left her a physical or nervous wreck. It is impossible to estimate what is the cost to a boy or girl who is obliged to leave school in order to help support the family, because typhoid has incapacitated the natural bread-winners. Such facts as these show the drain that typhoid has been on the vital forces of the community. It is only one of such drains.

[14] In October there were but ninety-six cases of typhoid in Greater Pittsburgh, as against 503 for October, 1907.

Such facts as these bring home concretely to the average workingman his stake in good government.

It is not possible here to enter into a discussion, even briefly, of the democratic methods by which a community can improve the quality and lessen the cost of its food supplies as an integral part of the program for building up a vigorous working population. There is a direct bearing between these costs of living and the holding power of the wages paid in the Pittsburgh District.

But there is one necessity of which there is a paramount shortage; that is shelter. I should like you to compare the efficiency to perform the function for which it is devised of a modern blast furnace and the shacks which house some of the families in the Pittsburgh District. The output of the one is pig iron; the output of the other, home life and children. According to the tenement house census carried on by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Health the past summer, there are 3,364 tenement houses in the greater city. Nearly fifty per cent of these are old dwellings built and constructed to accommodate one family and as a rule without conveniences for the multiple households now crowded into them. Let me give you an example,—a house on Bedford avenue, with three families in the front and three in the rear, Negroes and whites. The owner was notified over a year ago that the building must be repaired and certain alterations made, but nothing has been done, and by the veto of the governor of Pennsylvania of a bill which passed the last Legislature, the Bureau of Health has no power to condemn such unsanitary dwellings. In this building, two-room apartments rent for twelve dollars a month. Water has to be obtained from a hydrant in the yard, shared by eleven families; the foul privy vaults are also shared by neighboring families.

Under Dr. Edwards's administration 5,063 such privy vaults have been filled and abandoned in Pittsburgh and 8,281 sanitary water closets installed in their place. The work is less than half done. The census of only the first twenty wards of the older city shows a total of nearly 6,000 vaults still existing in these wards alone. Consider the contrast,—these old, ramshackle, unwholesome, disease breeding appliances of the back country here in Pittsburgh, the city of the great engineers, of mechanical invention and of progress. In a typhoid-ridden neighborhood, a vault is an open menace to health. Investigations in army camps and in given neighborhoods in Chicago have proved that insects carry disease from such places to the tables and living rooms of the people.

There are three points which I should like you to consider in connection with this problem of shelter. The first is that the Bureau of Health, however efficient in its supervisory work, cannot meet it single handed. Even if through the activities of the Health Bureau, Tammany Hall, Yellow Row and other old shacks have been torn down, even if the owners of other old buildings are made to install sanitary appliances, the situation is still unmet, unless new houses,—vast quantities of new houses,—are erected to care for the increased population which has flooded into Pittsburgh in the last ten years and which, there is every indication, will multiply as greatly in the next ten. Real estate dealers and builders have not been inactive in Pittsburgh, but the situation is so serious as to demand the development of a constructive public policy that will comprehend such elements as town planning, tax reform, and investment at "five per cent and the public good."

My second point is that this haphazard method of letting the housing supply take care of itself is a monetary drawback to the merchants of the city. In the first place, it radically reduces the margin which the workingman's family has to spend for commodities. Especially is this true of immigrant tenants, who are obliged to pay more than English-speaking. For instance, on Bass street, Allegheny, we found Slavs paying twenty dollars a month for four rooms, as against fifteen dollars paid by Americans. In the second place, it puts a premium on the single men, drifters, lodgers, as against the man with a family. The immigrant boarders who rent from a boarding-boss, and sleep eight or ten in a room or sleep at night in the beds left vacant by the night workers who have occupied them throughout the day,—such fellows can make money in the Pittsburgh district. But the immigrant who wants to make his stake here, bring his family over, create a household, must pay ten or fifteen dollars a month for rooms; and must pay high prices for all the other necessities of life. If I were asked by what means the merchants of Pittsburgh could increase the volume of purchases of the buying public, I should say that no one thing would affect that so impressively as the multiplication of households, through the multiplication of low cost,[Pg 635] low rental, sanitary houses to meet the needs of stable family groups as against the transient lodger.

My third point is that the housing problem is not a city problem alone. It is repeated in each of the mill towns. I could cite instances in Braddock, Duquesne, McKeesport, Sharpsburg, where old buildings are filthy and overcrowded and where new buildings are put up in violation of every canon of scientific housing,—back-to-back houses such as were condemned in England seventy-five years ago as breeding places of disease. Homestead, for instance, has no ordinance against overcrowding, no ordinance requiring adequate water supply, or forbidding privy vaults in congested neighborhoods. The foreigners live in the second ward between the river and the railroads. In twenty-two courts studied in this district, only three houses had running water inside. One hundred and ten people were found using one yard pump. Fifty-one out of 239 families lived in one room each. Twenty-six of the two-room apartments are used by eight or more people; one two-room apartment sheltered thirteen; two, twelve; two, eleven. A crude reflection of the effect of these conditions is indicated by the death rate in this second ward. Of every three children born there one dies before it reaches two years of age, as against one in every six in the rest of Homestead, where detached, and livable dwellings prevail.

This comparison of health conditions in a small town is true in a large, cruel way of Pittsburgh itself. In co-operation with the Typhoid Fever Commission we have analyzed by wards the death certificates of people dying in Pittsburgh for the past five years. We have grouped these wards into districts, the living conditions of which are more or less of a kind. Let me compare the mortality figures of wards nine and ten and twelve,—a group of river wards in the old city, near the mills, peopled for the most part with a wage-earning population of small income,—compare these wards with ward twenty-two, a new residential district in the East End. What are the chances of[Pg 636] life of the men, women and children living in the one and in the other? The chance of a man's dying of bronchitis in the river wards is two and a half as against one in the East End; it is four of his dying from pneumonia as against one in the East End, five of his dying of typhoid as against one in the East End, six of his dying a violent death as against one in the East End. These are rough proportions merely, but they are of terrific significance. Our American boast that everybody has an equal chance falls flat before them. The dice are loaded in Pittsburgh when it comes to a man's health; his health is the workingman's best asset; and the health and vigor of its working population are in the long run the vital and irrecoverable resources of an industrial center.

This brings us to a point where we can define more concretely the plain civic responsibility of democracy in an industrial district. That responsibility is to contrive and to operate the social machinery of the community, and to make living conditions in the district, such as will attract and hold a strong and vigorous labor force, for the industries on which the prosperity of the district must depend. Here lie the responsibility of the community to the individual manufacturer,—and the responsibility of the community to its own future:—that the efficiency of its workers shall not be mortgaged before they go to work in the morning.

This carries a counter responsibility. In the interests of the community as a whole, in the interests of all the industries as against the interests of any single one, the public cannot afford to have such a working force impaired or wasted by unsanitary or health-taxing conditions during the working hours. What I mean will perhaps be clearest by illustrating in the case of industrial accidents. Pittsburgh cannot afford to have over 500 workingmen killed every year in the course of employment, or the unknown number of men who are seriously injured. During the past year, the Pittsburgh Survey has made an intensive inquiry into the facts surrounding the deaths of the entire roster of men killed in industry during twelve months, and of the accident cases treated in the hospitals of the district during three months,—not with the idea of raising anew the question of responsibility for particular accidents, but to see if there are any indications as to whether these accidents could be prevented and whether the burden of them falls where in justice it should. The work has been done by a staff of five people, including a lawyer, an engineer and interpreters, and we have had the co-operation of claim agents, superintendents, foremen, trade union officials and others. We found that of the 526 men killed in the year studied in Allegheny county, the accidents fell on Americans as well as foreigners; 224 were native born. The ranks of steel workers and train men suffer most,—the pick of the workmen in the district. There were 195 steel workers killed, 125 railroad men, seventy-one mine workers, and 135 in other occupations. It was found that it was the young men of the district who went down in the course of industry. Eighty-two were under twenty years of age, 221 between twenty and thirty. Over half the men killed were earning less than fifteen dollars a week, a fact which raises the question if the law is fair in assuming, as it does in Pennsylvania, that wages cover risk. Fifty-one per cent of the men killed were married with families to support; an additional thirty per cent were single men, partly, or wholly, supporting a family. It was shown that the greatest losses were not due to the spectacular accidents, but to everyday causes. In the steel industry, for instance, forty-two deaths were due to the operation of electric cranes, thirty-one to the operation of broad and narrow gauge railroads in the mills and yards, and twenty-four to falls from a height or into pits, vats, etc. Pittsburgh has stamped out smallpox; its physicians are fighting tuberculosis; the municipality is checking typhoid. Cannot engineers, foremen, employers and workmen come together in a campaign to reduce accidents? Considerable has already been done in this direction by progressive employers. The problem is that of bringing up the whole district to progressive standards.

On the other hand we have put these industrial accident cases to that same test of human measurement which we found of such significance in gauging the losses due to typhoid fever. This steady march of injury and death means an enormous economic loss. Is the burden of this loss justly distributed? What takes the place of the wages of these bread-winners? What resources of their own have these families to fall back on? What share of the loss is shouldered by the employer? What share falls in the long run upon the community itself, in the care of the sick and dependent? Is the Pennsylvania law fair that exempts the employer from paying anything to the family of a killed alien if that family lives in a foreign country? Are the risks which the law supposes that the workman assumes when he hires out for wages, fair risks under modern conditions of production? Is it in the long run, to the interest of the employer to leave to the haphazard, embittered gamble of damage suits, this question of meeting in a fair way the human loss which with even the best processes and the greatest care, is involved in the production of utilities? I am not in a position here to put forward the economic facts brought out by our inquiries; but I can say that on every hand, among employers and claim agents and workmen, there is profound dissatisfaction and an increasing open-mindedness toward some such sane and equitable system of working-men's compensation as those in operation in Germany and in England.

But this question of industrial accidents is only part of another and larger question of the relation of industry to health. The workers of Pittsburgh are dealing not with simple ploughs and wash tubs and anvils, but with intricate machines or in great work rooms where hundreds work side by[Pg 637] side; dealing with poisons, with voltage, with heat, with a hundred new and but half mastered agents of production. Are the conditions under which some of this work is carried on directly inimical to health? Could they be bettered without serious loss to the trades and with great gain to the workers?

In the rapid development of factories in America, we have only begun to devise our plants with reference to the health of the worker as well as with reference to output. Let me illustrate from the women employing trades. In only two of the twenty-eight commercial laundries in Pittsburgh, is the wash room on the upper floor. In twenty-six, rising steam and excessive heat not only cause discomfort in the other departments, but tend to induce diseases of the respiratory organs. Tobacco dried in many of the stogy sweatshops, makes the air heavy with nicotine, fills the room with fine dust and increases the danger, always present in the tobacco trades, from tuberculosis. In foundries and machine shops, the custom of placing annealing ovens in the rooms where the cores are made, causes excessive heat in the work room and fill the air with a black dust. We have the statements of old employes that not more than twenty-five girls of the 300 in the coil winding room in one of the Pittsburgh electrical industries have been in the plant as long as three or four years. The speeding-up tends to make the girls nervous, weak and easily overcome by illness.

Apart from dangers of accident, of speeding and of injurious processes, the health of a working force bears a direct relation to the length of the working day. The tendency with respect to both hours and Sunday work in the steel industry in Pittsburgh has been, for fifteen years, towards an increase, and there is no indication that the end has yet been reached. There is not the opportunity here to analyze the time schedule of the varied departments of the steel industry, but in a majority of them the day of twenty-four hours is split between two shifts of workers; and the men work not six[Pg 638] days, but seven a week. And a very considerable share of them, once a fortnight in changing shifts, work a long turn of twenty-four hours.

Employers may differ as to whether they can get the most work and the most effective work out of a man if he works twelve hours a day, or ten, or eight. But I hold that the community has something at stake here. How much citizenship does Pittsburgh get out of a man who works twelve hours a day seven days a week? How much of a father can a man be who may never see his babies except when they are asleep; or who never gets a chance to go off into the country for a rollick with his boys? The community has a claim on the vigor and intelligence of its people, on their activity in civic affairs, which I believe it is letting go by default. It is getting only the tired out leavings of some of its best men.

My argument, then, is that if the civic responsibilities of democracy in an industrial district are to be met, the community should do what a first-rate industrial concern would do, figure out the ground it can cover effectively and gear its social machinery so to cover it. By social machinery I mean hospitals, schools, courts and departments the city structure, and all that wide range of activities that have a direct bearing on the living conditions of a people. Second, to hold these agencies as closely accountable as are enterprises in the business world; and to bring them to the ultimate touchstone of their effect on the welfare of the average citizen. Unless a wage-earning population is so insured against disease, its vigor and effectiveness so conserved, the community is not meeting its responsibilities toward the industries which must depend upon these workers for output and profit. In turn, the public should see to it that the industries do not cripple nor exploit the working force which constitutes the great asset of the community. And further, if such a program is to be carried out in an American and democratic way, the workers themselves must have greater leeway and leisure in which to bear their share of the burdens and responsibilities of American democracy.

I bear a message to Pittsburgh from John Burns, president of the Local Government Board of England, one of the foremost labor leaders of Great Britain, who has been hailed this fall as one of the conserving forces of the present Liberal ministry in dealing with the vast economic problems which are facing the British Empire. He has visited America and Pittsburgh as a member of various commissions, and it was on the basis of his knowledge of our situation here that I asked him for suggestions as to ways of advance, which would lead to the improvement of civic and labor conditions in the Pittsburgh steel district. "Six days work a week instead of seven," he said. "Three shifts of eight hours instead of two shifts of twelve; no twenty-four hour shifts; better housing; counter-attractions to the saloon; more parks,—open spaces; the improvement of the river front;—the humanizing of labor instead of the brutalization of toil. There you are. Those are Pittsburgh's marching orders."

Pittsburgh's three rivers and the great mineral resource's they tap brought the people here. Environment is inevitable as a selective agency; but the people once here, can by their willing, mould and perpetuate or destroy the holding power of the district. Other cities have large admixtures of clerks and trading classes. I doubt if there is such another working force in the country as that which peoples these valleys. Therein lies a civic resource worth conserving to the utmost of its potential goods. Will Pittsburgh as a community, as a democratic community, meet that responsibility?

Will the industrial communities of the nation, as democratic communities, meet their responsibility?

[Pg 639]


The working woman is coming up as a result of her invasion of commercial pursuits. While the department store pays poorer wages than the factory or domestic service, it has a standing, its girls a position due to their dress and their surroundings, which the others do not give. Grant it every evil ever charged against it, say Mr. Hard and Mrs. Dorr in the third article of their series on The Woman's Invasion, in the January Everybody's, make the case out as bad as long hours, poor pay, Christmas rush time, the need for expensive clothes, can total. Still it is superior socially; its hours are shorter; it draws the American as against the foreign-born girl; it offers better opportunity for marriage, and all these things appeal to a girl because she is not, consciously at least, in industry to stay, but to pass the time until marriage. That's why "a store can get for six dollars the kind of girl that will earn ten dollars in a shoe factory."

Low as the wages are,—and they are set by this social advantage and by the predominant number of department store clerks who are not wholly dependent on themselves,—there is a chance for real advancement. Woman has been in factory work for a century, but she remains an operative except for occasional forewomen, and as a result of piece work she quickly reaches her maximum earning capacity and afterwards declines. But in the department store, where she has been only a few years, she has advanced to positions of real responsibility, particularly as a buyer, and sometimes draws a salary of from $1,500 to $6,000; her wages go steadily up, and the clerks in some departments draw good, living wages with the ever-present example of the buyer and her kind just ahead, elevated from their own ranks.

The article, in parts, in a stirring description of the life of the 20,000 department store clerks on State street, Chicago, and one of the best parts of it is the contrast of the girl clerk who sells handkerchiefs, and the girl machine operative who makes handkerchiefs, the clerk "getting handkerchiefs out of boxes for querulous, exacting customers, putting handkerchiefs back in boxes for querulous, exacting stock inspectors, taking parcels to the cage of the wrapper girl, pacifying purchasers waiting for their change, attracting new purchasers coming down the aisle, discriminating between 'buyers' and 'shoppers,' drawing the 'buyers' on, edging the 'shoppers' off, rearranging the counter,—from eight or half-past in the morning to half past five in the afternoon;" the factory girl sitting before a counter on which there are a blue cross, a red cross and a machine with a clutching hand, who "takes a handkerchief, places it on the blue cross, pushes it over to the red cross, and the claw of the machine snatches it away. She takes a second handkerchief, places it on the blue cross, pushes it over to the red cross, and the machine snatches it away. She takes a third handkerchief, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, a seventh, an eighth, two a second, 120 a minute, 7,200 an hour, all the morning hours, all the afternoon hours, of every week, all the working weeks of every year.... The wide prevalence of this kind of sub-human toil in factories is one of the two great reasons why department store managers can often pay sub-human wages."

Mrs. Dorr has an article along very similar lines in the January Hampton's Broadway Magazine, using with effect little stories of women workers in many trades. Girls come out of school at fourteen and go to work; after a short apprenticeship they are put at the machines, and quickly earn the most they ever will earn. Gradually their nerves, their muscles, their eyes, their efficiency decline, their wages follow. Later they stand beside the young apprentices, earning the minimum wages after a life spent in a factory.

Women do hard, manual work, too, much as we have been accustomed to think of that as peculiar to some European and Asiatic countries. Indian squaws no longer till the fields and do the heavy work in America, but Mrs. Dorr has found a modern substitute: "Go into the iron and metal working factories of American cities and see Polish women working in the heat of horrible furnaces, handling heavy weights, doing work fit only for strong men. Go into the rubber factories of Boston and see Greek and Armenian women drunk in the fumes of naphtha. See them in non-union hat factories with the skin scalded from their hands as they shrink the felt in streams of boiling water. We do not want to see American women doing such things. Yet not a year ago, in the first months of the panic of 1907, I received a letter from an American woman out of employment, asking if it were not possible for her to obtain work as a street cleaner. That work, she said, seemed to her easier than the office scrubbing she was doing then."

But to return to the factory girl, Mrs. Dorr declares she is not arraigning those who own and operate factories, for they are keen for skilled workers to replace the unskilled girls who must be driven at a pace set by the machines; but rather the system under which our industries are run and by which we make our workers. The skilled worker can be made only by training, and in that she finds the keynote to the whole situation. Let us establish a great network of industrial[Pg 640] training schools, such as the Manhattan Trade School for Girls and the Hebrew Technical School for Girls in New York, and the school maintained by the Woman's Industrial and Educational Union in Boston. Then we shall have not only skilled workers, earning fair wages, but we shall be safeguarding the mothers of to-morrow and the Children of the day after.

"The doctor," says Rudyard Kipling in the January Ladies' Home Journal, "can hoist a yellow flag over a center of civilization and turn it into a desert; he can hoist a red cross in the desert and turn it into a center of civilization." He can break the speed limit, go unmolested through riotous crowds, forbid any ship to enter any port in the world and order whole quarters of cities to be pulled down or burned up.

These are some of his conspicuous privileges. On the other hand, "in all times of flood, fire, plague, pestilence, famine, murder and sudden death it is required of the doctor that he report himself for duty, and remain on duty till his strength fails him or his conscience relieves him,—whichever shall be the longer period." There is no eight-hour law for the physician, no one cares whether he is "in his bath, or his bed, or on his holiday, or at a theater."

It is pretty well worth while, though, for "every sane human being agrees that this fight for time which we call Life is one of the most important things in the world, if not the most important. It follows, then, that the doctors who plan and conduct and who re-enforce this fight are among the most important men in the world."

The Immigration Department of the International Committee of the Young Men's Christian Association has issued two attractive little pamphlets for the newly arrived immigrant. The policy of the association is neither to encourage nor to discourage immigration but to give a helping hand to those who have fully made up their minds to immigrate or are already in this country. The two new books are entitled The Country to Which You Go, giving an elementary outline of some of our political and social institutions, and How to Become a Citizen of the United States, which gives the immigrant a clear idea of the process to be undergone in order to become a voter.

Oscar Straus, secretary of the Department of Commerce and Labor, says of[Pg 641] the work of the Immigration Department, "No nobler, better or more practical work can be done by the Young Men's Christian Association than to teach our young men, be they either native-born or alien, a proper understanding of the basic principles of our government."

The last issue of The Outlook for the Blind, published by the Massachusetts Association for Promoting the Interests of the Blind and edited by Charles F. F. Campbell, contains a chart showing in detail all educational institutions for the blind in the United States and Canada, with information of the training offered, the number of pupils, number of instructors, and other information. Presented in this form, the information is graphic and may readily be compared by states. The same issue contains articles on industrial training for the blind, a new typewriter for the blind, conferences here and abroad, reports of work in different states, and some splendidly printed illustrations. Such an issue seems indispensable to any one interested in the sightless.

It is to be expected that an anti-suffragist should take the particular attitude toward woman clearly manifested by Dr. Lyman Abbott in The Home Builder.[15] In speaking of the wife he says, "Her one dominating desire is, not to be independent, but to be dependent on the man she loves." It is true that Dr. Abbott speaks of the widest and most perfect unity between man and wife but it is ever the attitude of the dependent, the chattel, the possession of man as the end and aim of the woman's existence. It is hardly a modern ideal for either the daughter, the wife, the mother, the housekeeper or even the philanthropist, as some of the headings are called. One of the most valuable points which Dr. Abbott does bring out, however, is the preservation of the sense of humor through all of the vicissitudes of the woman's life. If the book is intended for a quaint old lady, far away from the confines of civilization, it might meet her placid requirements. But it hardly possesses the philosophy that the modern, active woman of the larger communities can find use for.

[15] The Home Builder by Lyman Abbott. Small 12 mo. Boards. Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 75 cents. Pp. 129. This book may be obtained at publisher's price through Charities and The Commons.

[Pg 642]

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[Pg 643]

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Transcriber's Notes:

Simple spelling, grammar, and typographical errors in the prose were corrected.

Added Table of Contents

P. 606 added transcriber footnote "[Footnote 1: Transcriber 20 + 10 obviously does not equal 42]." Obviously the total or the boy or girl numbers are incorrect.