Other People's Work: Factories

Nellie Bly's article "Nellie Bly as a Mesmerist," written for The New York World in 1888. Complete with multiple visuals.

"Learning Ballet Dancing" - Nellie Bly - New York World

Nellie Bly in Short Gauze Skirts Kicks at a Mark


"I have been learning to be a ballet dancer. I have always had an almost manlike love for the ballet, and when I go to spectacular plays and to the opera I try to get close to the bald-headed row. Breathless with admiration I have watched the ballet twirl on its toes and spring into pitcuresque attitudes, the very poetry of motion."

"Nellie Bly on the Stage" - Nellie Bly - New York World

She Wears a Scant Costume; Marches with the Amazons


"I made my début as a chorus girl or stage Amazon last week. It was my first appearance on any stage and came about through reading among THE WORLD advertisements one that called for 100 girls for a spectacular pantomine, so I found myself one afternoon at the stage door of the Academy of Music."

"Nellie Bly as a Mesmerist" - Nellie Bly - New York World

The Strange and Awful Experience of a Certain Mr. Gray


"Under the name of "Mesmer" the advertiser offered to reach the art of mesmerism, with satisfactory tests at the completion of the lessons. In a day or two, I had exchanged letters witg "Mesmer: and had received his price for lessions and minute directions how to reach his place of residence."

"Factory Girls in the Big City" - Lucy Hosmer - St. Louis Post-Dispatch


“[Alaska Pipeline] Workers Complain of Boredom, ‘Rip- Off’ Complaints” - Mike Goodman - Los Angeles Times


"You often hear of the $1,000-a-week salaries, the adventure, the excitement along the trans-Alaska pipeline."But talk to the workers themselves and you get a different story. . . ."

"Alaska Today- Runaway Crime and Union Violence" - Mike Goodman and William Endicott - Los Angeles Times

Alaskan Crime: Crime Wave, Teamsters Chief Have Stranglehold on Alaska


"Widespread lawlessness, a helpless government and the stranglehold of single Teamsters Union chief severely threaten a state crucial to the nation's future energy independence."

"A Dirty Job" - Dick J. Reavis - Dallas Observer

For Thousands of Dallas Workers, Dangerous, Low-Paying Temporary Jobs Have Become a Permanent Way of Life


". . .Big Boy believed the company might treat the crew as working men deserve - fairly and with dignity. He didn't know that in today's workplace, that's as much a fairy tale as the lifetime job is. . ."

"65 Cents an Hour - A Special Report" - Jane H. Lii - New York Times

"Week in Sweatshop Reveals Grim Conspiracy of the Poor"


"The steel doors opened into a dim, dusty warehouse. Red and blue rags covered the four windows, shutting out all natural light. Bundles of cut cloth sat piled in haphazard mounds, some stacked taller than a worker. Under fluorescent lights swinging from chains, rows of middle-aged Chinese women hunched over sewing machines, squinting and silent. . . . "

"Made in the U.S.A." - Helen Zia - Ms. magazine


"It's hard to imagine a parent who wants the cute outfits she buys for her child to be made by exhausted women with children of their own whom they rarely see because they're putting in 16-hour days."

"Nickel-and-Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" - Barbara Ehrenreich - Harper's


"At the beginning of June 1998 I leave behind everything that normally soothes the ego and sustains the body -- home, career, compansion, reputation, ATM card -- for a plunge into the low-wage workforce. There, I become another, occupationally much diminished 'Barbara Ehrenreich' -- depicted on job-application forms as a divorced homemaker whose sole work experience consists of housekeeping in a few private homes. I am terrified at the beginning, of being unmasked for what I am: a middle-class journalist setting out to explore the world that welfare mothers are entering, at the rate of approximately 50,000 a month, as welfare reform kicks in. . . . "

"Guarding Sing Sing" - Ted Conover - The New Yorker

A Firsthand Account of theDysfunctional Relationship Between Guards and Inmates


"The cellblock is locked down and we are looking for knife cuts. The Latin Kings have been attacking the Bloods, and vice-versa. Not en masse - just stealth encounters, stabbings without warning. One incident provokes the next. The lockdowns are in their third day, but each time we let the inmates out, another one of them gets attacked. . . . "

"My Life As a Secret Policeman" - Mark Daly - BBC News (UK)


". . .We wanted to see what steps were being taken to eradicate this. But more importantly, we needed to see if they were working. The only way we could find out what was really happening was to become a police officer - asking questions openly as a journalist would not have uncovered the truth. . ."

"A Mental Ward Exposed" - Charlie Lord - National Public Radio

Rather than fight in World War II, conscientious objector and Quaker Charlie Lord was sent by the government to work at a mental institution called Philadelphia State Hospital. He secretly took photographs to expose the horrors of the institution. These are his photos.


"Byberry's A building was nicknamed the 'incontinent ward.' It was a large, open room with a concrete floor. There were no chairs, no activities, no therapy, not even a radio to listen to. Hundreds of men - most of them naked - walked aimlessly or huddled against the filthy walls. 'It was terrible,' Lord recalls. 'The smell was just awful; the men went anywhere, wherever they were ... on the floor kitchen, dining room, everywhere.'"

"I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave" - Mac McClelland - Mother Jones

My brief, breathtaking, rage-inducing, low-paying, dildo-packing time inside the only online-shipping machine.


". . .Despite moving fast enough to get sloppy, my scanner tells me that means I'm fulfilling only 52 percent of my goal. A supervisor who is a genuinely nice person comes by with a clipboard listing my numbers. Like the rest of the supervisors, she tries to create a friendly work environment and doesn't want to enforce the policies that make this job so unpleasant. But her hands are tied. She needs this job, too, so she has no choice but to tell me something I have never been told in 19 years of school or at any of some dozen workplaces."You're doing really bad," she says. . ."

"I Got Hired at a Bangladesh Sweatshop. Meet my 9-year-old Boss" - Raveena Aulakh - Toronto Star

Meem, 9, works 12-hour shifts at a factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She dreams of becoming a sewing operator, buying more hair clips and helping her family.akhaiof

Friday, October 11, 2013

 " . . . Meem is 9 years old and works as a sewing helper in a garment factory. For a few days this summer, she was also my boss.  She taught me tricks of trimming. She taught me to smile when my back ached. She taught me some Bengali words.   Sab bhalo. It is all okay.    

Undercover in Temp Nation - Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Brendan Kennedy - Toronto Star


"There are two dozen of us crowded around a conveyor belt, bodies twisting to snatch dough off the line. The floor is strewn with raw pastries that seem to accumulate faster than anyone can sweep them up. They collect in bloated masses at our feet.  It is my first day as a temp at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery that reeks of yeast and is alive with the constant drone of machinery.   We are forming and packing raw, circular pastry dough into wet plastic trays - a shoulder-crunching task called pinching. These may well be the croissants you eat for breakfast.   Supervisors shout at us to wake up. They shout at us to move faster, pinch nicer, work harder. No one talks through the noise and exhaustion.   The factory relies heavily on temporary help agency workers. Its health and safety record is checkered; three temps have died here or at Fiera's affiliated companies since 1999.   Across the province, more and more people are relying on temp agencies to find work. When they do, statistics show they are more likelly to get hurt on the job.   I am undercover to investigate why."