Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower

Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Sep 01

Happy Labor Day!

Posted on September 1, 2017 at 5:46 PM by Jessica Cromer

Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day is this Monday, September 4th. Today we have a very brief look at the origins of this holiday from the labor movement, with manufacturing eclipsing agriculture through the Industrial Revolution, increased workers unions, and the rise of women in the workforce.

Recognized Holiday

Since the 18th century, the labor movement has been an evolution of American labor history. The 19th century produced the Industrial Revolution, shifting the paradigm of work and working conditions. This in turn put great emphasis on unions and the labor movement, out of which Labor Day emerged to celebrate the American worker.

Labor Day as a recognized federal holiday is the first Monday of September each year since 1894. Before this, states individually celebrated a Labor Day, the first technically being New York in 1882 with the Central Labor Union. Contributing to the founding of Labor Day are Peter J. McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, and Eugene V. Debs of the American Railroad Union, who called for a boycott of Pullman railway cars. In a major event in the timeline of labor history, the workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago went on a highly publicized strike in May of 1894. This historical event would be a prelude to the declaration one month later of Labor Day as a national holiday.

Women in the Industrial Workforce and Workers Unions

Farming was one of the most popular jobs in early Ohio. Women assisted men’s work when needed on the farm or other places of business. When the Industrial Revolution changed the way Americans work, women began to fill many factory positions that did not previously exist. In the early 1800s men did not prefer factory work and continued on more with skilled trades and labor. Women, and a growing number of men, often worked in factories and in sweatshop-like conditions.

A response to bettering these working conditions was the formation of workers unions. The late 18th century saw the first of these. What we now know as the modern union began much later in 1886 with the American Federation of Labor.

Bricklayers and Masons Intl Union Officers 1901
From the 1901 Xenia Time Capsule

There have been many notable points in the history of unions. One example is that Post-WWII brought change the labor movement when massive labor strikes lead to anti-union sentiment. Also, in their early history, unions did not include women, among other groups. The response to this was the formation of women’s unions. Here in Ohio, there included in
1850: Female Protective Union (Cleveland),
1850: Local Women's Christian Associations (Cincinnati and Cleveland),
1852: The Ohio legislature assisted underage women with limits on working hours,
1966: Domestic Workers of America.

Wartime and Women Workers

Of course during wartime, women also took over for men in their factory jobs to support the war efforts.

The original “Rosie the Riveter” was Norman
Rockwell’s cover illustration on the May 29, 1943
Saturday Evening Post Memorial Day issue. (left)

RosieTheRiveter Original   Rosie WeCanDoIt
The modern labor icon “Rosie the Riveter” is
J. Howard Miller’s "We Can Do It!" image. (right)

The advantages of early factory work for women outweighed the working condition disadvantages in terms of newly (re)discovered independence and self-sufficiency, whether imposed upon or chosen, and ultimately helped to usher in the women's rights movement.

Have a happy and safe Labor Day!

Until Next Time!


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