The Story of a Sweatshop Girl (1902) Primary Source Activity


“Aunt Fanny had always been anxious for me to get an education, as I did not know how to read or write, and she thought that was wrong. Schools are different in Poland from what they are in this country, and I was always too busy to learn to read and write. So when mother died I thought I would try to learn a trade and then I could go to school at night and learn to speak the English language well.

So I went to work in Allen street (Manhattan) in what they call a sweatshop, making skirts by machine. I was new at the work and the foreman scolded me a great deal.

“Now, then,” he would say, “this place is not for you to be looking around in. Attend to your work. That is what you have to do.”

I did not know at first that you must not look around and talk, and I made many mistakes with the sewing, so that I was often called a “stupid animal.” But I made $4 a week by working six days in the week For there are two Sabbaths here our own Sabbath, that comes on a Saturday, and the Christian Sabbath that comes on Sunday. It is against our law to work on our own Sabbath, so we work on their Sabbath….”

Click on the link below to download the full primary source document with analysis questions:

Story of a sweatshop girl 1902 primary source activity


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This entry was posted in Gilded Age & Industrial Revolution Era, Gilded Age & Progressive Era, Populist Era & Industrial Revolution, U.S. History. Bookmark the permalink.

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