These chronicles, showing the effect of seasonal work on the fortunes of some self-supporting operatives and hand workers in New York factories and workshops, concern only one corner of American industry, in which, as every observer must realize, there are many other enormous fields of seasonal work. These histories are nevertheless clear and authentic instances of a strange and widespread social waste. Neither trade organization nor State legislation for shorter hours is primarily directed toward a more general regular and foresighted distribution of work among all seasonal trades and all seasonal workers. Until some focussed, specific attempt is made to secure such a distribution, it seems impossible but that extreme seasonal want, from seasonal idleness, will be combined with exhausting seasonal work from overtime or exhausting seasonal work in speeding, in a manner apparently arranged by fortune to devastate human energy in the least intelligent manner possible.
Further effects of speeding and of monotony in this labor were described by other self-supporting factory workers whose chronicles, being also concerned with industry in mechanical establishments, will be placed next.
[Illustration: Photograph by Lewis Hine
seeking what is yet unfound;—
But where is what I started for so long ago,
And why is it still unfound?”
[Footnote 19: See Report on Condition of Woman and Child Wage-earners in the United States. Volume II, Men’s Ready-made Clothing, pages 141-157; 160-165; 384-395.]
[Footnote 20: The income and outlay of other cloak makers will be separately presented.]
[Footnote 21: In the first report of the New York Probation Association the statement is made that out of 300 girls committed by the courts during the year to the charge of Waverley House, 72 had been engaged in factory work. Of these many had been at one time or other employed as operatives. On questioning the probation worker, Miss Stella Miner, who had lived with them and knew their stories most fully, it was learned, however, that almost every one of these girls had gone astray while they were little children, had been remanded by courts to the House of the Good Shepherd, where they had learned machine operating, and on going out of its protection to factories had drifted back again to their old ways of life. How far their early habit and experience had dragged these young girls in its undertow cannot of course, be known. The truth remains that factory work, when it is seasonal, must increase temptation by its economic pressure.]
THE INCOME AND OUTLAY OF SOME NEW YORK FACTORY-WORKERS
[Monotony and Fatigue in Speeding]
One of the strangest effects of the introduction of machinery into industry is that instead of liberating the human powers and initiative of workers from mechanical drudgery, it has often tended to devitalize and warp these forces to the functions of machines.