Unfortunately, we live in a society where those in power are often white men. This is nothing new, and certainly part of our Wisconsin history. During the late 19th and early 20th Century, the Fox River Valley in Eastern Wisconsin was a segregated town essentially built for and by white men of means. Irish and African American people were just one rung up on the social and economic ladder from women and children. Combine any of the above with poverty and it is very likely your life was miserable.
Jillian Jacklin is a Visiting Lecturer in Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She says men working in the Fox River Valley paper and wood product factories faced 12 hour days, without breaks and were paid less than a living wage.
Women, who worked alongside men, were paid half of what their male counterparts earned. Leisure time was rare and came at a high price. In this edition of Radio Chipstone, Jacklin tells contributor gianofer fields that before workers had rights, surviving as a working woman in the Paper Valley was daunting.
About the Host:
gianofer (JON nah fer) fields is an Art Historian and Material Culture contributor and curates the Radio Chipstone series. The project is hosted by the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and funded by the Chipstone Foundation; a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.
About the Guest:
Jillian Jacklin received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently a Visiting Lecturer in Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She is the author of “Paper Dreams: Working-class Cultures and Political Drift in the Fox River Valley, 1850s-1950s.”
Image: “Elevated view of industrial waterfront and the Fox River (1889).” Frederick L.G. Straubel. Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.
This segment comes from the Radio Chipstone Archives of WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio. See here.