Prisoners of Poverty

Women Wage-Workers, Their Trades and Their Lives

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Author: Helen Campbell
Published: 1887
Language: English
Wordcount: 68,999 / 195 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 43.6
LoC Categories: HQ, HN
Downloads: 784
Added to site: 2010.10.11
mnybks.net#: 29245
Origin: gutenberg.org

Helen Campbell's Prisoners of Poverty is a striking example of the trite phrase that "truth is stranger than fiction." It is a series of pictures of the lives of women wage-workers in New York, based on the minutest personal inquiry and observation. No work of fiction has ever presented more startling pictures, and, indeed, if they occurred in a novel would at once be stamped as a figment of the brain. . . . Altogether, Mrs. Campbell's book is a notable contribution to the labor literature of the day, and will undoubtedly enlist sympathy for the cause of the oppressed working-women whose stories do their own pleading. --Springfield Union.

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work was regarded as the only secure method for both employer and employed, as in such case it rested with the girl herself to make the highest or the lowest rate at pleasure. There were no holidays beyond the legal ones, but all the freedom possible to constant labor was given, the place representing the best conditions of this special industry. Another firm quite as well known and employing equal number of workers had found it more expedient to give up the factory system, and simply retained rooms for cutting and general handling of the completed work, giving it out in packages to workers at home. One woman employed by them for seven years had never made anything but the button-holes in the small piece attached to the bosom, and such fine lettering as was ordered for custom shirts, her wages in the busy season being often twelve dollars a week, the year's average, however, bringing them to seven. She worked exclusively at home, and represented the best paid and most comfortable phase of the industry.

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