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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   



12. Migrant
Struggle


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Activities: Author Activities


Upton Sinclair - Selected Archive Items

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[1850] Lewis W. Hine, The Children of John Meiskell (1909),
courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Trained as both a teacher and a sociologist and photographer, Hine was hired by the National Child Labor Committee in 1908 to document child labor conditions in America. He traveled around the country photographing the horrible working conditions of children in mines, factories, textile mills, and canneries. The children in this picture, ages two to eleven, all worked thirteen-hour days in an oyster factory in Maryland. Their mother, Mrs. Meiskell, said, "This is worse than the days of slavery." Their plight might be compared to the depiction of child labor in Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, Stephen Crane's Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, and Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron-Mills.

[5637] Joseph C. Borden, Jr., To the Arm and the Hammer, A Song for May Day (1898),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [rbpe 0100230a].
Socialism was an important theme in Upton Sinclair's writing, although he opposed the communists that came into power after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

[6934] Drieser, Breaker Boys (c. 1900),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-D401-11590 DLC].
Investigative journalists and novelists such as Upton Sinclair, who sympathized with progressive and socialist causes, exposed corporations' abuses of power with photos of, and stories about, poor working conditions.

[7110] H. C. White Company, Making Link Sausages-Machines Stuff 10 Ft. per Second (c. 1905),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-50217].
Photograph of Swift and Company's Chicago packing house. Mechanization and urbanization encouraged some writers' feelings of alienation from and nostalgia for the United States's agricultural past.

[7426] Herbert Photos, Inc., Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, Manacled Together (1927),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-124547].
Sacco and Vanzetti surrounded by a crowd of onlookers and guards before entering a Dedham, Massachusetts, courthouse. Victims of the first Red Scare, these political radicals received the death penalty, despite a lack of evidence.



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