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New Book: Lawrence and the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike

Bread and Roses bookcover


UMass Lowell history professor Bob Forrant and Susan Grabski, executive director of the Lawrence History Center have published “Lawrence and the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike” ($21.95). To be released on August 26, it is available for pre-order now. Forrant and Grabski’s new book tells the exciting and powerful story of one of the most important strike’s in labor history. Published by Arcadia Publishers in its Images of America Series, the book contains 180 images, numerous quotes from strike participants, and an historical essay.

Preorder today and they’ll send you a signed copy of the book.

About the Strike

6 bayonets and workers (Bread and Roses)“In Lawrence, Massachusetts, fully one-half of the population 14 years of age or over is employed in the woolen and worsted mills and cotton mills, and approximately 60,000 of the 85,982 people living in Lawrence are directly dependent upon earnings in these textile mills.” Thus begins the federal government’s Report on Strike of Textile Workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1912. Completed at the end of June 1912, the report offers readers an extraordinary look at the strike that unfolded between January 11 and March 14, 1912. Neill noted: “Although dissatisfaction over the possibility of a reduction in earnings on account of the shortened hours had really begun before the 1st of January, it is evident that the mill officials did not appreciate the extent of their (workers) dissatisfaction or the possibilities latent in it.” The city’s mill agents believed that the worst reaction “would probably be confined to a strike in a single mill.” Mill overseers went to their beds on the evening of January 10, 1912, oblivious to the commitment workers had made to each other to stand firm and fight for a better life for themselves and their children.

Roland D. Sawyer Papers, UNH Special Collections (Bread and Roses)Lawrence erupted into a dramatic struggle between mill owners and workers from several countries, including Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. When it commenced, a call went to workers across Lawrence and beyond from the Committee of Ten, the group bargaining directly with William Wood and the American Woolen Company. It read in part: “… now that the combination of capitalists have shown the unity of all our adversaries, we call on you as brothers and sisters to join hands with us in this great movement. Our cause is just… Workers quit your hammers, thrown down your files, let the dynamos stop, the power cease to turn the wheels and the looms, leave the machinery, bank the fires, tie up the plants, tie up the town.”

Authors are available for interviews about the book, book discussions, book signings, radio interviews and union hall programs.  They can be reached at: Robert_Forrant@uml.edu, 978.934.2904 Susan Grabski, director@lawrencehistory.org,978.686.9230

Meet Cynthia Tokos: Using Images To Tell The Story Of People Who Work With Their Hands

Images are all the rage right now.  You cannot log into facebook without being overloaded with images.  Some are cute, friends with their kids. Some are political. Some are just amazing.

My favorite are the amazing images that help to push a message.  I am not alone in this thinking because, facebook users agree.  The right picture, with the right message can spread a hundred times further that you network of a few hundred friends.  For example how many of you have seen this image?

I am guessing you have seen this before.  It is one of my favorites. To me it shows what the workers must go through every day in the course of their jobs as well as the brotherhood that is formed by our jobs.

This is why I would like to introduce my followers to Cynthia Tokos.  Cynthia is a photographer and much more.  As she told me “I come from a long line of working class people – ‘ordinary,’ middle class people, who are blue collar and work with their hands, whether it be in factories or on the land.  These are the people who make a huge difference in this world.”  She is using her skill as a photographer to help tell the story of the people.  People like you and me, who use our hands to make a living.  The hard working men and women who make up the middle class.

Remember how I said the best images are the ones that are not only amazing images but have a solid message behind them?  Cynthia can help you create both.

Cynthia sent me this letter to see I could help connect her with people and unions who would be interested in using her expertise to help create messaging around their personal trade.

Why It Matters

I want to tell the stories around people who work with their hands.  Laborers.  Skilled trades people.  Caregivers.  Harvesters. 

Matthew B. Crawford, in a May 21, 2009 article in the New York Times entitled, “The Case for Working With Your Hands,” states the following:

“A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world …” 

Crawford, who has a Ph.D. in political philosophy, left his job at a think tank in Washington D.C. to open up his own business fixing motorcycles.

“As I sat in my K Street office, Fred’s life as an independent tradesman gave me an image that I kept coming back to:  someone who really knows what he is doing, losing himself in work that is genuinely useful and has a certain integrity to it.  He also seemed to be having a lot of fun.”

I believe we need to pay more attention to people who work with their hands.  To those who do good work and take pride in building and fixing things.  Or to those who grow, fish, mine or take care of people with whom others are not able.

This is work I want to do.  

If you’re interested, I’d love the opportunity to speak with you about it.  Thank you ~

About the author, Cynthia Tokos ~ www.cynthiatokos.com 

Skilled trades, caregivers, salt of the earth: people who work with their hands.  These are businesses and organizations I market.  As a strategist, writer/analyst and photographer, my work reflects your essence.  From the Sisters of Mercy, to cooperatives; from maple syrup producers to Thunder Road race car drivers – my marketing brings a human element to your story. 

Connect.  Create emotion.  Build awareness.

Let’s show the world your greatness.


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