Throughout our country's history, Americans have been known for their work ethic. Even today, Americans don't use all of their vacation time (if they earn it). Studies have shown that taking a break from work actually benefits both the employer and the employee.
While the United States falls behind other developed nations in providing paid days off, Americans work an average of 1788 hours a year. The average work-week today is 40 hours, but that wasn't always the case. In the 1800s, people worked between 60 to 70 hours a week.
In honor of Labor Day on Monday and the hard working Americans it celebrates, here are some books about historical laborers.
So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl by Barry Denenberg tells the story of an immigrant from Ireland who finds work in the textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. When other mill workers talk of unions and strikes, Mary is forced to decide if the money she earns is worth the hazards she faces at work.
Melanie Crowder's Audacity tells a fictionalized version of the life of Clara Lemlich. Clara, a Jewish immigrant, found work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. Before and after the fire at the factory, she fought for increased safety measures for workers throughout the garment industry.
Breaker Boys: How a Photograph Helped End Child Labor by Michael Burgan is nonfiction. It demonstrates the power of photography to change society by focusing on boys who worked in the coal mines and the life-threatening work they did.
Sara K Joiner is the author of After the Ashes. She is also a public librarian.