Suggested Activities

1. Social Work

Refer to Side by Sideside by side

Despite the confining role placed on women by the Victorian Age (1837 -1901), many women found ways to transcend this role and effect change in their community. One such woman was Jane Addams.

Locate Jane Addams on the timelinetimeline

Why did she start Hull House? What social conditions caused Jane Addams' concern? Whose living conditions was she trying to improve?

To find out more about the history of Hull House and Jane Addams go to:
Remote Link

Use this site to identify a person important in the history of social activism in America. The names highlighted are already profiled. Choose a name that is not highlighted and write a profile on that person.

2. Oral History

When George Pullman built the Pullman village for his workers at the end of the nineteenth century, he was trying to address the foremost problem in his workers' lives--housing. By creating the Pullman village, he hoped to provide his workers with a wonderful living environment. Happy men and women, he reasoned, would make more efficient and effective workers.

Interview an adult about his or her workplace. You might ask them the following questions:

As a class present the issues you have discovered surrounding this topic and suggest ways that companies can improve both the workplace and working conditions to meet the needs of today's workers.

As a class, compare and contrast:

Did any students suggest a solution similar to Pullman's worker village? Why or why not?

3. Class debate: The Pullman Strike of 1894

This debate concerns the Pullman workers, the Pullman Company, the American Railway Union, and the Federal Government. The debate can take place between all four entities or just between the workers and the company. Students can debate the following propositions:

After the depression of 1893, the Pullman Company was forced to lay off workers and cut back the remaining workers' wages. The company did not, however, lower the rents it was charging workers living in the company town. The employees approached the company to demand higher wages and lower rents. They were refused. Subsequently, the Pullman workers went on strike. The company's only response was to lay off those workers who had not joined the strike and close down the company shops. In 1894 the American Railway Union joined the Pullman workers to boycott the Pullman Company Railway Cars. Three-fourths of the nation's railways refused to allow Pullman sleeper cars to join their trains. The strike paralyzed transport, communication, and the economy throughout the Nation, dividing the country in two--those that supported the strike and those that opposed the strike. The Pullman company refused to arbitrate (negotiate) to the bitter end. The strike was finally broken by the Federal Government.

Use the following excerpts from the United States Strike Commission, "Report on the Chicago Strike," June - July, 1894, as background information on the Pullman Strike: The following testimonies by Jennie Curtis and by George Pullman are intended to give students an idea of the central arguments behind the strike from the standpoint of those involved:

Use this activity to take students back to the Industrial Revolution in America and the development of laws, associations, and unions to protect the worker from the power of the employer. Though the Pullman Boycott took place more than a century ago, many of the issues at the heart of the Pullman debate are important today:

Issues excerpted from: The Pullman Boycott of 1894: The Problem of Federal Intervention, edt. Colston E. Warne, Boston: D.C. Heath and Col, 1955: p. vii.

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