The Way We Worked
Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery, December 16, 2005 through May 29, 2006
Imagine working in a coalmine. Or in a steel mill. Or at a telephone switchboard. Work and workplaces have gone through enormous transformations between the mid-nineteenth and the late-twentieth century.
"The Way We Worked," offers a lens for viewing these changes through photography held by the National Archives. These photographs document work clothing, locales, conditions, and conflict. They also depict a workforce whose distinctiveness was shaped by many factors—immigration and ethnicity, slavery and racial segregation, wage labor and technology, gender roles and class—as well by the American ideals of freedom and equality. Most importantly, these images honor those who built this country—the working men and women of America.
The exhibit includes 86 exceptional black and white and color photographs from the National Archives’ holdings spanning the years 1857 – 1987. Large photomurals, a video showing a variety of workplaces, and audio segments in which workers talk about their experiences on the job make "The Way We Worked" an environmental experience.