Friday, November 29, 2013
(WPA poster "promoting occupations related to sewing, such as power machine operator, alteration worker, dress designer, hand finisher, basting trimmer, packer, swatcher." Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)
During the Great Depression, WPA workers created over 500 million sewing room products. These products included diapers, hospital gowns, military blankets, canteen covers, and various items of clothing for men, women, and children. WPA sewing room projects provided job opportunities & skills for the unemployed, clothing for low-income Americans, and supplies for the military during a critical time in world history. It was a win, win, and win situation. It also highlighted what the unemployed are capable of when they are given opportunities instead of insults. It showed that the jobless are not "lazy bums," but merely people victimized by the vagaries of the U.S. economy and the vagaries of the labor market. Unfortunately, we have learned very little (if anything) from this history, evidenced by the fact that many Americans continue to demonize the unemployed whenever there are recessions and layoffs.
(WPA poster, image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)