Where can I find recorded speeches about working in factories during the first half of the 20th century?
July 26, 2009 6:05 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find recorded speeches about working in factories during the first half of the 20th century?

I am looking for recorded speeches (audio or video, not text) of people talking about the benefits of automated workflow systems in an industrial, or manufacturing context. Something like I would imagine Henry Ford would have had to whip up, promoting the assembly line. Industrial advocates from the first half of the 20th century type talks. Archive.org hasn't shown me much love, but it may be bad search queries. (Posting for a friend.)
posted by hooray to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Library of Congress has some pretty good archival stuff; their search is a little challenging. Here is Teddy Roosevelt speaking to a bunch of factory workers, for example and JD Rockefeller talking about the United War Work Campaign.
posted by jessamyn at 6:11 AM on July 26, 2009

these are not exactly what you're asking for but maybe of use:

an over-the-top propaganda piece on how the southern cotton mills were the key to american progress & superiority

The Easier Way - Presents the case for motion study in the workplace and advises supervisors on how to convince skeptics that it is a good thing.

Conquer by the Clock - Encourages American workers to make the best possible use of their time in a war where industrial production and combat are synchronized on an international level.

and here is a documentary on the influence of Frederick Taylor's "scientific management" principles on Ford (at 4:20 - Henry Ford watched it for awhile, then he had an inspiration. Instead of moving the men past the cars, why not move the cars past the men?)
posted by jammy at 8:02 AM on July 26, 2009

You might contact The Center for Lowell History for some of their oral history materials. This might be of special relevance, since the City of Lowell, MA was literally built as the first site for large scale factory work in North America. The principal industry there from the 1830s was textile manufacturing, using the power of the Merrimack River's natural head at the nearby falls. In the first half of the 20th century, subsequent waves of immigrants washed through Lowell, transforming the city from a New England culture, to one heavily influenced by the Irish, Greek, and Italian immigrants that came. The story of Lowell is also chronicled in a unique urban National Park, which also has some audio interviews, speeches by mill workers trying to organize at various times, and related materials.
posted by paulsc at 8:10 AM on July 26, 2009

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