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[Detail] Vacuum cleaners on display at the J.C. Harding & Co.

2) American Labor

A search on Industrial Strikes produces letters, newspaper articles, and telegrams sent to the White House on working conditions, workers’ standards of living, and strikes in various industries. A search on labor also produces accounts of industrial working conditions such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Behind the Scenes at a Candy Factory. After describing long hours, unsafe working conditions, and other demands of the high-output industry, the report states:

Conditions described in the candy industry are probably more or less typical of those in all low-wage, seasonal industries in which the workers are young and unskilled. Evidently fair wages and fair conditions cannot be left to the altruism of the individual employer where the worker is unable to enforce her own demands. In some cases, fair wages and conditions are granted voluntarily by far-sighted and intelligent owners who realize that such conditions make for greater efficiency and bigger profits in the long run. But on the whole, the young unorganized worker must look to the public for some protection until she is able to protect herself.

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Behind the Scenes at a Candy Factory

For a comprehensive review of the position of labor in the 1920s, readers can also review Recent Social Trends in the United States, a research report commissioned by President Herbert Hoover and published in 1933.