Urbanization, Industrialization, and the World of Work
The years between 1870 and 1885 were a period of rapid urbanization. A search on terms such as city, New York City, or even Brooklyn, yield hundreds of songs about city life in the late nineteenth century.
Matched with equally rapid industrialization, this urbanization resulted in a restructuring of the world of work, reflected in this collection. The value of work is celebrated in songs such as "Work, boys! Work with a will!" and "Labor and liberty," which declares:"In Liberty's land, there's no freedom to shirk, The loafer has freedom to die." Other songs described the difficulties of finding and maintaining a job in this new economy. "No work" and "The mill's shut down" are just some of the examples available with a search on work and labor.
Songs about labor strife, on the other hand, are available with a search on strike. "The Workers' anvil" leads the call for a strike "for the cause of labor, strike for your homes and freedom." Billy Pastor writes in "Eight hour strike," "Capital never such a victory saw, as the workmen will win in an eight-hour law."
Labor protest wasn't the only problem plaguing cities. Urban areas had to deal with crimes like those depicted in "Three cheers for our city's defenders!," the disparity of economic classes described in "Give bread to the poor," and poverty as depicted in "Poverty's child" and "Shivering and shaking out in the cold"--which is also available as an audio clip. Search on poor, poverty, crime, temperance, drink, beg, and begging for more evidence of social troubles in the city.