As a result, the idea of labor organizations became more and more attractive. Although such unions would not gain equal ground with businesses and industries until the 1930s, during the late 19th century, they were able to organize strikes and other events that brought their grievances over working conditions and wages to light.
As part of its Pictorial Americana presentation, the Prints and Photographs Division features images from its collections related to labor history, such as labor organizations, including various depictions of unions and strike scenes, and industry, featuring images of different work disciplines.
The "Life of the People" exhibition features items from the Ben and Beatrice Goldstein collection of American prints and drawings documenting the conditions of working people. The section on "Capital and Labor" highlights the division between industrialists and their disadvantaged workers.
Skilled craftsmen weren't the only ones to labor behind a machine. Children often tended them as well, from as young as age 5, especially in the textile industry. In 1870, the first time the census reported child laborers, there were 750,000 workers age 15 or under, not including family farms or businesses. In the United States, numerous organizations worked to eliminate child labor, including the National Child Labor Committee, launched in 1904 by social workers. Not until 1938, with the Fair Labor Standards Act, did any attempt at child labor legislation succeed. This act requires employers to pay child laborers the minimum wage and also sets the minimum age at 16, or 18 if the occupation is hazardous.