April 30, 2002 The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress Announces New Online Collection: "Working In Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting"

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Public Contact: (202) 707-5510

The "Working in Paterson" project was a four-month study of occupational culture in Paterson, N.J., that was conducted in 1994. Paterson is considered to be the cradle of the Industrial Revolution in America. It was founded in 1791 by the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.), a group that had U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton as an advocate. The basis for Paterson's manufacturing potential was the Great Falls on the Passaic River. Paterson went on to become the largest silk manufacturing center in the nation as well as a leader in the manufacture of many other products, from railroad locomotives to firearms.

The documentary materials presented in this online collection explore how this industrial heritage expresses itself in Paterson today: in its work sites, work processes, and memories of workers. The online presentation also includes interpretive essays exploring such topics as work in the African American community, a distinctive food tradition (the Hot Texas Wiener), the ethnography of a single work place (Watson Machine International), business life along a single street in Paterson (21st Avenue), and narratives told by retired workers.

Working in Paterson is part of the American Memory digital library at the Library of Congress. Its more than 100 collections -- which range from papers of the U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women's suffrage and Civil Rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards -- include more than 7 million items from the collections of the Library and those of other major repositories.

The Library of Congress, founded on April 24, 1800, is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution. It preserves a collection of more than 124 million items, the large majority in media other than books. These include the largest map, film, and television collections in the world. In addition to its primary mission of serving the research needs of Congress, the Library serves all Americans through its Web site, www.loc.gov, and in its 21 reading rooms in three buildings on Capitol Hill.

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was created by Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American Folklife." The Center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was established at the Library in 1928 as a repository for American folk music. The Center and its collections have grown to encompass all aspects of folklife from this country and around the world. Other folklife-related online collections, selected publications of the American Folklife Center, and information about its products and services are available from the Center's home page: https://www.loc.gov/folklife.


PR 02-063
ISSN 0731-3527