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Smokestacks in the HillsRural-Industrial Workers in West Virginia$
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Lou Martin

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039454

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039454.001.0001

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Rise of the Rural-Industrial Workers

Rise of the Rural-Industrial Workers

(p.63) Chapter 3 Rise of the Rural-Industrial Workers
Smokestacks in the Hills

Lou Martin

University of Illinois Press

This chapter looks at the rise of the rural-industrial workers. In the early 1900s, industrialists had believed that building new potteries and tinplate mills in rural Hancock County would result in more disciplined and loyal workforces, but they soon discovered that many of the conflicts they had had with craftsmen in urban centers followed them to the countryside. In the 1920s, owners in both industries began another round of technological innovation that reduced the power of skilled craftsmen and allowed managers to hire more unskilled laborers and semiskilled operatives, mostly from a large pool of rural migrants. In contrast to the skilled jiggermen and rollers, few of these rural migrants had any factory experience, but local employers were grateful for a steady stream of new workers that would accept low wages and harsh working conditions.

Keywords:   rural-industrial workers, industrialists, Hancock County, technological innovation, unskilled laborers, rural migrants, skilled craftsmen

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