Join the Sacramento Public Library on the first floor at Central Library for the Smithsonian Traveling exhibition, The Way We Worked.
Workers are the backbone of American society. Known for their strong work ethic, Americans invest themselves physically, emotionally, and intellectually in their work.
American jobs are as diverse as the American workforce. The opportunity provided by work is central to the American dream and has attracted people to better lives in America. With strength, ingenuity, creativity, thoughtfulness, and heroics, American workers keep our economy and our society up and running.
The Way We Worked, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections to tell this compelling story.
Accompanying the exhibit will be presentations by five local scholars, each addressing an aspect of the panorama of American work.
-April 29: Dr. Eric Rauchway, Distinguished Professor of History at UC Davis presents “Why the New Deal Matters,” a look at the legendary labor and public works projects that put New Deal legislation into action.
-May 6: William Burg, historian and President of Preservation Sacramento, presents a deep-dive into the Industrial Workers of the World in Sacramento. Burg will also explore the 1894 Pullman strike, Kelley's Army in 1913, the bombing of the Governor's Mansion and the “Silent Defenders” in 1918-1919, and how official reaction to those events led to the “Criminal Syndicalism” laws that ended up with prosecution of Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union cannery workers in the 1930s.
-May 27: Dr. Damany Fisher, principal historian for the Sacramento African American Experience Project’s context statement, presents the impacts of the Second Great Migration on Sacramento labor, housing, and culture.
-June 10 in the Sacramento Room: Phil Sexton, natural and cultural history interpreter with the 1882 Foundation and Summit Tunnel Conservation Association, presents “The Summit Tunnel: Diversity and Pride in Building the American Nation,” a short video with an even shorter slide presentation (45-50 min) about the history and legacy of the thousands of unknown Chinese laborers who built the western portion of the Pacific Railroad that continues to influence our lives today.
-July 22: Dr. Lorena Marquez, associate professor of Chicana/o studies at UC Davis presents “The Plight of the Cannery Workers Committee in Northern California,” the compelling story of how, in 1969, ethnic Mexican cannery workers at Libby, McNeil, and Libby came together to demand race and gender equality in one of the most labor exploitative industries in California by forming the CWC.