Immigration and Urban History Seminar Laborers, Servants, and Schools: Aspirations of Mobility and the Reproduction of Inequality in Boston, 1880-1940 26 January 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Cristina Groeger, Harvard University Comment: John McClymer, Assumption College

Groeger's project traces the shift in the central site of preparation for work from informal on-the-job training in the late 19th century to formal schooling by the 1930s, using the city of Boston to illustrate this transformation. This essay concerns the changing world of the laboring population at the bottom of the economic hierarchy. Most low-wage manual labor and service jobs were occupied by Irish immigrants in 1880; in the next decades Italian, Polish, Lithuanian, and African American workers entered this labor market. Both indirectly and directly, the growth of formal schools as a site of job training transformed the world of work even for those at the bottom. However, recent immigrants and African-Americans remained in a weak position to exert organized political power, and this transformation did not improve the position of this sector.

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