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Mine Towns

Mine Towns: Buildings for Workers in Michigan’s Copper Country

Alison K. Hoagland
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 336
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttskqc
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  • Book Info
    Mine Towns
    Book Description:

    The first working-class history of domestic life in Copper Country company towns during the boom years of 1890 to 1918, Mine Towns investigates how the architecture of company towns revealed the paternal relationship between company managers and workers. Alison K. Hoagland examines surviving buildings and uses Copper Country’s built environment to map this remarkable connection at the height of Michigan’s largest land rush.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7365-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction Negotiating Paternalism in the Copper Country
    (pp. ix-xxvi)

    In the Copper Country of Michigan, the combination of a remote location and a highly profitable industry fostered the development of a relationship between management and labor that extended beyond the workplace. The location was the Keweenaw Peninsula, which projects seventy-five miles into Lake Superior from the western end of the Upper Peninsula (Figure I.1). The industry was the mining, milling, and smelting of copper, a material used for kettles, stills, ordnance, and sheathing for ships’ hulls even before the intense demands for it by the electrical industry beginning in the 1880s. Between the 1840s and the 1880s, this region...

  5. 1 Saltboxes and T-Plans Creating and Inhabiting the Company House
    (pp. 1-54)

    Company houses, built by companies to rent to employees, were a paternalistic extension of the workplace relationship, a visible incursion into the private lives of workers who were tied to the company not only by a paycheck but also by a home, thus making for a complex association. Workers clearly believed it to be advantageous, or at least worthwhile, to accept a company house, while the companies found that diverting important capital from industrial operations for this purpose paid off indirectly.

    The worker–manager relationship created by company housing can be examined in several ways. The houses that the companies...

  6. 2 The Spaces of a Strike Company Buildings and Landscapes in a Time of Conflict
    (pp. 55-89)

    This event was the first galvanizing incident of what would be a long strike. The strike had begun on July 23, the result of several years of organizing by the Western Federation of Miners. The companies played it tough, refusing to meet with the union or listen to its demands. At issue were pay, hours, introduction of the one-man drill, grievance procedures, and recognition of the union. More broadly examined, though, the key issue was recognition of a workforce for whom paternalistic care was not effective in securing its loyalty. By and large excluded by company management from substantial company...

  7. 3 “Home for the Working Man” Strategies for Homeownership
    (pp. 90-127)

    Homeownership—the very opposite of company housing—was perceived as an American ideal. As historian Olivier Zunz has shown, it was more often an immigrant ideal, with homeownership rates for that group outpacing native-born Americans during this period. Reformers promoted homeownership as a way to make good citizens. Company management promoted homeownership as a way to make loyal workers, through their implicit need for a steady income. Paradoxically, activist workers saw it as a way to gain independence from the company, which the promanagement newspapers noted in the waning days of the 1913–14 strike: “Not a few of the...

  8. 4 Acquiring Conveniences Water, Heat, and Light
    (pp. 128-161)

    Conveniences such as running water, indoor toilets, central heat, and electric lights make an enormous difference in how people live in a house. People use rooms differently, depending on the light and heat sources. The convenience of having water, toilets, and heating fuel indoors, rather than out in the yard, affected circulation routes through the space. They also affected domestic labor—usually the work of women, who bore the burden of carrying water, emptying chamber pots, tending stoves and heaters, fueling and cleaning lamps. Ruth Schwartz Cowan’s groundbreaking work on domestic technology pointed out that the acquisition of new technologies...

  9. 5 Churches, Schools, Bathhouses Building Community on Company Land
    (pp. 162-216)

    Company management was involved, at least to some extent, in all of these community facilities. Companies had to do more than build housing if they were to attract and retain workers; they also had to provide or encourage all of the institutions that made life in the Copper Country possible and enjoyable. The companies forcefully took initiative in implementing some of these institutions, others they let the free market supply; some of the institutions were embodied in architectural landmarks, others were not architectural at all; some of them were natural developments in communities, others were considered “welfare work” of the...

  10. 6 Preservation and Loss Remembering through Buildings
    (pp. 217-248)

    Joe and Elaine Putrich’s “memory” of the Copper Country was not literal, as neither had lived here. Their memory consisted of family photographs and stories told by Joe’s grandparents, such as his father, as a baby in Antonia’s arms, receiving powder burns on his face during the shootings. The house at which this occurred had burned down before Joe was born, so there was little direct material evidence in the Copper Country of his grandparents’ lives here. But there is much to remind people of the copper-mining days in general: a few shaft houses and related mine buildings, rock piles...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 249-284)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 285-296)
  13. Index
    (pp. 297-308)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 309-309)