Living Conditions

"More Education Pays" exhibition panel by Lewis Hine, ca. 1917.

The 1912 Lawrence Survey described the city “as an appendage to the textile industries…” The hundreds of families crowded together in “the beehives at the center of the city” make a condition that “must increasingly come to be viewed as abnormal, unnatural, a social disease rightly called huddle fever.”

In Bread and Roses Bruce Watson notes, “By 1912, Lawrence was no puritanical politician’s dream; it was a powder keg, an explosive mix of eighty-six thousand people, tamped into just seven square miles. … there were women and children whose daily grind gave them a visceral understanding of economics and power.”

And, “Diseases now easily cured—diarrhea, measles, whooping cough, croup—killed hundreds, most of them children. During the year preceding the strike, 1,524 people died in Lawrence. Almost half were under the age of six, and more than 500 had not yet reached their first birthday” (p. 27).