Related BLS programs | Related articles Gender, race, and Labor Department policies
February, 1988, Vol. 111, No. 4
Related BLS programs | Related articles
Gender, race, and Labor Department policiesEileen Boris and Michael Honey
When Congress established the Department of Labor in 1913, both women and minority men faced limited employment opportunities. Throughout the Nation, white women in the labor force found themselves in low-paying industrial, clerical, and retail positions. Most Afro-Americans remained in the South where they worked as sharecroppers and agricultural laborers or, if female, domestic servants. But, lured to the North by better-paying industrial work and the labor shortages of the World War I years, blacks would soon begin that mass exodus called the "Great Migration.1
I cannot speak of the experience of other executive departments of the Government, but the reality, rather than the myth, is that more labor and related legislation was enacted during 196162 than during the tenure of any prior Secretary of Labor, with the exception of the great legislation of the New Deal.
There follows a summary list of initiatives and accomplishments involving the Department of Labor during this period. This list is illustrative rather than all-encompassing.
This excerpt is from an article published in the February 1988 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 For a discussion of labor market segmentation by race and sex, see William Harris, The Harder We Run: Black Workers Since the Civil War (New York, Oxford University Press, 1982); and Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to Work: A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (New York, Oxford University Press, 1982).
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