Child labor laws and war work — a source for classroom instruction

Army/Navy E award presented to the E. Ingraham Company, June 16, 1944

The E. Ingraham Company of Bristol, Connecticut, was a maker of clocks and watches from its founding in 1831 by Elias Ingraham, to its demise in 1967.  It was run by descendents of Elias Ingraham for all but the last 15 years of its existence.

Letter to E. Ingraham Company from the U.S. Department of Labor, 1944

Use this photograph and the letter to create a narrative of what was happening at the E. Ingraham Company, and in the United States, at the time.  Some questions to ask include:

What was happening in the country in 1944?  What conditions would have necessitated the need for hiring girls at the company?  What kind of work were the workers doing that was so important to the government? 

More information and some more documents will come in a couple of days.  For now, use the documents, and your own knowledge of the circumstances of the time, to describe what is happening.  Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment!

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections

The Communist Party in Connecticut — a source for classroom instruction

Portion of a flyer advocating for the release of seven members of the Communist Party of Connecticut jailed for subversive activities in 1954.

In 1954 seven members of the Communist Party of Connecticut were arrested on charges of violating the Smith Act.  The Smith Act, also known as the Alien Registration Act, was enacted in 1940 to set criminal penalties for anyone prosecuted for advocating the overthrow of the United States government.  In the 1940s and 1950s, a time of the fear of Communism in the country, the Smith Act was used against political organizations and persons who disagreed with the government, even those who did so in non-violent ways. 

Questions to ask when considering these documents:

1) Is it right to jail someone just for his or her beliefs?  Would it be right to put someone in jail if the government thought his or her beliefs would cause harm to America?  Does the Smith Act violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?

2) What is the purpose of this flyer?  Does this flyer show that the Communist Party of Connecticut was trying to overthrow the government of the United States?

3) How do people think and behave when they are afraid?  How does this flyer give evidence to the fears of the American people in the 1950s?

This primary source conforms to the Connecticut Social Studies Curriculum Framework for High School students, particularly Strand 1.9 — the rights and responsibilities of citizens, grade level expectation 47 — Analyze the tension between the need for national security and the protection of individual rights.

Larger images of the pages of this flyer are available here: page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4.

This flyer is from the papers of Jack Goldring, a member of the Communist Party of Connecticut and one of the seven arrested for subversive activities in May 1954.  Goldring was eventually released on a technicality.  By 1957 convictions under the Smith Act were deemed unconstitutional but the statute has never been repealed.

More information about the Smith Act can be found at this site from the University of Illinois: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/g_l/jerome/smithact.htm; and the Encyclopedia Brittanica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/549923/Smith-Act.

Laura Smith, Curator for Business, Railroad and Labor Collections