From Pickets to Picnics

The late 1800s were a pretty dismal time for the American worker. People often worked more than 12 hours a day just to get by! It was then, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, that the first “Labor Day” took place. On September 5, 1882, more than 10,000 fed-up employees took to the streets of New York to rally against poor conditions and unfair wages.

Men Working on West Lancaster


Blanche McVeigh, Men Working on West Lancaster, c. 1933–34, aquatint, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Public Works of Art Project

Since then, the “working man’s” holiday has been celebrated on the first Monday in September, although it did not become a federal holiday until 1894! Today, Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer and new beginnings for most Americans, but let us not forget those workers that came before us to fight for the safe and sanitary conditions we enjoy today.

newbeach

Lynn Lennon, Beach Party, Dallas City Hall, 1984, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Homer B. Jester Fund, © 1984 Lynn Lennon

The DMA is closed today, but you can enjoy free general admission every day during Museum hours (Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.; Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; third Fridays, 11:00 a.m.–midnight). Have a safe and wonderful holiday!


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