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One hundred and fifty motion pictures documenting  work, school, and
leisure in the United States from 1894 to 1915 are now available on the
Library of Congress’ American Memory Web site <>  The
presentation entitled America at Work, America at Leisure 1894-1915 will
be available at <>   Highlights
include films produced in 1903 of the United States Postal Service,
cattle breeding, fire fighters, ice manufacturing, logging, calisthenics
and gymnastic exercises in schools, amusement parks, boxing, world’s
expositions, football, parades, swimming, and other sporting events.

The motion pictures are from the Paper Print Collection and the George
Kleine Collection in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound
Division of the Library. Many of the films have been digitized for the
first time for this presentation and are available online in three
formats: MPEG, QuickTime, and RealVideo.  In addition, a Special
Presentation with brief essays detailing the history of work, school,
and leisure in the United States at the end of the nineteenth and the
beginning of the twentieth centuries is included on the site.

The period from 1894 to 1915 in the United States was one of dramatic
change for the average person in terms of his or her education, work,
and leisure time. The U.S. was rapidly becoming an industrial society,
as wealthy capitalists assumed more financial control of the country,
and a huge influx of immigrants was added to the work force.  More and
more Americans were working in industrial jobs where they performed
often tedious, manual tasks repeatedly, working long hours in frequently
dangerous settings.  Over the years, labor unrest, unions, and the
Progressive political movement contributed to improvements in the
workplace in terms of hours, pay, and benefits.

The work films in the presentation cover a range of professions from the
period, including industrial work, cattle breeding, coal mining, fire
fighting, ice manufacturing, logging, and police work.  A special series
of 25 films of the United States Postal Office, created in 1903 by the
Biograph Company, follows the many steps it takes to process and deliver
a letter.

The benefit of industrial work and similar wage jobs such as retail was
that one’s free time was one's own.  Americans found themselves with
more leisure time during this period, with some free time on the weekend
and the prospect of vacations, though they were often unpaid. Americans
of all classes began to spend time attending vaudeville shows and
movies.  There was an increased interest in sporting activities for men,
women, and children, as people sought healthier lifestyles.  Amusement
parks, world's fairs, and national parks became a respite for the
average worker.

The presentation includes various films of leisure activities, including
ones of the amusement park, Coney Island, racing activities, national
parks such as Yellowstone, and expositions and fairs such as those in
Buffalo (1901), Charleston (1902), and St. Louis (1904).  Sporting
activities, including football, boxing, hockey, swimming, basketball,
and wrestling, are also in evidence.  Miscellaneous recreational
activities like ballooning, children's egg rolls, and roller skating
also testify to the multitude of ways Americans amused themselves at the
turn of the century.

In schools, European ideas such as kindergartens and technical schools
were being used to draw the immigrant and lower classes into schools.
The amount of education one received began to dictate what type of work
one could aspire to as the creation of white-collar jobs demanded a high
school education.

The films of schools in this presentation feature sports and exercise
activities performed by students around the country.  Students can also
be seen leaving school in End of School Day at Coeducational School
and a reservation school for American Indians is shown in Indian Day

Please direct any questions about this collection to [log in to unmask]