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LIST OF TABLES . . ..... v 

WOMEN AS MUNITION MAKERS Introduction . . 1 

I. Bridgeport and the War Boom . . 10 

II. The Women at Work .... 18 

III. Cartridge Making and Its Dangers . . 29 

IV. Hours of Labor and Night Work . . 39 
V. Wages .55 

VI. The Women at Home .... 63 

VII. Programs of City and State ... 82 


Hours of Labor 103 

Health and Hygiene 114 

General Welfare Provision .... 126 

Employment of Women 129 

Juvenile Employment ..... 132 

Summary of Recommendations . . . 135 

Subsequent Conditions 137 


Organization of Munition Industry . . . 147 

Industrial Relations 148 

Hours of Work 149 

The Women Workers 152 

Technical Instruction of Workers . . . 154 

Cause of Increased Production . . . 154 

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . w ^ . .... 156 




1. Last occupation before entering the munition indus- 

try, for 73 women munition workers interviewed.. 22 

2. Nativity of women munition workers interviewed 

and of their fathers 24 

3. Ages of women munition workers interviewed 26 

4. Conjugal condition of women munition workers in- 

terviewed 27 

5. Occupations of women munition workers included in 

the investigation 32 

6. Daily hours of labor for women workers included in 

the investigation 41 

7. Length of lunch period for women munition work- 

ers included in the investigation 43 

8. Weekly hours of labor of women munition workers 

included in the investigation 44 

9. Hour of beginning work for women munition 

workers included in the investigation 45 

10. Weekly earnings of women munition workers in- 

cluded in the investigation 58 

11. Total weekly income in families of women muni- 

tion workers interviewed, by number of contribu- 
tors 64 

12. Proportion of weekly earnings given to the home by 

women munition workers interviewed who were 
living with their families 65 

13. Persons gainfully employed among members of 100 

families of women munition workers interviewed, 
by age and sex 68 

14. Monthly rents paid by families of women munition 

workers interviewed, by number of rooms occu- 
pied 73 

15. Persons per room in families of women munition 

workers interviewed 75 

Worker living with family 

Worker living alone 

1 Plant of Union Metallic Cartridge Company 

2 Plant of Remington Arms Company 







DURING the early months of 1915 the world 
of industry was stirred by rumors of un- 
heard of rewards for work in munition 
shops in the United States. Women, it was said, 
were in as great demand as men and other occu- 
pations were suffering from the competition of 
high wages paid for work on war materials. The 
first commercial depression following the out- 
break of the war in Europe had passed and the 
business of supplying materials of all kinds to the 
warring countries had begun. 

With this harvest of war orders had come in 
several localities a rapid increase in population, 
pressing municipal problems, and the dangers of 
overstrain in industry itself through the intense 
effort to secure maximum output. What effect 
would this sudden expansion of a war trade have 
upon women workers ? Could they stand the race 
for speed? Overtime, night work, and Sunday 
work might be insisted upon as in England. 
Would our labor laws prevent overstrain? 

Throughout the east munition companies had 
constructed huge plants and begun manufacturing 
on an enormous scale before 1915 was half over. 
At Eddystone, Pennsylvania, two large factories 
were built, each with about 15 acres of floor 



space;* one, a branch of a company whose con- 
tracts from the Allies were said to amount to al- 
most $200,000,000, manufactured shrapnel; the 
other, a branch of the largest munition factory in 
Bridgeport, had a capacity of 1,500,000 rifles a 
year. In 1 Delaware and Pennsylvania another 
huge company had been operating great plants to 
fill orders running into the millions of dollars. 
Within ten months during 1915 and 1916 this com- 
pany declared dividends amounting to 104 per cent 
on its common stock. The middle west had also 
had its share in the munition business; the great 
steel companies had been turning out order after 
order, with others on hand and deliveries running 
more than a year ahead. The record of war ma- 
terial sent out of the port of New York in one 
week in August, 1916, included $20,000,000 worth 
of explosives, $10,000,000 worth of shells and shell 
materials, and nearly $1,000,000 worth of fire- 

To this large production, the city of Bridgeport, 
Connecticut, was an important contributor, and 
here women were employed in large numbers in 
munition making. For the women and girls in 
this New England town, as well as for those in 
other such centers, obvious dangers were ahead. 
The necessity to recruit new workers had already 
drawn into the industry Bridgeport women un- 

*On April 10, 1917, an explosion completely destroyed the 
loading and inspecting buildings of the Eddystone Ammuni- 
tion Company at Eddystone, Pa., resulting in the death of 122 
workers, more than half of whom were women, and the seri- 
ous injury of over 50 more. 



accustomed to factory work, and had brought 
girls from other places, setting them adrift with- 
out homes in a community quite unprepared to 
protect their health, give them wholesome recrea- 
tion, sufficient transit facilities or even proper 

In the autumn of 1915 the Department of Sur- 
veys and Exhibits of the Russell Sage Founda- 
tion, in co-operation with The Survey magazine, 
had sent Mr. Zenas L. Potter to Bridgeport to 
make a brief study of the social effects of the war 
boom. His report was published in The Survey in 
December.* It indicated the need for further ob- 
servation, especially for a study of the women who 
were making munitions. In the summer of 1916 
the Foundation, through its Division of Indus- 
trial Studies, undertook, therefore, a brief investi- 
gation of the women employed in the largest muni- 
tion plant in Bridgeport, the cartridge shops of 
the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge 
Company,f for the purpose of discovering the ef- 
fect upon them of the changed living and working 

* Potter, Zenas L. : War Boom Towns, Bridgeport. The 
Survey, pp. 237-242, December 4, 1915. 

t This company, the union of two firms that have long been 
famous in the manufacture of firearms and shells, employed 
at the time of the investigation 8,000 men and 4,000 women in 
the cartridge shops. Information is lacking as to the number 
of men in the rifle factory. Towards the close of the year 
1916, the company began the experiment of employing women 
in the plant of the Remington Arms, where rifles are manu- 
factured, but this was subsequent to the investigation, so that 
the work of these women is not included in the inquiry. Of 
four other Bridgeport munition firms, two employed no 
women, and two a relatively small number. 



conditions.* Such an inquiry, it was ex- 
pected, would reveal in miniature the results of 
this sudden war trade expansion on wom- 
en's work, not only as it affected women in 
Bridgeport, but as it might be expected to affect 
them in whatever part of the country they are 
employed in making shells, arms, or other war 

Information on the processes in which women 
were employed, on their pay and hours of work, on 
the danger of accidents, and the other conditions 
of their employment was obtained chiefly through 
interviews with a group of munition workers in 
their own homes. Supplementary data on living 
conditions and health were also obtained from 
members of their families and from social and 
civic agencies in Bridgeport, f 

The industrial situation was discussed with a 
number of manufacturers in Bridgeport who made 
valuable comments concerning the production side 
of the munition industry and with officials of the 

* The inquiry was conducted by Miss Amy Hewes, professor 
of Economics in Mt. Holypke College, and formerly secretary 
of the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission. Miss 
Henriette R. Walter, of the staff of the Division of Industrial 
Studies of the Russell Sage Foundation, assisted in the field 
survey and in the preparation of the statistical tables. 

t Valuable supplementary material concerning the social and 
civic activities by which Bridgeport is endeavoring to deal 
with its multiplying problems was given by Mr. George Gove, 
secretary of the Chamber of Commerce; Mr. George L. 
Warren, secretary of the Charity Organization Society; Miss 
Cynthia Moore, secretary of the East Side Young Women's 
Christian Association ; Mr. Spencer R. Gordon, superintendent 
of charities, and others, to all of whom hearty thanks are 
due for their cordial co-operation. 



machinists' union, who presented the situation 
from the point of view of labor. 

Had the Foundation been given permission to 
make an exhaustive study of the plant it would 
h0,ve reported on wages as revealed on the pay- 
roll, hours of labor and the effect of overtime on 
output; night work and its productivity as com- 
pared with that of day work; health and safety 
and the methods of guarding against industrial 
accident and disease ; and the regularity of attend- 
ance of the men and women employed. But this 
permission was refused. It is in the homes of the 
workers, however, that the social effects of an in- 
dustry can best be studied, and in this inquiry, as 
in several others conducted by the Foundation, re- 
liance was placed upon the method of securing 
facts from the workers themselves in their own 

The names of most of the women interviewed 
were taken at random from the 1916 Bridgeport 
directory. This list was supplemented by names 
suggested by fellow-workers and others. The wide 
diversity in the location of their homes and in 
their nationalities, incomes, and characteristics, to 
be described later, vouches for the representative 
character of the group. A copy of the record card 
used in making the investigation is appended to 
this report.* The information was secured in per- 
son and the schedules filled out by the investiga- 
tors. The questions covered working conditions, 
hours, wages, and home conditions. One hundred 

*See page 93. 


and eighteen girls and women were interviewed. 
Of these, 18 were away from home, boarding or 
living in furnished rooms. Exactly 100 others 
were living with their own families, and in these 
cases information was added about the family in- 
come and the family expenditures, particularly the 
item of rent. The girls living at home gave also 
the essential facts about earnings, processes, and 
hours of work for 47 other women in their families 
who were employed in the munition industry, so 
that some information was obtained for 165 work- 
ers in all. 

Two articles giving the main results of the in- 
quiry have already been published in advance of 
this report,* in the hope that prompt dissemina- 
tion of the facts discovered might help Conne'cti- 
cut citizens to strengthen their labor laws. The 
second of these articles, that dealing with the mu- 
nition industry, was submitted in manuscript, in 
advance of publication, to officials of the Reming- 
ton Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Company for 
their criticism. This procedure, customary in in- 
dustrial investigations made by the Russell Sage 
Foundation, was the more necessary in this case, 
because of the previous refusal of the company 
to give the Foundation the desired information. 
In the conferences which followed the reading 
of the manuscript, some statements were chal- 
lenged, others verified, and additional material 

*Hewes, Amy: Bridgeport on the Rebound. The Survey, 
pp. 49-51, October 14, 1916. 

Hewes, Amy: Women as Munition Makers. The Survey, 
pp. 379^385, January 6, 1917. 


was obtained, especially regarding changes made 
after the field work of the investigation was com- 
pleted. In response to the suggestion of the com- 
pany that no study could be accurate which was 
not based on data obtained in the plant itself, the 
Foundation offered to make such a supplementary 
inquiry before publishing the report. This offer 
was refused. 

Since the declaration of war by the United 
States against the Imperial Government of Ger- 
many, in April, 1917, the findings of the study are 
of even greater importance than when it was made 
during the summer of 1916. The employment of 
women in the manufacture of war materials is 
bound to increase. Early in 1917, the War 
Department, as a preparation for what had long 
seemed inevitable, had already called upon the 
Department of Labor for 1,000 workers, both men 
and women, for the making of munitions in fed- 
eral plants.* Now that we are in a state of actual 
war and will be obliged to make shells and guns 
not only for the countries whose ally we have be- 
come, but also for ourselves, we must needs take 
intelligent counsel of whatever experience we can 
lay hands on. 

England, in her effort to manufacture huge 
quantities of munitions in a short time, in order 
to supply her army and navy at the front, went 

* This call was made in February, 1917, for workers in the 
Dover (N. J.) and Philadelphia arsenals, to be filled through 
the employment exchanges of the Labor Department. Some 
protest was aroused because lower wage rates were offered 
to women than to men for similar processes of work. 



through a bitter industrial experience. She wore 
out her workers, created industrial confusion, lost 
the labor gains of years, and raised the unjust cry 
that British workmen were "slackers." 

Finally, a Health of Munition Workers Com- 
mittee, headed by Sir George Newman, was ap- 
pointed by the Ministry of Munitions to investi- 
gate ills and abuses in munition plants, and to 
make recommendations to insure increased pro- 
duction. The second part of this study gives a 
detailed summary of the findings of this commit- 
tee. They dealt particularly with the conditions 
affecting output, including overtime, seven-day 
labor, night work, danger of accident and disease 
from fatigue, lack of proper food and housing con- 
ditions, welfare supervision, and the employment 
of children. An important memorandum was is- 
sued on women's work, with definite recommenda- 
tions for safeguarding the health of English 

Evidence shows that the working conditions of 
the women interviewed in Bridgeport during the 
summer of 1916 were similar in many respects to 
those under which English women worked for the 
first year or more of the war with such bad effects 
upon themselves and upon efficiency of production. 
Night work and overtime in Bridgeport were al- 
ready found while yet the pressure of a war of 
our own was remote and production unstimulated 
by any call of patriotism. Even the crowded living 
conditions had begun to approach those in English 



But Bridgeport is only one illustration of sud- 
den expansion due to the demand for speedy pro- 
duction of munitions of war. Its industrial and 
civic questions are of local importance in many 
other towns. The interest of the report here pre- 
sented thus transcends that attaching to the record 
of any one plant or any one place. As a matter 
of fact, the working conditions in munition fac- 
tories as well as the living conditions in munition 
centers have now become of vital importance to 
the whole nation. It is in the hope that this coun- 
try may avoid a breakdown in the health of its 
women workers and a sacrifice of hard-gained la- 
bor laws to protect them, as well as the results 
to health and morals of congested living, that this 
study is offered. 



THE European War, with its unprecedented 
demand for munitions has metamorphosed 
Bridgeport, Connecticut, from a conserva- 
tive municipality into a turbulent, congested com- 
munity. This city on Long Island Sound has a 
long and varied manufacturing history ; for years 
it has held an important place as the home of 
diversified industry in a part of the country in 
which factory towns have tended to become spe- 
cialized. Fall River, Lawrence, and Lowell are 
known as textile cities, Holyoke and Dalton as 
paper towns, Lynn and Brockton as shoe manu- 
facturing centers, but Bridgeport's manufactures 
range from submarines to graphophones, and in- 
clude automobiles, electrical goods, corsets, and 
sewing machines, as well as a variety of foundry 
and machine-shop products. It is only recently 
that the expansion of the military arms and am- 
munition business has made Bridgeport known 
throughout the country as a city pre-eminent in 
the manufacture of munitions. 

For the first few months of the war the city had 
apparently no inkling of the great change which 
was to come about. In common with other Ameri- 
can cities it suffered during the winter of 1914-15 
from the most serious shock to industry and trade 
that the country has had since the hard times fol- 
lowing the panic of 1907. The daily papers tell 



the story of unemployment and distress, of the 
efforts of the hard-pressed Department of Chari- 
ties and the philanthropic associations to give re- 
lief, of the appointment of a special committee to 
solve the problem of unemployment, and of the 
difficulty of obtaining appropriations for any 
large-scale constructive measures. Except for the 
depression which such a period brings to any city, 
Bridgeport was progressing in an orderly and con- 
ventional manner. It had a population of some- 
thing over 100,000, a transportation system which 
met its needs, a conservative city government, and 
was extending its suburbs and caring for its large 
foreign population by building new schoolhouses 
and taking steps towards revising its tenement 
house laws. 

As early as March, 1915, however, the numbers 
of its unemployed had materially decreased and 
a few days later came a foreshadowing of the 
dramatic change that was to take place in the for- 
tunes of the city. Large new factory buildings 
costing, it was said, $12,000,000, were under con- 
struction on the outskirts of the city and rumor 
had it that these were designed for the manufac- 
ture of munitions. Since 1867 Bridgeport had 
been the established home of the Union Metallic 
Cartridge Company, which had developed a sport- 
ing trade in addition to supplying cartridges to 
European governments and to the United States. 
In 1888 the owner of this company, Marcellus 
Hartley, acquired the Remington Arms Company, 
of Ilion, New York, and the two plants thus be- 


came affiliated. Late in the spring of 1915 it be- 
came generally known that the new factories on 
the outskirts of the city were being built by the 
Remington Arms Company whose plant in Ilion 
was also at work on war orders, and that the new 
business in Bridgeport would afford opportunities 
for work to thousands of people in the making of 
guns. This announcement brought large numbers 
of men in search of work. There were jobs for all 
who came and before many months had passed the 
demand for labor outran the supply. The prob- 
lem of unemployment was entirely forgotten. 
Each unit of the great factory was put into opera- 
tion as soon as it was completed and machinery 
could be installed. The Union Metallic Cartridge 
Company also enlarged its plant, increasing its 
floor space by 700,000 square feet, and took on 
many additional employes. Other munition com- 
panies were formed, and concerns engaged in al- 
lied lines of business turned over large parts of 
their plants to the manufacture of war supplies. 

In January, 1916, it was announced that the 
arms company and the cartridge company, both 
controlled by Mr. Marcellus Hartley Dodge, had 
been merged into the Remington Arms-Union 
Metallic Cartridge Company. The company was 
incorporated in Connecticut, with a capital stock 
of $60,000,000, all except a few shares of which 
were held by its president and chief owner. 

During the summer of 1915, when the business 
boom had been growing daily and rumors of fabu- 
lous war profits had begun to spread, dissatisfac- 



tion fermented in the labor world in Bridgeport 
and the city entered upon a three months' era of 
strikes. The expansion had found a nine or ten- 
hour day in nearly all factories. Labor was for 
the most part unorganized, but a shortage in the 
supply of workers, despite the rush of men to the 
city, and a rapid increase in rents, and the abnor- 
mal living conditions due to this rush made an un- 
settled situation in which labor difficulties rapidly 
developed. The real trouble began in a jurisdic- 
tional dispute in the construction of the arms fac- 
tory, when the iron workers, who claimed that the 
millwrights should be affiliated with their own 
union, struck because the millwrights were classed 
and paid as carpenters. The millwrights joined 
the iron workers. Later the machinists in both 
the Remington Arms and the Union Metallic Car- 
tridge Company factories struck for an eight-hour 
day, increased pay, time and one-half pay for over- 
time, and double pay for Sundays and holidays. 
Within two weeks the company granted increased 
pay and a forty-eight-hour week with a three-shift 
schedule, and the strike ended. With the eight- 
hour day and higher wages granted in one quarter, 
it was inevitable that dissatisfaction should spread 
to other factories. In spite of strong opposition 
by the Manufacturers' Association of Bridgeport, 
which continued to stand for a fifty-four-hour 
week, strike after strike, with the eight-hour day 
and increased pay as the principal issues, was 
brought to a successful or partially successful con- 
clusion in favor of the workers. 



A company manufacturing automobiles made an 
effort to avert trouble by introducing a profit-shar- 
ing plan; this the men rejected, and a strike was 
declared. The company then offered a choice be- 
tween a bonus system and the eight-hour day. The 
employes voted for the latter and returned to work 
with the new system of hours but with the pay on 
a ten-hour basis. Strikes among the hundreds of 
women in the corset factories produced an eight- 
hour day and substantial increase in wages. From 
laundry workers to window cleaners, through the 
list of more than 50 strikes carried on in Bridge- 
port during the summer of 1915, the story is the 
same. At the end of the summer Bridgeport was 
practically an eight-hour city, with the prevailing 
rates of wages fully equivalent to those on the old 
basis. As an offset to these gains, however, night 
work, for both men and women, was on the in- 
crease, and the unions, although stronger than at 
the beginning of the struggle, were not in a posi- 
tion to enforce a closed shop policy. 

With the cessation of labor troubles in the au- 
tumn of 1915, the city had settled into an accept- 
ance of the new industrial order and the rapid 
changes which were following unavoidably upon 
it. Construction of the arms and cartridge facto- 
ries proceeded rapidly, and the working force, in- 
creasing as one department after another was 
opened, was rated within a few months at a figure 
between 20,000 and 30,000. Other factories, of 
various types, continued to spring up in the out- 
skirts of the city, bringing new suburban devel- 



opments. Population increased at an unprece- 
dented rate. The lowest estimate made at the time 
of the publication of the 1916 city directory placed 
the total population at 140,000, an increase of 37 
per cent since 1910. The contagion of prosperity 
was everywhere evident. The shopping district 
of the city boasted the "seventh busiest corner in 
the world" (Main Street and Fairfield Avenue), 
and in the rush of business the narrow, crooked 
streets became wholly inadequate to accommodate 
the crowds. The trolley service failed to satisfy 
the demand for transportation and innumerable 
honking jitneys filled the streets. The foreign 
money order business in the overcrowded local 
post office showed an increase of about 88 per 
cent in the year ending July 31, 1916, over the 
previous twelve months. The business of the town 
clerk's office during the month of August, 1916, 
was twice that of August, 1915, an increase largely 
due to the impetus to realty transfers. Property 
changed hands rapidly, mortgages were placed on 
businesses and homes in order to raise money for 
new ventures, and banks, firms, and individuals 
showed a willingness to lend money on Bridgeport 
security. The big capital stock of the Reming- 
ton Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Company and 
its incorporation in Connecticut, taken in conjunc- 
tion with the substantial character of its new build- 
ings and the rumors of continued war orders, led 
business men as well as workers to believe that 
the business represented in this huge concern 
would be relatively permanent, and that its im- 



mense trade would serve to stimulate the activity 
of the other large manufacturing interests of the 

Among the municipal problems which the rush 
of people to Bridgeport in 1915 had brought the 
city was that of proper housing. This problem 
had grown to serious proportions. It had become 
for many workers not a question of finding a de- 
cent place in which to live, but of finding any 
place whatever in which to live. Real estate agents 
ceased to have houses to offer. Rents jumped al- 
most instantaneously. As a result families who 
were unable to pay the increased rates were evict- 
ed, and were unable to find vacant houses for the 
rents which they could pay. Some of these were 
actually sent to the city almshouse until they could 
find houses; others became for the first time de- 
pendent upon charity ; others still were able, with 
accompanying hardships, to readjust their family 
budgets and to give a much higher proportion for 
rent than formerly. 

The Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge 
Company, as early as the spring of 1915, had be- 
gun buying large tracts of land and building a sys- 
tem of "company houses," but the completion of a 
number of these was delayed and even had all been 
ready for occupancy in 1916 they would have pro- 
vided only a fraction of the number of houses 
required. Hundreds of desirable men, many of 
them with families, came to the city only to go 
away again, because they could find no place to 



Throughout all these changes, it seemed to out- 
siders that while business men had seized upon 
the high commercial importance these had 
wrought, the municipality itself was hardly con- 
scious of its own new responsibilities. The visitor 
to Bridgeport saw the thronged streets, the halting 
transportation service, the lack of recreational fa- 
cilities, the flimsy three-decker tenements for 
which rents double those of a year before were 
asked, and marvelled at the apparent failure of 
the city government to take cognizance of the fact 
that it was no longer a middle-aged, conservative 
New England manufacturing city, but a "boom 
town," full of great possibilities for good or harm, 
for ugliness or beauty, for loyalty or bitterness, 
in its new industrial army. 

But the year 1916 saw the inception of a new 
spirit in Bridgeport. Even while the city seemed 
to be asleep, new ideas were fermenting. Bridge- 
port had ceased to be a typical American indus- 
trial city and had become a unique American civic 
community. How it treated its newly imposed 
housing, health and recreational problems, as well 
as how its women workers fared while making 
shells for the Remington Arms-Union Metallic 
Cartridge Company is told in the following pages. 



THE hundreds of young men who crowd 
Bridgeport's brilliantly lighted streets on 
Saturday and Sunday nights are part of a 
mobile industrial force which can travel from city 
to city in response to the lure of good work and 
good pay. The force of working women, instan- 
taneously as it may and does respond to a de- 
mand for labor in its own neighborhood, is more 
inert, less capable of severing family ties and set- 
ting aside home responsibilities to follow the call 
of opportunity in other cities. The men in the 
munition factories are said to be gathered from all 
parts of the United States, while the majority of 
the women in the shops are from the city of 
Bridgeport itself. All but nine out of the 118 
women* interviewed in the summer of 1916 had 
lived in Bridgeport more than two years, and 
all but 17 had lived in the city more than five 

As the demand for women's work in the muni- 
tion plants increased the most easily utilizable 
source of additional labor proved to be the work- 
ing force in the other industries in Bridgeport. 

* The number of women interviewed comprised 100 women 
living at home and 18 away from home. From the 100 women 
living at home, some information was obtained concerning 47 
others employed in the industry; the total was thus 165 (see 
page 6). The discussion in this chapter has reference only 
to the 118 directly interviewed. 



The 'corset factories, metal works, and textile mills 
already employed large numbers of girls and 
women, many of whom were easily attracted by 
cartridge-making. The result to the affected in- 
dustries was a dearth of workers evidenced by 
widespread advertising of an unusually urgent 
character ; prospective employes were assured that 
the positions offered had the advantages of high 
wages, short hours, and permanency. The grad- 
ual drain, felt first in the neighboring factories, 
extended through one occupation after another, 
until it was believed to be responsible even for the 
shortage of saleswomen and domestic servants, not 
only in Connecticut towns but in towns in nearby 

At the same time the munition industry was 
stabilized by an important constant element in its 
labor force, illustrated by the fact that 57 out 
of the 118 women interviewed had worked for 
the company for at least five years. One woman 
had" worked for the same concern for thirty-two 
years, and her mother before her had done the 
same work as a girl. 

The venturesome women who came from out- 
side the city proved to be real fortune-seekers on 
the industrial frontier. A nineteen-year-old Jew- 

* The demand for women munition workers was held ac- 
countable for a shortage of domestic servants in New York 
City. In August, 1916, the superintendent of the public em- 
ployment office in New York stated that a representative of a 
munition factory in Bridgeport called on him frequently to 
see if there were any women willing to work in munition 
plants, and that similar requests were received from munition 
factories in New Jersey. 



ish girl who was working as inspector in the car- 
tridge shop told the story of leaving her home in 
Russia, of the crossing in the steerage, and of her 
school days on New York's lower East Side while 
her father supported the family from the pro- 
ceeds of a pushcart business. Coming to Bridge- 
port for a visit to an aunt, this girl saw a new op- 
portunity for herself and her family. She quickly 
gave up her poorly paid clerical position in New 
York and went into the munition factory. In a 
short time she had persuaded her parents and her 
two brothers to follow and settle in the city, and 
had helped her ambitious fifteen-year-old brother 
to start a four-year apprenticeship with the arms 
company, during which he could earn enough to 
support himself until he could draw the wages 
of a skilled workman. 

Out in Saskatchewan a Danish veterinarian was 
settled with his wife and daughters. It was a 
lonely place for young people, and the oldest 
daughter persuaded her father to let her come to 
Bridgeport with a school chum who had heard 
of the chances in the munition factories. Al- 
though she was unaccustomed to factory work 
she made $12 a week from the start. She found 
a comfortable home with some of her own coun- 
try people, and was carefully hoarding her earn- 
ings for her trousseau, for she had become en- 
gaged to a young Englishman in Bridgeport just 
before he left for the trenches. As soon as the 
North Sea should be safe she planned to go back to 
Denmark, whither her family had returned soon 



after she left them, and there she would make 
ready for her wedding. 

A young woman who a few months before had 
been a poorly paid operative in a shirt factory in 
Rhode Island is an example of the intelligence and 
enterprise often found to be characteristic of the 
women munition workers. She heard of the de- 
mand for girls in Bridgeport and, spurred by the 
inadequacy of her own earnings and the irregu- 
larity of her father's, came to the city on a pros- 
pecting visit. With no trouble she immediately 
found work in the cartridge shop. At almost the 
same time she had the good fortune to find a room 
with a woman who was just about to give up her 
flat and move to another city. She seized the op- 
portunity to rent the flat so as to have a place 
where her family might settle. She then sent for 
her father and sister and for a girl friend. The 
reunited family took possession of the rooms on 
the same day that the former landlady moved out. 
The father, who had been a painter by trade, also 
found work in the shops, and the other two girls 
went to work in the cartridge factory in which 
the first girl was working. All four shared 
alike in the household expenses, and the girl's ven- 
ture in transplanting the family promised suc- 

Not all workers new to Bridgeport and the in- 
dustry, however, had been pioneers and path- 
finders for their relatives and friends. Several 
were interviewed who had come alone and stayed 
alone. Others had come with their entire families. 



For example, one American family from near Bos- 
ton, composed of father, mother and 12 chil- 
dren, had been transplanted en masse, and while 
the father was not well enough to work, the five 
sons and daughters who were of working age were 
employed in either the arms or the cartridge shop. 
The majority of the girls who had had working 
experience before going into munition work came 
from other manufacturing occupations in Bridge- 
port or elsewhere. Table 1 shows the last previ- 
ous occupations of the girls investigated. 




Previous occupation 


Factory work 
Corset manufacture 
Manufacture of machines, tools, and fixtures 
Textile manufacture 
Metal work 
Clothing manufacture 
All other work 
Domestic and personal service 
Custom dressmaking 
Office work 
All other occupations 



73 5 

"Includes farm work 1, home work on neckties 1, and "odd jobs" 1. 
& Of the 118 women interviewed, 45 had never been gainfully 
employed before entering the munition industry. 

Fifteen of these munition workers had been cor- 
set makers, an important occupation for Bridge- 
port girls, since Bridgeport is one of the largest 
corset-making centers in the country, and has 
places for hundreds of girls in that employment. 
Other common factory work included the manu- 
facture of textiles, metals, and tools. Outside of 



factory occupations, sales-work was the previous 
occupation most frequently reported. The table 
brings out the fact that it was possible for the 
munition industry to draw its workers from a wide 
range of occupations, for it makes small demands 
in the way of training and experience. Indeed, 
considerably more than one-half of the 118 women 
had had no previous factory work of any kind, 
and 45 had had no previous gainful occupation 

It should be noted that the foregoing table does 
not show the drain upon other industries caused 
by the war boom, since 94 of these women had 
held their positions in the cartridge factory some 
time before the boom began ; that is, for two years 
or more before this investigation was made. 

These facts raise the question as to whether the 
group interviewed in the investigation was not 
composed of a disproportionately large number of 
girls who had worked in the munition industry 
before the war began, with an insufficient repre- 
sentation of those lured into it from other indus- 
tries or other cities when the sudden expansion 
required new recruits. As a matter of fact, ac- 
cording to statements by officials of the company, 
the increase in the number of women employed 
in their plant was not so large as had been antici- 
pated. In November, 1915, it was expected that 
4,000 additional girls and women would be needed 
between the following January and June, and yet 
by the summer of 1916 the total force of women 
in the factory was not more than 4,000. That part 



of the new force which had come from other cities 
proved to be to a great extent shifting and un- 
stable, so that while a large number of women 
had come to Bridgeport with the boom, the factory 
force was not proportionately increased. It seems 
probable that the group interviewed was represen- 
tative, composed as it was of workers from other 
occupations and a fair proportion of women never 
employed in any other industry. The latter repre- 
sented in part girls who had engaged in cartridge 
making before the war boom, and in part the po- 
tential labor supply of women always available in 
a fair-sized city when slight extra inducements, 
coupled with increased cost of living, draw them 
into the labor market. 

The birthplaces of the 118 women and the na- 
tionalities of their fathers are shown in Table 2. 


Women whose 

Women whose 

Country of birth 

country of birth 
was as 

father's country 
of birth was 


as specified 

United States 



Foreign countries 































' 1 












More than one-half of the group of women muni- 
tion workers were foreign-born or of foreign par- 
entage. Fifty- four were native born with native- 
born fathers, and 45 others were native born but 
of foreign parentage. Eleven of the 19 foreign- 
born girls came from the British Isles (five from 
England, three from Ireland, and three from 
Scotland), leaving only eight who were born in 
other European countries. Of the foreign-born 
fathers, 26 came from the British Isles. Eleven 
of the women were of German or Austrian par- 
entage, but they were employes of many years' 
standing. Several of them told the investigators 
that no new workers of German origin had been 
taken on at the plant since the beginning of the 
war boom. 

Often the long-experienced workers were bitter 
against the "foreigners" and blamed them vigor- 
ously for the problems in living and working con- 
ditions. An Irish-born girl said proudly, in a rich 
brogue, that there were no foreigners in her room 
in the factory. "The boss is a pleasant Irish gen- 
tleman, and he won't stand for them. Come to 
think of it, there is a few Polish girls, but they're 
real refined and they speak the language almost 
as well as I do myself." 

Since the processes of cartridge making require 
workers with quickness and dexterity rather than 
long training, it is natural that young women 
should make up the major part of the group. 
Table 3 shows the ages of those who were inter- 






Less than 18 years 
18 years and less than 21 
21 years and less than 24 
24 years and less than 27 
27 years and less than 30 
30 years and less than 33 
33 years and less than 36 
36 years and less than 39 
39 years and less than 42 
42 years and less than 45 
45 years or more 





Exactly one-half of the 118 women were be- 
tween eighteen and twenty-four years of age, and 
less than one- fourth had reached the age of thirty. 
In the youth of the girls employed cartridge-mak- 
ing affords a parallel rather than a contrast to 
other manufacturing occupations. According to 
the Federal Census 37 per cent of all women 
engaged in manufacturing occupations are under 
twenty-one.* A number of women said that 
they had begun work at the age of twelve or 
thirteen, and three even younger, indicating 
a formerly lax enforcement of the child labor law, 
or the lack of any effective law at the time when 
they went to work. Forty-three began when they 
were fourteen years old, and all but eight were at 
work by the time they were eighteen. 

As might be expected from their youth, the 
majority were unmarried. Conjugal condition is 
shown in Table 4. 

* Thirteenth U. S. Census, 1910, Vol. IV., Occupation Statis- 
tics, p. 312 ff. 




Conjugal condition 






As many as 81.4 per cent were single. Some 
of the married women welcomed the possibility 
of work in the shops, for they might not have 
been able to meet the conditions of employment in 
any other occupation. The opportunity to work at 
night gave them a chance to manage their house- 
holds and to earn money at the same time, and 
exhausting as the strain was, the extra income 
meant a valuable piecing out of the family re- 
sources. Although the percentage of married 
women in the group investigated seems compara- 
tively small, the application to the total force of 
4,000 women employed in Bridgeport of the pro- 
portions shown by the table would indicate that 
approximately 370 married women worked in the 
munition plants, and that the number of widows 
and deserted or divorced wives employed was 
about as large. Many of these women had homes 
and children to care for. 

The personal information given by these 118 
munition workers shows, then, a relatively stable 
class of working women, with whom had mingled 
a few venturesome recruits from distant places. 
Their earlier working experience was varied and 



rarely related to cartridge-making as a preparation 
or training. Alert and ambitious, interested and 
willing to talk of their work and its advantages 
and handicaps, they were prepossessing represen- 
tatives of American working women. Among 
them were natives of 10 foreign countries, but 
the large majority were girls born in the United 
States, educated in American schools, and set- 
tled in Bridgeport before the war boom. Many 
of them had worked in this occupation for years ; 
nearly half, five years or longer. About one-fourth 
were thirty years old or more. Only one in 20 
was less than eighteen, but the majority were not 
yet twenty-four. 

They represented the important tasks for wom- 
en in cartridge-making and their clear descrip- 
tions of their work gave a vivid picture of women 
in munition plants. 




ALTHOUGH Bridgeport manufactures a va- 
riety of munitions, nearly all of the thou- 
sands of women employed in connection with 
them are at work upon one single product, car- 
tridges.* For the most part their work is fairly 
light and easy and calls for natural dexterity and 
speed rather than for long training. The shell of 
the cartridge, or the cartridge case, is made by 
fashioning a small round disk of brass or copper 
into a thimble-shaped metal cup, which in succes- 
sive processes is drawn out into a longer, thinner 
tube. It is finally equipped at one end with a small 
percussion cap called the primer and tipped at the 
other with the bullet. The explosion of the primer 
fires the charge of powder which in turn sends out 
the bullet. 


Several of the early processes on the cartridge 
cases are performed on dial machines, before 
which the women operators are seated. The wom- 
en receive the material in the form of the small 
brass cups from which the cartridge cases are to 
be formed. The worker slips the cups into hollow 
dies set in the revolving dial, and these pass under 

* See note, p. 3. 



punches which draw out the cups into longer and 
thinner cylinders. The women said that this work 
(called drawing) was easy but very exacting and 
something was "apt to happen to the machine" 
if their attention was diverted. Sometimes the 
machines were run at such speed that they 
had to be stopped to allow them to cool, and 
they were likely to get out of order when geared 

The successive drawings leave the tubes uneven 
in length, and they are clipped to conform to 
standard. Women feed the shells into automatic 
machines which perform this process, known as 

After the cartridge case has been shaped, the 
"head" is fitted with a small percussion cap called 
the primer, a process which is also performed on 
a dial machine. The primer has already been 
loaded with fulminate of mercury, one of the most 
powerful explosives used, and the girls are always 
afraid the primers will explode in the machine if 
they are in any way defective. 

Unless the cartridge conforms precisely to speci- 
fied dimensions and structure it is a worthless 
product. To avoid premature explosion, failure 
to explode at all, or failure to fit the rifle for which 
it is made, its parts must be carefully inspected 
again and again throughout the process of manu- 
facture. Large numbers of girls worked as in- 
spectors, an occupation which requires good eye- 
sight, but for which youth and inexperience are 
not obstacles. "We are running a kindergarten 



in our department this summer," said a woman 
who was in charge of a number of fourteen and 
fifteen-year-old girls who were working as inspec- 
tors in the summer, but were planning to go back 
to school in the autumn. 

One of the most important inspections takes 
place just before loading. The girls watch for 
any imperfections and especially for "high" pri- 
mers, or primers that are not fitted closely down 
into the heads of the shells. Another important 
inspection occurs just after charging. The girls 
make sure that the proper amount of powder is in 
the shells, that none have been left half-empty, and 
that no powder is spilled. 

Formerly women had actually loaded both pri- 
mers and shells, but by the summer of 1916 this 
part of the work was usually done by men. Work- 
ing at the machine which inserts the charge of 
powder in the open end of the empty cartridge 
case, or "shell," is a group which usually consists 
of two men and four or more girls. The girls 
fill plates with primed shells and the men place 
them in the machines which put into each shell the 
proper amount of powder. According to the com- 
pany officials, smokeless powder is used for war 
goods, and is much less dangerous to handle than 
black powder. 

The number of girls included in the investiga- 
tion who were at work in these different processes 
is shown in Table 5. 








Plate filling 









31 a 


140 6 

"Includes anvilling 3, instructing 3, annealing 2, pointing 2, 
shelling paper shells 2, stamping 2, varnishing 2, winding 2, as- 
sembling 1, drilling 1, lubricating bullets 1, making battery cups 1. 
pasting 1, placing wads in paper shells 1, piercing 1, shaking 1, 
sizing primers 1, stock work 1, swaging 1, weighing 1, and labeling 1. 
Some of these processes were performed in making sport goods. 

Information as to occupation is not available for 25 of the 165 
women included in the investigation. 

About a fourth were inspectors. Others were 
drawing, trimming-, priming, plate-filling, head- 
ing, packing, gauging, and loading, while in a 
miscellaneous group no less than 21 other proc- 
esses were represented. 

Cartridge-making, with its many processes, is 
not a new occupation for women, but the rush of 
war orders and the speeding up process, seemed 
likely to increase the liability to accidents and dis- 


For the six months from May 25 to November 
25, 1916, 574 accidents to munition workers in 
the fourth district of the state, resulting in inca- 
pacity for a day or longer, were reported by em- 
ployers, in accordance with law, to the Connecticut 



Workmen's Compensation Commission. All the 
plants which manufacture munitions in this dis- 
trict are situated in Bridgeport. In the only two 
plants which employed women, 33 accidents to 
women occurred. During the same period, in one 
of the largest plants of the district, 83 claims for 
compensation were made by munition workers, of 
which 25 were made by women. Something more 
than trivial injury is implied in these cases, since 
by the terms of the law, compensation cannot be 
claimed unless disability has lasted for more than 
ten days.* Thus it may be said with almost exact 
accuracy that in the munition industry in Bridge- 
port one woman was injured each week through- 
out the year seriously enough to disable her for 
ten days or longer. These figures, of course, take 
no account of injuries due to industrial poisoning, 
or to illness caused directly or indirectly by the 
work and its conditions. 

Representatives of the company have made the 
statement that while there have been a few fatal 
accidents among the men, there have been no fatal 
accidents to women workers for several years. 
They also declared that a committee on accidents 
exists, and that thousands of dollars have been 
spent on safety appliances, but as further informa- 
tion was denied the investigators, the methods of 

* Under the Connecticut Workmen's Compensation Act, 
compensation amounting to 50 per cent of weekly wages is 
paid during the period of disability for injuries causing in- 
capacity for more than ten days. Work accidents resulting in 
incapacity for ten days or less are not compensated. 



the committee cannot be described here nor its ef- 
ficiency gauged. 

Fear of the danger of accidents was constant 
among the employes, and together with rumors 
that were rife indicated the need for such a 
frank policy of publicity as to accident pre- 
vention as has been adopted by progressive em- 
ployers elsewhere. The girls' statements are of 
great significance as suggesting the psychological 
difficulty of working in constant fear. Some had 
seen serious or even fatal accidents, and a number 
who had themselves experienced injury told the in- 
vestigators of hands maimed by exploding primers 
or fingers crushed in the presses. One girl showed 
two crooked fingers, permanently stiff, which had 
been injured by an unguarded machine a year 
and a half before. The punch broke, flew out and 
penetrated the two fingers ; blood poisoning set in, 
and the girl suffered severely for two months. "I 
often used to complain about that machine," she 
said, "but they didn't put guards on it until after 
I was hurt." Her case was one afterwards found 
on the records in the Bridgeport office of the Work- 
men's Compensation Commission of Connecticut. 

Work with the loaded primers and shells, they 
said, was never free from danger. One worker 
described her experience some years before when a 
girl beside her in the loading room was killed, an- 
other seriously injured, and she herself struck by 
a piece of machinery. "We always run," she 
added, "but you never really have time to get 
away. It's all over before you know what's hap- 



pened. It's just as if a big wind came and blew 
you across the room." 

Even small explosions made the new girls very 
nervous, but through familiarity with dan- 
ger experienced workers paid little attention to it. 
A kind of fatalism possessed some of them. "We 
have only once to die," said a woman who had seen 
men seriously injured, and had herself been pros- 
trated by the force of an explosion, "and it might 
as well be in the shops as anywhere else." 

Workers spoke of the fact that the charging ma- 
chines had lately been "put in cages," as one of 
them explained, "so if there's an explosion they 
won't fly all over the room." The general testi- 
mony was that since the passage of the Connecti- 
cut Workmen's Compensation Act in 1913 the 
machines have been better guarded. But accident 
prevention has not gone far enough to rid work 
in the loading rooms of serious dangers. 

Furthermore, after injuries are received a gen- 
eral ignorance of the terms of the law or a kind 
of inertia about taking the necessary legal steps 
often prevents employes from getting the assist- 
ance provided by the terms of the act. "One of 
the firemen told me I could get compensation from 
the company," said a woman whose eye had been 
hurt, "but I've never bothered about it," thus ex- 
pressing in one casual sentence the attitude of 
many of the employes toward the accidents that 
happen during the course of their work. 

In common with other American states (except- 
ing Massachusetts and California), Connecticut 



makes no provision for compensation for occupa- 
tional disease.* Processes in the munition indus- 
try requiring the use of fulminate of mercury en- 
tail a double risk. Not only is there need of con- 
stant caution on account of possible explosions, but 
also from the risk of poisoning. Fulminate of 
mercury is irritating to the skin and to mucous 
membranes. The Newman Committee in its stud- 
ies of the health conditions in English munition 
plants recognizes fulminate dermatitis and con- 
junctivitis as one of the industrial intoxications 
caused by work on war material.t 

Many of the women working on the priming 
machines and in the loading room in the Bridge- 
port factories attributed eruptions of the skin, 
inflamed eyes and abscesses to the use of fulmi- 
nate of mercury. Several showed little scars on 
their hands and arms where eruptions had "dried 
up." Individuals differ greatly in their suscep- 
tibility to this irritant, many being able to handle 
it with impunity, while others develop inflamma- 
tion of the skin so severe as to necessitate their 
giving up the work. One girl who two years 
before had left a lower paid position in a store for 
a $12 one in the munition factory believed that 
the fulminate of mercury was undermining her 
health. She said that she felt sick most of the 

*An amendment to the Compensation Act, introduced into 
the Connecticut legislature in the winter of 1916-17, provided 
for the inclusion of occupational diseases, but failed of en- 
actment as law during the session. 

t Health of Munition Workers Committee. Memorandum 
No. 8. Special Industrial Diseases, p. 6. London, 1916. 



time, and that few girls stayed in her department 

In this factory, according to the company's 
statement, as many as 1,500 men and women 
were exposed to the danger from fulminate. Of- 
ficials admitted that they had recognized the 
danger and said that about every two months 
their own physician made medical examinations 
of the workers who handled fulminate, and that 
it was their policy to transfer to other departments 
those found suffering from poisoning. Such steps 
as these are recommended as preventive measures 
by the Newman Committee which also urges pro- 
tective clothing for workers exposed, and facilities 
and opportunities for frequent washing. 

In our own country Dr. Alice Hamilton of the 
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, who has 
made special investigations of occupational poi- 
sons for the bureau, in a letter to the Foundation, 
gives similar advice concerning fulminate poison- 

Scrupulous personal cleanliness is the only preventive 
of this form of poisoning, and this would really involve 
frequent hand washing, for it is almost impossible, es- 
pecially in hot weather, to avoid touching the face or 
neck or arms with the fingers. For those who are very 
susceptible to fulminate poisoning, there is nothing to do 
but to give up the work. Otherwise they run the risk of 
a very distressing eruption which may spread over the 
whole body. 

Although the company stated that it had spent 
large sums of money in installing sanitary appara- 



tus and that when the plants were enlarged and 
rebuilt the sanitary arrangements were greatly 
improved, one worker employed in a process in 
which she handled fulminate reported that em- 
ployes in her department were forbidden to wash 
their hands until after the factory whistle blew 
for dismissal, and that the only washing facilities 
were long troughs with a number of spigots. She 
also said that no towels were provided. In Eng- 
land, the Newman Committee recommended that 
protective clothing, overalls, caps, veils, and 
aprons should be supplied in all munition facto- 
ries. No such precautions were reported in the 
Bridgeport shops. 

In addition to the facts already noted that in 
Connecticut no compensation is provided for in- 
jury due to industrial disease, and that workers 
suffering from accidents may claim no compensa- 
tion unless disabled for more tnan ten days, there 
is still a third to be mentioned. The Connecticut 
compensation, law requires the payment of only 
50 per cent of the injured worker's wages. In 
contrast with the more advanced legislation in 
other states, such as New York, Massachusetts 
and Ohio, which allow two-thirds of wages, this 
is inadequate. The larger percentage of wages 
to be paid during disability is, of course, a greater 
incentive to employers for prevention, as well 
as a more adequate protection for the worker 
whose normal income is cut off because of an 
accident, while his expenses are usually increased. 



THE urgent need for speed and the desire for 
maximum output without too great an in- 
crease in the capacity of the plant led to the 
employment of women for long hours by day, and 
to the organization of night shifts, in order that 
there might be no cessation in production at any 
time during the twenty-four hours. It is com- 
monly supposed that such a scarcity of labor as 
prevailed in Bridgeport when its industries began 
to expand gives workers an advantage In bargain- 
ing and enables them to secure favorable condi- 
tions. The story of what happened In this com- 
munity is, therefore, of more than local impor- 
tance. Neither the shortage of labor nor the labor 
legislation of the state proved to be a real protec- 
tion for the unorganized working women against 
the well-known dangers of long hours and night 

Since the outbreak of the war, Bridgeport has 
had the reputation of being an "eight-hour town." 
The impression is doubtless due to the widespread 
story of the successful strikes for the shorter work 
day carried on during the summer of 1915, as 
already described. Wages did not appear to be 
rising with profits, and, as rents and the cost of 
living were increasing, unrest prevailed. It was 
then that Bridgeport was disturbed by the numer- 



ous strikes which established the eight-hour day 
with ten-hour pay in so many industries. 

It is a common experience, however, that to in- 
sure the continuance of gains suddenly won some 
form of organization is needed. Sometimes new 
standards may be maintained by the enactment 
of a labor law; sometimes their permanence de- 
pends almost wholly upon the effectiveness of 
trade unionism. The women in the munition in- 
dustry had not themselves won the eight-hour day 
through their own efforts, and were not organized 
to maintain it. Hence they were unable to offer 
any effective resistance when little by little they 
were robbed of the gift, their schedules of work- 
ing hours being modified, first by frequent over- 
time, and later by the company's regarding this 
overtime as part of the regular daily hours. "We 
are still considered an eight-hour department," 
said one worker in 1916, "but considering don't 
make the day seem any shorter when they keep 
us working ten. hours as they did every day last 

The women were reluctant to return to the lon- 
ger hours. "If the girls had only stuck together 
we could have kept the eight-hour day," said one, 
"but you can't do anything with those foreign 
girls." The money earned by the time over eight 
hours was often referred to as a "bonus," but 
in fact the extra work was usually paid for at ex- 
actly the same rate as the previous eight hours. 
Generally the girls would gladly have exchanged 
the additional pay for the two hours' leisure. 



On one of the hot summer days a busy worker 
said : "We begin at seven in the morning and if 
the work piles up on the boss, we have to stay 
till five or six o'clock in the evening. That's been 
pretty regular for the last three or four weeks. 
I was all in yesterday, and when four o'clock came 
I told the boss I couldn't sit at the machine any 
longer, but he wouldn't let me off." 

That by 1916 the eight-hour day was not uni- 
versal is shown in Table 6, indicating the daily 
hours of the women interviewed during that sum- 
mer. The schedule was not uniform in all de- 
partments, and for some workers it varied on 
different days of the week. The table shows the 
longest day in each weekly schedule, since the 
long day was most frequent during the week. 


Daily hours of labor 


Less than 8 hours 
8 hours and less than 9 
9 hours and less than 10 
10 hours 



134 6 

In cases where the schedule varies on different days of the week, 
the longest day has been tabulated, since this is the length of work- 
ing day which occurs most frequently during the week. 

Information as to daily hours of labor is not available for 31 
of the 165 women included in the investigation. 

Thus nearly three women in 10 worked ten 
hours a day, and 53 of the 134 reporting worked 
nine hours or longer. The phrase in the table, 
"less than eight hours," means the actual work- 
ing time exclusive of time allowed for lunch. 



The luncheon time for this group was fifteen min- 
utes. Thus "less than eight hours" actually rep- 
resented the eight-hour shift. The extraordinarily 
short luncheon recess was a peculiarity of the 
eight-hour schedule and was usually mentioned as 
the principal objection to the shorter day. Nearly 
everybody found fifteen minutes too brief to be 
either salutary or restful. Moreover, in certain 
rooms the workers were not allowed to leave dur- 
ing that time and the foremen were careful to see 
that the limit was not exceeded. In other cases 
the quarter hour could be stretched to cover twenty 
or twenty-five minutes. Some girls, especially 
those who on account of the early hour of begin- 
ning work had left home without breakfast, ate 
their lunches at their machines whenever they 
liked. In a few instances where the eight-hour 
day had been succeeded by ten hours, a correspond- 
ing change in the length of the lunch time had not 
been made and the long stretch was relieved only 
by the brief quarter hour interval. 

Students of the effects of industrial fatigue have 
laid stress upon the dangers of long working 
hours without proper intervals for rest and food. 
The recommendations of the English Health of 
Munition Workers Committee* are emphatically 
in favor not only of an hour for the main meal 
period, but also of short breaks of ten or fifteen 
minutes during the long spells of work. Even 
on eight-hour shifts the minimum allowance for 
meal time should, in their opinion, be half an hour. 

* See Part II, pp. 135-137. 



After the proper co-ordinations are learned high 
speed has few inherent dangers; but if women 
driven to a pace that approximates their maxi- 
mum possible speed are kept at work without ade- 
quate intermission throughout a long day, or even 
a comparatively short one, cumulative fatigue sets 

Table 7 shows the length of the lunch period for 
the women for whom information on this point 
was secured. 


Length of lunch period 


Fifteen minutes 
Thirty minutes 
Sixty minutes 





"Information as to length of lunch period is not available for 3 
of the 165 women included in the investigation. 

The majority, 63 per cent, had a full hour for 
lunch, but 34 per cent had the short recess of only 
fifteen minutes. Eight hours with an interval of 
but fifteen minutes at the task of slipping end- 
less successions of small brass cups into revolv- 
ing dials, with machines run at a speed so high 
that they must be stopped at intervals to allow 
them to cool, or of feeding shells into automatic 
machines, or of testing cartridges hour after 
hour, cartridge after cartridge, with the discovery 
of defects as the only break in the intensity of 
attention is a strain that should be required from 
no one. 



Twenty-one-year-old Nellie, even though she 
came fresh from a New Hampshire farm, found 
the eight-hour day's work on the heading machine 
very heavy. "The vibrations of the big machine 
shake your body so that after a few hours you're 
all tired out and nervous. There never is a day 
when I'm not tired at night, and I'm as strong 
as most." 

It has already been shown that in the different 
departments of the plant the schedules of hours 
were not uniform, and even for the same worker 
the length of the days varied within the week. 
The length of the working week showed, therefore, 
great diversity, as Table 8 indicates. 




Weekly hours of labor 


45 hours and less than 47 
47 hours and less than 49 
49 hours and less than 51 
51 hours and less than 53 
53 hours and less than 55 
55 hours 
More than 55 hours 





133 6 

Of the 35 women in this group, 1 worked 46& hours one week 
and 3934 hours every alternate week. 

"Information as to weekly hours of labor Is not available for 32 of 
the 165 women included in the investigation. 

More than one-fifth of the women whose hours 
could be ascertained worked the legal limit of 
fifty-five hours. According to their own state- 
ments, two worked more than the maximum time 
allowed by law. The majority worked less than 
forty-nine hours a week. "The long day certainly 



does take the starch out of you," said one girl who 
had worked fifty-five hours a week. These facts, 
taken in connection with Table 6, showing the 
daily hours on the longest day for each worker, 
indicate that long days were offset by shorter 
days in such a way as to secure a comparatively 
moderate working week. Nevertheless, it is the 
usual experience of workers that an eight-hour day 
on two days of the week cannot fully compensate 
for the fatigue of a ten-hour day on the other four. 

The variations in the working day were illus- 
trated in the hours of one young girl who was em- 
ployed at the process of anvilling. She began work 
at 7 a. m. She was working 53J hours a week on 
an irregular schedule which set the closing hour 
at five o'clock the first three days of the week, four 
o'clock on the fourth, and three o'clock on the last 
two, with only a quarter of an hour for lunch each 
day of the week. 

In the hours of beginning work, listed in Table 
9, we have further indication of variations in the 
individual schedules. 


Hour of beginning work 


7 a.m. 
3 p.m. 
6:30 p.m. 
11 p.m. 




"Information as to hour of beginning work is not available for 23 
of the 165 women included in the investigation, and two others not 
counted in the table began work at 7 a.m. one week and 3 p.m. the 



The large majority of the girls for whom in- 
formation was secured went to work at seven 
o'clock in the morning. Others began at three 
o'clock in the afternoon, at half-past six in the 
evening, or eleven o'clock at night. According 
to statements made by representatives of the com- 
pany, three months later, namely on December 5, 
1916, the summer of 1916 had been a transitional 
period in the management of the works. Under 
a new administration new schedules of hours had 
been gradually introduced in different- depart- 
ments and women were then employed in the 
works in but two shifts. The day shift worked 
the first five days in the week from 7 a.m. to 4 :36 
p.m., with one hour off at noon, and on Saturday 
from 7 a.m. to 12 m., a total of eight hours and 
thirty-six minutes on each day from Monday to 
Friday, with a working week of forty-eight hours 
in all. Overtime might prolong the day until 6 
p.m. five days in the week, making a total working 
week of fifty-five hours, the limit allowed by the 
Connecticut labor law. The night shift worked 
from 6:30 p.m. to 4:36 a.m., with a half-hour re- 
cess, nine hours and thirty-six minutes each night 
from Monday to Friday, inclusive. The overtime 
schedule was reported to be until 5 a.m., making 
ten hours a night and fifty hours a week. Thus, 
although the hours have been changed, night work 
for women continues, and both by day and by 
night women not infrequently work as long as 
ten hours. Moreover, the changes have resulted 
in lengthening rather than in shortening hours. 



Night work for women was a conspicuous fact 
in the neighborhood of the big Bridgeport car- 
tridge factories when the field work of this inves- 
tigation was in progress in July and August, 1916. 
About seven in the evening a crowd of men and 
children began to line up outside the factory fence, 
carrying packages of food. Many of them were 
the husbands and children of the women who 
worked on the early night shift from 3 p.m. until 
11 p.m. During the fifteen minutes' rest period 
which came at seven o'clock they hurried down to 
the fence to get their lunches. Again, an hour 
before midnight, the women came out of the fac- 
tory with the crowds of men, and their places were 
taken by others who worked until seven o'clock 
in the morning. The day workers began at seven 
o'clock and stopped at three. In this way the 
twenty-four hours were divided into three eight- 
hour shifts. In some of the departments which 
operated on a different schedule women stayed all 
night long, working from half-past six at night 
until five in the morning. 

With few exceptions night work was unpopular 
with the young working girls of Bridgeport. Their 
natural desire for recreation, for the society of 
young people, found no outlet while they had to 
work or sleep in the evening hours when most of 
their friends were free. In fact, night work was 
not in great favor with those of any age. An 
exception was a widow who worked from 11 p.m. 
until 7 a.m., leaving her four-year-old daughter in 
her sister's care. She said that she liked the work 



in summer at night because the factory was cool 
then, and, except when the weather was very hot, 
she could usually manage to get about six hours' 
sleep in the daytime. Almost every one else who 
worked at night objected to it. Sufficient sleep 
was hard to get. Street noises and the ordinary 
household happenings made it doubly difficult to 
become accustomed to the unusual hours. Change 
of meal times often meant loss of appetite and in- 
digestion. Women in some departments were 
moved back and forth every two weeks from a 
night shift to a day shift, and these conditions 
made it even harder to acquire the habit of sleep- 
ing by day. Moreover, to timid women, who went 
to and from their work in the late hours of the 
night and in the early morning, the dark and 
lonely streets seemed a perpetual menace. To 
those who lived a long distance from the plant 
there was the difficulty of transit, for car service 
was overtaxed and during these hours jitneys are 
not always safe, especially for young girls. 

One girl who had been working in the cartridge 
factory for seven years in several different de- 
partments had been doing "priming" for six 
months. The preceding winter she worked on the 
night shift from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., but she found 
it impossible to eat or sleep normally and "nothing 
seemed right," so she changed back to the eight- 
hour day shift as soon as she could. "The girls 
certainly earn every cent they get," she said. 
"We have to work every minute without any let- 
up at all." 



Another, who alternated a day shift for two 
weeks with a night shift for the same period, 
said that although the two-week interval was not 
long enough for her to get accustomed to sleeping 
in the daytime, anything was better than working 
on the eleven-to-seven shift all the time, because 
being out on the streets late at night made her so 
nervous. A married woman, who had come to 
Bridgeport at the beginning of the boom, and 
whose husband also worked in a munition factory, 
said that she was first put on the shift from eleven 
at night until seven in the morning, and that at 
about five in the morning she used to get so drowsy 
she could hardly work. Later her hours were 
changed to the shift from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and 
she liked that much better; yet there was always 
the matter of getting home after eleven. She had 
learned not to take a jitney unless the passengers 
were women only. 

Mrs. J., an American-born woman who mar- 
ried a foreigner, and was helping to support their 
four children by working in the shops from half- 
past six at night until five in the morning, said 
that although the people on her shift were in 
the factory for ten hours and a half they did not 
by any means work all that time. Besides the 
half hour allowed for lunch, there was often a 
good deal of time to wait while the machines were 
being repaired. A "drag" took twenty minutes 
to repair and serious trouble longer. Several stops 
were sure to happen. The machines always ran 
badly after midnight, she said, but denied that the 



trouble came from the carelessness of the opera- 
tors. Nevertheless she admitted that it was so 
hard for her to keep awake that she had to sing 
and sometimes shout to prevent falling asleep. 
Workers on the day shift often complained that 
because of the careless use of their machines by 
workers on the night shift, they were forced to 
waste time and thus lose pay while repairs were 
being made. 

A problem of domestic arrangements, arising 
from night work, had been temporarily solved in 
a large family consisting of a man and his wife, 
Mr. and Mrs. B. (both working in munition fac- 
tories), their four children, Mrs. B.'s sister-in-law 
(also a munition worker), the latter's three-year- 
old son, and a man lodger. The two women di- 
vided the care of the house and children. Mrs. 
B. worked from three in the afternoon until eleven, 
while her sister-in-law's hours were from seven 
in the morning until three. "Of course, we don't 
get much chance to talk things over," Mrs. B. 
said, in speaking of her sister-in-law, "unless I 
can slip into her room at the shop before she goes 
off at three, and then I can tell her what I want 
the children to have for supper. She's nearly al- 
ways in bed when I come home at night." The 
story shows the abnormal effect of night work 
on family life. 

The only workers to whom the night shifts 
seemed acceptable were married women who 
wanted to take advantage of the chance to earn 
good pay in "the shops," as the cartridge factory 



was usually called, but who had homes and fam- 
ilies which needed their care during the daytime. 
Of course, the household duties were neglected, 
while the mother was making up her lost sleep. 
Sometimes older children had to bear the brunt of 
the housework and take care of the younger chil- 
dren besides. One little girl of eleven whose moth- 
er worked on an all-night shift swept the rooms, 
washed the dishes and took charge of three young- 
er children, including a baby of two years, while 
the mother slept. In spite of the industry of the 
young caretaker, the house was dirty and the chil- 
dren sickly looking and peevish. 

Night work for women, a ten-hour day, and a 
fifty-five-hour week were all permitted under the 
laws of Connecticut at the time of this investiga- 
tion.* In 1913 a bill had been passed aiming to 
prohibit night work in factories. The paragraph 
concerning night work read as follows : 

No person under sixteen years of age shall be employed 
in any manufacturing or mechanical establishment after 
six o'clock in the afternoon; and no such minor shall be 
employed in any mercantile establishment after six o'clock 
in the afternoon on more than one day in each calendar 
week, except during the period from the seventeenth to 
the twenty-fifth day of December of each year; and no 
such minor and no female over sixteen years of age shall 
be employed in any such establishment after ten o'clock 
in the evening. 

*This fact remains true as the report goes to press. Bills 
prohibiting night work for women were proposed during the 
session of 1916-17 in the Connecticut legislature, but they 
failed of passage. 



Time and the coming of the war showed that the 
intention of the law was better than its wording. 
Note the phrase "such establishment" in the last 
clause in the singular. "Obviously," said the oppo- 
nents of the measure, "it refers to a mercantile 
establishment, just mentioned, and not to a manu- 
facturing and mechanical establishment in the 
more remote clause. Moreover, even if you think 
it includes them both, it only prohibits work after 
10 p. m. At midnight a new day begins and the 
law says nothing about the hour in the day when 
a woman may begin work. Presumably she may 
begin when the clock has stopped striking twelve 
at night." Taking advantage of this defect, the 
munition companies, while awaiting a court deci- 
sion to show whether the law applied to them at all, 
decided to obey its strict letter but to avail them- 
selves of its inexactitude. Girls began work at 
6 p.m. on the night shift. At ten they stopped in 
accordance with the statute designed to protect 
them. For two hours they were free to amuse 
themselves in the factory. At midnight they be- 
gan work again, not to be released until six in 
the morning. Several of the women interviewed 
had worked on this shift. They stated that all the 
women on the shift were greatly fatigued, and 
one of them said that she had seen girls fall over 
on the floor asleep at their work. 

It was the judge of the court of the town of 
Killingly who made unnecessary this complicated 
observance of law by declaring that the prohibition 
of night work applied only to mercantile estab- 



lishments and not to factories, and thereafter 
nothing prevented the continuous employment of 
women at night in any factories in the state.* 

The neighboring states of Massachusetts and 
New York prohibit night work. In New York 
state the highest court in 1915 reversed its own 
earlier decision and declared that the evidence 
then before it showed that it was in the interest of 
the public health and morals to insure for women 
a period of rest at night. 

In its official position toward night work the 
United States has a lesson to learn from England. 
In the early days of the war England, as has 
been indicated, set aside the labor laws in order 
to expedite the production of munitions of war. 
Excessive hours of labor, night work and Sunday 
work became common in the English factories. In 
spite of the patriotic fervor with which English 
women entered the workshops and undertook the 
manufacture of munitions, fatigue accumulated 
with the long hours and hard work. The output 
became unsatisfactory in quantity. At last gov- 
ernment officials, facing the fact that the end of 
the war was likely to be very far off, and realizing 
that England's working force must be conserved 
for a long period of time, took up the problem 
from the angle of health as well as of productiv- 
ity. In September, 1915, a committee was ap- 
pointed Bunder the Ministry of Munitions "to con- 

* State vs. William Fittz. The decision was handed down 
October 31, 1914, in the Town Court of Killingly, Conn., by 
Judge H. E. Back. 



sider and advise on questions of industrial fatigue, 
hours of labor and other matters affecting the 
physical health and physical efficiency of workers 
in munition factories and workshops."* 

In the United States, in the workshops in which 
vast amounts of war materials are being manu- 
factured for the same conflict, no governmental 
review has been made of the new industrial con- 
ditions, except a study of occupational diseases 
due to work on munitions conducted by the federal 
Bureau of Labor Statistics. f Up to this hour 
manufacturers here have been turning out goods 
under conditions of work declared wasteful by 
the English investigators. Employers have argued 
that to work women as well as men at night was 
the only way to reduce the cost of maintaining the 
plants in order that they may yield a maximum 
profit, and for the same reason Bridgeport em- 
ployers seem to be lengthening daily hours. With 
the nation's new responsibilities, with food likely 
to be higher, with men workers in factories likely 
to be fewer and with women assuming some of 
their tasks, there should be no further delay in 
getting full information about the extent and 
effects of night work in munition plants all over 
the country, the length of day and night shifts, 
the provision for rest periods and the safeguards 
against accidents and industrial poisoning. 

*The reports of the Health of Munition Workers Com- 
mittee are summarized in the second part of this book, pp. 


fU. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 219. Indus- 
trial Poisons Used or Produced in the Manufacture of Ex- 
plosives, by Dr. Alice Hamilton. Washington, 1917. 


ALTHOUGH rumor exaggerated the pay actu- 
ally received, wages in munition factories in 
Bridgeport were in fact distinctly higher 
than the old rates for unskilled operatives in Con- 
necticut's principal industries before the war. The 
reason is easily explained. The munition factories 
were obliged to enlarge their plants. The work- 
ing force had to be greatly increased, and it must 
be done quickly to fill the urgent war orders. The 
offer of higher wages was necessary not only to at- 
tract employes away from other industries in 
Bridgeport, but to bring in recruits from other 
communities. The effect on workers, on other in- 
dustries, and on the standards of the community 
itself is an interesting chapter in social economy. 
It should be remembered that the sudden expan- 
sion followed a period of depression. When the 
boom did come, it took no vivid imagination to 
arouse in the workers a desire to share in the 
expected windfall, especially as it followed a pe- 
riod of dearth. 

Some of the old employes of the cartridge fac- 
tory were jealous of the newcomers who had not 
served their apprenticeship of low wages, but on 
the whole, the prevailing spirit was a good hu- 
mored wish to let everybody have a share. This 
was well expressed by an Irish girl who had 



worked for twenty years in the cartridge factory 
and was contented with the $8.00 wage which she 
had earned at labeling. "0' course it's true that 
the new girls that's comin' in make as much as me 
who's been in the place comin' twenty years. Some 
there is that take that as a cause o' complaimn'. 
Some there is that ain't satisfied with anything 
the good God gives them. I say to myself, 'If I'm 
all right why not let the ithers in on the good 
times too?' " 

Employers in other industries were forced into 
severe competition for labor, and some of them 
tried to point out to prospective employes the su- 
perior advantages of a normal trade over a war 
boom. The alluring advertisements which ap- 
peared in the daily newspapers at the time told the 
story of the acute labor situation. One factory 
advertised : 


Men and Women for Factory Work 

Another advertisement ran : 

On Power Presses, Tapping Machines and Light, 

Clean Assembling. 

8 Hour Shop. 

Others were: 


A few A-l Machinists, 48-Hour Shop 

Saturday afternoons off. 




Excellent opportunity for skilled 

men to earn increasing bonus. 


Altogether, an outsider would probably have 
concluded that for labor Bridgeport had become an 
El Dorado. Manufacturers gravely commented on 
the independence of their employes due to the ab- 
normal demand for their services. "If you don't 
like the way I work I can leave and get a job at 
the munition shops," was said to be the retort of 
the employe whose work was criticized or whose 
demands were refused. Housewives saw in the sit- 
uation a new explanation of the chronic shortage 
in domestic servants. The older inhabitants re- 
gretted the influx of "foreigners," the increasing 
number of arrests, and the growth of cheap amuse- 
ment places, and predicted dire consequences 
to the morality of the city. Citizens com- 
mented on the effect of the "fat pay envelopes" 
on the working people. "They don't know 
what to do with their money," said a Bridgeport 
manufacturer in speaking of the higher wages 
that "good times" had brought to his em- 

Yet the statistics of the weekly earnings 
of women as shown in Table 10 do not give 
the impression of an abnormally high rate of 





Weekly earnings 


Per cent 

Less than $8 



$8 and less than $9 



$9 and less than $10 



$10 and less than $11 



$11 and less than $12 



$12 and less than $13 



$13 and less than $14 



$14 and less than $15 



$15 and less than $16 



$16 or more 






Median weekly earnings 


"Information as to earnings is not available for one of the 165 
women included in the investigation. 

Only one of the 164 women whose earnings are 
given in Table 10 earned less than $8.00 a week 
as a rule, but half the workers earned less than 
$11 a week. The exact median earnings were 
$10.97. Six-tenths of one per cent earned $16 or 

These wages were undoubtedly high when com- 
pared with the low level generally prevailing for 
women in factories. In 1913 a special commission 
which had been appointed to investigate the condi- 
tion of employment of wage-earning women and 
minors in Connecticut, made its report to the leg- 
islature. Their data on wages showed that in that 
period, just preceding the war, the median wage 
for women in the cotton industry was $9.57, in 
the manufacture of silk $7.65, in the making of 
corsets $7.87, in the metal trade $7.43, and in 



manufacturing rubber $7.56.* No data are avail- 
able to show what wages were paid in the cartridge 
factory in 1913, but the general testimony indi- 
cates an increase after the war began. Whether 
or not workers were actually better off in 1916 
than before the war can be ascertained by con- 
sidering wages in comparison with the cost of 
living. The inroads made by soaring rents and 
the rapidly rising cost of food and other necessi- 
ties are discussed in the following chapter. 

New girls were generally paid a fixed day rate 
until they learned how to do the work, but ex- 
cept for this brief period the majority were paid 
on a combination time and piece basis. A flat day 
rate was paid for which a specified output was re- 
quired and which became in effect a guaranteed 
minimum. For production beyond the require- 
ment, payment was on a piece basis so that a 
premium was placed on large output. Some work- 
ers, however, were paid altogether by piece rates 
while some few others such as stock girls and in- 
structors were regular week workers. In some 
departments, however, according to the girls' 
statements, no girl was allowed to make more than 
a fixed sum. In the summer of 1915, when many 
departments of the cartridge factory organized 
the work in three shifts, beginning at 7 a.m., 3 
p.m., and 11 p.m. respectively, a simultaneous ad- 
vance was made in piece rates, making it usually 

*State of Connecticut, Report of the Special Commission to 
Investigate the Conditions of Wage Earning Women and 
Minors in the State, 1913, p. 36. 



possible to earn as much in eight hours as had 
been earned formerly in ten. For night work a 
small bonus was customarily paid. 

Apparently the increases were not so great for 
the clerical force. In one establishment an of- 
ficial stated without qualification that the factory 
force was better paid than the office. A girl who 
was earning $11.50 a week heading shells spoke 
regretfully of the sacrifices her family had made 
in taking her sister out of the factory and giving 
her a stenographer's training ; for the sister, back 
in the shops as a stenographer, was earning only 
50 cents a week more than the girl in the factory 
who told the story. 

As in the gaining of the eight-hour day, the 
real test of the new standards secured for labor 
by the sudden growth of an industry is their per- 
manence. When once the larger force was organ- 
ized, the eight-hour day was gradually lengthened. 
So, during the summer of 1916, the management 
appeared to be engaged in a policy of reducing 
rates of pay. "We used to get 12^ cents a thou- 
sand," said an inspector, "and that certainly did 
make slick pay for a girl. But now they only give 
us nine cents for the same work." Even where 
piece rates were not reduced the tremendous speed 
at which the machinery was driven, according to 
the testimony of many of the girls, so injured the 
machines that they could not turn out as much as 
they used to. The continual stoppages for repairs 
made big inroads on the workers' earning time. 

Three munition workers in one family ascribed 


their decreased piece rates in the factory to the 
competition of foreign girls. It seemed probable 
that other factors were the desire of the man- 
agement to cheapen the cost of production and the 
inability of the workers to maintain the standard 
of wages which had been won merely by the force 
of circumstances. 

The results of good pay are seldom ques- 
tioned, especially by the people who receive it; 
but in the case of the women munition workers of 
Bridgeport, it has already been made clear that 
serious issues have come up along with the high 
rates of wages. In an attempt to fill the large 
war orders as fast as possible, women have been 
induced to work long hours and at night, and have 
been put to work near or with explosives in ways 
which sometimes mean accident, industrial poison- 
ing or other illness. 

It must not be forgotten also that along with 
the good luck of the workers strong enough to 
meet new demands for speed in industry, may go 
increased distress for those members of the com- 
munity unable to compete with the young and the 
vigorous. In the annual report of the Board of 
Public Charities of Bridgeport for 1915-16, occurs 
this significant paragraph: 

While a general increase in wages resulted from boom 
conditions, yet the widowed, the physically handicapped 
and the inefficient suffered. In the rush the poor were 
institutionalized, while the border-line cases were sub- 

Higher wages brought about through a general 


leveling up of industrial standards are beneficial, 
but higher wages due to a temporary boom are 
sometimes danger signals. Their advantages may 
be offset by a strain easily endured for a time, 
but which in the long run may undermine the 
health of workers and change the character of the 
community. High wages lasting only a brief time 
are not sufficient compensation for lowered stand- 
ards in the other conditions of work. 

In addition to wages that permanently insure 
the fundamentals of life, and shop conditions 
that insure the welfare of the worker, there are 
other needs such as those of education and health 
protection, transportation, and housing, which 
must depend upon the collective resources of the 
community. Bad housing, disregard of law and 
order, the breakdown in civic responsibility jeop- 
ardize the morale of a modern industrial town. 
Thus the industry which through too rapid growth 
has bewildered civic consciousness and rendered 
municipal resources inadequate must be judged 
not merely by its high wages, but by the sum 
total of its influence on standards of living. 



THE effect of a sudden overgrowth of popu- 
lation on recreation, education, transporta- 
tion, and especially housing, was clearly pic- 
tured in the homes of munition workers. It was 
impossible for lack of time to make a detailed bud- 
get study. Nevertheless facts about the great dif- 
ficulty workers had in finding a place to live and 
the rapid rise in rents, and comments on the in- 
creasing cost of other necessities, showed that its 
industrial expansion had brought to the city large 
problems not to be solved by individual action. In 
so far as the households of the 100 girls living at 
home may be considered typical, the incomes of 
the families of munition workers were relatively 
high. It is safe to assume that as a rule their in- 
comes should have made it possible to secure com- 
fortable and healthful living conditions. But even 
though many of the families interviewed earned 
much more than the amounts which are usually 
described as "living wages" they often suffered 
from a lack of housing accommodations, and of 
educational and recreational facilities. 

Weekly family incomes ranged from $10 a week 
to $60 or more. Table 11 shows the significant 
fact that in the group of 86 families who gave 
full information concerning their earnings, only 
27 had weekly incomes of less than $30. These 






Families having 


Weekly income 

1 con- 

2 con- 

3 con- 

4 con- 

5 con- 












$10 and less than 815.. 
$15 and less than $20. 
$20 and less than $25 . 







$25 and less than $30 . 
$30 and less than $35 . 






$35 and less than $40 . 






$40 and less than $45 . 






$45 and less than $50 . . 





$50 and less than $55 . . 






$55 and less than $60 . . 





$60 or more 











86 a 

"Of the 100 families for which records were secured, 14 did not 
give complete information on family incomes. 

were all families with not more than three wage- 
earners. The highest incomes were made pos- 
sible by the combined contributions of several 
workers. Exceptional even among the 12 fami- 
lies whose weekly incomes are in the highest 
class were the M's. The high wages of the four 
working sons and daughters added to the father's 
earnings as a machinist, totalled more than $4,000 
a year, when they were all working steadily. They 
made a picture of normal, happy family life, with 
the mother caring for the household, and the two 
youngest children in school. They lived in a large, 
comfortable house, with a fruit and vegetable gar- 
den beside it, and all the signs of prosperity were 
in evidence. 

Another family group with a yearly income of 
over $4,000 was made up of three generations: 



a widow, her four children, two of whom had mar- 
ried and come home to live, and her two grand- 
children. Five of the family were wage-earners 
(three in the munition shops), and the widowed 
mother added to the income by subletting rooms 
in an adjoining flat. 

The women munition workers showed them- 
selves to be generous contributors to the family 
income, as Table 12 shows. 


Per cent of earnings given to home 


Less than 25 
25 and less than 50 
50 and less than 75 
75 and less than 100 



97 a 

Of the 100 women interviewed, who were living with their 
families, two did not give information on this point and one re- 
ported only irregular contributions to the home. 

Almost exactly one-half of those who reported 
on this point turned all of their earnings into the 
family purse. Many of the younger workers 
seemed to recognize an unquestioned filial duty in 
giving their pay envelopes unopened to their moth- 
ers. On the other hand, the dependence of many 
of the families upon the women workers gave 
them an important position in directing family 
life. Even young girls, on account of their earn- 
ing capacity, had a controlling hand in making 
family plans. 

An example of the importance of the woman's 


contribution to the family income is seen in the 
eventful history of a young English couple. The 
husband had come from England to Bridgeport 
eight years before, and sent for his wife and child 
to follow him. Hard times soon came, and his 
wife told of the terrible days when her husband 
could get only two or three days' work a week, 
and when they had to make the pay of $4.50 cover 
the week's expenses for themselves and their baby, 
with the added anxiety about how they could man- 
age when the next baby came. The hard times 
passed, but after two more children were born 
the husband again found himself unable to provide 
for all their wants. He was not a skilled work- 
man, and he began to fear that his wages could 
never keep pace with the increasing family de- 
mands. His wife came to the rescue, and while 
she was earning $9.00 a week on the night shift 
he was advancing from the work of a machinist's 
helper by a series of regular promotions which 
would eventually bring him a position as a ma- 
chinist. In the meantime, by using their joint earn- 
ings, they had been able to move into one of the 
company's new apartment houses, where they were 
enjoying the hardwood floors, bathroom, set tubs, 
electric lights, and gas for cooking. "It's 'eaven 
compared with the old place we used to live in,'* 
said the wife. 

The pretty young bride of a recently appointed 
officer on the police force had left the factory 
when she married, but her "boss" sent for her to 
come back, and on account of the good pay she 



returned. The weekly income of more than $30 
permitted the couple to live comfortably in a flat 
so neat and orderly that it might have passed for 
a model in an exhibition. Cut glass shone from 
the sideboard, and even the floor was polished. 
Mrs. B. said that she and her husband took turns 
by weeks in keeping the floors in order and in 
doing the heavy cleaning. 

The facts about income have already shown that 
in the majority of families reporting on this point 
three or more wage-earners contributed to the 
maintenance of the home. As a rule the munition 
workers belonged to fairly large families. The 
average number of members, in the 100 families 
investigated, was 5.1. Two families had 14 
members each, but with these exceptions the fam- 
ily groups were composed of not more than 12 
persons. In many of the smaller families no male 
wage-earner was found. The age and sex of the 
wage-earners are shown in Table 13. 

Eighty-nine per cent of the male heads of fam- 
ilies, 100 per cent of other males sixteen or over, 
and 68 per cent of the women sixteen or over, were 
at work when the investigation was made. Only 
five out of the 15 children between fourteen 
and sixteen were at work, a fact which may be 
partly accounted for by the lack of demand in the 
munition shops for children of those ages. None 
of the children under fourteen were at work. Of 
the 286 wage-earners sixteen or over in these fami- 
lies, 179 or 62.6 per cent were employed in muni- 
tion shops. 






Age and sex 


Persons gainfully 


As a per 
cent of all 

Male heads of families 
Other males 16 years of age or 
Females 16 years of age or 
Children 14 years of age and 
less than 16 
Children less than 14 years of 









The advantages of the comparatively high in- 
comes brought in by the employment of so many 
wage-earners in each family, were in part offset 
by the conditions of living. The families of muni- 
tion workers were quite ready to talk of the soar- 
ing rents. In some cases it had meant the hard- 
ship of family separation. One widowed mother 
who worked on the night shift in the shops was 
not able to keep her home for her four children. 
Three of them were put in an orphan asylum, and 
she took the youngest with her and went to board 
with a relative. 

Stories of the hardships of the rent situation 
found their way into the papers. They told of 
one woman with six children, whose husband had 
recently been moved to a sanitarium and who com- 
plained to the city clerk that her rent was raised 
from $17 to $18, the next month to $19, and two 
months later to $24. When she made the com- 



plaint she had just been notified that the rent 
was about to be raised once more. Another tenant, 
living in a four-room apartment in a three-family 
house, was ordered out because he could not af- 
ford to pay $25 a month. Within seven months 
the rent had already been raised from $16 to $20. 
The three large families in the house were com- 
pelled to use one toilet, and there were no bath 
tubs or wash tubs in the house. 

Even a long record as desirable tenants often 
did not free a family from the rent-raising bug- 
bear. An English-born mother and daughter had 
lived for twenty-five years in the same house, and 
had the pride of long possession in their flat. The 
mother had also been a munition worker in her 
youth, and remembered the founder of the shops. 
It was distressing to have a speculator buy the 
house and raise the rent from $12 to $14, and 
later to $16. It was then sold to an Italian with 
the understanding that the rents were $18, and 
naturally the new owner insisted upon having that 
amount paid. 

At one time it was rumored that landlords were 
very generally refusing to take families with more 
than one child, and even a family composed of two 
or three adults found it hard to get a "rent." One 
young married couple, with an income of $18 a 
week from the husband's work as loader at the 
cartridge shop, could not find a flat they could af- 
ford, and lived for the first months of their mar- 
ried life in one room, with the furniture they had 
bought for their new home stacked about them. 



One family was found in utter despair. The 
house in which they lived was to be sold to a Hun- 
garian who could not speak English. They were 
obliged to move. The old mother, when inter- 
viewed, had just returned from a search for a 
rent. She had first hunted in the neighborhood in 
which they had long lived with their friends, and 
where they wished to remain. Failing to find 
anything there, she had searched the city and final- 
ly gone to look at the company houses, but the 
only apartments for rent there rented for $35, a 
sum entirely beyond the means of a family in 
which the three young daughters were the only 
wage-earners. They would have to "clear out" in 
a few days, and the chance of finding anything 
they could afford seemed small. 

Another family which had been living in one of 
a group of rather decrepit four-family houses on 
the outskirts of the city, had its rent for five rooms 
raised within a year from $8.00 to $16.00. This 
family found that the way out was to move to one 
of the nearby beaches, preferring a small cold 
beach cottage to the struggle for space in the city. 
Other families also solved the problem in the same 
way. In the fall of 1915, when people who had 
been staying at the shore for the hot months at- 
tempted to return to the city, rooms were so hard 
to get that many decided to stay where they 
were. They put up extra stoves in the flimsily 
constructed cottages and shacks and prepared 
to spend the winter months at the shore. The 
season was a severe one and they suffered from 



cold. But the frequent snow and ice, the lack 
of proper sanitary and heating arrangements and 
the long car ride to their work, were not the only 
drawbacks to healthful home life. The usual 
cheap summer amusement places still flourished 
and exercised distinctly undesirable influ- 

Not only did the old residents of Bridgeport suf- 
fer hardships from the housing shortage and the 
boom in rents, but newcomers found it difficult, 
if not impossible, to secure living quarters. Many 
stories were told of men who had come to work in 
the munition plants, but who after a short stay 
had been forced to return because they could 
find no home to which they might bring their 

Bridgeport is proud of her tree-lined streets on 
which are modest one- and two-family houses, set 
back from the sidewalks, in yards many of which 
contain good-sized grass plots, hedges, and trees. 
Some of these houses are owned by the families 
who live in them, people who regarded themselves 
as fortunate when they saw their neighbors forced 
to leave their rented homes and go to live in the 
crowded three-decker wooden tenements permitted 
by the old law. The building code of 1915 forbade 
the construction of the latter type, but just before 
its passage row after row of flimsy structures was 
erected, to accommodate* f rom three to 12 fam- 
ilies in each building. The foreign-born people 
were usually found in the neighborhoods where the 
three-deckers abounded. 



The tendency of the one-family house to give 
way to the multiple dwelling was exemplified in a 
comparison of the types of houses occupied by the 
100 families of munition workers investigated. 
Only 24 families lived in single houses. Twenty- 
seven of the remaining 76 families lived in two- 
family houses, a type now common in Bridgeport. 
Almost all of the other families were in three-, 
four-, or six-family houses. 

Twenty-three of the 100 families owned their 
homes, and in some instances they held other 
property besides. A German family valued their 
seven-room house at $4,500 and were waiting to 
sell it for that amount so that they could move to 
a 260-acre farm which they owned in the nearby 
country. A mother and daughter had divided 
their old homestead into four apartments, keeping 
one for themselves. 

Table 14 shows the rent paid by the families of 
munition workers interviewed. 

Within the city itself all available accommoda- 
tions were made use of, and munition workers 
were found living in every section. (See map 
showing location of homes of women munition 
workers, frontispiece.) The rent paid varied with 
the locality, the type of house, and the number of 
rooms occupied. The majority of the 100 families 
were living in rented houses or flats. In more 
than one-half of the rent-paying families the 
amount paid per month was $16 or more. As a 
rule families occupied at least four rooms. Four 
families had houses of 10 rooms each, and paid at 







en fe 



s d 

02 W 






tH O 


iH C<l <N M N CO N CC * r-l i-l 





least $20 a month for rent for the ample accom- 

Viewed from metropolitan standards the rents 
cited are perhaps not exorbitant, but for Bridge- 
port families they were contrasted not with rents 
in other cities, but with the markedly lower 
rents of a year before. The most usual increase 
in the monthly rent was $2.00 or $2.50 in the 
course of the year, although it ranged as high as 
$8.00, $9.00 or $10.00 in some cases. Twelve 
families had had to pay an increase of between 20 
and 30 per cent and eight had had their rents 
raised by 50 per cent or more of the amount which 
they were paying a year before. The median in- 
crease was 22 per cent. 

Again and again householders said that they did 
not dare to ask for badly needed repairs because 
they feared that their request would only be made 
an occasion for extortionate advances. The situ- 
ation was of course hardest on families with high 
standards of living. "The Italians and Hungari- 
ans can stand the high rents because they can 
crowd together," said one American woman. 

With the rapidly increasing rents, overcrowding 
was inevitable. A Hungarian family of 11 
persons, five of them children under fourteen, oc- 
cupied four rooms in a flimsy "three-decker" in the 
rear of a dirty court. Another Hungarian family 
crowded its 14 members into four rooms in still 
another three-decker. The amount of space per 
person in the homes of the women interviewed is 
shown in Table 15. 




Persons per room 


Not more than 1 
More than 1 and not more than 1 Yi 
More than 1 Yi and not more than 2 
More than 2 




The heavy demand for houses and the conse- 
quent congestion were reflected in the fact that 
11 families were living under such crowded condi- 
tions that each family averaged more than one 
and one-half persons to each room. 

Clearly Bridgeport was not an Arcadia for the 
hundred families studied in this investigation. 
Although they represented high incomes as well 
as low, increased rents and high prices absorbed 
much of the surplus in even the well-to-do fam- 

While the more prosperous families were able 
to give their children business or high school train- 
ing some of the poorer ones were barely able to 
provide the necessaries of life. In other instances 
they failed to do even that and were obliged to 
resort to public charity. This was the case in 
certain families who had no male wage-earner. 

Each month it became less possible to pare down 
other items in order to pay the high rents, since 
all the necessities of life were becoming more ex- 
pensive. Less meat, less bread, less milk were to be 
had for a dollar than formerly. "New York has 
nothing on us for high prices," said a woman 



who kept account of her daily expenses and had 
just compared it with her brother's in the larger 
city. "The prices here in Bridgeport are some- 
thing fierce," was the comment of a loader who 
had only himself and his young wife to provide 
for. "Only four days ago I brought home $20 
which should have lasted a week. Now there's only 
$2.10 left." 

High prices were reflected not only in the stor- 
ies of girls living at home, but affected also the 
women who were boarding or living away from 
their families. 

Alice had been a salesgirl in a Massachusetts 
city for six years before she decided to come to 
Bridgeport in 1915 to work in the cartridge shops. 
Here she earned $11 a week, paid $2.50 a week 
for her room and took her breakfast and supper 
at a nearby boarding house. Her expenses for 
lodging and food, including her lunch, came to 
more than $6.00 a week. In her opinion with the 
cost of clothes, carfare, washing and all other ne- 
cessities, no girl could live in Bridgeport on less 
than she made. 

Mary was a frail woman of forty, quite alone 
in the world, who rented a five-room apartment 
and to meet the cost of living sublet three of her 
rooms to lodgers, three men and three women. 
When visited, she was recuperating from a se- 
rious illness which still, after four weeks at the 
hospital and at home, had left her too weak to 
return to work. Though her earnings as a rule 
came to $10 a week, without the income from her 



lodgers she could not have made both ends meet 
during her sickness. The $10 a week when she 
was well did not permit sufficient savings for ill- 

Mrs. P. had been forced to go back into the fac- 
tory after she had divorced her husband. For 
$3.00 a week she rented a furnished room from a 
woman who allowed her to prepare her own break- 
fast and do some laundry work in the kitchen. She 
bought her supper in a restaurant where one could 
get a "real good meal" for 25 cents. She made 
$13 a week and was able to save for the rainy day 
which she believed was sure to come. 

Mrs. S. was a capable worker of more than fif- 
teen years' experience in munition making. She 
began work at sixteen and except for the brief in- 
terval of her married life had been working ever 
since in several different departments. She had 
no dependent persons to care for and had found 
a comfortable home with friends who lived in an 
attractive new house near one of the parks. For 
this she paid $5.00 a week. Her regular $13 a 
week for instructing the young inspectors gave 
her security and enabled her to put by a little each 
week after she had paid for her board and other 

Helen was a girl of nineteen who, left alone in 
the world by the death of both parents, had been 
at work ever since she was fourteen years old. 
For nearly four years before she went into muni- 
tion making she had worked in a novelty and paper 
box factory, never earning more than $7.50 a 



week. During the year in which she had been in 
the shops her wages had increased from $7.85 to 
$10 a week. She inspected paper shells, an occu- 
pation which she said was a strain for girls whose 
eyes were not strong. She spoke enthusiastically 
of the shops and said that the foremen were espe- 
cially considerate of girls whom they knew to be 
alone and dependent on themselves. She was 
boarding with a friend whom she had known for 
a long time and therefore paid only $4.00 a week 
for board. 

It is not surprising that some of these workers 
should have been able to live on a lower wage 
than others. On the whole, however, for girls 
away from home, $10 or $11 seemed to be neces- 
sary for a fair standard, unless a girl lived with 
friends who gave her board and lodging at less 
than commercial rates. At $13 saving was pos- 
sible. It should be recalled that half the women 
workers investigated earned less than $11. 

The effect of rising rents and overcrowding on 
the burden of poverty in Bridgeport is reflected in 
the annual report of the Board of Public Charities 
for 1915-16. 

The overcrowding of homes has been the outstanding 
feature of the year's events in Bridgeport. The effects 
of this condition have manifested themselves in problems 
of (a) immorality and illegitimacy, (b) the sheltering of 
evicted families in institutions pending adjustment, (c) 
increased hospital care. 

The abnormal inflation of rent values caused much 
misery. It was formerly possible to find a fair rent for 



$12. Rents sometimes doubled in value as the demand 
increased. Wholesale evictions of the poor followed. 
Families were broken up. Children were placed in insti- 
tutions. Attendant upon this was the loss of home ideals 
and standards. 

The report of the city physician for the same 
year gives similar testimony. 

Too many people are living in inadequate homes, sleep- 
ing spaces being limited, houses too closely built, shutting 
out light and air and resulting in poor ventilation and 
sanitation. Basement rooms are copious breeders of state 
and city charges. Landlords rent these rooms in order 
to make real estate pay and care little for the general 
welfare and the city's health. 

Room congestion is a prolific source of trouble. Bear 
in mind that twenty-five per cent of the tubercular cases 
come from homes and rooming houses that are classed 
as overcrowded. Of course, poor housing and overcrowd- 
ing are not being set forth as the only cause of tubercu- 
losis; nevertheless, they have an important bearing upon 
the matter, and are the contributing factors that we can 
help remove and control and, therefore, are subjects 
which we should have seriously in mind with a definite ob- 
jective viewpoint. 

To accommodate the increasing number of girls 
in the munition plants, three large buildings of the 
dormitory type were started by the Remington 
Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Company. The 
plans provided for excellent construction and the 
buildings have a commanding site overlooking the 
city, but construction was greatly delayed. 
Not until March 23, 1917, was the first of these 



dormitories opened for occupancy, and at that 
time work was still to be done before the full quota 
of 127 girls could be accommodated. By the end 
of May, 1917, 75 women workers were living in 
the one dormitory, which even then was not quite 
completed, while the other two were still in the 
hands of carpenters and plasterers. The build- 
ings are three stories high, of fireproof construc- 
tion and attractive appearance. There were a 
large number of double rooms for which each of 
the two girls who occupied them paid $2.00 a week. 
Single rooms might be had for $3.00, and space in 
an open dormitory on the top floor for $1.75 a 
week. These rates included light, heat, bed linen, 
and towels, and care of the room. Each room had 
a built-in wooden wardrobe, and metal lockers 
were provided in the open dormitory. The rooms 
were neatly furnished in gray "cottage" furniture 
a chiffonier with mirror, a writing table, a 
chair, and a couch bed. The walls were untinted 
white plaster, which gave the rooms a rather bare 
look, but the two windows which were found in 
most of them provided abundant sunshine and 
air. Each floor had two lavatories, each equipped 
with one bath, one shower, two toilets and six 
wash basins. In the basement was a cafeteria 
where breakfast and dinner were served at mod- 
erate rates. Lunch would be "put up" for those 
girls who wished to take it with them to the fac- 
tory. A "fudge kitchen" on the second floor, 
reading and reception rooms with magazines and 
Victrola on the main floor, and a room for dancing 



in the basement which was equipped with a piano 
were provided for recreation. There was also a 
laundry in the basement for the use of the girls. 
The efforts of this one company as early as 1916, 
however, were seen not to be sufficient, and it was 
clear that in the interest of public health some 
action by voluntary associations or by city or state 
would be needed. 



THE facts of this investigation show what may 
happen as the result of a rapid expansion of 
any industry in any community at any time. 
When a national or an international crisis brings 
the need and the incentive for maximum produc- 
tion the tendency is to lower the standard of work- 
ing conditions, in forgetfulness of the crucial fact 
that the conservation of the health and freedom 
of the workers is a fundamental necessity for the 
nation. Even the desire for maximum production 
cannot be fulfilled if the workers' strength be un- 
dermined. This is not theory. It is based on ob- 
servation and experience and is poignantly illus- 
trated by the sobering results of England's experi- 
ence in the present war.* Night work for women, 
long hours by day, fatigue with its insidious ef- 
fects on the powers of resistance to disease, speed 
and strain, a sudden growth in population, diffi- 
culties in transportation, inadequate facilities for 
recreation, congestion and overcrowding in the 
homes of the people, with their inevitable results 
in disease and immorality, lowered standards of 
living with rising costs, these are the conditions 
from which Bridgeport has suffered. Since this 
investigation was completed they have become, not 
a possible future local problem of certain indus- 
trial centers, but a. present condition of conse- 

* See Part II, pp. 97-145. 



quence to the whole nation. Everywhere, in the 
papers, in the legislatures, in workingmen's bodies, 
and in welfare associations of citizens the question 
is being discussed : "How can we maintain maxi- 
mum production at the minimum human and social 

How Bridgeport as a city has met its new in- 
dustrial and civic conditions should, therefore, 
be set down as a practical guide for other com- 

In the old days, under the old order, as in most 
American towns, Bridgeport merchants and manu- 
facturers went their several ways intent on mak- 
ing and selling goods, leaving to the mayor and 
the board of aldermen and the party bosses behind 
them all concern for the housekeeping of the city. 
But the new and unique conditions roused a new 
spirit. The merchants and manufacturers, the 
educators and the physicians, the Chamber of 
Commerce, civic and philanthropic associations 
united for action. They got expert advice and 
went to work. They found that they had to 
grapple with fundamentals. It was like build- 
ing the city over again. It needed sewers 
and bridges. The citizens needed pavements on 
which to walk, cars in which to ride. The chil- 
dren needed schools and parks. Workers needed 
houses and the sick better hospital care. Money 
had to be got to do these things. The first step, 
therefore, was to appropriate funds. In April, 
1916, a proposition providing for the largest bond 
issues in the history of the city was submitted to 



the voters and carried. The issues provided for 
were as follows: 

Purpose Amount 

Pavements $ 500,000 

Schools 300,000 

Sewers 500,000 

Bridges 250,000 

Police and Fire Departments 125,000 

Public clinic 75,000 

Parks 275,000 

Street extension . 250,000 

Total issue $2,275,000 

A recreation commission was appointed which 
looked beyond the enlargement of the beautiful 
park along the Sound and the smaller parks 
throughout the city and undertook the big prob- 
lem of all-the-year-round recreation. The crowds 
of young men and women who loitered along the 
streets when the working day was done, the lines 
stretching a block in either direction waiting to 
get into the overtaxed movies, the throngs rush- 
ing for cars to take them to the nearby beaches, 
these were the people who made urgent better 
recreational opportunities of the city. The com- 
mission obtained expert assistance, securing a 
representative of the Playground and Recreation 
Association of America to survey the situation in 
Bridgeport and to give advice. 

Behind the appointment of the recreation com- 
mission was the report of the vice commission, 



which had laid bare some of the secrets of the un- 
derworld, and had strongly urged the appointment 
of a body to provide opportunities for healthful 
amusement and exercise. 

In the early summer of 1916 the vital question 
of public health forced itself upon the attention 
of the city. Cases of streptococcic infection, at- 
tributed to the milk supply, spread alarm through- 
out the city, and brought forth determined efforts 
to locate the source of the trouble and to secure 
clean milk. Closely upon this followed the dan- 
ger of an epidemic of infantile paralysis, which 
was rife in New York City. No time was lost in 
securing the services of an expert. Dr. Abraham 
Sophian, of the Rockefeller Institute, was put in 
charge of the work of the Board of Health in 
the summer of 1916. Protective measures were 
at once enforced and it is believed that the prompt 
and thorough work of the department saved the 
lives of many children. 

Another far-reaching benefit to the city came 
from the general clean-up and the educational 
health work done by the inspectors and visiting 
nurses of the Board of Health. The daily press 
of those weeks reflected the citizens* growing ap- 
preciation of the need of adequate protection of 
the public health, and the sum which was voted in 
April, 1916, for public clinics is now considered 
inadequate for the up-to-date out-service work 
which is planned to supplement hospital care. 

Nothing better illustrates the new spirit that 
captured the city in 1916 than the Minerva-like 



appearance of its life-sized Chamber of Commerce, 
which undertook a program for providing houses 
in which working people could live comfortably, 
terminal and track facilities to accommodate the 
enormously increased freight traffic, and street ex- 
tensions for the crowded thoroughfares. 

The housing campaign was the most vigorous 
undertaking of the Chamber of Commerce. Its 
members believed that the filling of this need was 
the key to the continued prosperity of Bridgeport. 
Long before the influx of labor and the demand 
for house-room had disclosed its insufficient re- 
sources, it had become clear that the city was not 
immune from the common housing problems of 
our eastern manufacturing centers. The Bridge- 
port Housing Association had been formed in 1914 
to make a serious study of the situation and to set 
its dangers before the eyes of the public. Under 
the auspices of the Association, Miss Udetta D. 
Brown made a study of three districts of the city 
in March, April, and May, 1914, the results of 
which were published by the Association in a small 
volume entitled A Brief Survey of Housing Con- 
ditions in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The report 
dealt mainly with construction, fire protection, 
sanitation and maintenance, and concluded with 
the recommendations that such a service as that 
of visiting housekeeper should be provided, that 
vacant yards should be transformed into gardens, 
and that a housing company should undertake the 
building of good small houses. In addition it rec- 
ommended that the city should require the record- 



ing of vaults and cesspools, collect ashes and rub- 
bish, extend the sewers, provide additional inspec- 
tors, establish a city code, and strengthen existing 

Largely as a result of this investigation and of 
the continued activities of the Bridgeport Housing 
Association in carrying on a publicity campaign, 
a new code was adopted in the spring of 1915, 
containing an important provision aimed at the 
common three-decker tenements. The restriction 
was as follows: 

No frame building shall be hereafter erected or altered 
over two stories in height, or to be occupied by more than 
four families. But nothing herein shall be taken to pre- 
vent the construction of blocks of frame buildings sep- 
arated by fire walls as specified in this Code.* 

This section has since been modified to permit 
raising frame buildings on a brick foundation, by 
adding the following provision : 

Nor shall this ordinance be construed to prevent the 
raising of any two-story frame building heretofore erected 
by constructing thereunder a first story of brick when 
the proposed plan of alteration complies in all other re- 
spects with the ordinance of this city and will not in the 
opinion of the Board of Building Commissioners, if car- 
ried out, endanger the public safety; and provided that 
in no case shall the first story in any building so altered 
be used for dwelling purposes. f 

As already described, the demand for labor in 

*Building Code of the City of Bridgeport, Chapter XIII, 
Section 233. 

fAmendment of March 20, 1916. 


1915 gave a different aspect to the housing situa- 
tion. Even had the extensive system of company 
houses started by the Remington Arms-Union 
Metallic Cartridge Company been completed the 
whole number would have been only a fraction of 
that required. 

When the Chamber of Commerce undertook its 
housing campaign in 1916, it sent representatives 
to study housing projects in other cities, and 
charged them to distinguish paying investments 
from the "fancy" experiments of semi-philan- 
thropic agencies. Bridgeport meant to conduct 
her municipal business efficiently and in a busi- 
ness-like way. The services of Mr. John Nolen, 
city planner, were secured, and the housing com- 
mittee of the Chamber of Commerce proceeded to 
act on the recommendations given in the report 
on local housing conditions prepared by him, and 
submitted in August, 1916. 

Mr. Nolen stated that the situation in Bridge- 
port was "desperate" and recommended the organ- 
ization of a house building company as "the only 
good solution of the problem." The Bridgeport 
Housing Company was formed, capitalized at 
$1,000,000 and backed by several of the most prom- 
inent and public-spirited citizens in the city. The 
plans called for houses to accommodate 1,000 
families, with rents ranging from $15 to $25 a 

Bridgeport's awakening had found its way into 
advertisements which had appeared during the 
spring in the papers in the name of the Build for 



Bridgeport Movement. A number of the exhorta- 
tions follow : 


We are waking up in Bridgeport. Some of us are a 
little dazzled by seeing what was before our eyes all the 

A lot of us are asleep, yet a sort of restless, active, 
hypnotic sleep, caused by keeping our eyes fixed on the 
next dollar in front of us. 

Those who are awake are looking ahead to many more 
dollars than are now in sight, a steady secure stream 
of them made permanent by a stable prosperity governed 
by intelligence, by fair play, by honest work. 

We are not going to have this gambler's prosperity 
handed to us on a silver platter indefinitely. And we can't 
club it out of each other, when there isn't enough to go 
round, even if we are silly enough to try it. ... 

Remember always that the value of a dollar isn't meas- 
ured by the figure 1 with a sign before it. Its measure is 
what you can get for it, the work you can make it do for 

The biggest work a dollar can do for you just now is to 
build homes that will pay. 

It is going to take many dollars all we can spare. 

Big men in Bridgeport are giving their brains and 
knowledge to the problem, and they will lend their money. 

They can't do it all. It isn't fair to Bridgeport nor to 
us to let them do it all. It's part of our job. 

All of us must join in and DO IT NOW. 

By this time we all know where we stand; if we have 
two good feet and a head of our own we can balance on 
top of them. 



Let's agree right now to go into partnership with our 
own town and work like honest, loyal partners. 


As to the Bridgeport Housing Company, it was 
announced that the methods which it would em- 
ploy in its operations were : 

1. Scientific planning along advanced lines, 
which should determine the character and arrange- 
ment of roads and houses, and thereby secure the 
best and cheapest results. 

2. Wholesale operations and efficient manage- 
ment, thereby effecting economies in construction. 

3. The use of durable materials, thereby sav- 
ing the serious depreciation in cheap frame dwell- 

4. Limiting the number of houses per acre, 
thereby avoiding the evils of overcrowding. 

5. Providing for community buildings and 
playgrounds, thereby promoting the social life of 
the neighborhood. 

6. Eliminating excessive profits, the earnings 
above 6 per cent to be used for the benefit and de- 
velopment of the property. 

7. Distributing payments for a home over a 
period of years, thereby bringing it within the 
reach of all who desire to improve their home con- 

8. Assisting the workingman to own his home 
by providing a financial scheme of small regular 
payments within the limits of his wages. 

Bridgeport has had good reason to be proud of 


her accomplishments. Faced with emergencies 
which taxed her resources beyond their limits, she 
set herself vigorously and persistently to her tasks. 
The newly self-conscious city saw that her future 
growth should be through ordered progress. She 
has formed the habit of securing expert advice. 
She has already begun to reach higher standards 
of public health, of schools, of recreation, and of 

Accomplishment of these civic tasks, excellent 
as they are, does not, however, cover all that 
Bridgeport must yet do for the good of the com- 
munity. Daily living outside the factory may be 
made richer and happier and more healthful by 
these civic activities, but the improvement in in- 
dustrial conditions has not been part of the pro- 
gram of the city. Women still work at night, a 
lamentable reversion, and protection against acci- 
dent and industrial diseases in munition shops is 
still inadequate, as is the amount of compensation 
for disability due to injuries. Connecticut has 
many statutes regulating industry, but this study 
shows that they have been of little avail in con- 
trolling working conditions in the munition fac- 
tories, and that both the provisions of the law and 
their enforcement should be strengthened. 

Frequent reference has been made in these 
pages to the experience of England in discovering 
that satisfactory production depended upon rea- 
sonably short hours, one day of rest in seven, and 
good working conditions in the plant. In the fol- 
lowing section the results of these investigations 



by the British Ministry of Munitions are summa- 
rized. Their findings, taken in connection with 
the facts discovered in Bridgeport before the war 
began, show that it has now become a matter of 
urgent, national need to safeguard conditions of 
work not only in the munition industry, but in all 
occupations essential to the life of the nation. 









OUT of the exigencies of the great war there 
have developed in England striking indus- 
trial problems. After nearly a year of waste- 
ful production that exhausted men and machinery, 
government officials realized that instead of 
"sprinting as if for a short race, the course would 
be a long one" ; and that the labor power of the na- 
tion should be as zealously safeguarded as its mili- 
tary strength. The futility of helter-skelter haste 
was dramatically brought home to all England by 
the famous shell shortage in the spring of 1915, 
for which Kitchener was blamed. It was a case of 
the situation's running away with those who 
should have controlled it. The sudden call for 
large amounts of clothing, munitions, food, and 
other necessities of war time, had taken the manu- 
facturers completely by surprise, and the rush to 
fill orders demoralized industrial conditions. 
Overtime became the rule, night work and Sun- 
day work were common. Trade unions saw the 
gains of years swept away. Nearly a year was 
gone before the government assumed responsi- 
bility for organizing the huge business of making 
war supplies, and almost another year was re- 
quired to complete an organization which was 

The crux of the situation was of course in the 
munition industry. August, 1914, found the na- 
tion without enough guns, shells and other war 



equipment to carry on its great military opera- 
tions -and with no way to get them quickly or in 
large volume. In response to the unprecedented 
demand for these materials had come an imme- 
diate expansion of the industry, which soon ex- 
hausted the supply of skilled men and forced 
employers to recruit their workers from the ranks 
of the unskilled, both men and women. Stimu- 
lated by the exhortations of the press and of cab- 
inet officers and by the public sentiment generally, 
the expansion proceeded, but without effective 
organization or control until the spring of 1915. 
In the meantime the problem in England had 
changed during the last six months of 1914 from 
a serious unemployment situation in July and Au- 
gust to a definite shortage of labor in December. 
Early in 1915 a campaign was planned to recruit 
workers, and conferences were urged to settle the 
grievances of those already at work. In Febru- 
ary a committee was appointed to deal with the 
disputes constantly arising. In March the Board 
of Trade planned a mobilization of women to do 
the work of men who had been called to the front, 
which brought immediate response. In that same 
month Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Ex- 
chequer, effected a truce with the trade unions 
which should last through the war, and secured 
for the government, through the passage of the 
Defense of the Realm Act, the right to comman- 
deer any factory and turn it over to the produc- 
tion of war munitions. Finally, in April, after 
eight and a half months of war, it was announced 


that Lloyd George would head a board "to organ- 
ize the national output of munitions of war," 
and about a month later, at the time of the for- 
mation of the Coalition Cabinet in May, 1915, a 
Ministry of Munitions was created, with Lloyd 
George as its chief. 

This step gained, a program of action was de- 
cided upon. A munition bureau was organized; 
all factories making war material were placed 
under the control of the government ; skilled work- 
men at the front were recalled to work in muni- 
tion plants ; men in the colonies and in the United 
States, experienced in the making of munitions, 
were offered free transportation to England; a 
suspension of union rules was brought about, and 
finally, in July, 1915, the passage of the Munitions 
of War Act effected. This bill prohibited strikes 
and lockouts in war industries, substituted com- 
pulsory arbitration, and suspended all trade union 
rules calculated to hamper production. On the 
other hand, as a concession to labor in recognition 
of the sacrifices it was making, the profits of 
employers were limited, and amounts in excess re- 
verted to the national treasury. Provision was 
also made under the act for the recruiting by the 
trade unions of a voluntary army of workmen 
from among their members who would sign agree- 
ments to go to work wherever their labor was 
needed. The existing local munition committees 
were transformed into labor courts, with power 
to fine individual workmen for "slacking," for in- 
fraction of agreements signed by them as mem- 



bers of the voluntary army of workmen, and for 
any offenses "tending to restrict production," and 
with the further power to make decisions in re- 
gard to changes in existing wage rates. 

By this time workers on munitions saw them- 
selves stripped of all rights and safeguards that 
had been theirs in time of peace. Confusion 
reigned in the industry. In the first burst of pa- 
triotic fervor, everything had been sacrificed to 
speed. Labor laws had broken down; excessive 
hours of work prevailed. Thousands of women, 
many of them totally unaccustomed to factory 
work, had taken up the tasks of the men who were 
fighting. Employers, taking advantage of the fine 
spirit in which the women offered their labor to 
the nation, were in many cases paying very low 
wages. Labor unions were dissatisfied with the 
setting aside of their rules, and especially with the 
so-called "dilution" of labor. The country fairly 
seethed with threatened and active labor disturb- 

The Munitions Act seemed to aggravate rather 
than to appease this dissatisfaction. The muni- 
tion courts, especially, appeared to antagonize the 
trade unionist, because of biased administration 
of the provisions of the Act. On account of the 
power of employers to refuse discharge certificates 
to their employes, workers could be kept wageless 
and idle for weeks at a time, or be forced to ac- 
cept wages far below the standard rates, or be 
compelled to work excessive overtime, at night or 
on Sunday, and without extra remuneration. These 



and other arbitrary powers the munition manu- 
facturers were permitted to exercise without re- 
straint by tribunals made up, as The New States- 
man put it, of "persons who seem to regard it as 
a patriotic duty to refuse to listen to the work- 
man's 'excuses/ and to inflict summary and ex- 
emplary punishment in every case brought before 
them."* The London Times admitted that the 
Act had occasioned some serious friction in im- 
portant munition areas because of certain details 
of administration. The composition of the trib- 
unals, the lack of uniformity in wages of women 
and unskilled men in government factories and in 
"controlled" establishments, and the administra- 
tion of the leaving certificate system were the "de- 
tails" which had aroused the resentment of the 
workers. The government, however, and the 
middle and upper classes failed to understand the 
nature of Labor's grievance and considered it only 
a petty disloyalty which made workers rebel at 
personal injustice in a time of national crisis. 
The Munitions Act thus failed to accomplish 
its main purpose, namely, the recruiting and hold- 
ing of workers in sufficient numbers to insure an 
adequate supply of munitions. Moreover, dis- 
satisfaction does not tend to increase output. The 
shortsightedness of a policy which permitted 
workers to be worn out by exhausting conditions, 
especially at a time when they could not be readily 
replaced, was brought home anew to government 
officials. They realized then, too, a thing which 

* The New Statesman, November 6, 1915, p. 99. 


was not evident at the beginning of the present 
conflict that the war would not be over in a 
month or a year, and that the health of the work- 
ers must be conserved if production was to be 
maintained over a long period. 

The realization of these facts on the part of 
those entrusted with the task of supplying arms 
and ammunition for the British forces led to the 
appointment, in September, 1915, of a committee 
under the Ministry of Munitions, called the 
Health of Munition Workers Committee, "to con- 
sider and advise on questions of industrial fatigue, 
hours of labor, and other matters affecting the 
physical health and physical efficiency of workers 
in munition factories and workshops." This 
Committee proceeded, under the chairmanship of 
Sir George Newman, Chief Medical Inspector for 
the Board of Education, and with a membership* 
well qualified for its duties, to inquire into the 
actual conditions then prevailing, with a view to 
making recommendations which would result not 
only in greater comfort for workers, but also in 
increased production by a more physically fit and 
better satisfied labor force. The findings of the 
Committee have been embodied in a series of 

* Sir George Newman, M. D. (Chairman), Sir Thomas Bar- 
low, Bart, K. C. V. O., F. R. S., G. Bellhouse, Factory De- 
partment, Home Office, Professor A. E. Boycott, M. D., 
F. R. S., J. R. Clynes, M. R, E. L. Collis, M. B., Factory De- 
partment, Home Office, W. M. Fletcher, M. D., F. R. S., 
Secretary of Medical Research Committee, Leonard E. Hill, 
M. B., F. R. S., Samuel Osborn, J. P., Miss R. E. Squire, 
Factory Department, Home Office, Mrs. H. J. Tennant, E. H. 
Pelham (Secretary). 



memoranda and reports, submitted in November 
and December, 1915, in January, July, August, 
and October, 1916, and in February, 1917. The 
subjects treated may be grouped, for considera- 
tion here, under five main heads: (1) hours of 
labor; (2) health and hygiene; (3) general wel- 
fare provision; (4) employment of women; and 
(5) juvenile employment. 


Under pressure of the need to increase produc- 
tion beyond any conception of past experience, the 
first established principle of working conditions 
to give way was, naturally enough, the restriction 
of hours. This was the problem, also, which first 
attracted the attention of the Health of Munition 
Workers Committee.* The work of the Com- 
mittee in this field covered the questions of Sun- 
day labor, overtime, night work, rest periods, and 
holidays, as well as special study of the relation 
of output to hours of work. The standards set 
forth in their recommendations do not represent 
the ideals of the Committee, but are especially 
adapted to the exceptional emergency, and are 
based on the expectation that the war will be of 
long duration. 

Sunday Labor: A memorandum on Sunday 
labor was presented soon after the appointment 
of the Committee, as an interim report, the matter 

* Three memoranda are devoted to a discussion of this sub- 
ject: No. 1, Sunday Labour, November, 1915; No. 5, Hours of 
Work, January, 1916; No. 12, Statistical Information Concern- 
ing Output in Relation to Hours of Work, July, 1916. 



being deemed of such urgent importance that it 
was thought desirable not to delay its discussion 
until they were in a position "to deal with other 
questions falling within their terms of reference." 
The Committee found, strangely enough, the 
great majority of employers opposed to Sunday 
work. They were beginning to realize that from 
the administrative end it imposed too severe a 
strain on the foremen, who were difficult to re- 
place ; and, from the economic standpoint it meant 
higher wages with but slight increase in output 
and irregular attendance on other days of the 
week. They felt, also, that in its religious and 
social aspects "the seventh day as a period of 
rest" was "good for mind and body." In spite of 
this attitude on the part of employers, however, 
Sunday labor had been widely adopted, partly on 
account of the heavy demands on output and the 
necessity of taking every means of increasing 
production, and partly on account of the desire of 
workers to make the double, or at least increased, 
pay which was given. In many cases the hours of 
labor on Sunday were considerably shorter than 
on other days, but there were still a number of 
factories where they were as long as on other 
days, if not longer, as in cases where the change 
from a twelve-hour day shift to a twelve-hour 
night shift was made by working for a continuous 
period of eighteen hours. Permits for Sunday 
work even for "protected persons" (i. e., women 
and young persons under eighteen years of age) 
had been issued for 50 plants to cover women, 



boys and girls, and for 30 more to cover boys 
only. These permits had often been conditioned 
on the workers being employed for short hours 
on Sunday, or on having time off on Saturday. 
According to the Chief Factory Inspector's report 
for the early period of the war,* many employers 
assumed that the labor laws were not binding in 
the emergency, and disregarded their restrictions 
without applying for permits. For men, more- 
over, such permits were not required, and their 
employment on Sunday was consequently more 
widespread than that of "protected persons." 

Statistics on the output from Sunday labor were 
not available at the time of the publication of the 
Committee's first report. One important firm, 
however, found that by instituting a working week 
of six rather than seven days, the average weekly 
hours, instead of being diminished, actually in- 
creased from 59J to 60, indicating an improve- 
ment in attendance on the six work days. More- 
over, the hourly output had increased. Many 
other employers conceded that seven days' labor 
produced only six days' output, and that reduc- 
tions in Sunday work had not resulted in any ap- 
preciable decrease in product. Even less observ- 
ant managers had begun to detect the effect of 
strain on the workers. Employers were realizing 
the necessity of conserving the workers' strength 
in order to maintain the maximum output over a 

* Great Britain. Home Office. Annual Report of the Chief 
Inspector of Factories and Workshops for the year 1914. 
London, 1915. 



longer period than had been at first estimated. 
The workers, too, commenced to feel the need of 
more rest. The strain was beginning to tell, espe- 
cially on those who in ordinary times would have 
absented themselves from work on account of ill 
health but who now stuck to their jobs. The 
higher rate of pay for Sunday work had at first 
made it popular, but the great majority of workers 
were now disposed to forego the extra money for 
the sake of the needed rest. 

The conclusion reached by the Committee in 
regard to seven-day work may be summed up as 
follows : 

"The evidence before the Committee has led 
them strongly to hold that if the maximum out- 
put is to be secured and maintained for any length 
of time, a weekly period of rest must be allowed. 
Except for quite short periods, continuous work 
... is a profound mistake and does not pay . . . 
output is not increased. On economic and social 
grounds alike this weekly period of rest is best 
provided on Sunday." After remarking that the 
need for this relief was greater for "protected" 
persons than for adult males, and for men on 
overtime than for those on double shift, the Com- 
mittee nevertheless recommended "that the dis- 
continuance of Sunday labor should be of univer- 
sal application and should extend to all classes of 
workers." Pending a general discontinuance of 
Sunday work, if immediate change was found diffi- 
cult, they suggested ways of improvement, such 
as reducing Sunday hours, giving all workers al- 



ternate Sundays off, omitting one or two shifts on 
Sunday in cases of the triple-shift system, or at 
least discontinuing the eighteen-hour work period 
in changing from day to night shifts. It was fur- 
ther noted that "foremen and the higher manage- 
ment even more certainly [than the workers] re- 
quire definite periods of rest," on account both of 
their heavy burden of responsibility and of the 
difficulty of replacing them. The Committee 
finally stated that in order to secure any large 
measure of reform, definite orders to restrict Sun- 
day work might be necessary. 

Overtime : Overtime, by which is meant a length- 
ening of the normal hours of work, was the most 
commonly used and most abused expedient 
for attempting to increase production, especially 
in case of skilled men who were difficult to recruit 
in large numbers. During the first year of the 
war even a week of ninety hours was not uncom- 
mon. A tendency to reduce hours of work was 
apparent, however, as early as January, 1916, 
when the recommendations of the committee were 
submitted. Still, excessive overtime had by no 
means disappeared, since seventy- and eighty-hour 
weeks were frequently encountered. While no 
serious breakdown among the workers was then 
apparent, the Committee remarked that "it is self- 
evident that men cannot work continually fifteen 
hours a day with good effect," and "general state- 
ments indicative of fatigue have been received," 
especially in regard to women and older men. 
Moreover, the question was not whether the 



workers had been able to withstand the strain 
up to that time, but whether they could continue 
to do so over a long period. The Committee rec- 
ognized that overtime could not be altogether abol- 
ished during the crisis, but felt it was possible 
to compromise on a course midway between the 
standards of peace and the extremes to which a 
shortsighted policy had driven employers and 
workers. In general they suggested that double 
or triple shifts be substituted wherever possible 
for overtime. 

Intensive medical studies* of both men and 
women workers carried on by the Committee from 
December, 1915 to August, 1916 supported their 
first impressions of the situation. Men employed 
at heavy work were found to be working as much 
as 108 hours a week; boys under eighteen in 
some cases were averaging over 80 hours and in 
some weeks had worked 90 and even 100 
hours ; some of the women and girls examined had 
a regular seventy-seven-hour week. These workers, 
and even those whose hours were not quite so ex- 
cessive, gave evidence, according to the investiga- 
tors, of exhaustion and fatigue. "Pale, anaemic, dull 
and expressionless" are the adjectives used to de- 
scribe many of the boys who were examined, for 
it was among these young workers that the most 
serious effects on health were found. On the other 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee. Interim Report. 
Industrial Efficiency and Fatigue. Part II. Medical Studies. 
London, February, 1917. 



hand, the workers on eight-hour shifts showed 
a marked superiority in health, in general 
appearance, and in efficiency. It was found that 
"the proportion of physically unfit increased with 
the length of hours of work." Though the investi- 
gators stated that the amount of fatigue was less 
than they had anticipated under the abnormal 
conditions, they still felt that the effects of ex- 
cessive overtime were so serious that an actual 
shortage of labor would result unless hours should 
be limited in the immediate future. 

For adult males the Committee recommended a 
maximum working week of sixty-five hours, in- 
cluding all overtime; a concentration of overtime 
on three or four days of the week which should 
preferably be not consecutive, and a discontinu- 
ance of working from Friday morning all through 
Friday night and until Saturday noon. For women 
and girls they recommended that continuous work 
in excess of sixty hours a week be discontinued 
as soon as practicable, since the strain of excessive 
hours is without doubt even more serious for them 
than for men. The need for overtime among 
women, moreover, is not so pressing, because of a 
large reserve of female labor. In regard to boys 
who are used so widely to assist men, the Com- 
mittee recommended, "though with great hesita- 
tion," that they be permitted the same maximum 
hours as men, but that substantial relief be pro- 
vided at week-ends and that those under sixteen 
should not be made to work more than sixty hours. 



Increased Production with Shorter Hours: A 

special study,* published nearly eight months after 
the first recommendations on hours, supplemented 
the more general observations, and provided a 
statistical basis for the conclusions of the Com- 
mittee regarding the relation of working hours 
to volume of production. In several large muni- 
tion plants the output of different groups of 
workers had been followed over periods of from 
eighteen to twenty-seven weeks. In the case of 
100 women engaged in turning fuse bodies, which 
is moderately heavy work, a reduction in the aver- 
age hours worked per week from 68.2 to 59.7 was 
followed by a 23 per cent increase in hourly out- 
put and a net rise in weekly output of 8 per cent. 
This change effected also a decrease of two hours 
in the amount of "broken" time per week. While 
this reduction of working hours to sixty a week 
proved so successful in increasing output, a fur- 
ther decrease showed that an equally large output 
could be maintained in fifty-six hours or even less. 
That this remarkable rise in production rate was 
effected without any change in machinery, tools, 
raw materials or nature of the operation strength- 
ens the validity of the findings. A possible in- 
crease in skill among the operatives during the 
period studied was another element carefully 
tested and eliminated by the investigators. 
Maximum Hours for War Time: Similar studies 

*This study was undertaken for the Committee by Dr. H. 
M. Vernon. The results were published in July, 1916, as 
Memorandum No. 12, Statistical Information Concerning Out- 
put in Relation to Hours of Work. 



were made of other groups of both men and 
women employed at different kinds of labor. It 
was found that the output of those engaged in 
the heaviest type of work was the most favorably 
affected by a reduction in hours. Especially was 
this true of the younger workers who were more 
sensitive to fatigue than adults. A group of boys 
ranging in age from fourteen to seventeen years, 
who were sizing base plugs, increased their hourly 
rate by 42 per cent and their weekly output 19 
per cent when their hours were reduced from 
68.3 to 57. Satisfactory results also were secured 
in the case of adult men. A group of 27 men 
sizing fuses, a particularly fatiguing process, 
increased their hourly rate 22 per cent, and their 
total weekly output 10 per cent when the average 
hours worked were decreased from 61.5 to 55.4. 
The general conclusions drawn were that in time 
of stress, for men engaged in very heavy work the 
maximum hours from the point of view of high 
production should be no more than fifty-six hours 
a week ; for men on moderately heavy work, sixty ; 
for men and boys on light work, seventy; for 
women on moderately heavy work, fifty-six, and 
for women on light work about sixty hours. It 
is pointed out, however, that these were maximum 
hours, that they imposed a great strain on opera- 
tives in many instances one too great to be borne 
and that, in fact, they applied only to the "fittest 
who were strong enough to survive in the strug- 
gle, not to the general mass of workers of all 
classes who tried their hand at munition work." 



The "best hours for peace times" were consider- 
ably shorter in each case, the report stated, but 
whether it be a case of peace or war, the principle 
of varying the hours according to the character 
of the work, and the sex and age of the workers 
should be observed. The investigators also advo- 
cated speeding up the rate of production in order 
to reduce the number of hours actually spent in 
the factories and the institution of regular rest 
pauses to break the long five-hour spells. 

Shifts and Night Work: In order to run the 
munition plants to maximum capacity, multiple- 
shift systems had been widely adopted. Two kinds 
of these were found : the double shift of twelve 
hours each and the three eight-hour shifts. Men 
workers were almost universally on the double 
shift, and the Committee saw no reason for 
change, since there was apparently no very ill 
effect and the supply of men was too scant to 
make the three-shift plan feasible. Women were 
employed sometimes on the twelve-hour shift, 
sometimes on the eight-hour shift. The recom- 
mendation was made that the twelve-hour shift for 
women be abandoned wherever the difficulties of 
housing and transit for additional workers could 
be overcome, that no girls under eighteen should 
work at night, and that in no case should night 
hours run over sixty a week. In the case 
of boys again it did not seem practicable to 
regulate their hours further, but it was urged that 
night work be restricted to those over sixteen, and 
that its effect on individual boys be carefully 



watched. The Committee, to clear up any mis- 
apprehensions as to their attitude on night work 
go on record as not considering it a good thing 
in itself, but only as being preferable to excessive 
overtime. The objections which they set forth 
are : (1) it is uneconomical, because of the higher 
wages and lower output; (2) supervision is often 
unsatisfactory; (3) adequate lighting is difficult; 
(4) workers cannot secure the necessary amount 
of sleep during the day; and (5) digestion is de- 
ranged by the unwonted meal hours. 

There was considerable doubt in the minds of 
the Committee's members at the beginning of their 
work as to the relative merits of continuous and 
discontinuous night work. Subsequently, as the 
result of careful studies* of output and health 
under the two systems, which were undertaken 
for the Committee during 1916 by Dr. H. M. Ver- 
non, Prof. Thomas Loveday, Mr. P. Sargant Flor- 
ence and others, it was definitely established that 
weekly alternation of day and night shifts is pro- 
ductive of better output and better timekeeping 
than continuous night work. The Committee, 
therefore, urge that both for men and for women 
continuous night shifts be abandoned. Incidental 
to these studies, evidence was encountered of 
larger output and greater efficiency among con- 
tinuous day workers than among continuous night 
workers. For example, in the case department of 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee. Interim Report 
Industrial Efficiency and Fatigue. Part I, pp. 26-40. London, 
February, 1917. 



a cartridge factory 25 night workers during an 
eleven-week period showed an inferiority in rate 
of output to 84 day workers, which ranged from 
13 to 21 per cent. 

Rest Periods and Holidays: The common prac- 
tice in regard to rest and meal periods on the 
twelve-hour shift was to allow half an hour for 
breakfast and an hour for dinner if the shift be- 
gan at 6 a. m., or only an hour for dinner if it 
began at 7 or 8, the worker being supposed in this 
instance to have breakfasted before coming to 
work. In the latter case the Committee recom- 
mended a break in the morning for tea, especially 
as many workers must travel such long distances 
to reach their places of employment that break- 
fast is taken very early and the wait until dinner 
is too exhausting. On night shifts in many in- 
stances only two half -hour periods were allowed. 
The Committee recommended one hour and one 
half-hour break, or two periods of three-quarters 
of an hour, especially for women. On the eight- 
hour shift it was customary to allow half an hour 
for meal time, and this, they thought, was ade- 
quate. In their opinion, also, the ordinary fac- 
tory holidays should not be interfered with, as 
these allowed needed recuperation from fatigue. 


The study of hours of labor led the Newman 
Committee, as the Health of Munition Workers 
Committee is often called, inevitably to the con- 
sideration of particular problems of health, such 



as fatigue and industrial disease, as well as the 
allied topics of work accidents, factory sanitation, 
and the like.* 

Industrial Fatigue: The Committee, in their 
study of industrial fatigue, went carefully into its 
causation and its signs and symptoms, the rhythms 
of action and rest and their relation to the work- 
er's efficiency. Running through the entire con- 
sideration of this subject is a recognition of the 
relation between scientific management and indus- 
trial fatigue. The achievements of Germany and 
America in this direction are pointed to, and the 
Committee, looking into the future, ventured to 
hope "that the study of industrial fatigue and the 
science of management based upon it, which is now 
being forced into notice by immediate need, may 
leave lasting results to benefit the industries of the 
country during the succeeding years of peace."f 
Fatigue is defined as "the sum of the results of ac- 
tivity which show themselves in a diminished ca- 
pacity for doing work," not to be determined in 
its early stages, at least, by the subjective sensa- 
tions of the worker, but by such objective signs as 
decreased output, spoiled work, accidents, sick- 

* Memoranda on these subjects are: No. 7, Industrial 
Fatigue and Its Causes, January, 1916; No. 8, Special Indus- 
trial Diseases, February, 1916 ; No. 9, Ventilation and Lighting 
of Munition Factories and Workshops, January, 1916; No. 10, 
Sickness and Injury, January, 1916; No. 14, Washing Facilities 
and Baths, August, 1916; and No. 15, The Effect of Industrial 
Conditions Upon Eyesight, October, 1916. 

f It should be noted that scientific management as alluded to 
in this report is concerned primarily with motion study. No 
mention is made of time study combined with motion study. 



ness, lost time, or "staleness." Of these tests the 
most direct is diminished production, and meas- 
urements of the output of the shop and the indi- 
vidual worker are suggested as indices. "Slack- 
ing," which has been charged against the British 
workers during the war, the Committee believed 
to have been discontinued to a great extent 
through patriotic incentive. Moreover, they held 
that some deliberate "slacking" might actually 
give an improved output by sparing wasteful fa- 
tigue, and go even farther in saying that "it can- 
not in such circumstances be said that a workman 
so restraining himself, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, is doing more to damage the output on 
the whole than the employer who has arranged 
overlong hours on the baseless assumption that 
long hours mean high output." Evidence is pre- 
sented from statements of employers indicating 
that there was slacking, "often quite unconscious," 
in the twelve-hour shift, which was not found un- 
der the three-shift system, and that without this 
restraint the output for the twelve hours would be 
even lower. On the whole, the Committee were 
of the opinion that, although in isolated instances 
intelligent precautions against fatigue had been 
taken, munition workers in general had been al- 
lowed to reach a state of reduced efficiency and 
lowered health which might have been avoided had 
proper attention been given to daily and weekly 

An exceedingly valuable scientific study of in- 
dustrial fatigue which should be mentioned in con- 



nection with the work of the Health of Munition 
Workers Committee was made, not by this Com- 
mittee, but for the British Home Office, by Prof. 
A. F. Stanley Kent, and published in two reports.* 
The first of these reports describes the methods 
used in working out physiological tests for the 
presence of fatigue, its degree and the worker's 
power of recovery. The second presents a com- 
prehensive application of these tests to workers 
in seven different factories, over periods ranging 
as long as three and a half months, together with 
the findings based on the results of these experi- 
ments. The most extensive studies made were 
in a surgical dressings factory and an engineering 
plant, both subject to extreme war pressure. Dr. 
Kent's findings all support the recommendations 
of the Health of Munition Workers Committee re- 
garding the abolition of Sunday labor, reduction 
of overtime, rest intervals, and the like. The most 
important evidence for a country at war was that 
showing the effect of fatigue and overtime on pro- 
duction. It is shown that total daily output may 
be actually diminished by the introduction of over- 
time because increased fatigue affects the produc- 
tion not alone of the actual overtime period, but 
of the regular working hours as well. One 
group of workers made an absolute increase in 
output of over 5 per cent, as a result of shortening 
their working day from twelve to ten hours. Un- 

* Interim Report on an Investigation of Industrial Fatigue 
by Physiological Methods (Cd. 8056), August, 1915, and Sec- 
ond Interim Report on an Investigation of Industrial Fatigue 
by Physiological Methods (Cd. 8335), August, 1916. 



satisfactory output during the early morning pe- 
riod (6 to 8 a. m.) was attributed largely to lack 
of rest, food, and to general discomfort in home 
conditions, due, though indirectly, to excessive 
hours of labor. Professor Loveday, who made a 
special investigation* of the causes of broken time 
for the Newman Committee, recommends in his 
conclusions that all work before breakfast a cus- 
tom which prevails in many English factories 
should be abolished since it gives inferior output, 
lowers health, and leads to poor attendance at 

Sickness Among Workers: The two factors 
of sickness and injury often indicate the presence 
of industrial fatigue. In relation to both of these 
problems the Newman Committee formulated 
programs for prevention and treatment, t After 
pointing to the relation between bad industrial 
conditions and ill health, the Committee urged that 
employers give special attention to guarding 
against cramped posture at work, prolonged or ex- 
cessive muscular strain, poor ventilation, heating 
and lighting, exposure to poisons, gases and dusts, 
and, of course, against excessively long hours, es- 
pecially at night. Personal hygiene on the part 
of the employe was also emphasized as of impor- 
tance, both to him and to his fellow workers. A 
system of record-keeping was recommended for 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee. Interim Re- 
port. Industrial Efficiency and Fatigue. Part I, pp. 41-67. 
London, February, 1917. 

flbid, Memorandum No. 10, Sickness and Injury, London, 
January. 1916, 



absences, sicknesses, and deaths, as a valuable in- 
dex of the health of the workers. One of the lat- 
est memoranda* issued presents a model medical 
certificate to be used by physicians in accounting 
for the absence of workers from their regular jobs. 
In one munition plant with a force of 36,000, 
where careful records were kept, it was found, in 
a study of two departments, that the sickness rate 
among men working overtime was 5.5 per cent as 
against 3.7 per cent among those on double shift. 
In one of these departments, among 1,000 men on 
overtime the rate was as high as 8 per cent. The 
monthly sickness rate for the entire plant rose 
from 2.9 per cent in July, 1914, to over 4 per cent 
in the first quarter of 1915, and in another large 
plant the rate had risen to 7 per cent. These in- 
creases were attributed to overtime, night work, 
and the large number of new employes. More- 
over, Professor Loveday concludes as a result of 
his studies noted above that the amount of lost 
time due to sickness is greatly underestimated in 
factory records, and the proportion due to slack- 
ness consequently overestimated. In instances 
where an increase in sickness has not been noted 
since the war, the fact is accounted for by high 
wages and good canteen provision. The harmful 
effect on health of long hours and especially of 
Sunday labor is brought out by figures quoted also 
by Professor Loveday. In one factory during the 
spring when there was much Sunday work, "no 

* Ibid, Memorandum No. 16, Medical Certificates for Muni- 
tion Workers. London, February, 1917. 



fewer than 22 per cent of the men were at one time 
sick; but the number of men on the sick-list in 
August when Sunday work had been much re- 
duced . . . was only a trifle over 4 per cent of the 
whole body." 

As part of a program of prevention, a prelimi- 
nary medical examination was recommended for 
all workers, and in special departments and dan- 
ger zones a periodic examination as well. In some 
plants this was the practice, and had been found 
to be of great advantage. Such a system of exam- 
inations and a program by which unfavorable 
working conditions should be reduced to a mini- 
mum represent the preventive side of the Com- 
mittee's recommendations. For cases of actual 
sickness they advised medical and nursing re- 
sources for each plant. 

Accidents: On the side of accident prevention 
the Committee recommended, of course, the guard- 
ing of machinery, the adoption of safety appli- 
ances, the regulation of dangerous processes, ade- 
quate lighting of the shops, and careful cleaning 
of machinery. To further the co-operation of em- 
ployes in avoiding accidents they advocated the 
forming of committees of workers to investigate 
all accidents occurring in the departments in which 
they are at work. Employes should also be in- 
structed in regard to accidents by the vigilant su- 
pervision of the foreman and through the distri- 
bution of leaflets and the posting of placards. A 
certain number in each department should receive 
training in first aid. 



Since injuries in munition factories occur almost 
inevitably because of the dangerous nature of the 
work, provision should be made for their prompt 
and effective treatment. More careful attention 
should be given to minor injuries which now often 
go untreated and frequently develop serious com- 
plications. For these, local dressing stations were 
suggested, and for the more serious accidents a 
central room with more elaborate equipment. Full 
records should be kept of accidents and of their 

The urgent necessity for such provisions in mu- 
nition plants was emphasized by figures supplied 
by certain representative shops, showing the fre- 
quency of accidents under the present abnormal 
conditions. In 11 plants employing a total of 
about 38,000 workers, 35,000 surgical dressings 
had been performed during the first ten months of 
1915. In still another munition factory, during 
the fall of 1914, when working hours were from 
8 a. m. to 5 :45 p. m., an average of 100 first-aid 
dressings were performed each month per 1,000 
employed, while in 1915, for the same period, on 
the day shift from 8 a. m. to 8 p. m., the average 
rose to 292 per 1,000 and on the night shift from 
8 p. m. to 8 a. m., to 508. 

Industrial Diseases: Industrial diseases con- 
stitute a special phase of the health problem in the 
manufacture of munitions and have been a cause 
of serious concern to the Health of Munition 
Workers Committee.* The most important poi- 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee, Memorandum 
No. 8, Special Industrial Diseases. London. February, 1916. 



sons to which workers in this industry are exposed 
are lead, tetrachloride of ethane, nitrous fumes, 
tetryl, fulminate of mercury, and tri-nitro-toluol. 
Lead is used in making bullets, and in various sub- 
sidiary processes; tetrachloride of ethane, an in- 
gredient in the varnish applied to the wings and 
bodies of aeroplanes, has been discovered only 
since the beginning of the war as an industrial 
poison; nitrous fumes are produced in the manu- 
facture of almost all explosives ; tetryl, fulminate 
of mercury, and the highly explosive T.N.T. (tri- 
nitro-toluol) , of whose double dangers munition 
workers have learned so much, are all three used 
in making powders, but they may cause poisoning 
even in handling the powder in loading shells or 
primers. The first three of these poisons are the 
more dangerous because they cause serious or 
even fatal illness. The last three cause skin af- 
fections, active dermatitis or eczema, and often 
more serious disorders. In fact, instances of 
death resulting from T.N.T. poisoning have been 
noted in the English newspapers. In the case of 
fulminate of mercury, regarding which complaints 
have been made by workers in such an important 
American munition center as Bridgeport, Conn., 
eczema is the usual affection, but mercurial poi- 
soning, which is even more serious, may occur. 
Certain fluids used in lubricating and cooling 
metal may also cause eczema. 

For each of the poisons mentioned a descrip- 
tion of the resulting disease has been given by the 
Committee as well as measures for prevention and 



treatment. Provision of proper washing facili- 
ties and of protective overalls, periodic medical 
examination, transference to other work of those 
readily affected and the reduction of the period of 
exposure through the absence of overtime are rec- 
ommended as general steps to avoid industrial 
poisoning. Exhaust ventilation was advocated 
for drawing off fumes and dust; the wearing of 
respirators as a protection against dust that can- 
not be carried off by exhausts or allayed by wet- 
ting; emergency helmets provided with a supply 
of fresh air from without for those exposed to 
escaping fumes; head coverings for women and 
gauze veils to protect the faces of workers against 
poisonous dust. As further general preventive 
measures, it was urged that only healthy and tem- 
perate persons be employed, and that none ex- 
posed to poisons be permitted to begin work with- 
out having taken food. 

Washing Facilities : The importance of wash- 
ing accommodations has been strongly emphasized 
by the Committee not only for workers engaged 
in processes involving poisons or excessive heat, 
dust or dirt, but for the good health, efficiency and 
self-respect of the entire force. One of their mem- 
oranda* offers practical suggestions as to the most 
suitable arrangements, both for washing facilities 
and for baths. 

Ventilation, Heating and Lighting: At a time 
when so large a number of new plants were being 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee. Washing Facili- 
ties and Baths. Memorandum No. 14. London, August, 1916, 



erected and old ones enlarged, it was also fitting 
that the importance of ventilation, heating and 
lighting should be emphasized. This has been 
done by the Health of Munition Workers Com- 
mittee in pointing out the close connection between 
proper provision for these three elements in fac- 
tory construction and the maintenance of maxi- 
mum output by the worker. Suggestions regard- 
ing modern standards and methods were made by 
them in considerable detail.* 

Eye-Strain: Closely connected with the prob- 
lem of lighting factories was the prevalence of 
eye-strain and the danger of eye accidents among 
munition workers.f Eyesight may be impaired 
through exposure to intense heat, to industrial poi- 
sons, or through "uncorrected errors of refrac- 
tion." Special inquiry has revealed a large in- 
crease not only of eye-strain, but also of eye in- 
juries, among munition workers since the begin- 
ning of the war, many of which were preventable. 
For example, the wearing of proper guards or 
goggles protects the eyes from flying particles and 
colored glass lessens irritation where there is ex- 
posure to brilliant light, as in acetylene welding. 

The eyesight of operatives who are to be en- 
gaged on fine work should be carefully tested. In 
case of slight accident, first-aid treatment should 
be provided to prevent serious after-effects. Since 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee. Ventilation and 
Lighting of Munition Factories and Workshops. Memoran^ 
dum No. 9. London, January, 1916. 

t Ibid. The Effect of Industrial Conditions Upon Eyesight. 
Memorandum No. 15. London, October, 1916. 



eye-strain is often concomitant with general fa- 
tigue, it is bound to accompany overlong hours, 
night work and undernourishment. Hence we 
have again a plea and a reason for the im- 
provement of working conditions in general. 

Work Incentives as Health Factors*: Of all 
the varied influences affecting the health and effi- 
ciency of munition workers the most complex and 
intricate are incentives to work. The Commit- 
tee's investigators found that the better the or- 
ganization and the better the hygienic environ- 
ment, both in the factory and in the home, the 
greater is the stimulus to activity on the part of 
the worker. The main incentive, however, which 
leads to greater output is wages. A piece rate 
system which the worker can easily understand, 
according to their findings, may be expected to 
give a larger output than time wages, and the rise 
and fall of earnings of individual workers under 
such a system is another valuable indication of 
their health and efficiency. It is important, also, 
in order to have the desired result in output from 
a piece-wage system that workers be prevented 
from exhausting themselves through overspeed- 
ing, that well-planned rest pauses be provided, 
that workers be instructed in the most efficient 
methods of performing processes of work, and 
that hours be not too long to permit of opportunity 
to enjoy what the wages can buy. 

* Ibid. Interim Report. Industrial Efficiency and Fatigue. 
Part I, pp. 69-84. London, February, 1917. 



In addition to the factory environment and the 
length of the work period, other factors which 
do not come ordinarily within the jurisdiction of 
the management distinctly affect the efficiency of 
workers. Housing, transportation, canteens, and 
the welfare of individual workers are the most im- 
portant among them. The Newman Committee 
very strongly recommend that through the ap- 
pointment of welfare supervisors employers should 
endeavor to control any detrimental effect on the 
workers of poor housing, undernourishment, and 
unfavorable living conditions. 

Housing of Workers: The sudden influx into 
districts surrounding munition plants has greatly 
overtaxed the housing accommodations. In many 
instances, dwellings intended for one family are 
occupied by several, and beds are used in day and 
night shifts. Before any comprehensive plan for 
the increase of housing accommodations is under- 
taken, inquiry is recommended into the extent of 
the need, but pending action, the welfare super- 
visor can help matters by keeping a register of 
available houses and lodgings, by aiding workers 
in need of rooms, and by notifying the manage- 
ment when the supply is insufficient. 

Transit: Because of the housing shortage, 
many workers are forced to live at considerable 
distance from their places of employment. Trav- 
eling to and fro in overcrowded cars and trains, 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee. Welfare Super- 
vision. Memorandum No. 2. London, December, 1915. 



losing time by waiting, making long and tiresome 
journeys, which further extend an overlong day or 
night of work, decrease both efficiency and resist- 
ance to disease. Workers were found who left 
their homes daily before 5 a. m. and returned at 10 
p. m. or later, leaving little more than six hours 
for sleep and family life. The Committee sug- 
gested that the welfare supervisor ascertain the 
means of transit used and the length of time spent 
in traveling, indicate the need for increased trans- 
portation to the right authorities, and suggest 
modification of factory hours to suit existing tran- 
sit conditions. 

Industrial Canteens: "The munition worker, 
like the soldier, requires good rations to enable 
him to do good work." This fact the Committee 
recognized in their recommendations regarding 
canteens in the large war supply factories.* In 
one of their earliest reports, they pointed out the 
difficulty encountered by employes in securing 
good food, when the employer has made no pro- 
vision, and urged the establishment of industrial 
canteens in all plants, but especially when workers 
are employed in large numbers at night and are 
unable to go home for a hot meal. They made 
suggestions regarding dietary, cost of food, the 
best type of canteen to adopt, as well as its man- 
agement. It was conceded that it might be desir- 

* Industrial Canteens, No. 3, November, 1915; Canteen Con- 
struction and Equipment, No. 6, January, 1916 ; and Investiga- 
tion of Workers' Food and Suggestions as to Dietary, No. 11, 
July, 1916, London. 



able in certain districts and under restrictions to 
sell alcoholic liquors. 

Attention was also given to the actual physical 
construction, location and equipment of industrial 
canteens. A study of typical meals furnished to 
munition workers in industrial canteens, served in 
restaurants, or brought by them from home was 
undertaken for the Newman Committee by one 
of their members, Mr. Leonard E. Hill, in the 
laboratories of the Medical Research Committee. 
In his report Mr. Hill stressed the relation of 
both physical and nervous fatigue to the workers' 
daily diet, and with his analysis of the meals ex- 
amined as a basis, made suggestions for a "well- 
balanced minimum" dietary for canteens. 

Individual Welfare: Aside from the help the 
supervisor can render in solving problems of hous- 
ing, transit, and food, even greater service can be 
given in adjusting matters concerning the individ- 
ual welfare of the worker which will be reflected 
in the efficiency of the labor force. Such functions 
include attention to cases of sickness or irregular 
attendance at work in co-operation with the medi- 
cal staff, observation of individual reactions to 
night or Sunday work or overtime, planning for 
recreation and education, and the maintenance of 
proper discipline and conduct. The welfare 
worker should also be in close touch with the en- 
gagement of new labor or even attend to the actual 
engaging of workers. He or she should also 
investigate complaints and causes of dismissal. 
The Committee were emphatic in their indorse- 



ment of welfare work for both men and women, 
but recommended especially the appointment of 
women supervisors where women and girls are 


Although the problems discussed in all the 
memoranda of the Health of Munition Workers 
Committee affect women as well as men, the em- 
ployment of women since the outbreak of the war 
has grown to such dimensions that a special re- 
port has been devoted to recommendations in this 
field.* The response of English women of all 
classes to their country's call has been one of the 
finest things of the war. Women of wage-earning 
experience and those of none university and art 
students, teachers, secretaries, domestic servants, 
clerks, laundresses, textile workers old women 
and young, married women and single, in a splen- 
did spirit of patriotism, have volunteered in the 
army of labor, and because of their enthusiasm 
have achieved remarkable success. In Septem- 
ber, 1916, the War Office published a report on 
Women's War Work "for the use of recruiting 
officers, military representatives and tribunals." 
It lists some 29 double-columned pages of 
processes in which women have been success- 
fully employed in "temporary" replacement of 
men, and in a large number of photographs shows 
them engaged in such heavy jobs as coal-heaving, 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee. Memorandum 
No. 4, Employment of Women. London, January, 1916. 



stoking, boiler-making, cleaning locomotives and 
other work which they have never before been 
called on to do. Not alone have women taken up 
men's tasks willingly, but they have accepted with- 
out complaint conditions which were immediately 
detrimental to efficiency and which would, if con- 
tinued, be disastrous to health, and this at a time 
above all times when the health of the present and 
future mothers of the nation should be safe- 

Night work for women, especially in the muni- 
tion industry, has been revived after almost a 
century of disuse, and employment of married 
women and of young girls has, of course, in- 
creased. Hence it is of great importance to safe- 
guard their period of employment. The Commit- 
tee realized that in the emergency night work was 
inevitable, but urged that its evils be mitigated by 
careful supervision, by the provision of sufficient 
pauses for rest and meals, and, where desirable, 
by periodic change to the day shift. During the 
meal hour on the twelve-hour night shift women 
were found asleep beside their work, too ex- 
hausted even to go to an attractive mess room to 
get the food to sustain them during the remaining 
hours of the night. The recommendations for 
hours, shifts, overtime and rest pauses, for women 
workers are substantially the same as those al- 
ready given in the section on hours of work.* Em- 
ployment of mothers with infants was deprecated 
by the Committee, and the need of consideration 

*See pages 109-114. 



in arranging hours of work for married women 
was urged. 

The questions of housing and transit were also 
given further attention in relation to women's em- 
ployment. Many women were forced to spend 
two and three hours traveling each way to and 
from work. This often meant "a day begun at 4 
or even 3 :30 a. m., for work at 6 a. m., followed 
by fourteen hours in the factory, and another two 
or two and one-half hours on the journey back," 
ending finally "at 10 or 10:30 p. m., in a home or 
lodging where the prevailing degree of overcrowd- 
ing precludes all possibility of comfortable rest. 
Beds are never empty and rooms never aired, for 
in a badly crowded district the beds, like the occu- 
pants, are organized in day and night shifts." 
Moreover cars were so crowded that the women's 
clothes were often torn in the struggle to get even 
standing room. There was, therefore, crying need 
for increased transportation which would also re- 
lieve the housing situation. But even with im- 
proved transit long journeys cruelly extended the 
day. Hence it was all the more necessary to guard 
against excessive working hours. 

Good sanitary conditions in the factories are 
especially important for women wage-earners. 
Workrooms should be clean, bright and airy, well 
warmed in winter and well lighted at night. Cloak- 
rooms, washing facilities and sanitary conveni- 
ences should be provided. For the protection es- 
pecially of those unaccustomed to factory work, 
the lifting or carrying of heavy weights and the 



strain of prolonged standing should be avoided. 
It is recommended also that a woman physician 
examine all applicants for employment. Careful 
oversight by forewomen, nurses, and women wel- 
fare supervisors in the fields of work, health and 
general well-being was a point much emphasized. 
In conclusion the Committee stated that in their 
opinion if the present conditions surrounding the 
employment of women continued, "it would be 
impracticable to secure or maintain for an ex- 
tended period the high maximum output of which 
women are undoubtedly capable." 


Special attention has been given also to the 
problems of child labor in war time.* The Com- 
mittee declare that: "At the present time, when 
the war is destroying so much of its best manhood, 
the nation is under special obligation to secure that 
the rising generation grows up strong and hardy 
both in body and character. It is necessary to 
guard not only against immediate breakdown, but 
also against the imposition of strains which may 
stunt future growth and development." Such 
strains were found in the long hours of work, by 
day and by night, sometimes through seven days 
in the week, in the poor housing and transit facili- 
ties, and in the often unsatisfactory home condi- 
tions. Factory inspectors bore witness to the more 

* Health of Munition Workers Committee, Memorandum 
No. 13, Juvenile Employment. London, August, 1916. 
Ministry of Munitions. The Boy in Industry. London, 1917. 


marked fatigue produced by overtime and night 
work on the adolescent than on the adult worker, 
a menace not only to present health but to growth 
and physical development. Moreover these chil- 
dren had no leisure, no recreation, no opportunity 
fdr continuing their education. Exemptions from 
the legal age limit had been permitted.* In a case 
cited boys of thirteen were allowed to work full 
time in a large munition center, provided they at- 
tended evening school. The Committee pointed 
out that it was worse than useless to require such 
attendance for boys who worked from 6 a. m. 
until 5 p. m. or longer. 

The problem of boy labor seemed more pressing 
to the Committee than the employment of young 
girls, since boys, who to a great extent were em- 
ployed to assist men, worked the same hours as 
men. Moreover boys under sixteen are said to 
be even more delicate than girls of the same age. 

The recommendations regarding hours are sim- 
ilar to those already given. Boys should be per- 
mitted, if the work requires it, and conditions of 
employment are favorable, to work more than 
twelve hours a day up to a weekly total of 65, but 

* The latest published figures (October 16, 1916) give a total 
of 14,915 children formally exempted on that date for agricul- 
tural work, but give no estimate of the number released for 
munition or other industrial employment. (Great Britain. 
Board of Education. School Attendance and Employment in 
Agriculture. Cd. 8171. December, 1916.) Mrs. Sidney Webb 
estimates that in addition between 50,000 and 60,000 children 
have left school for work without formal exemption, while Sir 
James Yoxall believes that between 150,000 and 200,000 chil- 
dren between eleven and thirteen have left school to go to 



the overtime should be concentrated on three non- 
consecutive evenings of the week. One day's rest 
in seven should be assured. Night work should be 
permitted for boys under sixteen and girls under 
eighteen only when no other labor can be obtained. 
Because of the greater adaptability of youth, it 
was thought, when found absolutely necessary to 
employ them at night, that they would suffer less 
from weekly alternation of day and night shifts 
than adult workers. Furthermore, as young per- 
sons cannot profitably work for a continuous spell 
of five hours (the maximum legal period) , short 
rests should be allowed, and time for refreshment 
when breakfast has necessarily been taken early. 
Not only should the ordinary holidays be granted, 
but, when possible, vacations of a week or 

The situation is further complicated for young 
workers by overcrowding and bad home condi- 
tions. One large munition center revealed numer- 
ous cases in which three people slept together in 
one bed. A case said to be typical was described, 
in which a boy of fourteen slept in a bed with 
two young men, while in the same room two young 
girls slept in another bed. Because of the absence 
of fathers at the front parental control was often 
weakened. After a long day of work many chil- 
dren were tempted to stay out late at the movies 
or to dance, and their high earnings induced thrift- 
lessness. Moreover an increase in juvenile crime 
had become so marked, according to comments in 
the press, that the Home Secretary had called a 



special conference of social workers to deal with 
it. The Newman Committee recommended special 
welfare workers for boys and outlined in detail 
the duties of the "Boy Visitor." The Ministry of 
Munitions has further emphasized the importance 
of welfare work for boys and elaborated on the 
functions of the supervisors in a special pamphlet 
on "The Boy in Industry." The "Boy Visitor" 
should watch carefully the physical condition of 
the boys, visit them when sick, investigate other 
causes of irregular attendance, receive and dis- 
pose of complaints made either by employers or 
boys, advise before any case of dismissal, look 
into conditions of housing, transit and die- 
tary, plan recreation, and promote plans for sav- 


The reports of the Health of Munition Work- 
ers Committee give evidence of an enlightened 
and common-sense attitude toward the industrial 
problems which the war has created. A headlong, 
unthinking policy of blind haste had at first led 
to the needless waste of precious human strength. 
This panic has now given place to a realization of 
the fact that increased output is to be gained 
through the saving of the workers* health and 
strength, and an increase in the labor force, not 
through the taxing of endurance to the breaking 
point. But there is still need to hold up standards. 
These standards, as outlined by the Committee, 
may be summarized as follows: 




a. Seven-day labor should be abolished for 
men, women and children. 

b. Excessive overtime should be done away 
with by the introduction of shifts. 

c. Hours of labor should be adapted to 
the age and sex of the worker and the 
nature of the process to be performed. 

d. Night work, where possible, should 
be organized in eight-hour, rather than 
twelve-hour, shifts, and in no case should 
women work at night more than 60 
hours a week. Its evils should be fur- 
ther mitigated by sufficient rest periods 
and by periodic change to the day shift. 

e. Meal periods should be at least an 
hour in length on twelve-hour shifts, 
and half an hour on eight-hour shifts. 
Further breaks should be allowed in 
long five-hour spells. 


a. Industrial fatigue should be decreased 
by a careful study of processes of work 
and of the most economical method of 
performing them. 

b. Provision for both prevention and treat- 
ment of work accidents, industrial dis- 
ease, and other illness, should be made 
in all munition plants. 

c. Matters of factory sanitation such as 
ventilation, heating, lighting, and wash- 



ing facilities should receive special at- 


a. Improvement of housing and transit fa- 
cilities should enlist the co-operation of 

b. In the interests of health and efficiency, 
all munition works should have canteens 
where employes can secure hot food. 

c. The appointment of welfare supervisors 
is recommended in all factories. 

d. Problems involved in the increased 
employment of women and children 
should receive the careful attention of 
both managers and the government. 
Special welfare workers should be as- 
signed to their oversight. 


The Committee on the Health of Munition 
Workers have not been fortunate enough to see 
all their recommendations adopted. The news- 
papers did not give publicity to their findings until 
some time after the reports were actually sub- 
mitted, and they were then subordinated to mat- 
ters of greater popular interest. Furthermore, 
while the government could make changes in the 
factories it owned, control over private establish- 
ments, which are in the majority, was not so 

Definite progress has been made, however, in 


relieving the conditions which were the special 
point of attack in the memoranda of the Commit- 
tee. Sunday labor has been decreased as a result 
of a circular issued by the Minister of Munitions 
in January, 1916, recommending that Sunday 
labor in "controlled" establishments be abolished. 
As a result it was reported in Parliament on 
March 30, 1916, that in 2,400 works inspected, 60 
per cent had no Sunday work, and of the other 
40 per cent, many were engaged only in repair 
work and others were manned by voluntary week- 
end workers. The attempt to relieve the strain 
on regular employes of Sunday work has led to 
the recruiting of a special force of week-end 
workers, made up largely of women of the leisure 
class, who volunteer their services for Sunday in 
order that the factories may be kept running and 
the regular workers released for rest. Dukes' 
daughters and generals* ladies, artists and au- 
thors, students and teachers, ministers' and law- 
yers' wives, make up the membership of the pic- 
turesque W. R. M. W. (Week-end Relief Munition 
Workers). They are paid at the current rates, 
and are "voluntary" only in the sense that they 
offer to work of their own free will. An order 
issued in April, 1917, has now made the abolition 
of Sunday work in both government and controlled 
plants of almost universal application. 

No definite ruling regarding daily hours of work 
seems thus far to have been issued by the Ministry 
of Munitions, but in association with the Home 
Office it has formed a committee to regulate hours 



as well as to secure a weekly day of rest for the 
workers. The effect of the steps taken and the 
vigor of their prosecution have been difficult to 
ascertain, but the tendency has been to reduce the 
amount of overtime. In August, 1916, in response 
to a question put in Parliament, Dr. Addison of 
the Munitions Ministry, who has since become 
Minister of Munitions in the Lloyd George cab- 
inet, stated that the special joint committee on 
hours was taking steps to bring the hours for 
women and girls in controlled establishments with- 
in the sixty-hour limit allowed under the ordinary 
provisions of the Factory Acts. In April, 1917, 
a former investigator for the Newman Committee 
reported that in government-owned munition 
plants women were working on eight-hour shifts. 
This was not because of any general order but 
the result of action taken by the various local 
munition committees in whose hands the power of 
adjusting hours has been entrusted. The latest 
report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and 
Workshops remarks on the distinct tendency to- 
ward a reduction in amount of latitude sought by 
employers applying for overtime permits and a 
general voluntary decrease in working hours. 

The recommendation of the Newman Commit- 
tee that the ordinary holidays should not be inter- 
fered with was given a trial at Easter in 1916, 
but Lloyd George, then Minister of Munitions, 
claimed that in the fortnight which included 
Easter Monday the output had been decreased 
one-half. As a consequence, and also because of 



the extra need of munitions for the great offensive 
on the Somme, the customary "bank" holidays at 
Whitsuntide and in August were not granted. 
Later, at the following Christmas and New Year's 
(1917), two extra days of holiday were given to 
make up for this omission, and in the spring of 
1917 the usual Easter holiday was maintained. 

Definite efforts have been made on the part of 
the government to carry into effect the recommen- 
dations of the Committee in regard to industrial 
canteens. A Canteen Committee was appointed by 
the Central Control Board (for liquor traffic) , 
in conjunction with the Munitions Ministry, to 
assist firms in the construction and financing of 
canteens. In June, 1916, it was reported that 
canteens had been established in practically all the 
government-owned factories, and that in the 
"controlled" works the government had en- 
couraged their introduction by subsidizing them, 
either through permitting employers to pay the 
expenses out of profits that would otherwise have 
reverted to the national treasury, or by contribu- 
ting half the costs incurred by voluntary agencies 
such as the Young Women's Christian Association, 
in establishing an industrial canteen. The Can- 
teen Committee also published in October, 1916, 
a pamphlet on Feeding the Munition Worker, as 
a "comprehensive and practical guide" to canteen 
construction and management. 

Another important step affecting the general 
well-being of the workers was the establishment 
in the first quarter of 1916 of a special Welfare 



Department under the Ministry of Munitions, to 
stimulate the development of welfare supervision 
in the war factories. This department, under the 
superintendence of Mr. B. S. Rowntree, also 
undertakes inquiries into working conditions, in- 
cluding hours of work and wages, endeavors to 
correct evils where they are found, encourages the 
provision of rest rooms and canteens, and through 
a special private fund furnishes the means of 
"healthful and invigorating" recreation. The ap- 
pointment of at least one woman welfare worker 
in each national plant is now required, and many 
controlled factories are following suit. Excellent 
results are said to have followed from the activi- 
ties of these supervisors. In August, 1916, this 
department was further empowered to make rules 
regarding arrangements for meals, supply of 
drinking water and protective clothing, ambulance 
and first-aid provision, supply and use of seats in 
workrooms, washing and locker facilities and su- 
pervision of workers. 

Some attempts have also been made to relieve 
the housing situation in a few large munition cen- 
ters, such as Sheffield and Woolwich, where the 
government has either financed or subsidized the 
building of houses and of temporary "huts" and 
hostels. Dr. Addison, of the Munitions Ministry, 
stated in August, 1916, that accommodations for 
60,000 persons had been provided in the year pre- 
vious and in some cases whole villages had been 



Effort has been put forward by the government 
to protect munition workers from industrial poi- 
soning. Sets of rules have been drawn up, regu- 
lating conditions of work in dangerous processes. 
For example, an elaborate code of rules was issued 
in February, 1917 for factories making or using 
T. N. T. (Cd. 8494) . Among the protective meas- 
ures required were the medical examination at 
least once a week of each worker employed on a 
T. N. T. process, the supplying of a half pint of 
milk gratis to each worker every morning, pro- 
vision for protective clothing and for washing it 
at least once a week, and the required establish- 
ment of canteens at every T. N. T. factory on the 
principle that proper nourishment is essential for 
resistance to industrial disease. 

In a general way, also, the work of the Health 
of Munition Workers Committee has improved 
industrial conditions. Public interest has been 
directed toward abuses, and a more intelligent atti- 
tude created in regard to sources of labor diffi- 
culties. The dissatisfaction of labor, however, has 
been by no means eliminated, despite the fact that 
the Munitions of War Amending Act, passed in 
January, 1916, remedied the worst evils of the 
leaving-certificate system and of the administra- 
tion of the munition tribunals. The "dilution" 
of labor has progressed so far, and the attitude of 
both employers and the government has been such 
as to make the trade unions fear that after the 
war it will be well-nigh impossible for them to 



restore their ante-bellum status. Plans to mo- 
bilize the whole population for national service, 
civil as well as military, on a scale more compre- 
hensive than ever before, are being pushed for- 
ward with vigor by the Lloyd-George ministry, and 
to make this mobilization effective the club of 
industrial conscription is being held over the 
heads of the British people. In the face of the 
apparent weakening of their powers, however, the 
unions are claiming large gains in numbers and 
in strength, not alone among women, but also 
among men, despite the heavy inroads which the 
call to the colors has made in their membership. 
The most immediate problem facing British 
labor at present, however, is the question of 
wages. The cost of living is soaring and wages 
in many cases have not kept pace, notably among 
women. The Munitions of War Amending Act 
of January, 1916, authorized the Minister of Mu- 
nitions to enforce minimum wages for munition 
workers, but no action was taken which affected 
the large body of women until July, 1916, when 
a wage order* was issued which was designed to 
do away with the sweating of women. This order 
has aroused considerable antagonism in labor cir- 
cles because its minimum rate becomes in effect 
the maximum. The rate is fixed at 4Jd. an hour 
for women of eighteen years or more employed at 
work customarily done by women. Women who 
have replaced skilled men (a small proportion of 

*This is Statutory Order No. 447. 


those employed on munition work) are paid at 
the same piece-work prices as men, although, ac- 
cording to a prominent trade union man, because 
they cannot turn out as much work, their earnings 
are only about 75 per cent of what men make. 
The wage for women who have replaced semi- 
skilled or unskilled men was fixed according to an 
order issued in May, 1916, at a time rate of one 
pound a week. An improvement in the earnings 
of women in this class of work was effected the 
following December by an amendment providing 
for the payment of a one-pound wage for a forty- 
eight-hour week, with six pence as the hourly 
rate for all work in excess of this period. A pound 
now has no more purchasing power than 12 shill- 
ings had before the war, and that sum had 
been commonly recognized as a sweated rate 
for women in industry. In January, 1917, pre- 
vious wage orders were extended to cover women 
in subsidiary trades engaged in munition making, 
where hitherto women's wages had been so low 
as to call forth a campaign of criticism. March 
and April, 1917 saw substantial wage increases 
for men chiefly in the engineering branches of 
the munition industry and the promise of corre- 
sponding increases for women workers. 

Difficulties are being somewhat overcome, how- 
ever, partly through concerted effort and partly 
through a natural readjustment to what, it is now 
apparent, will be a prolonged struggle. Due credit 



should be given to the English government for its 
great achievement in industrial organization dur- 
ing the past year and a half, and for its recogni- 
tion of the importance of the human element in 
efficiency of production ; but there is still need to 
remember that in a long race it is endurance, not 
sprinting, that wins. 




FRANCE had been far more successful than 
England in increasing her output of muni- 
tions during the first year of the war. In 
spite of the fact that one-eighth of the country and 
five-eighths of the former "metallurgical produc- 
tivity" were in the hands of the enemy, her manu- 
factures had been enormous. The response to her 
call for workers had been both more enthusiastic 
and more immediate than England's. 

It was, therefore, natural that the British gov- 
ernment should turn to her ally for guidance, and 
in November, 1915 the Director-General of Re- 
cruiting for Munitions Work in England ap- 
pointed a commission of four members* to visit 
the industrial districts in France and report upon 
the causes which had contributed to the enormous 
increase in the production of munitions in that 
country. The commission visited 23 factories in 
different centers of the industry. A month later, 
in December, 1915, it made its reportf giving a 

* J. T. Brownlie, Chairman of Amalgamated Society of En- 
gineers and member of National Advisory Committee and the 
Central Munitions Labour Supply Committee ; Alexander 
Duckham, Ministry of Munitions; D. J. Shackleton, Labour 
Adviser, Ministry of Munitions; Allan M. Smith, Secretary 
Engineering Employers' Federation and member Central 
Munitions Labour Supply Committee. Two engineers experi- 
enced in munition manufacture in Great Britain were attached 
to the Commission. 

t Ministry of Munitions. Report by Mission Appointed by 
the Director-General of Recruiting for Munitions Work. 
Output of Munitions in France. London, 1916. 



brief account of the conditions prevailing in these 


One of the striking features of French organi- 
zation they found to be the prevalence of the 
small producer. There were 1,800 of these in 
the Paris district alone. The work done in these 
small shops was let out on sub-contract by the 
large producer. The small French shops were 
often manned by the members of a single family 
who divided the work on their inadequate ma- 
chinery into day and night shifts. Despite the 
many handicaps their production was surprisingly 
satisfactory, but from stories told it was apparent 
that serious overwork, due to a spirit of self- 
sacrifice, occurred frequently in these small estab- 
lishments. One woman, whose husband was at 
the front, literally worked herself to death in 
superintending his shop, and he was then recalled 
from the army to take her place. 

Another feature of factory organization was 
the high degree of specialization in product in 
each plant, which resulted in an increase of repeti- 
tive work involving less need for skill, greater 
speed, and decrease in the amount of tool room 
and inspection work required. 

Apparently the English system of government 
and "controlled" factories had not been adopted. 
New factories had been erected, old ones extended, 
and others adapted to the manufacture of muni- 
tions, but in spite of the remarkable increase in 



number of plants none had received either a sub- 
sidy or a loan from the government. 

The Commission gave high praise to the well- 
planned layout of the new and remodeled shops 
in avoiding congestion and in providing extra fa- 
cilities for the transport of material, as well as to 
the initiative and energy displayed by French 
manufacturers in importing large quantities of 
new machinery. 


In the munition factories a large proportion of 
the male labor is military, many of the men being 
those who are not physically fit for active service, 
but who are still mobilized and under military law. 
Any attempt in England to employ soldiers in 
munition plants under military law has met 
active opposition by the trade unions, who con- 
sidered it nothing less than industrial compulsion. 
But France had had no counterpart of England's 
difficulties with trade unionism. There had been 
no strikes, no demands for general wage increases 
or for the limitation of employers' profits, no op- 
position to the "dilution" of labor or to the suspen- 
sion of union rules of hours and wages. This lack 
of friction may in part be due to the fact that a 
large number of the workers are subject to mili- 
tary discipline. The Commission were inclined to 
impute it, however, to the intense patriotism of 
the French. 

Subsequent to the visit of the British Mission 
to France, however, several strikes occurred in 



the Paris district, arising out of a demand for 
increased wages. As a result of these distur- 
bances, in January, 1917, strikes were prohibited 
and a system of compulsory arbitration estab- 


The same general schedule of hours for muni- 
tion plants prevailed in France as in England 
that is, the more common double shift of twelve 
hours as well as the three eight-hour shifts. How- 
ever, because of an absence of overtime beyond 
the regular schedule and because of a long break 
at noontime, customary in the working day in 
France, which averages an hour and a half and 
is sometimes two hours, there was at least no 
marked evidence of fatigue. The intensity of 
production and the almost entire absence of lost 
time were the two tests by which this conclusion in 
regard to fatigue was reached. In addition to the 
fact that overtime was not worked, the change 
from day to night shift, or vice versa, which is 
made every two weeks, gave the workers twenty- 
four hours off. 

The customary starting hour for the day shift 
was 6 or 7 a.m. Ten to twelve hours are worked 
on this shift, and nine and a half to eleven on the 
night shift.* The night shift began at 6, 7 or 8 
p.m., and ran through to 5, 6 or 7 a.m., according 
to the time of starting. The rest period at night 
was often shorter than in the daytime, being 

* The mean hours on day shift are 10 hours, 45 minutes, and 
on night shift 10 hours, 10 minutes. 



usually one hour, and sometimes, though rarely, as 
short as half an hour, in which case the time was 
paid for and the machines were not stopped. It 
was claimed that night production equalled and 
sometimes excelled that on the day shifts. Where 
the three-shift plan has been adopted, there is no 
break whatsoever for meals during the long eight- 
hour spell, but "in some cases light refreshment 
is taken while the work proceeds." 

Two schedules for the triple shift were found 
in use. According to the first schedule the first 
shift ran from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., the second from 
2 to 10 p.m. and the third from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. 
On the other schedule the shifts ran from 4 a.m. to 
12 noon, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and from 8:45 
p.m. to 4:15 a.m. Saturday hours on double and 
triple shift systems were the same as those on 
other days, but in some cases work stopped at noon 
on Sunday. 

Sunday Work: No statement was made as to 
the prevalence of Sunday labor, but by implica- 
tion the impression was conveyed that at least 
part of Sunday is commonly a working day. The 
change from day to night shift, however, gives a 
twenty-four hour rest period every other week. 

Lost Time: Lost time is dealt with severely 
when it is due to avoidable causes, and this may 
account for the strikingly small amount which oc- 
curs. A first offense on the part of a civilian 
brings a reprimand, a second sometimes a fine, but 
more often dismissal. Military workers are dealt 
with under military law. 




The question of wages, which did not come with- 
in the jurisdiction of the Newman Committee, was 
dealt with in the report of the Commission to 
France. Piece rates were paid for almost every 
type of work, and women received the same rate 
as men. During their period of training, however, 
workers were paid a time rate, usually the guaran- 
teed minimum. The premium bonus system was 
not in use anywhere. Some average daily earn- 
ings are given in Appendix C of the report. For 
men, the averages* ranged from 6.01 francs per 
day for laborers to 10.42 francs for machine men 
and 12.23 francs for skilled workers. For women, 
the minimum was 3.53 francs and the mean 5.95. 
These earnings, while low compared with Ameri- 
can wages, seem to be somewhat in excess of 
wages paid in France before the warf for work 
of a similar nature, although the Commission 
itself makes no comparison. But food prices and 
the cost of living generally have advanced so much 

* These averages are averages of the mean earnings per 
shop and are not weighted according to the number of em- 
ployes per shop. 

fin 1911, in a report published by the French Minister of 
Labor on wages and cost of living, the mean daily earnings 
for day laborers was 5 francs in Paris and 3.26 francs in 
other cities ; for metal workers 8.25 francs in Paris and 5.39 in 
other cities; for iron founders 10 francs in Paris and 5.12 
in other cities. In women's occupations, such as millinery, 
the mean daily earnings were 5 francs in Paris and 2.48 in 
other cities; for dressmakers 3.50 francs in Paris and 2.28 in 
other cities. Ministere du travail et de la prevoyance sociale. 
Salaires et cout de 1'existence a diverses epoques. Paris, 1911. 
pp. 22-23. 



that the slight increase in wages does not in any 
way compensate for the added drain on expendi- 
tures. January, 1917, however, brought the es- 
tablishment, by the French Minister of Munitions, 
of a basic minimum hourly rate for women of .65 
francs, equivalent to six pence, a standard for 
which English women workers have thus far 
struggled in vain. For men the basic minimum 
rate was fixed at .80 francs an hour. The average 
minimum hourly earnings for piecework were not 
to fall below one franc for men or .75 francs for 
women according to this order. 


The employment of women, of course, receives 
special consideration in any discussion of war 
work. As in England, French women have been 
drawn into the munition industry from all em- 
ployments and from non-industrial life. An in- 
teresting table is presented in Appendix B of the 
report, showing the former occupations of women 
employed in one large plant and the processes of 
work on which they are at present engaged. 
Housewives, domestic servants, artists, hair- 
dressers, clerks, florists, dressmakers, typists, 
weavers, milliners, school teachers, lace makers, 
those "of no profession," and many others are 
listed. Housewives formed over 20 per cent of 
the women employed, and in several departments 
actually constituted the predominant group. 

The work done by women covered practically 
all processes. At the time of the visit of the Com- 



mission they were beginning to be employed even 
at some parts of setting up and tool making, in- 
cluding the grinding of tool edges. It was thought 
by some of the members of the Commission, how- 
ever, that some of the work done would be con- 
sidered in England to involve too severe a strain. 
Women's output on "small work" equalled and 
in some cases even exceeded that of men, while 
on the heavy work, for the most part, their pro- 
ductive power was of practically equal value. 
Their hours of work were substantially the same, 
except that there was a tendency to employ but 
few women at night, which had under the double- 
shift plan resulted practically in a day shift for 
women and a night shift for men. Under the 
three-shift system, however, women were em- 
ployed at night, and the tendency was toward their 
more frequent employment at night on the double 
shift as well. An effort to overcome the fatigue 
from congested transit was shown by the custom 
of permitting women who were obliged to ride 
to and from work to begin fifteen minutes later 
than men, and leave fifteen minutes earlier. 

For the most part, good sanitary conditions 
were found in the French shops, as well as ade- 
quate washing and locker facilities. Several fac- 
tories supplied caps and overalls for women. No 
other provision, however, against exposure to in- 
dustrial poisons or accident, nor for medical serv- 
ice within the factories was mentioned. Some 
firms had woman superintendents of discipline, in 
addition to forewomen, but employers were 



divided in opinion as to the desirability of such a 


No provision had been made by the French 
government for the technical instruction of un- 
skilled men and women, and the necessary training 
was given therefore in each factory. The average 
period of training for women on machines was 
a week, though it ranged from less than one day 
to a fortnight. A man often taught a woman who 
then took his place, taught another woman, and 
then was replaced as a teacher by her pupil. 


The Commission gave the highest praise to both 
employers and workers. They believed that the 
patriotic spirit on both sides was responsible for 
the good timekeeping of workers, for freedom 
from trade union restrictions, and for increased 
intensity of production. Employers had stopped 
at nothing to get the most adequate equipment. 
While, as has been stated, no official limit had 
been put on profits, as in England, neither had 
there been any demand for it made by workers. 
This freedom from restraint and the greater in- 
centive for gain may have reacted favorably on the 
output of munitions.* Though several incidental 
factors were mentioned as in part responsible for 

* A recent newspaper item, however, states that a committee 
of the French Senate have brought charges against French 
munition manufacturers of graft and excessive profits made 
on government contracts. 



the enormous manufacture of war materials, the 
success was attributed almost wholly to the splen- 
did spirit of devotion to the French cause shown 
by workers and employers. The final conclusion 
of the report, despite the presence of a trade union 
member on the Commission, makes by implication 
a thrust at English labor. It states that "the 
people of France realize that they are at war, that 
their one idea . . . is to bring the war to a suc- 
cessful issue," and that, furthermore, the increase 
of production is due to one cause, and one only, 
and that is patriotic enthusiasm. 




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Interim Report. Industrial Efficiency 
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