Making Gendered Poverty Visible: W.A. Rogers’s  “Slaves of the Sweaters”
and Attitudes toward Women and Child Wage Earners

Abstract

| Essay | Image | Editorial |

       A close reading of the 1890 graphic by W.T. Rogers entitled "The Slaves of the Sweaters" yields an analysis of urban poverty and the exploitation of women and child wage earners at odds with the editorial of the same name published in the same issue of Harper's Weekly. Rogers emphasized the helplessness of his subjects caught within the system of the tenement-bound system of sweated labor thus suggesting the need for intervention on their behalf, while his editors optimistically envisioned the progress of immigrant male wage earners and their dependents. Taken together, text and graphic illuminate a moment of transition in the thinking of the Progressive Movement, and make clear how visual analysis of historical materials enrich our understandings of the past.

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