We owe a debt of gratitude to previous generations of workers, especially those who were killed or seriously injured on the job. The blood of those workers has spurred the creation of new safety regulations, processes and technologies aiming to protect future workers from the same fate.
Over the years, photography has been one of the most powerful tools for documenting hazardous workplace conditions and driving lawmakers and employers to take action.
“Social reformers have used photographs as evidence to ban child labor, reduce the hours that women could work and expose unsanitary workplaces,” the National Archives and Records Administration explains in “The Way We Worked,” an exhibit of historical workplace photographs. “Engineers have photographed the details of machinery and processes to improve operations and practices.”
The images in the exhibit show how work and workplaces changed between the mid 19th and late 20th centuries, and “honor those who built this country – the working men and women of America.”