Homestead Steelworkers, Circa 1890.
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Photograph of Homestead Steelworkers, Circa 1890.

Credit: Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

According to Captain Jones of the Edgar Thomson Works, "Germans, Irish, Swedes, and ‘buckwheats," [young American country boys] judiciously mixed, make the most effective, tractable force you can find. Scotsmen do very well, are honest and faithful, Welsh can be used in limited quantities. But Englishmen have been the worst class of men–sticklers for high wages, small production and strikes." An anchor of Andrew Carnegie's steel empire, the Homestead Steel Works employed thousands of the above, and in the early 1900s increasing numbers of Slovaks, Hungarians, Poles, and Russians. By the 1910s a significant portion of Homestead's workers were single men from central and eastern Europe. Working typically under the direction of an English-speaking foreman, most labored in tough unskilled jobs that demanded both strength and endurance.

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