Sunday, November 22, 2015

Review of Bruce Laurie's Artisans Into Workers (1989)

Bruce Laurie, Artisans Into Workers: Labor in Nineteenth-Century America. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989. pp. 257. Includes Bibliographic Essay and Index.
*Note: Page numbers refer to Illini Books Edition, 1997.

In 1989, when writing Artisans Into Workers, Bruce Laurie had established himself as a historian interested in labor issues. Laurie graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1971, having written his dissertation, “The Working People of Philadelphia, 1827-1853” which studied modernist laborers in America. By 1989, when Artisans Into Workers came out, Laurie had edited one major work on the subject and had successfully expanded his dissertation into a full-length monograph. Though Laurie’s research interests later on in his career would grow into studying conservativism’s development as well as abolitionism, at the time, he was primarily interested in the connections between labor and society in nineteenth-century America. These connections placed Laurie in the unique roll of being able to synthesize earlier institutionally focused labor history and the “new social history” of labor that was becoming popular at the time (indeed many of his reviewers noted this attempt as novel) as well as the intellectual roots of American radicalism.