Archive ID: 1981-013-052

Closing Ceremonies, Y.M.C.A. English Classes

Date Created: 1918-06-08

Created By: Kaufmann & Fabry Co.

Donor: Betty Burton

Media Type: Photograph

Language: English


In the early 20th century, immigrant steelworkers were encouraged to attend English classes and to learn about American customs and institutions at evening schools. The Industrial Committee of the South Chicago YMCA, which included representatives from local industries, sponsored such “Americanization” classes. Sometimes industrial workers signed up for classes after being encouraged to do so by superintendents. However, after working 12 hour days and given the vagaries of shift work, not all workers were willing or able to follow through. According to a July 1918 South Works Review article (a plant magazine of U. S. Steel), the total number of men then attending Industrial Committee-sponsored classes was 968. Of this number, 546 were from South Works and 239 were from Wisconsin Steel. Other mills, including By-Products Coke Corporation, Iroquois Iron Company, Interstate Iron & Steel Company, and Federal Furnace also had some workers attending classes. At the two closing exercises for the night schools, fifty-five men from South Works and 46 from Wisconsin Steel Company were awarded certificates.

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