Archive ID: 1981-051-5

Steelmaking crane with worker

Date Created: undated

Created By: U.S. Steel

Donor: William Ferry

Media Type: Photograph

Language: English


Steelmaking crane with worker, The Morgan Engineering Co Alliance, #411.


This photo is from a series of albums donated to the Southeast Chicago Historical Project by the management of U.S. Steel-South Works in 1981. This album documented the work of the South Works Committee of Safety from the early 20th century. Early steel mills were highly dangerous places. In 1905, Robert J. Young was hired to study injuries at the South Works plant, and the Committee of Safety was formed. The Committee recommended 3,000 changes based on close analysis of their plant operations. In response to the ongoing public outcry over industrial deaths and injuries, US Steel would begin a national safety program for all their mills in 1908, modeled on the one developed at South Works. This photo is from a series of images taken circa 1911-12. The images show safety gear prototypes as well as mill operations as they were inspected for possibilities for making additional changes to address safety concerns. These images offer a fascinating historical record of the early steel mills and their dangers. Despite such early safety programs, many Southeast Chicago steelworkers in oral histories described continuing dangers and horrific accidents in the mills during later decades.

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