Women Workers in Connecticut’s Heavy Industry

The Industrial Revolution transformed the process of producing goods from small, locally based home production to large-scale machine production of goods for a wide market. Connecticut was at the forefront of this transition in many industries, particularly with the manufacture of brass, focused in the Naugatuck Valley in the western part of the state. By the end of the 19th century the industry depended on immigrant workers from eastern and southern Europe, who filled this need for labor despite the dangers of working in harsh factory conditions.

This video shows women workers at the Ansonia Brass and Copper Company in September 1899, from a set of photographic prints in the American Brass Company Records.

Primary Resources:

Secondary sources: 

  • Blaszczyk, Regina Lee and Philip B. Scranton, eds. Major Problems in American Business History (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006) 
  • Boris, Eileen, and Nelson Lichtenstein, eds. Major Problems in the History of American Workers (D.C. Heath and Company, 1991). 
  • Brass Workers History Project, compiled and edited by Jeremy Becher, Jerry Lombardi and Jan Stackhouse. Brass Valley: The Story of Working People’s Lives and Struggles in an American Industrial Region (Temple U. Press, 1982). 
  • Bucki, Cecelia and the Mattatuck Historical Society. Metal, Minds and Machines: Waterbury at Work(Mattatuck Historical Society, Waterbury, Connecticut, 1980). 
  • Bucki, Cecelia. “Women at Work, Connecticut, 1900-1980.” Brochure for an exhibit of the Connecticut Center for Independent Historians, 1985. 
  • Bucki, Cecelia. “The Labor Movement in Connecticut.” Connecticut Explored, Winter 2013/2014. 
  • Fink, Leon (ed.). Major Problems in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era. (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1993). 
  • Lathrop, William G. The Brass Industry in the United States (Mt. Carmel, Conn., 1926). 
  • Lathrop, William Gilbert. The Development of the Brass Industry in Connecticut. (Yale University Press, 1936). 
  • Moret, Marta. A Brief History of the Connecticut Labor Movement, 1982. 
  • Ngai, Mae M. and Jon Gjerdeeds. Major Problems in American Immigration History (2nd edition). (Cengage Learning, 2013). 
  • Norton, Mary Beth and Ruth M. Alexander. Major Problems in American Women’s History. (Houton Mifflin Company, 2007). 
  • Raber, Michael S. and Robert Gordon. Documentation of the Ansonia Copper & Brass, Inc., Plant, Waterbury, Connecticut. 

 Online sources: 

 Maps Courtesy of the UConn Library Map and Geographic Information Center, http://magic.lib.uconn.edu/historical_maps.htm 

You can find all of the images in the UConn Library digital repository at https://archives.lib.uconn.edu/islandora/object/20002:ansoniabrass