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Industrial Home Work of the Dennison Manufacturing Company of Framingham, Massachusetts, 1912–1935

  • Gloria Vollmers (a1)

Dennison Manufacturing Company let work out into private homes in surrounding communities and paid piece rates for it for many decades. This work, primarily attaching strings to tags, benefited both the company and the community but contained the potential for abusive child labor. Home work declined when machinery could be substituted for hand labor, but machinery capable of replacing all handwork was never developed. Social and political pressures to reduce or eliminate child labor increased the incentives to end home work; but not until the depression of the 1930s, when national efforts to put men back to work gained momentum, did home manufacture end in the tag and other industries. This article uses internal company documents spanning the period 1912 to 1935 to illuminate the company's policy towards this work. It also relies on the recollections of many of those who performed the work when they were children. This research contributes to a substantial body of literature on home work by providing a case study on one company and enriching it with human testimony.

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Oliver E. Williamson , “Transaction-Cost Economics: The Governance of Contractual Relations,” The Journal of Law and Economics 22 (Oct. 1979): 233261

Mary Van Kleeck Child Labor in Home Industries,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 35 (March 1910)

Eileen Boris , “Regulating Industrial Homework: The Triumph of Sacred Motherhood,” The Journal of American History 71 (March 1985): 745763.

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Business History Review
  • ISSN: 0007-6805
  • EISSN: 2044-768X
  • URL: /core/journals/business-history-review
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