STRUGGLE IN SMUGTOWN VIDEO DOCUMENTARY
Like the online Rochester Labor History eMap, this video commemorates Rochester's
working people — those who built and ran our community.
This documentary begins to tell a hidden story of their work, their unions, their struggles for social justice. This story, sketched in fifteen image-filled segments, is important to our understanding of both the past and the present.
By following the links below, the Struggle in Smugtown video can be viewed in segments online.
To view each segment of the video, click on the titles below:
- FLOUR CITY
Digging the Erie Canal, constructing aqueducts; boatbuilding and barrel-making;
flour mills make Rochester America's bread-basket; the coming of the railroad.
- FLOWER CITY
Nurseries replace mills, flowers replace flour; nursery workers organize;
nursery land becomes Highland Park, a refuge for urban workers.
Fugitive slave Frederick Douglass publishes The North Star, fights for black
workers rights; Lewis Henry Morgan studies Iroquois culture, develops theories of social organization;
Susan B. Anthony advocates for women's suffrage, equal pay for equal work.
Rochester's early struggles over integration; vocational education, the Mechanics
Institute; the training of teachers and disparity in their pay.
- EARLY UNIONS
Workers join the Rochester Workingmen's Assembly, the Knights of Labor, the
American Federation of Labor, the Rochester Central Trades and Labor Council, the Building Trades
First horse-drawn, then electric streetcars facilitate Rochester's growth
and connect the city to its region; street railway workers' struggles.
- SHOES & CIGARETTES
Threatened by mechanized production, workers in the "leather swamp"
join the Knights of St. Crispin, the Knights of Labor, the Boot and Shoe Workers Union. Women at Kimball's
cigarette factory organize and strike.
- LENSES & FILM
Skilled optical workers at Bausch & Lomb, Kodak; Lewis Hine photographs child labor.
Thousands of immigrant workers in sweatshops and factories struggle, organize; Ida Breiman,
striker, murdered; Rochester button industry.
Anarchist Emma Goldman, socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs; discussions at Labor
Lyceum; settlement houses "Americanize" immigrant workers.
- WAR, DEPRESSION, NEW DEAL
WWI, repression of immigrant workers; the Great Depression, relief efforts for
city's unemployed; recognition of workers' right to unionize spurs CIO organizing drives.
- POST-WAR PROSPERITY
Workers struggles following WWII; city's municipal workers organize, are fired,
conduct General Strike; economic development; newspapers, both union and anti-union.
- CIVIL RIGHTS
Workplace and housing discrimination lead to 1964 race riot; FIGHT takes on Kodak.
- SHIFTING ECONOMIES
ob-flight to South and abroad threatens manufacturing; public employees and health
care workers organize; struggles over privatization, plant-closings, safety and health in the workplace.
- COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY
Organized labor's role in sustaining a viable Rochester through a Living
Wage, community support campaigns, labor-based cultural programs, political action.
THE STRUGGLE IN SMUGTOWN VIDEO WAS MADE POSSIBLE WITH SUPPORT FROM THE
RONALD G. PETTENGILL LABOR EDUCATION FUND AND THE JOHN F. WEGMAN FUND, COMPONENTS OF
THE ROCHESTER AREA FOUNDATION.