Carolyn Zola Humanities and Social Science
Redefining Worker Identity in the 1920s
From 1923 to 1929, a period characterized by economic prosperity in the United States, Mather and Company created and distributed hundreds of motivational workplace posters that were hung in offices and factories across the country. Covering a broad range of topics, the posters sought not only to inform workers on matters related to workplace safety but also to redefine worker identity by using the language and ideology of the labor movement, while dramatically reshaping the meanings of such language. My research project, which will form the basis of my senior thesis, will explore the ways in which the Mather and Company workplace posters redefined fundamental ideas such as cooperation and fairness, which had for decades been the moral ground staked out by the labor movement, while masking a reinforcement of traditional ideas of hierarchy and discipline.