Labor Day 2023: Historic Photographs of People Working, from the Joseph J. Pennell Collection
On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed the bill that designated the first Monday of September as a day to celebrate the workers of America known as Labor Day. Below are photographs selected from the Joseph J. Pennell Collection that feature workers in various occupations.
From the 1890s to the 1920s, Joseph J. Pennell photographed life in Junction City, Kansas, and the nearby Army base, Fort Riley. It is my belief that the strength of the collection is that Pennell wasn’t content to just stay in his studio, taking portrait photography. He went out into the community to photograph its people, businesses, activities, groups, and families. And Pennell was inclusive of community members from diverse groups, revealing a more complete representation of Junction City history. Because of his work, we are provided with a comprehensive view of life in a moderately-sized Midwestern army-post town on the Great Plains at the turn of the century.