Cover for KATZMAN: Plain Folk: The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans. Click for larger image

Plain Folk

The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans

Plain Folk depicts both the ordinary occupations and ethnic and racial diversity of America at the turn of the century. Katzman and Tuttle have drawn upon 75 brief autobiographies or "lifelets" of working-class Americans published between 1902 and 1906 in The Independent magazine. Among the seventeen life stories included here are those of a Lithuanian stockyards worker in Chicago, a Polish sweatshop girl and a Chinese merchant in New York City, a black peon in rural Georgia, and a Swedish farmer in Minnesota. Together they provide an unmediated and seldom-seen view of American life during this period.


David M. Katzman and William M. Tuttle, Jr., are professors of history at the University of Kansas. Katzman is the author of Seven Days a Week: Women and Domestic Service in Industrializing America and Before the Ghetto: Black Detroit in the Nineteenth Century. Tuttle is the author of Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919.

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