Cover for COOPER: Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women, and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919. Click for larger image

Once a Cigar Maker

Men, Women, and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919

Patricia A. Cooper charts the course of competition, conflict, and camaraderie among American cigar makers during the two decades that preceded mechanization of their work. In the process, she reconstructs the work culture, traditions, and daily lives of the male cigar makers who were members of the Cigar Makers' International Union of America (CMIU) and of the nonunion women who made cigars under a division of labor called the "team system." But Cooper not only examines the work lives of these men and women, she also analyzes their relationship to each other and to their employers during these critical years of the industry's transition from hand craft to mass production.


"In her admirably researched Once a Cigarmaker, Patricia Cooper weaves a fascinating tale about the three-way relationship that developed between new technology in the cigarmaking industry, and its impact on both the older generation of skilled, male cigarmakers, and on the unskilled immigrant women who replaced them as the major labor force in the trade after the First World War. . . . [This book pushes] back the boundaries of our knowledge at the interface between institutional labor history, cultural analysis, and the social history of work in a fresh and original way."--Reviews in American History

"Among the best studies we have to date of shop-floor work traditions for both men and women. It is a powerful analysis of work, gender, and the union movement that insightfully moves us beyond simplifications about craft union elitism and sexism."--Journal of Social History

"Subtle, incisive, and original, Once a Cigarmaker has broken new ground at the intersection of business, labor, and women's history."--Business History Review

"This fine study, spiced with humor rare in social history, provides a provocative argument and good reading."--Oral History Review


Patricia A. Cooper is an associate professor of history at Drexel University.

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