Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, 2008 - History - 526 pages
1 Review
This book examines how it was possible and what it meant for ordinary factory workers to become effective unionists and national political participants by the mid-1930s. We follow Chicago workers as they make choices about whether to attend ethnic benefit society meetings or to go to the movies, whether to shop in local neighborhood stores or patronize the new A & P. Although workers may not have been political in traditional terms during the '20s, as they made daily decisions like these, they declared their loyalty in ways that would ultimately have political significance. As the depression worsened in the 1930s, not only did workers find their pay and working hours cut or eliminated, but the survival strategies they had developed during the 1920s were undermined. Looking elsewhere for help, workers adopted new ideological perspectives and overcame longstanding divisions among themselves to mount new kinds of collective action. Chicago workers' experiences as citizens, ethnics and blacks, wage earners and consumers all converged to make them into New Deal Democrats and CIO unionists. First printed in 1990, Making a New Deal has become an established classic in American History. The second edition includes a new introductory essay by Lizabeth Cohen.

What people are saying - Write a review

Making a new deal: industrial workers in Chicago, 1919-1939

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Most chapters in this ambitious study of Chicago's ethnic workers between the wars could themselves be the basis for a book: workers' encounter with mass culture; their response to 1920s welfare ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This book is a great historical work that goes in depth regarding the experiences of Chicago industrial workers. It was particularly helpful for my research project as it gave details about industrial conditions during the Great Depression. Also it is a reliable source as it was written by a collegiate professor and published by Cambridge UP. Since it was recently published as well I trust it to give the most recent and accurate information as opposed to other novels. I enjoyed the political aspect of it as well since that was just plain interesting. 


Living and Working in Chicago in 1919
Ethnicity in the New Era
Encountering Mass Culture
Contested Loyalty at the Workplace
Adrift in the Great Depression
Workers Make a New Deal
Becoming a Union Rank and File
Workers Common Ground

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies in the History Department of Harvard University. She is also the author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (2003) and co-author with David M. Kennedy of The American Pageant, a college-level US history textbook.