Women Working for Change

Property: Cigar Factory, 701 East Bay St., Charleston, SC 29403

Historic Content 

The American Tobacco Company leased the building on East Bay Street in 1903. The company needed a place to produce cigars. Like other large mills and factories during this time, The Cigar Factory provided jobs for many African American men and women who were looking for work. While Caucasian men and women held higher-paying jobs such as machinists and supervisors, the jobs left for African American workers were less skilled. According to Lau (2006) black workers held the "lowest paid, dirtiest, most labor-intensive, and hazardous" jobs at the plant (p. 147). For this work, they were paid between fifty and sixty cents per hour. These individuals averaged twenty-six dollars a week, and this would include overtime hours. The building was too warm in summer and drafty and cold in winter. Yet, workers were not allowed to wear sweaters while they worked.

Student Learning Objectives: 

1. Students will compare and contrast the working conditions of African American and Caucasian men and women in the early 1900s. 

2. Students will collaborate with peers to conduct research and design improvisations that depict historical characters and events. 

Author
Dr. LeConte Richardson Middleton
Organization Affiliation
South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation & Richland School District One, TriDrama!
Time
Three to four 50-minute periods
Grade Level