Scraping by: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore


Product Details

Johns Hopkins University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 8.9 X 1.2 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Seth Rockman is an assistant professor of history at Brown University and author of Welfare Reform in the Early Republic.


"Graceful, engaging work."

--History Wire - Where the Past Comes Alive

"Scraping By is an impressive, eloquently written study that provides a seminal history of Baltimore's working class, and makes a fine addition to the already outstanding list of titles in the Studies in Early American Economy and Society series."

--Maryland Historical Magazine

"Scraping By is about breaking new ground: the often nasty, unhealthy labor essential to Baltimore's growth as a boomtown from the 1790s to 1830s. Rockman breaks new ground himself in studying 'low-end laborers': slaves, free blacks, European immigrants, and the native-born who struggled to cobble together a few days' ill-paid toil... Highly recommended."


"Seth Rockman has written a powerful book... Scraping By is an ambitious, impressive, and fully realized piece of work that will engage and educate scholars, teachers, citizens, and activists. The book will take its place on the shelf beside the classics of early American labor history, written by Ira Berlin, William B. Morris, Gary B. Nash, Billy G. Smith, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Alfred F. Young."

--Marcus Rediker "William and Mary Quarterly "

"Seth Rockman has written a book to be reckoned with... This is a terrific book, at times abrasive, which deserves a wide audience. That would include undergraduates, for whom Rockman's vivid writing and clear argument should resonate, especially within an economic climate that is forcing millions more to scrape by."

--John Bezís-Selfa "American Historical Review "

"Rockman began working on Scraping By well before the current economic downturn, yet the recent record-breaking rates of un- and under-employment make this analysis of American capitalism's development all the more timely. Rockman's skillful work, however, seems likely to outlast this stage of the business cycle... All historians of the era, as well as economic historians of every era, will want to read this fine book."

--Lynda Yankaskas "Common-Place "

"This is an engaging, deeply researched, and well-written study of labor, class, and capitalism in early national-era Baltimore."

--Simon P. Newman "Journal of American History "

"Well researched, attentive to larger national and international contexts, and admirably written, this book is a commendable step forward in the writing of the history of U.S. labor."

--Susanna Delfino "Journal of Southern History "

"An important work of labour history."

--Sally Hadden "The Jounral of Continuity and Change "