Teaching Cleveland
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High School Edition: 9-12

Lesson 14

Men in the Workplace


To familiarize students with the life of the working man in mid-ninteenth century Cleveland.



fodder, stop cock, putty, waste cock, hose bibb, street washer, solder


What was the working life of the ordinary Clevelander like during the middle of the 19th century ?


  1. Note: Zalman Fitch was a mid-nineteenth century Cleveland banker and financier. Fitch kept meticulous records of the transactions of his daily life. These papers give us a good picture of the life of the average craftsman in Cleveland in the middle of the nineteenth century. Fitch's records include bills and statements for work completed as well as guarantees offered by individuals who repaired Fitch's property. We can gain much knowledge about what types of jobs people performed, what items were bought and sold, and what the cost of those items were. We also gain an excellent picture of the labor cost for the performance of various jobs.
  2. Have students examine Handouts 1, 2, 3, 4 selected examples of work done for Fitch from his records and complete Handout # 6. the accompanying worksheet.
  3. Have students examine Handout 5. a standard labor agreement for the period. Individuals who performed jobs as well as the person seeking to have the work done, signed contracts. Lawyers cost money, however, so several editions of legal advice books were published, which gave examples of contracts and other legal documents. Students will write a labor agreement of their own, using home chores or employment as an example.

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