The Voice of Industry, a well known newspaper among labor historians, was digitized and made freely available online in 2006. Because of the poor quality of the original paper, almost all of the material was manually retyped.
In 2012, the website for the Voice was substantially redone, with a view of making the sentiments of these workers accessible to a broader audience. In addition to a more inviting design, a substantial amount of material was added, and introductions were written to help readers put the material in context. A dedicated Facebook page was also created to encourage discussion about the continuing relevance of issues raised in the paper.
More generally, this project was born out of a conviction that history is more than a sequence of events leading to an inevitable present; understanding the past can make the present appear strange, thus allowing us to see familiar practices, values and institutions anew.
This is particularly true of the writing in the Voice. The reaction of these workers to the emergence of a large scale, profit-driven economic system is valuable preciesly because it was experienced as a new and alien thing. In short, what we perceive as natural was for them profoundly unfamiliar and bitterly resisted.
While the world has changed almost out of recognition since the Voice was published, many of the issues they call our attention to remain urgently with us.
In 2012, this site was the recipient of a Social Good Design Award, awarded by the Registered Graphic Designers of Ontario. The award “celebrates work from around the world that represents the power of effectively designed visual communications to make our world a better place." (The site was designed with Gil Martinez.)
The Voice of Industry site is the first in a series of projects aimed at popularizing ideas that challenge assumptions about the social world.
If you are an interested designer, developer, student, academic, or activist (or, if you're just interested) feel free to get in touch.
Categorization. The material on the site was categorized to reflect the main lines of criticism and points of interest in the paper. We endeavoured to feature as much of the writing as possible, while limiting the number of categories to a manageable number. This was a necessarily subjective, and imperfect, exercise. (The subsections, “Law and Government" and “Labor Reform Associations" might have benefited from being more prominantly featured, for example.)
Article Titles. For pieces with no titles, relevant lines or phrases in the text were used as as title. In some cases, descriptive titles were written, to better convey the content of the article in the navigation bar. (“Higher Dividends, Lower Wages" is an example.)
Formatting. Paragraph breaks were added to some of the longer articles, in order to improve readability.
Excerpts. Some articles have been excerpted, for readability. In these cases, every effort has been made to preserve the subject of the piece.
A number of people offered tremendous support in completing and launching this project: Kierston Tough, Sean Morley Dixon, the ‘Voice of Industry Choir', Gavin Kistner, Micha Dahan, Roberto Tomassini, Andy Astritis, Lauren Bride, Fay Faraday, Martha Mayo, Professor Bryan Palmer, and Jim Stanford. Special thanks to Gil Martinez, Professor Janet Halley, Professor Noam Chomsky and Aaron Swartz. A *very* special thanks to Buffy Childerhose, whose effort and insights shaped almost every aspect of the project from its inception, and who worked tirelessly to organize the launch event. Her help was invaluable.
The Voice of Industry is in the public domain.
Design by Gil Martinez for BigGuyStudio.ca