Welfare Capitalism and Documentary Photography Download

I would like to thank my fellorvparticipants
in the greaterToronto-areaphoto seminar,
as u'ell as Deborah Martin Kao ar.rclMichelle
Lamunidre,organizersof the symposium 'A
New SocialOrder', held at Harvard
University in April 2007.
Welfare Capitalismand
N.C.R.and the VisualProduction
of a Global Model Factory
ElspethH. Brown
This article examinesthe use of photographv in promoting welfare capitalist
initiativesat the National CashRegisterCompany (N.C.R.) of Dal.ton Ohio in the
early twentieth century. The article arguesthat the company'sfounder, John H.
Patterson,became interested in both industrial betterment schemesand their
photographic documentation as a result of industrial sabotage.In responseto
working-class antipathy to the cash register itsell which was viewed as a
technologyof workplacesurveillance,Pattersonintroduced factory improvement
schemesthat benefited workers at the Dal.ton p1ant.Photographsand lantern
slides documer-rtir-rg
these irnprovementsbecarnecentral to Fatierson'sinternational publicity campaign to render the Dalton plant a global showcasefor
progressivebusinesspractices.The circulation of theseirnagesin a global reform
network allowedthem to function, the article argues,as fetishesofProgressrve-era
utopianisn-r,obscuring the violent details of early twentieth-centuryfactory 1ife.
Like the cash register itself, which became an international commodity in the
1BBOs,the photographs documenting the triumphs of N.C.R.'s industrial
bettermentprogramme gain their value in relationsof exchange,as they circulate
in a global network of Progressive-era
conferences,exhibitions,and educational
endeavoursdesignedto amelioratethe human costsof industrial capitalism.
I'Jational Cash Register, lohn H. Patterson, factory, photography,
Progressive-era, commodity fetishism, cash register, surveillance, sabotage
Photographs are mute documents: their meanings are historically contingent,
shaped by the specific contexts in which they are circulated and read. The
indexical relationship between a photograph's visual message and the 'scene
itself - what Roland Barthes called the image's denotative meaning - anchors
I - R o l r n d B . r r t h e ' '.T h e Ph o to g la p h ic
Message',rn Image/Music/Text,trans.
StephenHeath, New York: Hill and Wang
1 9 7 7 , 1 7 , 2 l ;s e ea lsoElsp e thH. Br o wn , T le
CorporateEye: Photographyand the
Rationslizationof American Comntercial
Culture, 1877 1929,Baltimore:lohns
Hopkins University Press2005, i4 16.
the truth claims of a wide range of images concerned with documentation.l
the documentary
world, to actual social conditions, made the medium
claim to the material
a favoured one, not only
for Progressive-era reformers, but also for early twentieth-century
progressives, who pushed their fellow capitalists towards a less brutal (if not
approach to labour-management
discussed, the
meanings: interpretations
relations. But as Barthes also
are always joined by
are shaped socialiy, politically,
and historically. These meanings are structured by the image's style and its
mode of transmission (text and captions, for example), as well as by how the
image is read by diverse audiences constituted through the image's circulation
Historl of Photographl',\rolume 32, Number 2, Summer 2008
ISSN 0308 7298 a 2008 Taylor & Francis
Ekpeth H. Brown
in time and space. In the early twentieth-century US, both reformers and
c apit alis t sr elie d o n th e i n te rp re ti v es l i p p a g eIhal can occur w hen connotati ve
rneanings are taken for denotative meanings - when historically contingent
interpretive frameworks, such as scientific 'objectivity', are taken for material
reality. Early twentieth-century business owners and managers found photography to be an ideal graphic technology in offering their version of workplace
conditions, in what was essentiallya battle of visual rhetoric waged on twin
fronts againstProgressive-erareformers (who sought increasedstate regulation
of private business excesses)and against their more conselwative business
colleagues (who argued for an older interpretation of nineteenth-century
Iaissez-fairepolitical economy).
This essaytakes as a case study the production and global circulation of
photographic documentation by one early twentieth-century US multinational
business:the National Cash RegisterCompany of Dal'ton, Ohio (N.C.R)'2The
images I examine here, drawn from the NCR archivesas well as from Harvard
University's Social Museum Collection, document the company's extensive
welfare capitalist initiatives in the first years of the twentieth century. The
images were made and circulated primarily as a means of publicizing N.C.R.'s
status as a global model factory and functioned, historically, on a number of
levels. I will outline here a few of the registers in which their meanings were
constructed and circulated. As an overall framework for understanding the
cultural functioning of these photographs, I want to suggestthat the images,as
material objects, are fetishesof Progressive-erautopianism. What I mean here
is simply that, in these images, the myriad conflicts that gave rise to both
N.C.R.'s welfare capitalist initiatives and the photographic documentation of
these initiatives, in particular both the workplace surveillanceand the pervasive
industrial sabotagethat accompaniedthe introduction of the cash register into
US economic life, are rendered both invisible and - implicitly - resolveddue to
reformers' intervention. As Marx argued concerning the commodity fetish, in
advanced capitalism the 'fetish' of the commodity works to obscure the
material conditions of its production in favour of the symbolic and economic
value it accrueswhen in circulation; in his terms, the commodity's exchange
value, on the market, renders the good's use value invisible. To fo1low through
with the metaphor of the commodity fetish, the images I shall be discussing
in this essayobscure the violent details of early twentieth-century factory life.
Like the cash register itseli which became an international commodity in the
1880s, the photographs documenting the triumphs of N.C.R.'s industrial
betterment programme gain their value in relations of exchange, as they
circulate in a global network of Progressive-eraconferences,exhibitions, and
educational endeavoursdesiqned to ameliorate the human costs of industrial
2 Although the company was known for
much of its life as 'N.C.R.', in the 1970sthe
name was changedto 'NCR'.
N.C.R. and Early Twentieth-CenturyWelfareCapitalism
National Cash Register,of Dalton, Ohio was an extremely early innovator in a
number of areas of progressive business practices, inciuding 'scientific
salesmanship',visual pedagogy,and welfare capitalism. N.C.R. is still around
today in the form of ATM machines, among other products. In the early
twentieth century, the company's founder, John H. Patterson,began producing
a newly invented machine - the cash register - in a one-room factory with
thirteen employees in 1884; by 1905 he had built a complex of innovative
buildings covering twenty-three acres of floor space, with landscaping by
Boston's Olmstead brothers, and about five thousand employees,both male
and female.sWhile N.C.R.'s work in salesmanshipis fascinating- the company
invented the guaranteedsalesterritory, the salesconvention' the flip chart' and
3 Iudith Sealander,Grand Plans:Business
Progressivismand SocialChangein Ohio's
Miami Valley, 1890-1929,Lexington, KY:
University Pressof Kentucky XXXX, 21;
StanleyAllyn, My Half'Century with N.C.R.'
New York: McGraw Hill 1988,28-29.
Welfare Capit alism and D ocumentary Phot ography
4 For further information about N.C.R.'s
importance in the history of sales,see
Walter A. Friedman, Birth of a Salesman:
The Transformation of Selling in America,
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
2004 and his'John H. Pattersonand the
SalesStrategy of the National Cash Register
Company, 1884 to 1922', The Business
History Reriew 72:4 (Winter 1998),552584.
5 - T h i s p a r a g r a p his d r a wn fr o m m y
d i s c u s s i o no f w e l fa r eca p it.r lismin
relationshipto LewisHine's photographyin
The CorporateEye, I),9 148. The key
discussionsof welfare capitalism are Nicki
Mandell, The Corporation as Family: the
Genderingof Corporate Welfare, 1890-19j0,
Chapel Hill, NC: University of North
Carolina Press2002;Andrea Tone, Business
and the Work of Benevolence:
Paternalism in ProgressiveAmerica, Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press1997;David
Brody, 'The Rise and Decline of Welfare
Capitalism',rn Changeand Continuity in
Twentieth Century America: The 1920s,ed.
|ohn Braemanet al., Columbus: Ohio State
University Press1968,147-78 and Stuart D.
Brandes, American Welfare Capitalism,
1880-1940,Chicago:University of Chicago
Press1976.For a discussionofwelfare
c a p i t a l i . mi n r e l atio n sh ipto co r p o r d r e
public relations,seeRoland Marchand,
Creating the Corporate Soul: The Riseof
Public Relationsand CorporateImagery in
American Big Business,Berkeley, CA:
University of California Press1998 and
Richard Tedlow, Keeping the Corporate
Image: Public Relstions and Business,19001950,Greenwich,CT: JAI Press1979.
6 Sealander,Grand Plans,2l; Carroll T.
Fugitt, 'The Truce between Labour and
Capital', Cassier'sMagazine (September
1 9 0 5 )v o l . 2 8 n o . 5 ,3 4 0 .
7- Image reprinted in Lena Harvey Tracy,
How My Heart Sang: The Story of Pioneer
Industrial Welfare Work, New York: Richard
R. Smith 1950, 112,bottom, with caption
'Mrs. Charles Henrotin Addressesthe
Century Club'.
8 - Industrial Problems, Welfare Work,
NCR: 'FeaturesEducationalto Employees',
ca 1903 SMC 3.2002.3519:ElspethH.
Brown, TLe CorPorateEye: Photographyand
the Rationalizationof American Commercial
Cukure, 1884-1929,Baltimore,MD: fohns
Hopkins University Press,2005.
mandatory salestraining schools, for example - this essayfocuseson welfare
capitalism, since it is the photographic documentation of this work that gave
rise to N.C.R.'s global reputation in the early twentieth century.4
Welfare capitalism is a term used by historians to describethe tremendous
surge of programmes and benefits that progressiveemployers offered European
and American industrial workers in the yearsbefore the rise of the welfare state.
With the major expansion of many mass and specialtyproduction industries in
the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,the size of factory workforces
grew exponentially, as did the number of often violent confrontations between
labour and capital. In response to high labour turnover rates, industrial
sabotage,unionization efforts, and the growing anonymity of the increasingly
bureaucratized workplace, progressive companies began to offer workplace
reforms in a successfuleffort to reduce labour turnover, increaseproductivity,
and build employee loyalty. These programmes varied widely in scope, but
included company efforts to enable employeesto acquire property and begin
savings accounts; factory and workplace beautification programmes ranging
from landscaping to interior painting; the establishmentof employee athletic
and social clubs; workplace safety programmes; employee lunch programmes
and health care, usually through visiting nurses; pension plans; and employee
representation schemes, known within the labour movement as 'company
untons .N.C.R. was at the forefront of this movement towards what was often
called, at the time, 'industrial betterment' or 'welfare work'. By 1900, around
the time thesephotographs documenting welfare initiatives were in circulation,
N.C.R. offered its male and female employeesthe most comprehensiveset of
employeebenefits in the country. The company's founder and director through
the early 1920s,lohn H. Patterson, summarized the welfare goals as 'physical,
mental, moral, and financial' betterment for workers, instituted through three
strategies:healthful working conditions, pleasant surroundings, and educational opportunities.6 Although I will discusssome of these programmes (and
their photographic documentation) in more detail later, here let me summarize
that the positive publicity accordedthesewelfare capitalist initiatives becameas
important to the company's global reputation as the cash registeritself: indeed,
the two were inextricably linked.
My first illustration includes five black and white photographs
representative of the documentation of N.C.R.'s welfare work during this
period (figurel). Pastedon a sheet of grey poster board with accompanying
text, the photographs detail the educational opportunities for workers,
including a library; motivational proclamations on buildings and bulletin
boards; and speakers organized through the company's various employee
clubs (the top right image describesreformer Mrs. Charles Henrotin, active
in the labour and suffrage movements, as well as the second president of the
generation General Federation of Women's Clubs; she is addressing the
N .C .R . w omen s cl ub i n thi s i mage).7N .C .R . w as al so the fi rst com pany in
the US to start a magazine for employees; as I have discussed elsewhere,
these publications became a central managerial strategy in constructing an
ideology of corporate family togetherness in the increasingly rationalized
workplace.S N.C.R. pioneered a number of conveniences for women
employees, such as a women's dining room; restrooms - literally designed
for rest, a development that was matched in contemporary department store
design; ten-minute recreation breaks in the morning and afternoon, and even
specially designed chairs, at least ten years before post-Taylorite managers
began thinking of what eventually became known, after \MWII, as the field of
EkpethH. Brown
a d h e s i y e l c t t e r so n m o L r nm
t; o u n t: 7 1 r 5 5 .2 cm ( 2 7 1-5/16xl 1 3/,1i n.).H arvardU r]i versi tl 'A rtN Iuseums,FoggA rtN Iuseutn,otd eptl s i t
CarpcnterCeltcr fbr the Visual Arrs, 3.2002.324.Photo: h.nagingDepartment t' Presidentand Fcllou'sof HarvarclCollege
WelfareCapitalismand D ocumentaryPhotography
9- Dar.id E. Nye, Inage Workls: Corporate
Identitiesat GeneralElectric,1890 1930,
Cambridge,MA: MIT Press1985.
Although there are other images documenting still other aspects of
N.C.R.'s welfare work in the NCR archives,this placard from Harvard's Social
Museum Collection provides a representativesample of the types of imagesthat
N.C.R. used to publicize its welfare capitalist programmes during the
ProgressiveEra. The photographs bear a staged awkwardnesstypical of both
late nineteenth-century industrial photography and early twentieth-century
public relations imagery.oIn the interior images,the photographer has chosena
long view, seeking to fit as much of the library, auditorium, and slide-room
into the frame as possible:here, qpical of the genre at the time, the spaceof the
model factory is privileged over a visual emphasison the individual subjectivity
of specific figures (through the close-up,for example). The camera,rather than
'catching' the employees at their tasks (a visual rhetoric of pleasurable
spontaneity and company'togetherness'that would mark such imagesafter the
war), here seemsto cement them in place. Whether seatedin their company
chairs, or selectingone of '10,000 lantern slides', these sombre employees
earnestlypursue the uplifting educational diversions of reading, viewing, and
Teachingthroughthe eye:the global circulationof the model
factory image
10- ElspethH. Brown, 'Rationalizing
Commercial Illustration, 1913-1919',
Enterpriseand Society1:4 (December2000),
7 t5-738.
1i Dalton History rvebsite,http://
accessed12 April 2007.
Capitalist visuality - in terms of both ways of seeingand in strategiesof visual
representation- emerged as central to N.C.R.'s relationship to employees,its
industrial betterment programmes, its sales strategy, and its international
publicity campaign to render the Dalton plant a global showcase for
progressivebusinesspractices. Patterson was unique among early Progressive
b u s i nessmenfor hi s commi tment to vi sual technol ogi es.\V hile t he ear ly
twentieth century saw advertisersturn to what was known as 'eye appeal', this
emphasis on the visual was unusual in the manufacturing sector.r0Although
Patterson first elaborated his visual pedagogy to his sales staff in the 1880s
through drawings on blackboards and flip-charts, by 1891 he had also
incorporated magic lantern slides to demonstrate aspectsof the cash register
machinerl, to his salesmen.The method worked so well that he created a
Photography Department to produce lantern slides,which were painstakingly
hand-colouredby a staffof sevenwomen.tt By the early 1900s,N.C.R. had over
100,000 stereopticon slides as well as motion picture cameras for the
documentation and display of N.C.R.'s machinery and work innovations.
Thesevisual technologieswere central to Patterson'sstrategy of what he called
'teaching through the eye'.
The stereopticon slides became central to the global delivery of what
becameknown as'The FactoryLecture'.Theserepresentations
of model factory
life circulated domestically and internationally to diverse audiences ranging
from N.C.R. factory employeesat the most local leve1to international world's
fair audiencesat the global. Though in fact the lecturesabout N.C.R. concerned
a number of overlapping topics and titles such as 'The Model Factory', or 'A
New Era in Factory Life', standardizedscripts and images emergedby the early
1900sin the effort to publicize the benefitsof welfare capitalism and the central
role that N.C.R. played in progressiveindustrial betterment schemesin both
Europe and North America. Most of the slideshowsfeatured between 200-230
projected slides, displayed on two parallel screens,in order to compare and
contrast the factory conditions before and after the introduction of betterment
A Newburgh, New York newspaper report describes a tlpical N.C.R.
factory lecture delivered by N.C.R. 'Advance Department' head Arnold
Shanklin in early March 1901. After emphasizingthat'the talk was rn no
EkpethH. Brown
N . C " R " Lecture R<xlm,
way an advertisement for the machine manufactured by the company', the
lengthy report detailed a tlpical lecture, which began with a brief history of the
company, including its modest founding in 1882 through its explosivegrowth
in the next twenty years.The narrative in this section of the lecture emphasized
businessprogress,the positive attributes of growth, and implicitly, the Horatio
Alger mlth of the rags-to-richesAmerican dream. Shanklin then describedthe
introduction of stereopticon lectures to the factory population and their
families, as a teaching method for the 'best way' to go about their various
duties, to inculcate Patterson's ideas of healthful living (he was a fanatical
follower of many of the era's health fads), and on system in business.Using
imagesdocumenting each aspectof N.C.R. industrial betterment programmes,
Shanklin then escorted the audience on a visual tour of the N.C.R.
kindergarten; the staggered arrival and departure of company streetcars,
allowing women to travel independently of the men; the introduction of
company lunch rooms; the Olmsted landscaping and the successof the boys'
gardening clubs; and the suggestion system and associated prizes. At the
conclusion of the lecture, the pictures of the Patterson brothers filled the
screens;according to the reporter, these images were 'warmly greeted, while
some of the mottoes they have adopted Iand which were also displayed] were
als o gr e e te dw i th a p p l a u s e ' .rThese illustrated factory tours were delivered to multiple audiences,
numbering in the tens of thousands,domesticallyand abroad (figure3). For
example, Shanklin's March 1901 Newburgh lecture was part of a three-month
tour through New England and the south, which included stops in Worcester,
Massachusetts,where he spoke before an audienceof fifteen hundred members
of the Worcester County MechanicsAssociation on 'A New Era in Factory Life';
Rochester,NY; Bridgeport, CT; Scranton, PA; Newark NJ; I(noxville, TN; New
Orleans,LA; Houston and Forth Worth TX, and then back up to Bloomington, IN.
Figure 2. N.C.R. LecntreRoom, London,
Eng.,ca I9I2,lantern slide. The N.C.R.
Archive at Da)ton History.
l2 'Twentieth Century Factory', The Daily
/oanral, Nervburgh,NY, 6 March 1901,in
John H. Pattersonscrapbookno. I 14,
pp.45 46, N.C.R. Archir.e,Archive Center,
Dalton Historv. Other newspaperclippings
in this scrapbookreproducealnost
identical descriptionsof Shanklin'sspring
1901tour through New England.
WelfareCapitalismand DocumentaryPhotography
Figure 3. Routing of Factory Lectures,ca
1912,l;rntern slide. The N.C.1l.Archive at
Dayton History.
Rou{ng ol Faelory Leciures
ot t9I?
. -..
't Al't:i
13- SJ-rue,v's
lecturesseemedto emphasize
landscapegardening,on n'hich he presented
throughout the west, mid-r'est, and eastern
seaboardin thesevears.He was also
successfulin placing irrticleson larndscaping
and betterment wc:rk in Womdn'sHone
Companion(N{a1,1899) tnd Municipnl
Alfairs. SeeJohn H. Pattersonscrapbookno.
114, N.C.R. Archive, Archive Center,
Da,ytonHistory, as rvell as Edrvin L. Shue,v,
'A Model Facton'Toun', Municipal Affairs,
3 ( M a r c h 1 8 9 9 ) ,1 4 4 l5 l. So m eo f th is
rvork is detailedin Edrvin L. Shue,v,Factorl
Peopleand Their Employers,Nerv York:
Lentilhon & Companr' 1900.
14 AdvtrnceDepartment,'Our Work in
1 9 0 0 ' , ' L - hNeC . R . ( 1 .la n u a r y.
1 9 0 1 ) ,3 0 a n cl
'Welfare', Thc MC.R. (1 lanuar.v190,1),
v o l . 5 n o . 1 , 1 1 . T o g ive a n e xa m p leo f o n e
month, in Septemberof 1903,tl-refactory
received3,075 visitors,from thirty-threc
statesas rvell as smallernumbers of r,isitors
from Canada,Scotland,China, England,
r n d C e r m r n y . : e e' \' isito r . in sg p lsp lr sr ' ,
T l c N . C . R .( 1 N o ve m b e r1 9 0 3 ) ,vo l. 1 6
1 5 - S e ef o r e x a m p le ' T h eAd va n ce
f ) e p a r t m e n t ' ,T h e NC.R.. ( l Ja n u a r ,v
v o l . 1 , n o . l , 1 9 a n d T h e M C.R. ( 1 la n u a r v
1 9 0 1 ) v, o l . 1 4 n o . 1 ,3 0 ;fo r Riis' svisit,n ' h e r e
he also lecturedon Nely York renemenr
house reforrn to an audienceof 2000, see
'JacobRiis GivesTrvo Addresses',Ifte
N C . R . ( O c t o b e r19 0 4 ) ,1 3 .
(Shanklin's tour on the utopian possibilities of enlightened managerial
practice was cut short on i May 1901, when N.C.R. was closed due to a
moulders' strike, which I will discuss be1ow.) Shanklin did not invent the
N.C.R. tour; his work as head of what was essentiallythe N.C.R. publicity
department followed that of his predecessorin that position, Edwin L. Shuey.
Shuey,who toured the Midwest and the eastcoastin 1898-1899,gavelectures
to municipal groups, labour organizations,and the generalpublic on topics
ranging from landscapegardening (Minneapolis, luly, 1898) to 'What more
than wagesdoes an employer owe an employee?'(Cleveland,March 1899).13
The circulation of images to domestic audiencesexternal to the N.C.R.
Company was complemented by illustrated lectures in Dayton, designed for
numerous audiences. The 'factory lecture' was an established part of the
internationally known tour of the Dayton manufacturing facilities. In 1900, for
example,about 40,000visitors toured the Dalton factory and its facilities,while
in 1903,43,598visitors arrived; the factory lecture was given both as part of
thesetours, as well as in two hundred other locationsin the US and abroad in
Visitors included well-known politicians,businessmen,and reformers,
such as Jacob Riis or members of the US Consul in Australia and Paraguay;
school, community, and civic groups such as the Cincinnati Y.M.C.A., who
sent a party ofeighty-four in 1900;and delegates
from organizationssuch as the
National Associationof Manufacturersand the Daughtersof America.i'These
visits became so numerous that eventually the company standardized them,
offering two tours daily to large groups, whose visit included a stereopticon
(and eventually, motion picture) lecture.
By 1903,the 'factory lecture'becamea simulatedjourney that escortedthe
alldience members from their specific geographical location in England,
Germany, or St. Louis (for example) to the Dai,ton headquarters.By this point,
the company had hired a former employee of the American Mutoscope and
Biograph company, R. K. Bonine, to head the Photography Department; after
his appointment in early 1903,N.C.R. commissionedthe An-rericanMutoscope
and Biograph company to make motion pictures not only of the factory itself,
but also of the sailing of a vesselfrom a harbour, the train journey from New
ElspethH. Brown
York City to Da1'ton;the arrival of visitors into Dalton's Union Station; a tour
of Dal,ton itself; and finally, a tour of the factory and its landscapedenvirons.
E. D. Gibbs, the advertising manager for Europe in 1903, delivered the new
factory lecture to N.C.R. employeesin Dalton, where he used both stereopticon
journey from
slides and motion pictures to sketch the audience's imaginary
then on to
Hamburg (where Gibbs would soon be travelling) to New
Motion pictures, as well as the older medium of stereopticon slides,
reachednew audiencesin the era's expositions and worlds' fairs, where N'C'R'
was a prominent exhibitor. At the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland,
Oregon (1903), six N.C.R. lecturersdeliveredthe stereopticonfactory lecture
seven times daily, with extra lectures on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
evenings;the lectures also simulated the audiences'journey from Portland, the
site of the Exposition, to the N.C.R. factory in Da1'ton.17For the Louisiana
purchase Exposition in 1904, N.C.R. closed its factory for a week in August,
rented train cars from Dal.ton to St. Louis, and subsidizedtrain and admission
feesfor 2,200 employees(including five hundred women) to attend the world's
fair for a week at greatly reduced cost. The fair expo-sition management
declared 3 August 1904 the 'N.C.R. Welfare LeagueDuy'.tt N.C.R. offered the
factory lecture on an hourly basis in the N.C.R. lecture hall at the Palace of
Varied Industries. In addition to the coloured stereopticon lectures, which
featured four hundred slidesprojected to nearly life-sizedscalebefore crowds of
'attentive listeners', the lectures included fifteen hundred feet of film.re These
short films featured a variety of N.C.R. activities, including scenestlpical
the new medium such as 'When the Whistle Blows' (views of workers arriving
at the factory); a fire drill by the N.C.R. fire department; female factory workers
piaying tennis and dancing the cotillion; male workers arriving by bicycle; and a
Laseballgame at the company athletic fields.2oAccording to one observer,the
'America'. This
stereopticonlecture concluded with the entire audiencesinging
new colonial
patrioiic audience ritual complemented the
acquisitions, as exemplified in the nearby forty-seven acre
which the same observerargued was.'generallyconcededto be the most unique
and interesting feature of the Fair'."
The N.C.R. factory and industrial betterment representations circulated
outside the united states as well, through both international exhibitions and
through the extensivebusinesstravel of N.C'R. personnel'The N'C'R' had several
exhibitions at the Paris Exposition in 1900 which functioned, as company
president John H. Patterson wrote in an open letter to the employees' as a
(successful)effort to 'inva<leforeign markets'. N.C.R.'s exhibits were awarded
two Grancl Prizes and two gold medals, more than any other US company;
N.C.R. was one of only two US firms to win a 'Grand Prix' for their industrial
betterment work.22 N.C.R.'s exhibition of several hundred photographs and
lantern slides documenting the firm's weifare capitalist programmes was
exhibited first in New York, en route to France,and then at severalsites at
Paris Exhibition. In a reception room near the N.C.R. exhibit of cash
large photo album of over one hundred photographs documented the factory
unJ it, surroundings;in the Charity Sectionof the United StatesExhibit' N'C'R'
photographs showed the workers' cottages;Iarge,hand-coloured transparencies
.ho*.ur.d factory education programmes in the US Government Department of
Education section; and in the US Government Horticultural Exhibit, two large
photograph albums detailedthe firm's landscapegardeninginitiatives. Finally,
the Social Economy section of the fair, N.c.R.'s lantern slides
betterment programmeswere on display,and it was this exhibition that garnered
one of the firm's two 'Grand Prix'."
16-'Tal k of Mr. Gi bbs',Th eN .C .R .(Marc h
1903),213; 'A ppoi ntmentof Mr. B oni ne' ,
TfueN .C .R .(A pri l 1903),35s .
17- 'The N.C.R. Exhibits at Portland:
Company's Displaysat Lelvisand Clark
Frpo'i ti ort A ttr.rctMuch A tl enti onFactorvLecturelnterestsMan,v',TlreN.C.R.
(Iul v 1903),183.
18- 'Exposition ArrangesN.C.R. Day', The
NlC.R. (.lune 190'l), 20; 'Talks to Girls on
Worl d's Fai r Tri p', The N C .R . (J une1904),
21; 'Woman's CenturY Club at World's
Fatr', Woman's Ifelfore (October 1904),
vol .2 no.3, 83-93; and 'N {.W .W .L.at the
World's Fair', Men's \{elfttre (October
1904),vol . I no.2, 53 60.
19- John Brisben\\ralker, 'World
Instruction in Pictures:How .[ohn H.
Pattersonand GeorgeWestinghouseUse
the Biograph', The N.C.R. (.lanuary1905)'
vol .18 no.1, 14-16,fi rst p ubl i s hedi n The
MagazindsWorld's Fair issue;
for the number of fllm feet, see'Moving
PicturesTaken', The N C R (.luly 190a)'57'
For a fuller discussionof the industrial films
that becamea standardpart of N C.R.'s
Iecturebureau by the late 'teens,see
'Motion PicturesWe Have Made', N.C.R.
Nervs(March 1920), 19.
20 'lvloving PicturesTaken', TfueN.C.R.,
2l- 'Wonan's Century Club at World's
Fair', \,\iontan'sWelJare,91
22-'The P ari sE xposi ti on:The Great
School-Houseof the World, a Letter from
PresidentJ.H. Patterson',TfueN.C.R. (15
N ovemberi 900), vol . 13 n o.22,498 503.
N.C.R.'sgold medalswere arvardedfor their
cash registerdisplay in the Depafiment of
DiversifiedIndustriesand for their
landscapegardeningrvork, displtryed
photographicallyin the Horticultural
Department;the Grand Prix, the highest
honour, was arvardedfor N.C.R.'sdisplayin
the l)epartment of SocialEconomY
concerningindustrial bettermentprograms
at the company, ar.rdthe other was for the
cashregistersdisplayedin the Department
of DiversifiedInclustries.See'Our Paris
H onors', l -heN .C .R .(1 N ov ember 1900)'
vol . 13 no. 21, 481-4931N ew Y orkTi me-s
A ugust 1900),9.
23-'Our Paris Exhibition Display', Tfte
A r.C .R(l. March 1900),v ol . 13 no.5,96-97'
The New York showing was at the hone ot
Miss Helen Gould, of 5th Avenue, and
focusedon the exhibition to be displayedat
the SocialEconomYsectionof the
WelfareCapitalismand DocumentaryPhotography
exhibition; ]osiah Strong and William H.
Tolman, who were organisingthe Social
Economv sectionwith the goal of starting a
SocialMuseum in Nelv York after the close
of the Paris fair, gave talks to an audience
t h a t i n c l u d e dw e ll- kn o wnp r o g r e ssi\e
refomers lane Addams and Mrs. Russell
Sage,as rvellas John H. Pattersonof N.C.R.
See'Exhibition at Miss Gould's', New York
Ilmes clipping, John H. Patterson
scrapbookno. 84, N.C.R. Archive, Archive
Center, Da;.ton History.
24- For more about the US efforts in these
yearsto createa museum ofsocial economy
similar to Paris'sMus6eSociale,seeLeopold
Katscher,'Modern Labour Museums', The
lournal of PoliticalEconomy,l4:4 (April
1906),224 235; 'A SocialMuseum for
Chicago', New York Times(19 February
1900),2; 'For a SocialMuseum Here', New
York Times(25 February 1900), t2; 'social
Museum in Paris', New York Times(I9
March I902), 5; 'A SocialMuseum for New
York', New York Times(13 April 1902),
SM4; and Daniel T. Rodgers,Ailantic
Crossings:SocialPolitics in a ProgressiveAge,
Boston: Harvard University Press1998.
2 5 J o h n H . P a tte r so nscr a p b o o kn o .1 1 4 ,
N.C.R. Archive, Archive Center,Dal.ton
History; the frontispiece includes the titles
of nineteenlecturesby Tolman, and pages
l-34 ofthis scrapbookprovide newspaper
coveragefrom his lecturesin the US, and in
England during the 1898-1900period.
2 o - F o r r d i s c u ' :io n o f th e seco m p a n ie sin
relationshipto late nineteenthcentury
global commodity culture, seeMona
Domosh, American Commoditiesin an Age
of Empire,New York: Routledge2006.
l , - ' N r n e l e e nI rr e a I r a r e l Ye a r :Pr e sid e n t
Patterson'sPolicy of "Travel Abroad and
Learn" Fully Carried Out', The N.C.R.
(November 1905),vol. 18 no.8, 243-247
'Slide Room', The N.C.R. (December1906),
66; 'Vice PresidentF.J.Patterson's
EuropeanTrip', The N.CR. (1 November
1 9 0 0 ) ,v o l . 1 3 n o .2 1 , 4 8 5 - 4 8 6 ;' T h e F a cto r y
Lecture in England', The N.C.R. (March
j q O J ) .2 8 0 t ' F a c to r yIe ctu r e in En g la n d ' .
The N.C.R. (February 1905),52; and 'For
B e n e f i to f S t o r e k e e p e r fa
' : cto r l L e ctu r eto
be Given in New York and on the Road',
World N.C.R. (lanuary 1906),35.
Dr. William Howe Tolman, Director of Industrial Betterment, Leaguefor
Social Service of New York, collaborated with Josiah Strong to curate the
materials exhibited in the social Economy Section. Their goal was to use these
documents of progressive social reform as the foundation collection for a
proposed Social Museum, to be founded in New York.2a Although it appears
this museum never did materialize, in the yearsbefore and after the turn of the
century Tolman travelled widely in both the USA and Europe, presenting
illustrated lectures to civic groups on aspectsof industrial betterment. Tolman
may have been initially employed by N.C.R. as a lecturer, basedon a reading of
the Patterson scrapbooks in the N.C.R. archives; his eariy lectures featured
N.C.R. specifically,as when he presenteda slide show of 125 images of N.C.R.
factory life at Madison Square Garden, in New York. According to newspaper
reports, the audience burst into applause at the slides documenting the 'old'
and 'new' ways of women arriving at work, and of changes in lunchroom
accommodations. By the followingyear, Tolman had added other progressive
businessesto his lectures, including Heinz, Cadbury, and Lever Brothers; by
1900, he had founded the League for Social Service to institutionalize
p ro g ressi ve
w orkpl acereform.25
N.C.R. images documenting industrial betterment work also played a
prominent role in the lectures delivered by N.C.R. personnel abroad. These
factory iectures included presentations made by N.C.R. advertising and
publicity personnel, who took multiple-month tours of important sales
territories outside the US, and illustrated lecturesdeliveredby salesmanagersas
part of their lengthy international business trips. Like Heinz, Singer Sewing
Machine, and International Haruester, N.C.R. was a global corporation well
before 1900, with salesagents, and some manufacturing facilities, in Europe,
Asia, Canada, and Latin America by 1905.26President ]ohn H. Patterson
emphasized the centrality of educational trips for company employees,
especially upper management; he himself travelied frequently, including a
year-long trip around the world in 1904-05. As just two examples of the
extensivecirculation of businesspeople outside the US, N.C.R. generalmanager
Hugh Chalmers travelled throughout Europe for five months in 1905, while
E.C. Morse, manager of the Foreign Department, took an eight month trip to
Japan, China, and the Philippines in 1905-i906 to investigate business
conditions.2T The circulation of the industrial betterment images proved
essential in explicating the company's stated mission regarding labourmanagement reiations to numerous audiences abroad, including labour
organizations and reform groups, as well as clients and N.C.R. sales agents
who may have never travelled to the USA, let alone Dayton, Ohio. The Siide
Room of N.C.R. reported they had a busy year in 1905 preparing 'factory
lecture' slide setsfor presentationsin London, Berlin, South America, Australia,
and Japan.
Patterson's primary methodology of visual pedagogy was that of
comparison and contrast. Like other managers in the years before the rise of
industrial sociology in the 1920s,such as Frederic Winslow Taylor and Frank
and Lillian Gilbreth, Patterson was a firm believer in the 'one best way' to
perform any task. Patterson advocatedthe use of photographs to contrast the
'right with the wrong way' of doing things, and a 'before and after' rhetoric
came to dominate much of Patterson'spublicity work documenting the welfare
initiatives at N.C.R. For example, a slideshow of 'before and after' gardening
photographs becamethe basis for the cash prizes Patterson distributed to local
boy gardeners,while lecturers contrasted a photograph of the N.C.R.'s bustling
women's lunch room (figure4b), for example, with the lunchtime practice
before Patterson'sreforms: a female employeeheating her lunch on the radiator
ElspethH. Brown
Figure 4. Beforeand After in the Wornen's
Dining Room:Lunch Pail on Radiator,ftom
Lena Hawev Tracy, How My Heart Sang:
The Storyof Pioneerlndustrial Welfare Work
(N ew Y ork: R i chardR . S m i th, 1950),112,
and unidentified photographer,
ROOM., ca 1903.Han'ard University Art
Museums,Fogg Art Museum, on deposit
from the CarpenterCenter for the Visual
14.{.4. P ho to: Imagi ng
A rt'. 3.2002.5
Department Cl Presidentand Fellowsof
Haruard College
(figure4a).28As Sharvn Michelle Smith has argued in relationship to Frances
Benjamin |ohnston's Hampton Album images, also included in Harvard's
Social Museum Collection, the rhetoric of the 'before and after' photographic
pairing constructs a narrative of social progress central to the era's reform
movements.2e The contrast of 'before' and 'after' the intervention of
progressive reformers does more than document change over time in the
Iives, for example, of African-American schoolchildren or Ohio factory
workers, The sequencing logic of the image pairing works to close off
alternative readings of history, including those that contested managerial
authority. In this case, for example, the empty dining room signifies the
problem that Patterson faced when he first opened the dining ha1l,where a hot
lunch was free to women workers: no one would use it, for the women saw the
provision of a free lunch as a form of charity, and therefore paternalism. Larger
conflicts, such as the strikes that crippled the company in the early 1900s,are
also rendered invisible through this visual strategy,where an ideology of what
Tracey, How My Heart Sang, 120
29- Shann Micl-relleSmith, Amencan
Archives: Gender, Race,and Class in Visual
Ctilture, Pnnceton, NJ: Princeton University
P ress1999.
WelfareCapitalismand DocumentaryPhotography
30- Emily S. Rosenberg,Spreadingthe
AmericanDream: Economicand Cultural
Expansion,1890-1945,New York: Hill and
Wang 1982.
Emily Rosenberghas called 'liberal developmentalism' subordinates contestation to a triumphant narrative of Progress.30
Industrial Bettermentand Sabotage
31 - Tracy, How My Heart Sang,138-139.
32 Michel Foucault,Disciplineand Punish:
The Birth of the Prison,trans. Alan Sheridan,
New York: Vintage Books 1995,200 202.
33- For the lames Ditty material,see
Sealander,Grand Plans,19 and Samuel
CroMher, lohn H. Patterson:Pioneerin
Industrial Welfare,New York: Doubleday
1923, 4-5. lohn Pattersonand his brother
Frank bought a machine in 1883,which
helped them end pilfering in their coal
business;lohn bought controlling interest
in the companythat made the machines,the
National ManufacturingCompany, in 1884.
Many thanks to historian Angela Blake, who
inquired about the bell, and pushed me to
considersurveillancein relationshipto the
aural as well.
34 - Roy W. Johnson and RussellW. L1,nch,
The SalesStrategyof Iohn H. Patterson,
Chicago:Dartnell f932, 20-21, 53.
35- For Patterson'sextensiveforeign
business,which included manufacturing
abroad as early as 1903,seeCrowther, /ofun
H. Patterson,264-284 and fohnson and
Lynch, The SalesStrategyof lohn H.
Patterson,320-325.By 1903,when the
SocialMuseum photographswere estimated
to have been acquiredby Peabody,N.C.R.
h a d s a l e sa g e n t \in th e lo llo r vin gco u n tr ie ::
England (N.C.R.'sfirst agent for nondomesticterritory, hired in 1885);
Germany; Holland; Italy; France; Austria;
Belgium; Spain; Czechoslovakia.
In 1903,
the first German factory was started,in
Berlin. For a recentwork on the relationship
betweenUS basedinternational
corporationsin this period and ideologies
of American empire, seeMona Domosh,
American Commoditiesin an Age of Empire,
New York: Routledge2006.
One of John Patterson's favourite retorts to sceptics,especiallythose in the
businesscommunity, was 'It Pays'. In other words, Patterson argued, N.C.R.'s
financial investment in betterment programmes and in their publicity was
more than returned in reduced labour turnover, higher productivity, and the
eradication of employee sabotage.In fact, |ohn Patterson's interest in visual
technologies, as well as in welfare capitalism, emerged in relation to the
persistent problem of worker sabotage in the early days of the company.
Though this is a connection that N.C.R. rarely made in their public discussions
of their programmes, employee memoirs and archival sourcesdemonstrate the
causal relationship between the destruction of N.C.R. property and the
introduction of a variety of betterment schemes.During 1893, the factory had
been set on fire three times, and in 1894 $50,000worth of cash registerswere
returned from England and Europe because employeeshad destroyed them,
prior to shipment, through the surreptitious application of acid. In response,
Patterson moved his desk into the middle of the factory floor in order to
observemore closelythe mostly male workforce. For the first time, the memoir
of his first Welfare Director Lena Harvey recalled, Patterson took note of
industrial capitalism's daily indignities: the dirty water, the dark factory, the
Iack of lockers, the pervasive filth, and - for women workers - the chronic
sexual harassmentin unlit stairwells on their way to their workstations.rr The
experiencegalvanized Patterson, launching him on the creation of numerous
workplace reforms documented by N.C.R.'s photographs and lantern slides.
Patterson'spresencein the middle of the factory floor, however, meant that
the workers were under direct, daily observation by the company owner.
Though N.C.R. sources stress paternalist good wi1l, a Foucaultian reading
would emphasizePatterson's move as an effort to make 'visibility a trap', to
internalize an obedience to managerial authority even when not under
Patterson'swatchful eye.As Foucault argued, 'he who is subjectedto a field of
visibility, and who knows it 1...] inscribesin himself the power relation in
which he simultaneously plays both roles fof observer and observed, of
supervisor and worker] '.32In this regard, it is worth emphasizingthat the cash
registeritself was designedas a technology of surveillance,which was one of the
main reasonswhy it was so prone to industrial sabotage.The entire point of a
cash register is to compel a clerk to record the cash taken in, and to thereby
prevent the everydayemployee pilfering that was understood to be part of the
moral economy of making ends meet for those who made change on a daily
basis,such as barmen or salesclerks. The first machine, designedby a Dalton
saloonkeeperto prevent his employees'petty theft, featured a cabinet equipped
with keys marked in multiples of five centswith a roll of columned paper; when
pressed,a key punched a hole in the appropriate place on the paper, and the
machine rang a bell. Here we have an aural surveillanceas well: the sound of the
bell alerted the nearby owner-proprietor that his employeehad opened the cash
drawer; no doubt, the sound of that bell would cause any owner to at least
glance in the direction of the register, helping to produce in that series of
gestures exactly the relay of looks that constitute workplace surveillance.-33
Patterson bought controlling interest in the company that made the cash
registersin 1884, after he had used it to discover that a night watchman, fired
two years previously, had been continuing to perform his nightly duties while
cheerfully helping himself to his pay at the end of each evening'sshift.3aAt first,
there was little market for the new invention. But Patterson's senius for sales
ElspethH. Brown
and marketing, which helped make the so-called'thief catcher' an international
commodity by the 1890s, also succeeded in circulating a discursive
construction of the employee as untrustworthy, an implicit criminal.rt As a
result, the cash register- like the stop-watch - becamean important symbol of
the battle between labour and capital and, consequently,an ongoing target of
Patterson faced the problem of working classhostility outside the factory,
as well as inside it. In the late 1880s,the modest N.C.R. factory was located on
the edge of the city of Dayton, in a poor, working class area known as
'Slidertown'. Few of the local residentshad jobs in the new factory, and local
youths expressedtheir class antagonism by breaking the factory windows,
pulling up the few shrubs Patterson had planted, and even smearing the
delivery trucks, as well as the cash registersthemselves,with mud (figure5;.37
Patterson'ssolution was to hire an Ohio deaconessand Antioch graduate,Lena
Harvey Tracy, to begin what was essentiallya settlement house programme
within N.C.R., for both employeesand neighbourhood residents.Tracy was the
first 'welfare director' in the USA; her work with the local children, as well as in
the factory itself, became a cornerstone for Patterson's industrial betterment
The factory beautification programme began with Tracy and her
neighbourhood ruffians. In May 1897, Patterson installed her in a newly-built
home on the grounds of N.C.R., called'the house of usefulness'.
heard John C. Olmstead speak on his theories of landscape design and had
employed the firm to plan the landscaping;Tracy was directed to work with the
neighbourhood boys to create their own garden plots and, as a result, to
prevent them from destroying Olmstead's work. The N.C.R. photography
S lrrlerto* rr llo r:
36 For example,when NRC rvorkerswere
locked out ofthe factory in 1901in a battle
over unior.rrecognition,a delegatefrom the
NCY bartendersunion announcedin a
C enl ral federatedU ni or r nreeti ngthat i n
support of the locked-out N.C.R. workers,
union bartendersplanned to sabotagethe
cashregistersin their respectivesaloons:
'On a certain day', the delegateannounced,
'it will be found that 10,000cash registers
throughout the greaterNerv York will not
rvork. Then machinists will be sent for to fix
them, but they will get a tip from the union
bartendersand say that they cannot be
repai red.A ccordi ngto l he reporter.the
'secret'dir.ulgedby the bartenders'delegate
'proved too much for the meeting,rvhich
adjourned in a hurry'. 'SaloonKeeperNot
Wanted as Labour Leader',New York Times
,2o \ugust l q0l r, J. Ioh ns onand Ly nc h
describethe relationshipbetweenN.C.R.
and the bartendersas one of open warfare.
Bartendersand clerks,organizedin regional
confiscatedall mail
with the N.C.R. logo or a Da1'tonpostmark,
forcing PattersonIo send mail in plain
envelopesfrom other locations;they refused
accessto traveling salesmenwith their
samplemachines,forcing Pattersonto
resignnew mini-samplesthat salesmen
could carry more surreptitiously.See
fohnson and Lynch, The SalesStrategyof
lohn H. Patterson,83-88.
37- Tracy, How My Heart Sang 101;Fugitt,
'The Trucc B etueenLabourrnd C api tal,
* ' ri
&{:'l i::
Figure 5. SlidertownBo1s,ca 1900,lantern
slide. The N.C.R. Archive at Dayton
H i story,C D LS O1Fi g.3 7.
WelfareCapitalismand DocumentaryPhotography
HOMES, ca 1903.Harvard University Art Museums,Fogg Art X4useum,on deposit from the CarpenterCenter for the Visual Arts, 3.2002.325Photo:
Imaging Department i'. Presidentand Fellowsof Harr.ard College.
Ekpeth H. Brown
documented the 'before' and 'after' transformation of the grounds, which
allowed Patterson and Tracey to use the images in slideshows that
demonstrated the 'right' and 'wrong' way to mass plants; how vines could
cover and beautifr fences and sheds; and how ugly backyards could be
transformed into attractive gardens (figure6).38 Olmstead visited the factory
twice in the late 1890s;he supervisedboth the planting of the factory grounds
and some of the model yards of workers' cottagesin the neighbourhood now
known as 'South Park'. An Outdoor Art Committee, selectedfrom the South
Park Improvement Association, factory employees, and the Women's Guild
oversaw the progress of the Olmstead plan, which eventually covered not only
the factory but also ten surrounding blocks including, most importantly, the
front and back yards adjacent to the railway tracks that delivered visitors to
the showcase factory.3e N.C.R. provided vegetable plots for forty of the
neighbourhood boys, and furnished the ground, the seed, the tools, and an
instructor. Apparently, Patterson'sstrategywas successful.According to Tracy,
'soon the very same boys who had refused to wear our badges were getting
themselvesdismissedearly from school in order to appear in the photographs
which were often taken of our factory visitors, together with representativesof
the various clubs, the executivesof the factory, and others'. Here, indeed, was a
compelling 'before' and 'after' transformation: not only gardens,but also the
boy s t hem s e l v e sa,p p e a rre -ma d et fi g u re7 ).an
The documentation of the boys' gardening work became integral to
Patterson's slideshows about the benefits of welfare capitalism at N.C.R.
Patterson'swork here had two main goals: the instrumental effort to remake
the subjectivity of his employeesand neighbours, by creating model workers
and citizens;and the creating of publicity materialsthat would sell the company
as a model factory. As I have discussed, the audiences realized in these
endeavours were multiple, and included N.C.R. employees; Dalton area
residents;visitors to N.C.R.'s model factory al1 potential purchasers of cash
registers;world's fair visitors in the US and abroad - anyone, in other words,
who encountered the company as its representation circulated through
employee magazines,house organs, periodical literature, salesdemonstrations,
or exhibitions on social hygiene.
38- Tracy 114 115;Fugi tt,' The Truc e
BetweenLabour and Capital',342; Shuey'A
Model FactoryTow n', 147-148[145 151].
For a fuller documentationof the boys'
gardeningwork, and of the Olmsted
landscaping more generally, seeArt, Nature,
and the Factory: An Account of a Welfare
Movement, with a Few Remarkson the Art of
the LandscapeGardener,Dalton: National
Cash RegisterCompany 1904
39 Tracy, How My Heart Sang,120-I2I;
Fugitt, 'The Truce BetweenLabour and
Capital', 342; 'Advancesin Landscape
Gardenir.rg',Ihe N.C.R. (January1905),
vol . l u no.1.5-9.
40- Tracy, How My Heart Sang, 126. See
this sectionfor a fuller discussionof the
gardeningwork, and its relationshipto the
Iargermovement for children'sgardensit.t
Progressiveera America.
Figure 7. 'BoysBrigadeEntersSunday
School',from Lena Harvey Tracy, How My
Heart Sang: The Story of Pioneer Industriol
Welfare \{ork (Nerv York: Richard R. Smith,
Welare Capitalismand DocumentaryPhotography
4l - 'Shut l)orvn at Cash RegisterFactory',
New York Times(.4May 1901),9; 'Strike at
Dalton Spreads',New York Times(14 May
1 9 0 1 ) ,2 ; ' D i s g u ste dWith L a b o u r Un io n s' ,
New York Times(.15May 1901),2; 'Dal.ton
Workmen Lose $120,000:National Cash
RegisterCompany'sVersion of the Labour
T r o t r b l e ' ,N e w Y or k f in te s( 4 Ju n e 1 9 0 1 ) ,1 ;
'CaslrRegisterStrike Ends', New York Times
(5 Mar 1902),2. Daniel Nelson discusses
this strike as a harbingerofwl-rathe callsthe
'new factorysystem'of the secondindustrial
revolution, marked by the twin managerial
approachesof scientificmanagementand
welfarecapitalism,in 'The New Factory
Systemand the Unions: The National Cash
RegisterCompany Dispute of I90I', Labour
Hktory 15 (1974), 163 79.
The images documenting N.C.R.'s welfare capitalist initiatives performed
important ideoiogical work while in global circulation. The insistent visual
rhetoric of promise, possibility, and, above all, progress rendered invisible the
contemporaneous political reality of shattered Iabour relations in Day.ton.
Indeed, in the midst of a widely-publicized ten-month lockout in 1901,
Patterson went on an extended tour of Europe where he used his image
collection to publicize N.C.R.'s betterment work - at the same time that five
thousand workers had walked off the job to support the N.C.R. moulders, who
were striking for union recognition.4t While Patterson's welfare capitalist
initiatives were laudable under pretty much any standard,especiallyin the years
before the codification of Progressive-erastate regulation, it is the cultr-rralwork
of photographic documentation that we may wish to emphasizein a collection
of essaysconcerning the circulation of photographs. In the effort to provide
documentation of progressivereform, I suggest,these images erase a messier
history of contestation over the details of industrial capitalism. In erasing this
history, the N.C.R. images function not so much as commodity fetishes as
visual ones: they emphasize the exchange value of Progressive-erareform
knowiedge production over the use value of - to take just one example industrial sabotage.Details central to the production of both the images and
the cash registers(such as the seven hand-colouring women in the Photo
Department, or the striking moulders of 1901) disappearfrom the audience
view, to be replacedby an early form of corporate public relations imagery that
doubled as object lessons in Progressive-erareform for a socially engaged,