PEAES Book Series

Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore (Johns Hopkins Press) written by Seth Rockman.

Scraping by, Seth RockmanRockman describes the material experiences of low-wage workers—how they found work, translated labor into food, fuel, and rent, and navigated underground economies and social welfare systems. He also explores what happened if they failed to find work or lost their jobs. Rockman argues that the American working class emerged from the everyday struggles of these low-wage workers. Their labor was indispensable to the early republic’s market revolution, and it was central to the transformation of the United States into the wealthiest society in the Western world.

Seth Rockman, an assistant professor of history at Brown University, held a Postdoctoral fellowship in the Library Company’s Program in Early American Economy and Society in 2002-2003.   Rockman is also author of Welfare Reform in the Early Republic as well as numerous articles in the field of Revolutionary and Early Republic United States history focusing on the relationship of slavery and capitalism in American economic and social development.

Cathy Matson
University of Delaware and Director,
Program in Early American Economy and Society