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Eva McDonald Valesh

Title: Valesh Describes Her Work
Type: Diary
Date: no date
Source: Minnesota Historical Society

Description: Eva Valesh wrote reminsicences of her work as a labor activist. In this section, she describes how she entered factories disguised as a worker and then wrote about the poor working conditions in the newspaper.


I continued my original job with the Globe and did my speech-making with McGaughey in the evenings. I must have worked awfully hard in those days, and I enjoyed every minute of it. We called this series of articles "How the Other Half Lives". Some of the workers in a laundry, let's say, would come to me and say, "We have the most terrible place to work." They would explain the poor ventilation, lack of heat and this and that. I would go there and in some way get a job. I would then work there a little while, in order to be able to say that I personally knew what those conditions were. I wasn't going to take anybody's word for it.

I wore old clothes. I had my hair cut very short like a boy. Certainly I didn't look more than twelve or thirteen. I'd get a job perhaps as a little errand girl for a few days. No employer ever discovered me — that was the odd thing — because they were looking for a tall, grimly efficient spinster.

Unmarried adult woman.

These workers also told me about where they lived and what rent they paid. I'd sometimes coax them to invite me to their home to stay a few days and eat the same food they did. They'd tell me how much they paid for food, for rent, how much education the children had and all that. I was able to give a really full picture of their lives. That ran concurrently At the same time. with learning to speak, part time at the law, and learning the printing trade. These were busy years.