A Day in the Life of an American Worker

200 Trades and Professions through History

by Nancy Quam-Wickham and Ben Tyler Elliott, Editors


Some studies suggest that more than a quarter of Americans participate in the "gig economy," earning income through app-based service jobs like driving passengers or delivering food.

Print Flyer
Cover image for A Day in the Life of an American Worker

December 2019


Pages 790
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics American History/Business and Labor

This introduction to the history of work in America illuminates the many important roles that men and women of all backgrounds have played in the formation of the United States.

A Day in the Life of an American Worker: 200 Trades and Professions through History allows readers to imagine the daily lives of ordinary workers, from the beginnings of colonial America to the present. It presents the stories of millions of Americans—from the enslaved field hands in antebellum America to the astronauts of the modern "space age"—as they contributed to the formation of the modern and culturally diverse United States.

Readers will learn about individual occupations and discover the untold histories of those women and men who too often have remained anonymous to historians but whose stories are just as important as those of leaders whose lives we study in our classrooms. This book provides specific details to enable comprehensive understanding of the benefits and downsides of each trade and profession discussed. Selected accompanying documents further bring history to life by offering vivid testimonies from people who actually worked in these occupations or interacted with those in that field.


  • Provides readers with a comprehensive survey of the history of work in America
  • Introduces readers to a variety of occupations that Americans have held, revealing how those jobs changed with the introduction of technology
  • Includes a variety of primary documents to enliven the past and provide a glimpse into how historians use documents to understand the past
Author Info

Nancy Quam-Wickham, PhD, is professor of history at Long Beach State University and senior assessment specialist at Washington State University, Pullman, WA. She has authored many articles and book chapters about U.S. labor and environmental history and is currently working on a new book, Gastronautica: What the Whalers Ate.

Ben Tyler Elliott is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer and editor. He has worked closely with students and faculty at Stanford University and throughout the University of California and California State University systems. His writing has appeared in Calliope, The Talking Book, and You're Going to Die. He holds a master's degree in English literature from San Francisco State University, where his research explored the symbiotic relationships between allegory, angst, and the subversive narrative.

Look Inside

Other Titles of Interest

Workers in America cover imageImmigrants in American History cover imageWomen in American History cover image
Reforming America cover imageEncyclopedia of American Recessions and Depressions cover imageA Day in a Working Life cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips