The World of Work: History of Work in Minnesota


Advancements in technology profoundly affect every element of our existence at an ever-increasing rate. As jobs are lost in one sector, new openings are created in others, but not without a price. In earlier times, the American worker had been strengthened and stabilized in what was to become known as the “social contract” between labor and industry - a relationship won through negotiations and battles in boardrooms and on the street. In this new era, job security, health benefits and “living wages” seldom match, or even approach, those of bygone days.

Minnesota earned its place in the forefront of technological change and innovation. “From 1941 onward, Minnesota became a center for high-technology industry. By 1980 four high-technology firms - 3M, Honeywell, Control Data, and the Univac Division of Sperry-Rand - employed more than 50,000 of the state’s industrial labor force of about 325,000. The computer and medical-device industries were important examples of the emergence of high technology manufacturing in Minnesota.” [MIACOC]

Modern Technology


Watertown Creamery

Land O’Lakes Watertown Creamery,
Watertown, Minnesota, May 26, 1927

Photo by Hibbard
Minnesota Historical Society

Bottling Milk

Bottling milk, ca. 1930

Minnesota Historical Society

Early Telephone

Early telephone made by Gilbert B. Ellestad,
Lanesboro, ca. 1895

Minnesota Historical Society

Li'l Burner installation

“Li’l Burner” installation, Chalmer Oil Co. 1924

Photo by Hibbard, Minnesota Historical Society


|| Text Version ||           THE WORLD OF WORK HOME