The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962 Page: 455
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East Texas Lumber Workers, An Economic and Social Picture,
1870-1950. By Ruth A. Allen. Austin (University of Texas
Press), 1961. Pp. x+239. Tables, maps, illustrations, bibliog-
raphy, index. $5.00.
The story that Ruth A. Allen has to tell in her East Texas
Lumber Workers is not one of which Texans can be proud. It is
a tale of isolation, ignorance, and economic insecurity. Neither
is it a subject about which Texans can be complacent, for, as
Ruth Allen so convincingly illustrates, unless drastic changes are
wrought, these, our fellow Texans, "can only ... become the
unskilled and probably the unemployable" in the rapidly devel-
oping industrial economy of our state.
Based for the most part on state and federal government reports
and a penetrating understanding of the people involved, this
study seeks to place the present condition of the lumber worker
in a historical perspective. Although the survey begins in 1870,
the absence of detailed information during the early period cov-
ered results in emphasis on the twentieth century. The workers
in East Texas forests and mills, who until 1930 were the largest
single group of manufacturing employees in Texas, had wages
and working conditions that compared favorably with those of
other workers in Texas and in the lumber industry of the north
and west until the turn of the century. Since then their relative
position has deteriorated until by mid-century one family in two
in the thirty-two East Texas counties where the lumber industry
is centered has a yearly income of less than $2,ooo. In eleven of
these counties seventy percent of the families earn less than $2,ooo
Several factors have entered into this failure to become a part
of the main stream of economic advance. The abundant supply
of unskilled labor, the effective resistance of owners to union-
ization, the inefficiency of the industry, and the relatively small
size of most units of production have all been important elements.
But the most important factor, according to the author, has been
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 65, July 1961 - April, 1962, periodical, 1962; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101195/m1/513/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.