Final Paper.

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The final paper gives you an opportunity to use the knowledge you’ve gained over the course of the semester about the history of working people in our state to address a more general question about New Jersey’s reputation and what others know about our state.

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First, you will need to think about common perceptions and misperceptions of New Jersey, by both residents and others, and how those perceptions could be changed if more people knew the stories of New Jersey labor history that we have studied. Then this paper topic asks you to make a specific proposal to some agency or organization about a specific project that would advance the goal of changing people’s image of New Jersey by educating them about the history of working people and the labor movement.

You should demonstrate in your proposal relevant knowledge of New Jersey’s labor history that will help make the case for why your proposal is a good one. You may need to do a little more research to get information for your proposal, in addition to what we have covered in class. As with any paper, be sure all the writing is your own — you may use the words of others where needed or helpful, if you enclose them in quotes and give the source of the information.

Submit your paper here by Sunday night.

Paper Topic

[Background] Americans think of New Jersey and its residents in particular ways (not always positive). What could the addition of knowledge about our state’s labor and working-class history add to that understanding? In what concrete ways could this be done?

[Assignment] In this 4-page paper, detail a specific proposal (to a state agency, local municipality, tourist board, historical society, school district, university, library, union, social media, etc., etc.) of a real project to implement your ideas. Think creatively as you develop your proposal! How you organize the paper is up to you, but it could include:

  • a definition of the problem (inaccurate or incomplete ideas about New Jersey),
  • how the addition of labor history could help,
  • what you propose specifically,
  • background information on NJ labor history of the period, area, or group of workers to show how your proposal fits in the big picture [this is where you demonstrate some of the knowledge you’ve gained in this course],
  • details about your specific proposal, and
  • how it could be implemented.

Be sure the proposal deals with labor history, not just a tourist plan for New Jersey.


The paper should read as a real proposal to some agency or organization. Here’s an example of a starting sentence of a hypothetical proposal and an outline of the rest of the paper for that proposal.

We the undersigned residents of Maple Shade, NJ propose that the Maple Shade Township Historical Society adopt and implement a project to erect an historical marker outside the township building describing the former use of that building as a hosiery mill, including the important strike by its workers there in 1934; and furthermore to develop a lesson plan on that history to be used in all eighth and twelfth grade history classes in the township. . . .

[Outline of the rest of the paper:]

  1. The inaccurate picture many people have of New Jersey.
  2. What adding labor history to people’s knowledge could do to improve this picture.
  3. How Maple Shade can contribute to this general project — remembering the former hosiery mill, its workers, and the strike there.
  4. The background to this — importance of industry in NJ, the textile industry throughout the state, textile unions and strikes including Paterson and Passaic, conditions in NJ during the 1930s (Great Depression), other strikes around the state during that time, overall positive results of these events (unionization -> better pay -> creation of “middle class”, and also laws to protect workers like Social Security, etc.).
  5. Specific details for Maple Shade project: erect historical marker, develop lesson plans, who needs to do what to get this done, how to get funding.
  6. Expected positive results (improve residents’ pride in town, increase tourism, retain more young people in town, . . .)

This is simply one hypothetical example of thousands of possible ideas — you do not need to follow this model at all — again, use your imagination! (But be sure to demonstrate in your proposal relevant knowledge of New Jersey’s labor history.)

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