Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1949 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Newspaper Page Text
MISS O'REILLY GIVES SHOCKING TESTIMONY" OF
FILTH AND DISEASE IN CANNERIES'
By Mary Boyle O'Reilly.
The canned food consumed by
the' people of the United States is
prepared, only too offenr amid
conditions of revolting filth, by
workers -whose bodies are unclean
and diseased, and who are forced
tclive and" work , In an environ
ment that makes cleanliness and
I -think few canneries nowadays
put rotten fruit or vegetables into
the cans. There- is 'too much io
be lost by having such stuff re
turned to them. And if disease
germs get into the cans if may b5J
that the persons who eat the con
tents are reasonably safe because
every can is sterilized at the fac
tory. But I'd rather not esti
mate the number of peqpje ip
thee United States who will this
winter consume dead germs and
other miscellaneous filth with the
canned food they eat.
You should know that the con
tents of the can you open for your
table may have passed through
the hands of -women and children
living in such a place as this
where I myself, as "Mamie Riley,"
lived a little while, "fot my sins."
"Four women slept in a sordid
eight-foot cell, one of a score or
v more in a long, low shack. A
xurtain of soiled ticking was hung
k between the bunks,- cutting off
what ventilation a small window
made possible. The air tasted,
and crawling things oozed from
the walls and bunks-.
In the next room, the "home'
of Veronica Bale and her family,
an oil stove tainted the stagnant
air, and apjablearras of clothes, ;
animate Vith. Insect life, covered
the walls. There was a child's
pallet in the corner, and a litter
of straw,, where husband'and wife
"trr.. ;. i n
. 'iyu see, it is a. puui jjiaic,
apologized Veronica, little know
ing, however, that the dim, light
and moist heat made the breath
less, box a culture chamber for"
bacteria.' "But this" her accus
ing eye swept the filthy canton1
ment 'this would not be permi.t
Water for washing cjothes or
person was hard to obtaih in
nearly all the camps. Often it
had to be carried from a long dis
tance. Toilet facilities were out
rageous and indescribable. Un
cleanliness was not a matter of
choice. It was impossible to keep
People forced to live in such
shanties are in no condition of
Body or health to prepare food.
A plague of injects more danger
ous -than beasts of prey infests
these pestilential places. The1
common house fly, breeding ty
phoid fever, the louse which
transmits typhus, the tick which
carries spotted fever, the bed bug,
responsible for tuberculosis and'
oriental sore, all swarm in the
neglected cannery carnps.
Even fn the factories them--selves
there are seldom decent la
vatories. Unhealed hands, sore eyes, par-
l asitic affections of the skin are in-