A Fun Outing to the Union Stock Yards | Bleader

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Fun Outing to the Union Stock Yards

Posted By on 12.04.09 at 04:40 PM

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I recently came across this great post on the Chicago History Journal about a 1903 Swift & Company visitor's book for the Union Stock Yards, which encourages people to come visit the processing plant and watch the "dressing" of the animals. (Maybe the trend of knowing where your food comes from isn't so new after all.)

As the Journal points out, the idea of families donning their Sunday best to go watch pigs being slaughtered is fairly odd, and the image of a smiling child with dead hogs hanging in the background is particularly incongruous. But what seems really strange to me is that this booklet was published just two years before the first printing of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair's influential expose of the unsanitary conditions in slaughterhouses (and of worker exploitation)—which, of course, he researched in Chicago's stockyards, presumably around the time Swift & Company was leading public tours. Either certain parts of the process were hidden from the public or people had a much different idea of what counted as entertainment in those days. Or both.

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