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Oakum Picking an Account

Oakum Picking

An account of the value of Oakum Picking and the lack of alternatives for unskilled workers.

...the oakum-picking business affords a very narrow field. The demand is gradually being diminished as wooden ships are replaced by iron, and at the same time the supply is being increased indefinitely by the adoption of this employment in tramp wards and similar institutions, and as a result of this, as I have been told, has reached the point that some workhouses actually pay for the privilege of picking junk into oakum, a condition of things which shows that nobody has yet been able to discover a new mode of employment which the unskilled can be put to in a prison...