Activity 3A: Analyzing Data/Economics - Wages and Grocery Prices

Students will calculate salaries and costs for food and compare food costs for 1917 to today.

Standard: Strand 1- American History

Grade 6, 7, 8

Concept: 1: Research Skills for History

PO 1. Construct Charts, graphs, and narratives using historical data

PO 2. Interpret historical data displayed in graphs, tables, and charts

PO 4. Formulate questions that can be answered by historical study and research

Grade 7

Concept 7: Emergence of the Modern United States

PO 5 . Analyze the impact of industrialization on the United States

b. factory conditions (mines)

c. unions

d. influence of big business

High School

Concept 1: Research Skills for History

PO 1. Interpret historical data displays in graphs, tables, charts

PO 4. Construct graphs, tables and charts to interpret historical data

PO 5. Evaluate primary sources for

a. purpose and perspective

b. facts vs. opinions

c. different points of view concerning the same historical event

Concept 7: Emergence of the Modern United States

PO 1d: Analyze how aspects of the labor movement relating to the Bisbee Deportation transformed the American economy


A. Salaries

  1. Make copies of Mining Conditions in Bisbee, Arizona
  2. Discuss with class who published this document and what its purpose was.  List of groups who paid for the publication are at the end of the document.
  3. Find salaries that muckers and miners received for the first half 1917.  The wages were based upon the price of copper for each month, so that the base wages changed from month to month. (Muckers were men who scooped the loose ore from the working face and ground and tossed it in the ore car; Miners drilled holes into rocks and laid explosives.)
  4. Find the average monthly salary for the 8 months on the chart in Mining Conditions in Bisbee.
  5. Based upon the average monthly salary, what would be the annual salary the muckers and miners received in 1917? (Today, copper miners get about $13.50 an hour)
  6. Summarize differences between a mucker and miner in terms of salary?
  7. The article describes other working conditions, such as the wages being based upon a six-day workweek. How do students feel about these working conditions?

B. Groceries

  1. Have students bring supermarket ads to class
  2. How do the costs of groceries compare with prices today?
  3. For groceries not included in the newspaper ads, ask students to visit a supermarket and find out current prices for other items listed in Mining Conditions in Bisbee
  4. Create a chart comparing grocery prices for 1917 to this year. 

Sources to Consult

Mining Conditions in Bisbee, Arizona

Current newspaper food ads or trip to supermarket