Survey Purpose and Overview

The Pittsburgh Survey was a social and economic survey based on fieldwork completed in 1908.  It was originally released as a series of 35 magazine articles by different authors, mostly social scientists and activists.  The articles were later bound and published in six volumes by the Charities Publication Committee of the Russell Sage Foundation.  Volumes included: Women and the Trades; Work-Accidents and the Law; The Steel Workers; Homestead: The Households of a Mill Town; The Pittsburgh District: Civic Frontage; and Wage-Earning Pittsburgh. Our review focuses on the last two volumes, the editor of which was Paul Underwood Kellogg, a journalist and social reformer.

The Survey was designed to gather data about conditions of life in Pittsburgh, particularly among the working classes.  Within the six volumes, the authors looked at all aspects of work life and culture in late 19th and early 20th century Pittsburgh. For this review, our focus is on the fifth and final volumes: The Pittsburgh District, and Wage-Earning Pittsburgh. In these volumes, the authors cover a range of civic issues including typhoid history, worker housing, taxation, and the system of aldermen. They discuss conditions for children in Pittsburgh, considering the schools, libraries, parks, and children’s homes.  Race issues and industrial conditions are also addressed, with special attention to immigrant and non-white populations. Finally, the survey examines the police force and members of the underworld.

The Pittsburgh Survey publicized its findings widely and made a series of recommendations for reforms to improve the quality of life for working people in Pittsburgh.  Some of these reforms were later implemented.

The focus for this project is specifically on the three topics of education, industrial conditions, and the “reverse side” of police, beggars, prostitutes and other members of the underworld.