With busy hands and minds American workers perform a diverse array of jobs to power our
society. Work is part of nearly every American’s life, whether for professional satisfaction and
personal growth or to ensure the well-being of their families. In offices, factories, on the road,
and at home, millions keep the nation going through contributions to industry and American
The Way We Worked, adapted from the original exhibition developed by the National Archives,
explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many
changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The
exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections to tell this compelling story.
The diversity of the American workforce is one of its strengths, providing an opportunity to
explore how people of all races and ethnicities identified commonalities and worked to knock
down barriers in the professional world. The exhibition shows how we identify with work—as
individuals and as communities.
The exhibition invites visitors to hear workers tell their own stories, or view films of various
industries. Interactive components convey the experiences of multiple generations of families
involved in the same industry.