The Allen County Public Library's free e-zine "Genealogy Gems" comes to my mailbox on the last day of every month. Most welcome in this month's issue was John D. Beatty's explanation of why the genealogy department carries a lot of social history. In writing up his family, he used
Richard J. Oestreicher’s book, Solidarity and
Fragmentation: Working People and Class Consciousness in Detroit,
1875-1900 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986), and Olivier
Zunz’s The Changing Face of Inequality: Urbanization, Industrial
Development, and Immigrants in Detroit, 1880-1920 (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1982), both offered statistics on the
numbers of immigrants in Detroit, placing immigration in the context
of other Midwestern cities. Oestreicher also compared the wages of
skilled laborers by occupation versus unskilled laborers. No, my
immigrant ancestors were not mentioned by name in these books, but I
gained a better understanding of the ethnic German east-side
neighborhood where they resided.
I should look into these sources for my grandmother's brother's family and in-laws who grew up in Detroit.