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Birth of An Industry: Blackface Minstrelsy and the Rise of American Animation

Nicholas Sammond, Author

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Labor, Page 93

The emergent American animation industry took shape within a larger landscape of automation and industrialization. One important element in that shift was a movement from artisanal modes of production to a rationalized approach in which each worker performed a specialized task repeatedly. In one contemporary example, GM autoworkers attach tires to cars, circa 1922.

A photo of Pat Sullivan's animation department around the same time shows the beginnings of cartoon rationalization. Unlike auto workers, though, animators could express the changing dynamics of labor in the products they produced.

(GM Worker Image Courtesy Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. Sullivan Studio Image Courtesy of Donald Crafton.)
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