Cleaning Casings

Meat processing achieved economies of scale with the rise of the great factories on Chicago’s Packingtown. Work was done in early versions of continuous flow processing, each task being done on the flow of a multi-level building. At the bottom, the remains of slaughtered animals were made into sausages. The worst, filthiest and smelliest work was cleaning animal intestines to be used as sausage casings. This was literally women’s work, as this picture from the Armour plant shows.

Photo of Women Cleaning Casings at Swift Company Packing House, Chicago, IL

Library of Congress Digital Collection,, Reproduction no. LC-USZ62-50217.