The next time you ride the Mark Twain Riverboat, I want you to try and picture the significant amount of work that it took to keep these boats moving in the nineteenth century. It was common for enslaved and free black men and women to work on steamboats. In that period, the black community viewed river work as cosmopolitan and respectable, especially when compared to the inhumane conditions of plantation labor. Laborers used strategies of resistance, like slowing down their jobs and refusing to answer to racist names and language, while on the job. Black workers also enjoyed leisure activities in bustling river cities like New Orleans and St. Louis, and on board, they met marriage partners, learned skilled trades, read books, and sang and danced together. For more on steamboat labor, visit EnchantedArchives.com/steamboatworkers. Let me know what you think!