Worker Housing

In the early days of Pennsylvania agriculture, farm workers were usually local people hired by the day, season, or year. They would live in the farmhouse, or sometimes in separate housing on the farm, or off the farm. During the twentieth century, especially during and after World War II, migrant labor became more important in some parts of the state, chiefly in the Lake Erie shore and Adams County fruit belts, the Potter and Lehigh County potato regions, and scattered areas where cannery crops or tobacco were grown. These workers needed housing. At first, housing was improvised and often below standard. Later, government regulation ameliorated migrant housing conditions somewhat. Migrant housing older than 50 years old is probably rare.

Migrant Housing, Erie County
Migrant quarters and packing house, Erie County, c. 1940.
The upper level was used to house workers from the Caribbean and later Texas Mexican workers.

Migrant worker housing, Adams County, date unknown
Migrant worker housing, Adams County, date unknown.
In many cases, migrant housing is sited literally within the orchard.