Shannon Kracht


union activities, union movement, Danish immigrant


When Jens Horstrup was a young man, his father Albert taught him that every worker had a right to take part in decisions made by his or her employer. It was a lesson that he carried - and re-taught - for the remainder of his life. Born in July, 1907, in Fredrickshavn to a ship patternmaker father, Jens opted for the bricklaying trade. He served a seven-year apprenticeship in Denmark, worked as a bricklayer in his country for awhile, and, seeking the challenges inherent in new opportunities, traveled to America in 1927. In his book, The Danish Americans, George R. Nielsen notes the value of training in Denmark. "The Danes had received excellent training in the construction trades and were in demand as workers; by following the building booms, they left the Danish communities and became Americanized more readily." Jens fit the description perfectly. Upon his arrival, in Chicago, he joined the International Union and paid his dues - $6 a month - then worked in Florida and New York until the Depression put him out of work and he couldn't afford it anymore.