Camden emerged as a small economic powerhouse as industrialization took off nationally in the first half of the twentieth century. Between 1900 and the early 1950s, Camden’s population grew from about 75,000 to roughly 125,000 (Gillette, 2005). Through a combination of major industrial producers, smaller manufacturers, and ancillary businesses, Camden was home to 180,000 jobs at its peak in 1955 (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2001). The local economy grew in direct relationship to the increasing projection of economic, political, and military power by the United States on a global scale. The histories of Camden’s three main employers during its industrial period, New York Shipbuilding (based in Camden, despite its name), RCA Victor, and Campbell’s Soup, capture the link between Camden’s prosperity and the changing geo-political context. New York Shipbuilding (New York Ship), founded in 1898, became a major contractor for the Department of Defense. The company employed tens of thousands of workers building some of the largest ships in the world, including aircraft carriers. Both world wars represented important growth opportunities for the company, as the United States relied on New York Ship and other large-scale producers to create a military no other country could challenge (Gillette, 2005). RCA Victor benefited both directly and indirectly from the military and economic aspects of globalization. RCA Victor’s Camden origins lie in the founding of the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901. Victor merged with the Radio Corporation of America to form RCA Victor in 1929. While it is best remembered for entertainment technologies, RCA Victor made a good deal of its money as a defense contractor, supplying communications equipment to the military. Like New York Ship, it benefited from U.S. involvement in World War II, and, as a marketer of consumer products, RCA Victor benefited from the increasing access to global markets guaranteed by the prominence of the United States on the world stage (Cowie, 1999). Even Campbell’s Soup benefited significantly from World War II. Best known as a provider of nutritious meals to America’s families, Campbell’s supplied non-perishable meals for soldiers during both world wars, a growth opportunity that supported a massive expansion in

its productive capacity and gave it experience in global supply-chain development. Campbell’s recognized the opportunity for its non-perishable products in global markets and took advantage of the increasing reach of the United States’ influence and transportation capacity to extend its sales globally (Sidorick, 2009). All three of these companies capitalized on Camden’s inherent advantages and contributed to making Camden a magnet for migrants and immigrants. Camden is situated in the nation’s most densely populated corridor, with road and rail links in all directions and a port of its own. New York Ship benefited directly from Camden’s ocean access through the Delaware River, while Campbell’s relied for decades on Camden’s access to South Jersey’s rich agricultural land, especially its tomato crop (Sidorick, 2009). Camden’s companies connected local assets to global opportunities in the first half of the twentieth century, which positioned them to shape local life in Camden. Whole neighborhoods in Camden emerged to provide housing to the booming population, notably Yorkship Village, a federally funded planned community of 1,000 homes built during World War I to house new employees at New York Ship (Childs, 1918). The entire local economy stood on the shoulders of these towering pioneers of global industry. In 1955, Camden was the beating heart of South Jersey (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2001).