Cover of the 1st edition, 1906
Cover of the 1st edition, 1906

Upton Sinclair early in his career
Upton Sinclair early in his career


Upton Sinclair, New York Times (b. September 20, 1878; d.November 25, 1968)

Was a socialist and anarchist who was very upset by the working conditions and living conditions of workers

Sinclair grew up with his poor family, but spent a few years with his wealthy grandparents
He believed that witnessing the two extremes made him a socialist

Paid his way through college by selling his writing

After graduating, he started selling his novels, which were not very popular
Became interested in investigative journalism

The editor of the socialist journal, Fred Warren, asked Sinclair to investigate Chicago immigrants in the meat packing industry; was paid $500 for seven weeks investigation

Teddy Roosevelt ordered an investigation of the meat packing industry after reading the book

Spent the rest of his life and career as an advocate for political and social causes

Historical Background

Pork Packing, Cincinnati, 1873
Pork Packing, Cincinnati, 1873

rotating gif.gifSee United States History II.8 for more on progressive era reforms and reformers

The Jungle and the Progressive Era from Books That Changed History, Gilder Lehman Institute of American History


Primary Sources

Sinclair (black armband) picketing the Rockefeller Building, New York City, 1914
Sinclair (black armband) picketing the Rockefeller Building, New York City, 1914


Multimedia Resources

Go here for short video Upton Sinclair and the Fight for Reform on Vimeo

podcast icon.pngClick here to hear The Jungle read aloud.


Lesson Plans

Click here for a lesson plan on Progressive Perspectives, which includes a focus on The Jungle

For a present-day perspective on food and food safety, see CARU Recommends McDonald's Modify Advertising to Focus on Product, Not Premium from the Council for Better Business Bureau

1934 Campaign for Governor of California

Upton Sinclair's End Poverty in California Campaign from Mapping American Social Movements, University of Washington