The paper will present some preliminary findings based on examination of workers’ booklets and registers of the Ljubljana Tobacco Factory, stretching over a period of four decades. From its founding in 1871 until its closing in 2004, the Tobacco Factory employed a predominantly female workforce, a central topic of the paper. Tracking the specifics of female workers is compared with observation of male workers, whose jobs are technically more qualified and diverse. What can the sources that elucidate the workers of one of Ljubljana’s largest factories tell us about the history of the city’s structure and social patterns, including migration patterns? Which social characteristics were typical of tobacco workers in the factory? What were general statistical trends in their employability? What were the alternative registered jobs for female workers? How did these aspects differ over the 20th century, in particular during its post-war transitions?

The period at hand provides insight into the shifts and continuities regarding the socio-demographic composition of workers in three political frameworks — the final years of the Habsburg Monarchy (1912–1918), the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918–1941) and the first years of Tito’s socialist Yugoslavia (1945–1952) — that were severely interrupted by both World Wars. The profound political changes that brought about significant socio-economic transformations also influenced the workbooks’ graphic layout. Thus a careful analysis of the observed historical sources provides not only changes in workers’ demographic features, but also an insight into structural changes regarding fabric workers on the national level. Despite possible mistakes, informative limits and not always uniform inscriptions in the examined sources, the quantitative approach presents interesting trends in the history of tobacco workers, which reflects various socio-historical phenomena, ranging from local to general ones.


Urška Strle graduated in History at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana in 2004. Between 2006 and 2010 she worked as a young research fellow at the Slovenian Migration Institute at the Science Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana. In 2010 she completed her PhD thesis entitled Slovenians in Canada: Emigration through the Prism of Oral Testimony. In 2012 she was selected for a postdoctoral fellowship to research Slovenians in Canada, funded by the International Committee for Canadian Studies in Ottawa. Since 2013 she has worked as a research fellow at the Department of History in Ljubljana and since 2017 she has held seminars on Migration History and Oral History at the same institution.

She collaborates on the EIRENE project.