"Work, school, and leisure activities in the United States from 1894 to 1915 are featured in this presentation of 150 motion pictures. Highlights include films of the United States Postal Service from 1903, cattle breeding, fire fighters, ice manufacturing, logging, calisthenic and gymnastic exercises in schools, amusement parks, boxing, expositions, football, parades, swimming, and other sporting events."
"The Bisbee Deportation of 1917 was an event specific to Arizona that influenced the labor movement throughout the United States. What started as a labor dispute between copper mining companies and their workers turned into vigilante action against the allegedly nefarious activities of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.). This site is a research-based collection of primary and secondary sources for the study of the deportation of over 1,000 striking miners from Bisbee on 12 July, 1917."
"The Appeal to Reason was the most popular radical publication in American history. The socialist newspaper, founded in 1895, reached a paid circulation of more than three-quarters of a million people by 1913. During political campaigns and crises, it often sold more than four million individual copies. J. A. Wayland, the paper’s founder and publisher until his suicide in 1912, had become a socialist through reading. He built his paper on the conviction that plain talk would convert others to the socialist cause. From its Kansas headquarters, the Appeal published an eclectic mix of news (particularly of strikes and political campaigns), essays, poetry, fiction, humor, and cartoons. It ceased publication in November 1922, a victim of editorial instability, the declining fortunes of the Socialist Party, and U.S. government repression of radicalism. In the August 12, 1916 issue, Scott Nearing offered a disheartening prognosis for the social mobility of wage workers." GMU History Matters
"The Debs Collection, which is housed in the Special Collections Department, contains a collection of over 2,300 pamphlets, the majority of which were donated along with scattered periodical issues by the late Oscar Edelman. Additional materials have been received in smaller gifts or through purchases from booksellers such as Bibliomania and Southpaw. Funds for purchases were provided by state appropriations and annual donations from the Eugene V. Debs Foundation, located in Terre Haute, Indiana. " Some pamphlets have been digitized.
"The interviews included in this series are with women active in both the ILGWU and the ACWA. Except for Anita Castro, however, their union activism began in other cities. The others did not move to Los Angeles until later in the 1930s. However, their earlier activities in other cities shed an important light on women labor organizing. The interviews with Sarah Rozner, for example, reveal an almost hidden aspect of women's organizing: the formation of Women's Locals within the ACWA. The oral histories of five other women who joined the Chicago Women's Local (275) and who remained in Chicago help to bring this hidden history of women's locals alive."
"The 1912 presidential election featured four candidates: Republican incumbent William Howard Taft, Democratic Governor Woodrow Wilson, former President Theodore Roosevelt representing the breakaway Bull Moose party, and Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs, who was making his fourth run for President. All four presidential candidates appealed directly to working-class voters, who proved pivotal to the outcome. Voter interest, already piqued by the unusual campaign and the candidates’ slashing attacks on one another, was further heightened by the availability of sound recordings of campaign addresses and, for the first time, film footage of the candidates on the campaign trail. In this campaign speech, Wilson argued against a minimum wage for women workers and called for the end of business monopolies. Wilson was the eventual winner, with over six million popular and 435 electoral votes."
"The Appeal to Reason was the most popular radical publication in American history. This socialist newspaper, whose founding in 1895 predated the creation of the Socialist Party in 1901, reached a paid circulation of more than three-quarters of a million people by 1913. During political campaigns and crises, it often sold more than four million individual copies. From its headquarters in Girard, Kansas, the Appeal published an eclectic mix of news (particularly of strikes and political campaigns), essays, poetry, fiction, humor, and cartoons. During and after World War I, the paper declined in circulation because of the deaths and departures of key editorial figures, the declining fortunes of the Socialist Party, and the repression of U.S. radicalism. It ceased publishication in November 1922. These snippets of working-class humor and human drama were compiled for the December 23, 1911, issue."
"While the Industrial Workers of the World still is a going enterprise, the Marxists Internet Archive wanted to celebrate this organizations coming 100th Aniversary with a History Archive of documents related to it. We do not want to subsititute for the IWW’s own web site at iww.org. We want to compliment it with a mirror of it’s historical documents contained on it and our own additions from the current contents of the Marxists Internet Archive writers archive."
"The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives is the unit of Catherwood Library that collects, preserves, and makes accessible special collections pertaining to the history of the workplace and labor relations." Some items are available online.
"The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was the largest labor union to represent workers in the women's garment industry in the United States and Canada in the twentieth century, peaking at 450,000 members. The ILGWU was formed by the merging of several NYC unions in 1900 and continued until it merged with the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union to form UNITE in 1995."
"Latah County was an exhilarating place to live at the beginning of the twentieth century. Residents of the county contended with wild animals, mob actions, economic upheaval, revenge murders, union struggles, mining and logging accidents, and various other challenges.." The collection contains digital audio recordings and transcripts of oral histories.
"Around 1903, employers began to mount organized campaigns to break the power of labor unions. Employers had a broad array of tactics at their disposal, including blacklists, strikebreakers, and court injunctions against strikers’ use of boycotts and sympathy strikes. Although employers had reliable allies in state and local police forces, they continued to hire their own private police—detective agencies that used secret operatives to disrupt unions and supplied thugs to protect strikebreakers during strikes. Most employers did not, however, need to resort to either spies or state police to break unions. The simplest expedient was to simply fire employees who were perceived as potential troublemakers. Former department store worker Sylvia Schulman testified in 1914 before the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations about her experience being fired from her job at A. I. Mann & Sons in Brooklyn merely for joining the retail clerks’ union."
"In 1898 the United States acquired Puerto Rico, a Caribbean island 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, after victory in the Spanish-Cuban-American War. After an initial military occupation, the United States granted Puerto Rico limited local autonomy. In 1917, the U.S. responded to local pressure for independence by declaring Puerto Ricans citizens of the United States—a “gift” that many Puerto Ricans resented. Large, corporate-financed sugar plantations transformed Puerto Rico’s agricultural economy and displaced thousands of subsistence farmers from their own land, forcing them into the rural wage labor force. These dramatic changes in the rural economy in the years before World War I pushed unemployment levels in Puerto Rico to crisis proportions. At the same time, American entry into the war created labor shortages in many industries on the mainland. This Labor Department bulletin from May 1918 set out plans for bringing more than 10,000 Puerto Rican laborers to the U.S. to work on war-related projects."
"Labor conflicts in Pennsylvania’s coal mines and steel mills during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries were usually violent. In order to insure that they had the upper hand and to avoid relying on local police (who were sometimes sympathetic to strikers), mine and mill operators set up their own “Coal and Iron Police” as early as the 1870s. Public reaction against these private armies led the Pennsylvania legislature to create a Department of State Police as an ostensibly more neutral and highly-trained law enforcement body. But the cure turned out to be worse than the disease. In the 1910 strike at Bethlehem Steel, the state police proved to be as pro-management as the Coal and Iron Police and even more brutal. The following testimony from workers and labor leaders appearing before the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations in 1915 underscored the anger and discontent of common laborers with the military mindset of the newly formed Pennsylvania State Police." GMU History Matters
"In the earliest years of the 20th century, employers mounted organized campaigns to break the power of labor unions. The employers had a broad array of tactics, including blacklists, strikebreakers, and court injunctions against strikers’ use of boycotts and sympathy strikes. From 1900 to 1920, 775 injunctions were issued against labor activities. Between 1880 and 1900, there had been only 150. Although early twentieth-century employers had reliable allies in state police forces and tightly controlled local police, they continued to hire their own private police—detective agencies that used secret operatives to disrupt unions and supplied thugs to protect strikebreakers during strikes. F. J. Heine, general manager of the Employers’ Information Service in Cleveland, Ohio, explained his strike-breaking services to prospective clients in this 1911 letter." GMU History Matters
"In 1918, a U.S. Employment Service Bulletin estimated that 75,000 unemployed laborers in Puerto Rico were available for work in the United States. The War Department agreed to transport workers to labor camps in the United States where they would be housed and fed while working on government construction contracts at defense plants and military bases. Many of these work camps, however, subjected the new migrants to harsh conditions and even forced labor, which Rafael Marchán described in his 1918 deposition to the commissioner of Puerto Rico. Workers like Marchán appealed to the U.S. government to improve sanitary conditions, provide adequate food, and stop widespread beatings at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1918 and 1919, almost one hundred Puerto Rican migrants died in Arkansas labor camps."
"The nation’s leading trade unionist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Samuel Gompers was president of the American Federation of Labor from 1886 until he died in 1924." select documents are available online.
"The Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), established in 1903 by reformers seeking to combine the forces of trade unionism and feminism, faced particular obstacles when organizing women into unions. In this 1915 essay, published in The Trade Union Woman, WTUL leader Alice Henry discussed some of those problems and advocated separate women’s locals as a possible solution. Another important organizing problem, which Henry did not discuss, was the tension between the middle-class reformers of the WTUL and the working-class women they wanted to organize but sometimes viewed with condescension. Henry was an Australian journalist of pro-labor and anti-imperialist sympathies. In 1906, she immigrated to the U.S., joined the fight for suffrage, and became a leader of the WTUL. Although she started out sharing the racist views of many Australians (where a “White Australia” policy was widely accepted), her time in America led her to adopt more favorable views of African Americans and immigrants." GMU History Matters
"Georgia State University's Southern Labor Archives, established in 1971, is dedicated to collecting, preserving and making available the documentary heritage of Southern workers and their unions, as well as that of workers and unions having a historic relationship to the region. The largest accumulation of labor records in the Southeast, the Archives holdings include organizational records, pamphlets, periodicals, photographs, personal papers of labor leaders, oral histories, collective bargaining agreements, constitutions and bylaws, and convention proceedings from 1888 to the present."
"Women Working, 1800–1930 is a digital exploration of women's impact on the economic life of the United States between 1800 and the Great Depression. Working conditions, workplace regulations, home life, costs of living, commerce, recreation, health and hygiene, and social issues are among the issues documented in this online research collection from Harvard University."
"Wartime production demanded the mobilization of thousands of workers to make steel and rubber, to work in petrochemical industries, and to build ships. As a result, African Americans made striking gains in employment even while also facing continuing discrimination. Black women, for example, got jobs working on the railroads for the first time during the world war. Black women found jobs as laborers, cleaning cars, wiping engines, tending railroad beds. Helen Ross was one of them, working for the Santa Fe Railroad. In an interview with the Women’s Service Section of U.S. Railroad Administration, Ross described the advantages of her railroad job. Nevertheless, the same agency later declared such work too heavy for women."
"This anonymous worker articulated common grievances of domestic workers in her 1912 article in Outlook magazine. A veteran of thirty-three years of household labor, she protested the unsystematic work and arbitrary supervision of domestic service, the most common category of female employment until World War II. She advised,“If the mistress of the house . . . would treat housework like a business, and treat their maids like the employees of a business, many of the problems of domestic service would be solved.” Explicitly comparing domestic service and industrial work, this writer articulated the reasons that young women increasingly left household labor for the regular wages, fixed hours, and less intrusive supervision of factory jobs."
"Employers had many ways to retaliate against their workers who tried to organize, ranging from allies in state and local police forces to detective agencies that used secret operatives to disrupt unions and supplied thugs to protect strikebreakers during strikes. But the simplest expedient available was to simply fire employees who were perceived as potential troublemakers. In 1914, a former department store worker named Sylvia Schulman testified before the U. S. Commission on Industrial Relations. In the excerpt included here she described how she was fired simply for joining the retail clerk’s union."
"In 1917 the United States declared the inhabitants of Puerto Rico, a U.S. posession since 1898, to be citizens of the United States—a “gift” that many Puerto Ricans resented. Seeing an untapped source of inexpensive labor, the U.S. Labor Department worked with industry to facilitate the migration of Puerto Rican workers to America. During the First World War the War Department agreed to transport Puerto Rican workers to labor camps in the United States where they would be housed and fed while working on government construction contracts at defense plants and military bases, many of which subjected the new migrants to harsh conditions and even forced labor. Rafael Marchán was one of a group of Puerto Rican workers at Fort Bragg in North Carolina who protested to the commissioner of Puerto Rico over the intolerable conditions in the work camp. He gave this deposition in Washington, D.C., in October 1918."
"Nineteenth-century laborers faced a variety of work-related ailments: from rheumatism and pneumonia to lead palsy and carbon monoxide poisoning. Yet governments rarely regulated workplace conditions and the United States lagged far behind industrialized European nations in such regulation. In the Progressive era, however, a movement to regulate dangerous industrial working conditions arose, and one of its most prominent leaders was a physician named Alice Hamilton. In this selection from her 1943 autobiography, Hamilton described her residency at Jane Addams’s Hull House in the late 1890s and her participation in the Illinois Occupational Disease Commission. "
"In folklore the black nursemaid was seen as a dutiful, self-sacrificing black woman who loved her white family and its children every bit as much as her own. Yet the popular images of the loyal, contented black nursemaid, or “mammy,” were unfortunately far from the reality for the African-American women who worked in these homes. In 1912 the Independent printed this quasi-autobiographical account of servant life, as related by an African-American domestic worker, which dispelled the comforting “mammy” myth."
Book Sources: Labor & Employment in the 1910s
A selection of books/e-books available in Trible Library.
Click the title for location and availability information.