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Labor History Themes
- Work Processes & Conditions
- Labor Organization & Strikes
- Teachers – Education
- Labor Control &/or State Power
- Intersectionalities of Race &/or Gender
Primary Source Types
- Era 1: Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)
- Era 2: Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)
- Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
- 3.1 Account of the Grand Federal Procession, 1788 *An excerpt from a longer pamphlet describing the “Grand Federal Procession” of 1788, which celebrated the very recent ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
- Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
- Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
- Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
- Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
- 7.1 Destitution in West Virginia, Commission Report, 1922 *An excerpt from a longer report describing living and working conditions of miners in West Virginia in 1922.
- 7.2 Margaret Haley, “Why Teachers Should Organize” 1904 *An excerpted speech given by teacher union leader Margaret Haley to the general assembly of the National Education Association in 1904. It was also published in the Journal of Education.
- 7.3 Clara Lemlich, “The Inside Story of a Shirtwaist Factory” 1912 *Clara Lemlich, an immigrant garment worker and labor leader, describes the dangerous and dehumanizing working conditions in New York City’s garment industry and makes a case for woman suffrage.
- 7.4 Margaret Chanler Aldrich, “The Week Before Christmas,” December 20, 1911 *This poem describes conditions faced by retail workers during the Christmas holiday season in the early 1900s. It is critical of wealthy shoppers who contribute to workers’ misery, and was used by the National Consumers’ League to encourage consumers to be allies by getting their shopping done early.
- 7.5 Lady Vaudeville and Her White Rats, 1909. *Excerpt from George Fuller Golden’s 1909 memoir about his career as a Vaudeville artist and labor organizer.
- Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
- 8.1 UAW-CIO song, 1942. *This song is about the struggles by auto workers to organize a union and their patriotic pride as both producers for and soldiers in the American war effort during World War II. It equates unionism with patriotism.
- 8.2 Blank Pay Days, 1933 *This document is excerpted from an article written by a Chicago school teacher about how the Great Depression was affecting her work and personal life; published 1933 in The Saturday Evening Post.
- 8.3 Spasmodic Diary of a Chicago School Teacher, 1933 *An excerpt from a published selection of a diary that belonged to an anonymous Chicago public school teacher, which was published in The Atlantic Monthly in November 1933.
- 8.4 Memorial Day Massacre, 1937 *An eyewitness narration of unedited newsreel footage of the 1937 Memorial Day Massacre in Chicago, Illinois when steel unionists and their supporters were met with police violence on their way to demand the right to set up a mass picket in front of Republic Steel.
- 8.5 Murder of Frank Hanes, 1939. *These three letters describe the murder of an African American farm worker named Frank Hanes by Mississippi plantation owner Tom Alexander. Bernice Wims wrote to the U.S. attorney general to request an investigation, but the federal government refused to act.
- 8.6 Charles Houston, Scottsboro Case, Revisited, 1939. *Charles Houston delivered this speech to an International Labor Defense conference on July 8th, 1939. His “Special Paper on…Educational Equality” speech draws a connection between labor, civil rights, and education. Houston specifically links the Scottsboro Case to labor control.
- Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
- 9.1 Triumph of the Paraprofessionals, August 22, 1970 *This opinion piece by civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin celebrates the signing of the first union contract for paraprofessional educators — community-based classroom and school support staff, nearly all of them black and Hispanic women — in New York City. It was published in the New York Amsterdam News, the city’s largest black-owned newspaper, in 1970.
- Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)