Labor History Web Resources

June 8 & 9, 2006

  Website Description


Illinois Labor History Society

Includes labor history sites, a curriculum for teachers, labor history articles, and more.  The curriculum includes a timeline of various eras in labor history, with a list of important names and a bibliography for further research.


Illinois Labor History Society

Some called her “The greatest woman agitator of our times.”  Mary Harris “Mother” Jones lived in Chicago for much of her life, and helped and organized union workers.  This is a nice biography of her from the Illinois Labor History Society.


AFSCME Labor Links


A long list of links for various aspects of women’s labor history:  Women’s Trade Union League, Mother Jones, women in the textile and garment industries, and biographies of famous women in labor history.


AFSCME Labor Links


Links for various aspects of African American labor history:  biographies, trade union information, and a section about African American labor history books and films.


The Samuel Gompers Papers, University of Maryland College Park

This website has some very helpful descriptions of Samuel Gompers, the AFL, the Knights of Labor, and the IWW.  There is a timeline with links to quotes of Gompers about the reasons for his activism.  Click on “documents” to find primary sources of correspondence between Gompers and other individuals interested in the AFL.


Michigan State University Libraries

This is a part of the Michigan State Library’s “American Radicalism Collection.”  You will find links to digitalized primary sources of the IWW.


National Archives and Records Administration

“As Chinese workers who remained in the United States migrated eastward for work, discriminatory legislation and a poor economic climate accompanied them.  Thus, they continued to be scapegoats for anti-immigrant labor organizations.”  Labor unions in Butte, Montana ordered Chinese immigrants to leave town.  In 1891 and again in 1896, the unions boycotted Chinese-owned businesses.  Use these documents and lesson plans to teach about the boycott and the court case that followed.


National Archives and Records Administration


Lewis Hine, a New York City teacher and photographer, believed that photos could tell a powerful story about child labor in the early 1900s.  He photographed children in coal mines, meatpacking houses, textile mills, and canneries.  He interviewed the children to provide the captions for the photos, and made sure that every photograph was carefully documented.  This lesson from the National Archives not only teaches students a great deal about child labor but it also relates to First Amendment rights.


National Archives and Records Administration


This lesson is an excellent way to connect the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s with labor history issues.  In 1968, two black sanitation workers were crushed to death at work.  Others that day were sent home without pay while their white supervisors were paid for their work that day.  Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his support to the workers as they began their strike in February.  Three months later he was assassinated.


Chicago Historical Society:  The Haymarket Affair Digital Collection


This site includes background information on the Haymarket Affair, a detailed timeline, and many digitized primary sources from the trial.


Industrial Workers of the World:  A Union for All Workers


The official IWW website.  Find links for IWW news, information about how to organize, forums, and blogs about the IWW’s goals.  They also sell a wide variety of books on IWW and general labor history.                                                                         


The History Place:  Child Labor in America 1908-1912


Photographs and the original captions by Lewis W. Hine


National Endowment for the Humanities Edsitement lesson plan

“The Industrial Age in America:  Sweatshops, Steel Mills, and Factories”

Lesson plan for grades 6-8 on the Haymarket Affair, Homestead Strike, and Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.  All of Edsitement’s lesson plans have every link you’ll need for primary sources and background information for the teacher.


History Matters:  The Musical Saga of Homestead


Music has often helped “bind workers together”, and this website includes lyrics from four songs that tell the story of the Homestead Strike.  (This strike even had its own Homestead Strike Songster.)


The Triangle Factory Fire


According to this site, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire is considered one of the worst disasters since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  Click on photos to enlarge them and read the captions; many of them show the horrible conditions of this factory.  If you click on “documents” you’ll find many primary sources – newspaper accounts and letters.


The Dramas of Haymarket


This site is an online project created by the Northwestern University and the Chicago Historical Society.  It uses the Chicago Historical Society’s Haymarket Affair Digital Collection and interprets them in a historical context.  There is background information for the teacher in the “overview” section, and then the page is divided into five  “Acts.”  In each act there is a narrative of the events of the time as well as primary sources that can be enlarged for student use.


Webquest on John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men

Students read about migrant workers and create a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate and describe their history.