Central Wisconsin History Collaborative

A Teaching American History Grant Project    



Labor History


Print Media

Electronic Media

Lesson Plans & Misc.



Goldin, Barbara Diamond, Fire! The Beginning of the Labor Movement (Once Upon America), Puffin: 1992  In 1911 Rosie becomes involved in the struggle for better working conditions in factories when fire rips through the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, where her older sister Freyda is employed.  RL 3.2


  Journey Back to Lumberjack Camp, Janie Lynn Panagopoulos (River Road Publications, 1998).  Twelve-year-old Gus McCarty struggles at school with an obnoxious classmate named Al until an accident sends him back in time to a lumber camp with an equally troublesome lumberjack named Alex.  RL4.5



  Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez (Hardcover)
by Kathleen Krull, Yuyi Morales (Illustrator)
From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-The dramatic story of Chavez's 340-mile march to protest the working conditions of migrant farm workers in California is the centerpiece of this well-told biography. Readers meet Chavez at his grandparents' home in Arizona where he lived happily amid a large extended family. His childhood was cut short when, due to financial difficulties, the family was forced to move to California to seek employment. After years of laboring in the fields, Chavez became increasingly disturbed by the inhuman living conditions imposed by the growers. The historic 1965 strike against grape growers and the subsequent march for "La Causa" are vividly recounted, and Chavez's victory-the agreement by the growers granting the workers better conditions and higher pay-is palpable. While sufficient background information is provided to support the story and encourage further research, focusing on one event makes the story appealing to younger readers. The text is largely limited to one side of a spread; beautifully rendered earth-toned illustrations flow out from behind the words and onto the facing page. A fine addition to any collection.



Counting on Grace by E. Winthrop.  Elizabeth Winthrop's latest book, inspired by a famous Lewis Hine photograph, is an extraordinary journey that takes two paths. First is the fictional work itself, COUNTING ON GRACE, a novel which offers an unflinching glimpse of life in a 1910 mill town, and a spirited 12-year old girl who struggles against the mill's deadening effects.  See:  http://www.elizabethwinthrop.com/


  Kids at Work: Lewis Hind and the Crusade Against Child Labor. by Russell Freedman;  Photographs by Lewis Hine
   Using the compelling black and white photographs of Lewis Hine, Russell Freedman has chronicled the child labor movement in the United States. Hine became an investigative photographer for the National Child Labor Committee in 1908, traveling across the country, photographing and collecting the horrifying tales associated with the use and abuse of child labor. His work was influential in changing child labor laws, and this photoessay gives children a unique glimpse into the past. 1994, Clarion, Ages 10 up, $16.95. Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner 
ISBN: 0-395-58703-4



Fire!: The Beginnings of the Labor Movement (Once Upon America) by Barbara Diamond Goldin, James Watling



At Issue Series - Child Labor and Sweatshops (At Issue Series) by Ann Manheimer  Book Description: Abuses of child and adult workers have led to protests, boycotts, and treaties to end child labor and sweatshops. Everyone agrees the worst practices must be stopped. But debate rages over the underlying causes, and whether workplace exploitation is an inevitable step in economic development or an avoidable human rights violation.



Labor Day (Holiday Histories/2nd Edition) by Mir Tamim Ansary   Review from School Library Journal:  K-Gr 2--Each book details the history of the holiday, sharing past events that shaped today's celebration. Columbus Day salutes the spirit of discovery while emphasizing that there were people already in the Americas. Labor Day reminds readers that the labor-union movement brought about laws keeping children out of the workplace and in school. Remembering Dr. King's dream is the theme of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The titles have two-to-three lines of text per page and boldfaced words are defined in a glossary. Unfortunately, all three books are oversimplified and try to cover too much information. Black-and-white and full-color photographs and reproductions, at least one per page, illustrate each volume.



Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: Flames of Labor Reform (American Disasters) by Michelle M. Houle. Discusses the 1911 fire that killed 146 New York garment factory workers, the conditions that led up to it, and some of the legislation that came about to prevent the occurrence of similar disasters.  Review from School Library Journal:  Grade 4-6-On March 25, 1911, it took about half an hour for a fire to start, spread, kill 146 people, and be extinguished. Lasting labor reform came about because of this disaster. Readers are exposed to the dreadful and, by today's standards, underhanded and illegal working conditions of immigrants (here, mostly women). The short chapters are enlivened with period photographs, including a horrific view of the bodies of women who had leaped to their deaths to escape the flames. Although the text is easy to read, the horror is not sugarcoated.
Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.



  Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Merchant Seamen, Pirates, and the Anglo-American Maritime World, 1700-1750, Marcus Rediker (1987).


  Shay's Rebellion: The Making of an Agrarian Insurrection, David P. Szatmary, (1980).


  American Work: Four Centuries of Black and White Labor, Jacqueline Jones, (1998).


  The "Lower Sort": Philadelphia's Laboring People, 1750-1800, Billy G. Smith, (1990).


  Transforming Women's Work: New England Lives in the Industrial Revolution, Thomas Dublin, (1994).


  Industrial American: The Nineteenth Century, Walter Licht, (1995).


  Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic, Jeanne Boydston, (1990).


  Richard P. McCormick, The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era (1966).
  Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work , and the Family Since Slavery (1985).




On the night of December 30, the majority of employees who had been working their shift at Fisher 1 and Fisher 2 left the plants. Some left only to celebrate the New Year and returned later. Others took up picket and food-gathering activities on the outside... http://www.historicalvoices.org/flint/




Wisconsin's workers and reformers made significant contributions to the history of labor in the United States, helping to enact legislation such as workers' compensation and unemployment insurance that served as models for similar laws in other states. The study of labor history itself also began in Wisconsin when University of Wisconsin economist John R. Commons set out to document the history of work and labor in America at the turn of the twentieth century. Commons and his associates also joined labor leaders, the business community, and politicians to bring about some of Wisconsin's groundbreaking social policies.  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/tp-030/



Harvard's site: "Women Working, 1800-1930"  http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/ww/


Triangle Shirtwaist Fire & Trial http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/triangle/trianglefire.html

Thulstrup. The anarchist riot  


Dramas of Haymarket  http://www.chicagohistory.org/hadc/index.html

Bisbee 1917 Image



The Bisbee Deportation of 1917  http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/bisbee/index.html


9to5, National Association of Working Women is a national, grassroots membership organization that strengthens women's ability to work for economic justice. Founded in 1973, 9to5 has activists in more than 200 cities and members in every state. http://www.9to5.org/


AFL-CIO Logo  



HISTORY MATTERS - The U.S. Survey Course on the Web

Search for “labor history” and you’ll see amazing collections of links, ranging from very recent materials, such as documents related to the protests at the World Trade Organization in Seattle to 15-minute clips from some of the 5,000 oral history interviews by THE oral historian of our times, Studs Terkel, to the child labor photographs of Lewis Hine, 1908-1912.  http://historymatters.gmu.edu/



Teacher with His Class Gain a rewarding overview of the history of twentieth century American labor by taking a tour of the George Meany Memorial Archives.  http://www.nlc.edu/archives/teachers.html




  • Joel Sipress (UW-Superior)

            Resources on Late Nineteenth-Century Labor History

  •  Jodi Vandenberg-Daves (UW-La Crosse)

            Forty (40) Books About Labor for Children and Youth


Revised 08/25/2008  


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