Resources on Late Nineteenth-Century Labor History


I.                    Background Reading


        Melvyn Dubofsky, Industrialization and the American Worker, 1865-1920, 3rd ed. (Harlan Davidson, 1996).  A well-written introductory college-level text that provides a good introduction to major themes in the labor history of the era of industrialization.


        American Social History Project, Who Built America?  Working People and the Nation's Economy, Politics, Culture, and Society, Vol. 2, Since 1877 (Worth Publishers, 2000).  A massive textbook that examines both working class social history as well as the history of the labor movement.


        Herbert G. Gutman, "Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America, 1815-1919," in Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America (Alfred A. Knopf, 1976).  An annoyingly jargon-filled article that revolutionized the field of labor history by focusing attention on the cultural transition from pre-industrial to industrial society.


        Elizabeth Ewen, Immigrant Women in the Land of Dollars:  Life and Culture on the Lower East Side, 1890-1925  (Monthly Review Press, 1985).  An interesting study of the transition from pre-industrial to industrial society as experienced by Italian and Jewish immigrant women in New York City.


        Joe William Trotter, Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915-45 (University of Illinois Press, 1985).  A study of the process by which black migrants from the South were transformed from sharecroppers into modern industrial workers.


II.                 Films


        1877: The Grand Army of Starvation (New York:  Cineffects Videotape, 1984).  A riveting account of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the most violent episode of labor strife in American History, which left over one hundred people dead.  Places the event in a broader social context.


        The Bayview Massacre of 1886 (Wisconsin Labor History Society, 1986).  A brief film on the Bayview Massacre, in which Wisconsin State Militia opened fire on workers demanding the eight hour day.


III.               Other Resources


        Darryl Holter, Workers and Unions in Wisconsin:  A Labor History Anthology (State History Society of Wisconsin, 1999).  A collection of short accessible pieces, many of which have a local focus.


        Wisconsin Labor History Society Website (  Includes an extensive bibliography of published materials on Wisconsin labor history.


Revised 08/25/2008  


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