Labor History Resources

There are many different types of resources for studying labor history.  Here are some of the most useful, broken down by category:

Labor History Organizations
Online Exhibits
Teachers’ Tools
Labor History Archives
Other Links of Interest


Labor History Organizations

Labor history is celebrated all over the U.S., and all over the world. Here are some other regional and national organizations that work to preserve the history of working people:

American Labor Museum
The American Labor Museum, in Haledon, NJ, advances public understanding of the history of work, workers and the labor movement throughout  the  world,  with  special attention to the ethnicity and immigrant experience of American workers.

Greater New Haven Labor History Association
This exciting organization works to preserve labor history in the New Haven, CT area, and runs archives and oral history projects to further preserve the history of working people.

Illinois Labor History Society
The new and dynamic Illinois Labor History Society website provides additional resources for teachers and researchers as well as information on Illinois and Chicago labor history tours.

The Labor and Working Class History Association is a nation-wide organization that makes available a listing of labor-related resources, including other State Labor History Associations, Museums, Conferences, and Archives.

Pacific Northwest Labor History Association
The PNLHA holds a yearly conference and puts out a calendar of significant dates in labor history each year.

Society for the Study of Labour History
The SSLH is the United Kingdom’s main organization dedicated to the study of labor history; they publish the peer-reviewed Labour History Review and actively encourage the preservation of labor history in the United Kingdom.

Wisconsin Labor History Society
The Wisconsin Labor History Society, affiliated with the Wisconsin Historical Society, is dedicated to preserving and telling the stories of workers and unions in Wisconsin.

For more labor history societies and associations, see the AFL-CIO’s directory of these organizations, at


Online Exhibits

All over the country, people are gathering information on labor history, and increasingly, it’s available online. Here are a few of the best online exhibitions of labor history.

New York City Labor History Map
This wonderful, interactive project, a joint project of the New York Labor History Association and the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, allows viewers to explore the labor history in New York City.

Dreamers and Fighters: The NYC Teacher Purges
A multimedia presentation of the purges of New York City schoolteachers at the height of the McCarthy era.

Remembering the Flint Sit-Down Strike
This site, run out of Michigan State University, hosts a variety of wonderful resources—most importantly interviews with participants and observers—on the Flint sit-down strike, one of the founding moments in the history of the CIO.

Samuel Gompers Papers
This site, produced in connection with the Samuel Gompers Papers project out of the University of Maryland, has key information on AFL founder Samuel Gompers, including a timeline, biographies of Gompers and other labor leaders of his era, and a collection of primary sources.

Haymarket Affair Digital Collection
This digital collection, put together by the Chicago Historical Society, examines the Haymarket Affair in detail, and has many primary sources and historical artifacts online for students to examine.

Labor Arts
This online resource holds a wide variety of powerful images that encourage understanding and appreciation of the contributions working people make to our society.

Sisters in the Brotherhoods
This online exhibition, produced in connection with NYLHA Executive Board Member Jane LaTour’s book, tells the story of women who entered the blue-collar workforce in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s.

Remembering the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire
A valuable resource for remembering one of the most important events in labor history.


Teachers’ Tools

Interested in introducing your students to labor history? There are a lot of different resources out there—here are a few of the best designed specifically for teachers.

American Labor Studies Center
The American Labor Studies Center has a large collection of lesson plans, short histories of American labor, and many other valuable resources for teaching labor history.

American Social History Project-Center for Media and Learning
The ASHP’s “Herb” tool, named after labor historian Herbert Gutman, is an easy-to-use search engine that allows teachers to find documents, teaching activities, and worksheets for integrating social history, including labor history, in the classroom.

Labor History Links
Put together by labor historian Rosemary Feurer, this is a wonderful collection of resources for teachers interested in introducing labor history in the classroom.

Labor Film Database
One of the most complete online databases of labor films available, this database is a great resource for finding a film about labor issues and labor history.

Triangle Fire Resources
This extraordinary collection, from NYLHA Executive Board member Kimberly Schiller, is a wonderful way to introduce students to labor history issues.


Labor History Archives

Although there are plenty of ways to learn about labor history without engaging in archival research, there are a number of important labor history archives throughout the U.S. The most important are:

Cornell University, Kheel Center
The Kheel Center, affiliated with Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, is one of the most important archives on American labor history, with the papers of such important organizations as the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, as well as numerous teachers’ unions and other important figures in the history of labor. Cornell’s ILR School also hosts many public programs throughout the year, in Ithaca, in New York City, and online.

George Meany Memorial Archives
The Meany Memorial Archives is housed at the University of Maryland; it holds the AFL-CIO records.

Walter Reuther Library
Located in Detroit, Michigan, the Reuther Library has a number of online collections as well as a sizable archive of major American unions.

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
One of the most important archives for scholarly research on labor and the left; located at NYU’s Bobst Library, Tamiment/Wagner also hosts a series of programs open to the public.


Other Links of Interest

Labor history is a complicated and growing field. There are many other places to learn about the issues facing workers, both past and present:

This discussion board posts frequent reviews, information about upcoming events and conferences, and discussions of labor history.

The leading union in the country—56 unions representing more than 12 million workers.

Rochester Labor Council
The Rochester Labor Council’s website has some wonderful resources for learning about labor history, including an interactive map of labor history sites in Rochester, additional resources for teachers, and more.

The Union Steward
Hosted by Robert Wechsler, a former staffer for the Transport Workers Union of America and a long-time member of the Executive Board of NYLHA, this site has essential information for union representatives, plus a Labor History This Month feature.

Help us build the single most complete source of information on labor history in New York State!  Entries should be sent to William Lehman at