National Archives News

Labor Day

Labor Day banner graphic

 

Women Demonstrating against Child Labor, New York CityThe National Archives and Records Administration holds records created or received by the U.S. Government on issues of labor and labor rights, including records on unions, strikes and responses, debates about women and children in the workplace, and the Government’s role in providing economic security and workplace rights. These records document and detail the struggle to define and assert workplace rights. We not only hold these records, we provide access to them. View a selection of records from the National Archives Catalog.

 

Labor and Woman Suffrage

During this centennial year of the 19th Amendment in 2020, we note the intersection between the struggle for labor rights and the fight for woman suffrage. Portions of our exhibit Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote look at the contributions of working women and labor organizers.

In the early 20th century, young women painted the dials of watches and clocks with radium to create glow-in-the-dark faces. Many of the women, known as Radium Girls, became horribly disfigured, and many died horrible deaths. Learn about these women in "The Radium Girls at the National Archives" and in records in our Catalog.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 caused the deaths of 146 women and inspired reforms in labor practices. Read "A Factory Fire and Frances Perkins," and view photographs of the aftermath of the fire in the National Archives Catalog.

A discussion of labor organizer Bessie Hillman in a recorded author lecture on America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

 

 

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After the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911, a march on April 5 attracted thousands of women calling for safer working conditions and union representation.

Papers of the Women’s Trade Union League and Its Principal Leaders, supported by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

"From Slave Women to Free Women: Black Women's History in the Civil War Era," an article in Prologue magazine exploring women's labor after slavery.

 

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Native girls packing pineapple into cans. By Edgeworth, taken for the Katakura & Company, November 20, 1928. National Archives, Records of the Women s Bureau

The Way We Worked

From December 2005 to May 2006, the National Archives presented "The Way We Worked," a photo exhibition focusing on the history of work in America, in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Below are links to photographs and other content related to that exhibition.

Accordion

Records relating to Samuel Gompers (1850–1924) (Gompers  was president of the American Federation of Labor and a member of the President's First Industrial Conference in 1919, and the President's Unemployment Conference in 1921

Records relating to The United States of America v. Eugene V. Debs. Debs, a leading member of the Socialist Party, gave an antiwar speech on June 16, 1918. He was indicted for violating the Espionage Act of 1917, convicted, and sentenced to Federal prison.  Debs appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, but the earlier verdict was upheld.  He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and campaigned for the Presidency while in jail.  In December 1921, President Harding commuted his sentence and he was released. Read "Free Speech on Trial" in Prologue magazine.

National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933

Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

Records About Worker-Initiated Strikes and Employer-Initiated Lockouts, 1953–1981

Delano Grape Strike and Boycott 1965

Records About Wage Increases, 1971–1974

Records About Major Collective Bargaining Agreements, 1974–1995. U.S. Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field (so-called “Rackets Committee”) 1/30/57–3/31/60.

Records for the Study of Labor and Business History at the National Archives at San Francisco

Social Media and Blogs

Women Workers in Wartime: Personnel Records Offer Valuable Insight into Civilian Employees’ Lives

Plumage of Pomp: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935

African Americans and the American Labor Movement


Labor-related Records Groups

RG 9 - National Recovery Administration

RG 100 - Records of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

RG 102 - Records of the Children’s Bureau (child labor laws)

RG 150 - National Bituminous Coal Commission

RG 174 - General Records of the Department of Labor

RG 220 - President's Committee on Migratory Labor

RG 257 - Records of the Bureau of Labor Statistics

RG 432 - Records of the Economic Stabilization Programs


FDR Library

Address at the Dedication of the Samuel Gompers Memorial Monument, 1939

Audio:  Labor Day Address, 9/5/1938

Audio:  Labor Day Address, 9/1/1941:  "We shall do everything in our power..."


Eisenhower Library

Records of the President’s Committee on Migratory Labor

Finding Aid to Eisenhower Library holdings on labor issues


Kennedy Library

JFK Legislative Summary on Labor Issues

JFK’s Address to the AFL-CIO’s 2nd Constitutional Convention, 10/31/57

JFK’s speech to the United Steel Workers, 9/18/58

JFK’s speech to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, 5/14/58

JFK’s Labor Day message to youth of the nation, September 3,1962

Labor Day 1963 weekend at Hyannis Port: Interview with Walter Cronkite, CBS News, to inaugurate the first national network half-hour nightly news broadcast

 

Photos

Labor Day weekend 1963, at Hyannis Port: Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Maud Shaw, and John "Sandy" Eiler on beach

Labor Day weekend 1963, at Hyannis Port: JFK with Caroline Kennedy and JFK Jr., friends and ponies


Ford Library

Ford’s Labor Day Message, 1974

Ford’s Labor Day Remarks at the AFL-CIO Labor Day Benefit, 8/30/1975


Carter Library

Jimmy Carter at Labor Day Picnic for Labor leaders, 9/3/79


Reagan Library

Message on the Observance of Labor Day, 9/4/1981

Proclamation 4957 - Working Mothers' Day

Proclamation 5637 - The 75th Anniversary of the Department of Labor

Labor Day Address 1981

Labor Day Address 1982

Labor Day Address 1985

Labor Day Message 1988


Obama Library

Labor Day Proclamation, 9/2/2016

Labor Day Proclamation, 2016

Remarks by the President at Detroit Labor Day Event, 2011

 

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