The National Archives holds extensive 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.
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.
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
- Letter from American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers to Joseph Cannon]
- Letter from Samuel Gompers President of the AFL to Mr. L. White Busbey
- Samuel Gompers’ correspondence when he Chaired the Committee on Labor.
Records relating to The United States of America v. Eugene V. Debs. Debs, a leading member of the Socialist Party, gave an anti-war 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.
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.