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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Rock Springs Massacre Victims Plead for Justice

Even in the late nineteenth-century American West, a notably violent region, the violence directed against Chinese immigrants was shocking. The Union Pacific Railroad employed 331 Chinese and 150 whites in their coal mine in Rock Springs, Wyoming. [...]

A Steelworker Strikes for "Eight Hours a Day and Better Conditions"

The steel strike of 1919 saw some 350,000 workers walk off the job, temporarily bringing the steel industry to a halt. The U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor investigated, interviewing striking steelworkers such as Slavic immigrant Andrew [...]

African-American Laundry Women Go on Strike in Atlanta

In July 1881, African-American laundry women in Atlanta formed the Washing Society and organized a strike to gain higher wages and respect for their labor. Utilizing door-to-door canvassing and with the support of black churches, the Society quickly [...]

The New York Times Predicts a Railroad Strike, 1885

This New York Times article from September 1885 makes reference to the tensions that existed between organized labor and Chinese immigrant workers on the Union Pacific and other railroad lines. According to the article, the Knights of Labor, the [...]

The New York Times Describes Racial Unrest on the Railroads

A New York Times article from 1889 describes another instance of racially-based labor unrest on the railroads. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a group of African-American railroad laborers spontaneously strike to protest the dismissal of a black [...]

An African-American Newspaper Defends the Shirtwaist Strikebreakers

The New York Age was an African-American newspaper founded by Timothy Thomas Fortune, a civil rights leader and journalist. This excerpt from an editorial on the 1909 New York City shirtwaist maker's strike defends the paper's decision to run [...]

Jewish Immigrants March to Abolish Child Labor

This photograph, taken during a labor parade in New York City in 1909, shows two young women wearing banners that read "Abolish Child Slavery!" in English and Yiddish. Jewish immigrants were especially active in many labor causes at the turn of the [...]

Women Workers Protest the Loss of Jobs at Ford Motor Co.

When World War II ended, Ford Motor Company's Highland Park plant, like industrial manufacturers across the country, laid off thousands of women workers and replaced them with inexperienced men. In Highland Park, women members of the United Auto [...]

Unemployed Single Women Demonstrate for Jobs

As millions of men lost their jobs during the Great Depression, many began to argue that women (particularly married women) should not be occupying the scarce jobs that remained. When women could find jobs, employers routinely paid them less than [...]

Oklahoma Tenant Farmers Hold a Union Meeting

The state of Oklahoma suffered greatly during the Depression, causing many families to become migrant workers. In response to the dire conditions in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Tenant Farmers' Union argued for decent living wages for field workers, an [...]

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