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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. [...]

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 [...]

The AFL Supports Chinese Exclusion

These excerpts from a 1902 American Federation of Labor pamphlet argue for a second extension of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. The pamphlet, entitled Some Reasons for Chinese Exclusion: Meat vs. Rice, alleged that the supposed willingness of [...]

A Labor Leader Rails Against Chinese Immigration

In this "Workingmen's Address," published in 1878, Dennis Kearney of the Workingman's Party of California appeals to racist arguments against Chinese immigrants. After excoriating the fraud, corruption, and monopolization of land by the "moneyed [...]

A Bracero Protests Low Pay and Discrimination

Although he had received a rare scholarship to attend middle school, Andrés Héctor Quezada Lara dropped out to become a bracero. His work took him to many places in the United States, including South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, [...]

A Montana Miner's Union Boycotts Asian-Owned Businesses

In the 19th century, Asian Americans faced widespread hostility. In this 1898 flyer, the labor movement claimed that Asian-American workers "[lowered] standards of living and of morals." Particularly in the West, union organizers agitated for the [...]