Social History for Every Classroom


Social History for Every Classroom

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A Steelworkers' Ballot Calls "Strike!" in Many Tongues

In the years after World War I, American workers sought to consolidate and expand the gains they had achieved during the war years. In September 1919, some 350,000 steelworkers went on strike, seeking higher wages, shorter hours and better working [...]

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 [...]

An Ybor City Resident Describes Work in the Cigar Factories

The family of Cesar Marcos Medina moved from Cuba to Ybor City in Tampa, Florida in 1903. In this interview, Medina details the experiences of his father, who worked as a lector (reader) in the city's cigar factories. Medina also describes the [...]

Mexican and Japanese Laborers Form a Union

In 1903, Mexican and Japanese farmworkers in Oxnard, California joined together to resist a wage cut by their employers. When they requested that their union be allowed to join the American Federation of Labor, President Samuel Gompers told the [...]

A Labor Leader Rails Against Chinese Immigration (1878)

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

An Indentured Servant Asks Parents for Help (1623)

Indentured servitude was a system of labor in which a person had to work for four to seven years without pay in exchange for passage to the “New World.” Employers in Virginia (often planters) were expected to supply servants' housing, food, and [...]

A Mill Worker Testifies about Unemployment (1883)

On October 18, 1883, mill worker Thomas O’Donnell testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor about the hardships of unemployment and working-class issues. O'Donnell had immigrated from England in the 1870s. At the time of [...]

Lenora M. Barry Describes Women's Working Conditions in New Jersey (1887)

Lenora M. Barry was the national women’s organizer for the Knights of Labor in the late nineteenth century. The Knights of Labor aimed to improve the lives and health of laborers by encouraging them to organize unions and other groups to fight for [...]

AFL Member Expresses Worry About Women in Industry (1897)

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, many Americans worried about the social and economic consequences of the visibly growing numbers of women employed in U.S. factories. The American Federationist, a publication of the American Federation of [...]

NAACP Representative Testifies before Congress about the Economic Security Act (1935)

In January 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent the Economic Security Act to Congress. Congress held committee hearings on the bill. Charles H. Houston, a representative of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) [...]

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