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United States Labor History

Selected Primary Sources


THE COLONIAL PERIOD brought about several historical labor issues. See also: indentured servants and/or slavery

The Beginning, Progress, and Conclusion
of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia, In the Years 1675 and 1676. Farmers revolt against corrupt government, 1676

Colonial Williamsburg
Slide Shows of Queen Elizabeth II visit to Williamsburg in 2007

Morgan, E. (1971). ”The First American Boom: Virginia 1618 to 1630.” The William and Mary Quarterly, 28(2), pp. 169-198. Retrieved from the University's JSTOR database.

A List of Those That Have Been Executed for the Late Rebellion in Virginia.

“I Was Sure of Getting a Trade”:
John Fitch's Long Journey Towards Becoming an Artisan

Morgan, E. (1971). ”The Labor Problem at Jamestown, 1607-18.” The American Historical Review, 76(3), pp. 595-611. Retrieved from the University's JSTOR database.

“Many Hundreds are Starving for Want of Employment”:
John Harrower Leaves London for Virginia, 1774 Mayflower Compact 1620 Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth : 1620

“Our Plantation Is Very Weak”:
The Experiences of an Indentured Servant in Virginia, 1623

“Packed Densely, Like Herrings”:
Gottlieb Mittelberger Warns His Countryman of the Perils of Emigration, 1750



"Old Capitol Building, Williamsburg."

By Tijuana Brass at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

"Old Capitol Building, Williamsburg."Note the incorrect flag,
the red saltire wasn't added to the Union Jack until 1801, i.e.
after the USA achieved independence from the United Kingdom." (Tijuana Brass)

(Photo from Tijuana Brass at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

 They Live Well in the Time of their Service
George Alsop Writes of Servants in Maryland, 1663

 Virtual Jamestown
First-Hand Accounts -By Date 1550 - 1749

“We Unfortunate English People Suffer Here”
An English Servant Writes Home by Elizabeth Sprigs

“Work and labor in this new and wild land are very hard”
A German Migrant in Philadelphia, 1750 by Gottlieb Mittelberger