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United States Labor History

Selected Primary Sources

Unionism & Testimonies

Adolph Strasser on "Pure and Simple Unionism" (1884)
Testimony of Cigar Makers' International Union President Adolph Strasser Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Education and Labor (1883).

Albert Parsons on Anarchism (1887)

"Commit No Rash Act": Albert Parsons' Last Words to His Wife (1886)

The Communist Manifesto
Engels, Friedrich, 1820-1895, Marx, Karl, 1818-1883

The Emma Goldmen Papers
Emma Goldman (1869–1940) stands as a major figure in the history of American radicalism and feminism.

Essays and Analysis for a History of the Industrial Workers of the World Documents (IWW)

Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive
One of the greatest and most articulate advocates of workers' power to have ever lived.

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress

“I am sorry not to be hung”
Oscar Neebe and His Statement on Haymarket (1886)

The Gospel According to Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie's 1889 essay, "Wealth," argued for a broad social and cultural role for fellow industrialists. It later became famous under the name, "The Gospel of Wealth." Click here to hear the speech.

Minutes of the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor

National Women's Trade Union League of America founded, 1903

People's Party Platform. Adopted at St. Louis , July 24, 18 96.

Populist Party Platform (1892)

The Triangle Shirt Fire

"In 1911, 146 workers, most of them young women, were killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire leading to a public call for laws to protect workers. As a result, by 1920 the ILGWU [International Ladies Garment Workers Union] was one of the most powerful unions in the organized labor movement."--Excerpt from Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site


Testimony of Samuel Gompers (1883)

Testimony of John Morrison, Machinist (1883)