Illinois Labor History Society

Illinois Labor History Society Nation's oldest popular labor history society, devoted to Illinois worker history.
The Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS) was formed on August 5, 1969 in the office of the late Joseph M. Jacobs, attorney for the Chicago Teachers Union, Meatcutters, and other labor organizations.
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The ILHS supports the preservation of Illinois labor history and works to share this history with researchers, students and the general public through its website, archival collections and labor history tours. THe ILHS holds the title for the Haymarket Monument in Forest Park, IL and was central to the development of the new Haymarket monument in downtown Chicago. It's Union Hall of Honor Dinner honors men and women who have made important contributions to the state's labor movement.

April 24 - Standing Together, Demanding Justice
04/24/2020
April 24 - Standing Together, Demanding Justice

April 24 - Standing Together, Demanding Justice

On this day in Labor History the year was 1999. A headline from the Los Angeles Times declared, “Dock Crews to Halt Work in Support of Death Row Inmate.” Up and down the west coast the ports stood silent. The International Longshoreman and Warehouseman’...

stories from Chicago's past ...
04/23/2020
Dispatches from a Desperate Time — The Quarantine Times

stories from Chicago's past ...

The Quarantine Times is proud to present first in a series of dispatches about how Chicago handled the influenza pandemic of 1918. Written by Chicago historian Paul Durica and brought to you by the Newberry Library, this series brings to light the striking resonances between our city’s current rea...

The biography of Rose Pastor Stokes reads like a fairytale come to life: a sweatshop immigrant marries into Gilded Age N...
04/23/2020
Adam Hochschild on Rose Pastor Stokes

The biography of Rose Pastor Stokes reads like a fairytale come to life: a sweatshop immigrant marries into Gilded Age New York’s high society only to become a social crusader. In Rebel Cinderella, Adam Hochschild argues that Stokes was a heroine of her own creation, whose activism anticipated the most pressing political debates of the 21st century. Join Hochschild, best-selling author of King Leopold’s Ghost and CEO of Mother Jones Monika Bauerlein for a live stream conversation about what Stokes’s life can reveal about our “New Gilded Age,” fraught as it is with questions of immigration, segregation, and wealth inequality.

The biography of Rose Pastor Stokes reads like a fairytale come to life: a sweatshop immigrant marries into Gilded Age New York’s high society only to become a social crusader. In Rebel Cinderella, Adam Hochschild argues that Stokes was a heroine of her own creation, whose activism anticipated the...

call your Congressional representatives...
04/23/2020

call your Congressional representatives...

A nurse doesn't want your sympathy.
04/23/2020
I want my death to make you angry

A nurse doesn't want your sympathy.

If I die, I don’t want to be remembered as a hero. I want my death to make you angry too. I want you to politicize my death. I want you to use it at fuel...

April 23 - Unity for Strength
04/23/2020
April 23 - Unity for Strength

April 23 - Unity for Strength

On this day in Labor History the year was 1956. That was the day of the founding of the Canadian Labour Congress. Today the Canadian Labour Congress is the largest labor organization in Canada representing some 3.3 million workers. During the early 1950s...

McConnell’s “thank you” to those deemed essential: States should declare bankruptcy to better wriggle out of pension obl...
04/22/2020
McConnell Says He Favors Allowing States to Declare Bankruptcy

McConnell’s “thank you” to those deemed essential: States should declare bankruptcy to better wriggle out of pension obligations for public sector workers

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday he favors allowing states struggling with high public employee pension costs amid the burdens of the pandemic response to declare bankruptcy rather than giving them a federal bailout.

04/22/2020
AFL-CIO

AFL-CIO President on returning to work safely...

WATCH: President Trumka laid out the Working People's Plan for Reopening the Economy the Right Way on Neil Cavuto

unions are our nation's safety net
04/22/2020
We Had a Better Social Safety Net. Then We Busted Unions. | History News Network

unions are our nation's safety net

Lane Windham is author of Knocking on Labor's Door: Union Organizing and the Roots of a New Economic Divide. She is the Associate Director of Georgetown University's Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, and co-director of WILL Empower (Women Innovating Labor Leadership.)  

April 22 - It’s Earth Day!
04/22/2020
April 22 - It’s Earth Day!

April 22 - It’s Earth Day!

On this day in Labor History the year was 1970. That was the first observation of Earth Day. Across the United States, millions took to the streets and parks to demonstrate for clean air, water, a reduction in pollution and care for nature and the environ...

My friend Bill Yund, a retired member of Insulators & Allied Workers Local 2 in Pittsburgh, is an absolutely brilliant c...
04/21/2020

My friend Bill Yund, a retired member of Insulators & Allied Workers Local 2 in Pittsburgh, is an absolutely brilliant cartoonist. Here's a two page spread he recently completed on the fight for Women's Suffrage.

04/21/2020
Why unions make all the difference to protect workers.
04/21/2020
COVID-19 outbreak shows importance of unions - CommonWealth Magazine

Why unions make all the difference to protect workers.

IF CRISES EXPOSE the underlying dynamics of a society, the coronavirus pandemic has starkly demonstrated the different options available to workers in unions and those who are not. Unionized nurses, factory workers, grocery workers, and janitors have, in recent weeks, demanded increased compensation...

April 21 - The Anaconda Road Massacre
04/21/2020
April 21 - The Anaconda Road Massacre

April 21 - The Anaconda Road Massacre

On this day in Labor History the year was 1920. That was the day remembered in Butte, Montana as “Bloody Wednesday” or the “Anaconda Road Massacre.” Butte was in the heart of copper mining country. ...

"Chicago's hospitals are being held up, propped up and supported by our most vulnerable, low-wage, low-educated, most-ov...
04/21/2020
Is Candice a forgotten hero in this crisis?

"Chicago's hospitals are being held up, propped up and supported by our most vulnerable, low-wage, low-educated, most-overworked workers who are disproportionately people of colour," says Dr Bruno.

Hygiene has never seemed more important. Here's how a woman who cleans wards in Chicago is being affected.

April 20 - The Bravest of Conductors
04/20/2020
April 20 - The Bravest of Conductors

April 20 - The Bravest of Conductors

On this day in Labor History the year was 1853. That was the day that Harriet Tubman led her first trip on the underground railroad, the clandestine network that helped enslaved people escape slavery and move north to freedom. One of the most remembered ...

April 19 - The Bombing of Oklahoma City
04/19/2020
April 19 - The Bombing of Oklahoma City

April 19 - The Bombing of Oklahoma City

This marks the day one of the most horrendous acts of domestic terrorism in U.S. History occurred in Oklahoma City. A truck bomb exploded at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killing 168 people. ...

April 18 - Labor’s First Lawyer
04/18/2020
April 18 - Labor’s First Lawyer

April 18 - Labor’s First Lawyer

On this day in Labor History the year was 1857. That was the day that Clarence Darrow was born in Kinsman, Ohio. Darrow was perhaps the original U.S. labor lawyer. Known to be a friend to underdogs, Darrow once supposedly said, “Lost causes are the only ...

04/18/2020
May Day 2020

The Illinois Labor History will join the Chicago Federation of Labor to host an online celebration of May Day on May 1, 2020, 3 pm at https://www.facebook.com/chicagolabor/. We will be joined online by representatives from UNIFOR, the largest private-sector union of Canada.

One of the 20th century's most interesting radicals, who grew up in Chicago....
04/17/2020
Dorothy Day’s Radical Faith

One of the 20th century's most interesting radicals, who grew up in Chicago....

The life and legacy of the Catholic writer and activist, whom some hope will be made a saint.

“Over the past two weeks, OSHA and the CDC have issued a series of guidelines and directives that have weakened protecti...
04/17/2020
Millions of Essential Workers Are Being Left Out of COVID-19…

“Over the past two weeks, OSHA and the CDC have issued a series of guidelines and directives that have weakened protections for front-line workers outside the medical field.”

Even as the federal worker-safety agency has been inundated with complaints, it has rolled back safety standards and virtually eliminated non-health care workplaces from government protection.

April 17 - Corporate Criminals Know No Borders
04/17/2020
April 17 - Corporate Criminals Know No Borders

April 17 - Corporate Criminals Know No Borders

On this day in Labor History the year was 1912. That a day of tragedy for workers in the goldfields of Siberia. Gold miners by the Lena River in Southeast Siberia worked under brutal conditions. The Lena Gold Mining Joint Stock Company ran the mining oper...

April 16 - Another Day in the Class War
04/16/2020
April 16 - Another Day in the Class War

April 16 - Another Day in the Class War

On this day in Labor History the year was 2000. That was the beginning of a two-day rally in Washington D.C to protest the gathering of world leaders for the World Bank and The International Monetary Fund or what is known as the A-16 summit. The event was ...

April 15 - From the Classroom to the Streets
04/15/2020
April 15 - From the Classroom to the Streets

April 15 - From the Classroom to the Streets

On this day in Labor History the year was 1916. That was day that the American Federation of Teachers was founded at a meeting at the City Club in downtown Chicago. Three Chicago teachers groups helped to organize the meeting. They were convinced that in o...

April 14 - Agricultural Workers Risk Everything to Organize
04/14/2020
April 14 - Agricultural Workers Risk Everything to Organize

April 14 - Agricultural Workers Risk Everything to Organize

On this day in Labor History the year was 1930. That was the day that 114 agricultural laborers in California’s Imperial Valley paid a harsh price for joining together to try to improve their working conditions. The Great Depression was worsening the alrea...

April 13 - Laborers Join Together
04/13/2020
April 13 - Laborers Join Together

April 13 - Laborers Join Together

On this day in Labor History the year was 1903. That was the year the day that twenty-five delegates from seventeen cities gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss forming a union for laborers. General laborers, who often performed some of the most back-bre...

April 12 - Historic Walkout at Toledo Auto-Lite
04/12/2020
April 12 - Historic Walkout at Toledo Auto-Lite

April 12 - Historic Walkout at Toledo Auto-Lite

On this day in Labor History the year was 1934. That was the day that workers at the Toledo Auto-Lite factory decided to go out on strike. The company made electric starters for the auto giants in nearby Detroit. The punishing effects of the Great Depre...

April 11 - Terrorists Try to Silence Workers
04/11/2020
April 11 - Terrorists Try to Silence Workers

April 11 - Terrorists Try to Silence Workers

On this day in Labor History the year was 1934. That was the day that labor organizer Frank Norman disappeared from the Lakeland, Florida area and was never heard from again. It is believed he was kidnapped and murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. No...

CTA has its first COVID-19 death. Darrell Jones, ATU 241 mechanic
04/10/2020

CTA has its first COVID-19 death. Darrell Jones, ATU 241 mechanic

A brief history of public health in Chicago:
04/10/2020
Public Health

A brief history of public health in Chicago:

Because residents still skirmished with cholera, Chicago's 1837 charter included a Board of Health and a health officer. The officer's responsibilities included inspecting food markets, preparing death certificates, constructing a quarantine hospital, visiting residents with infectious illnesses, an...

Mother Jones and the Memphis Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1867(From labor folklorist "Con Carbon")    Yellow fever is a viru...
04/10/2020

Mother Jones and the Memphis Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1867
(From labor folklorist "Con Carbon")

Yellow fever is a virus that is spread by the bite of an infected female mosquito. In North America there have been 25 major outbreaks. In the summer of 1793, in Philadelphia, several thousand people died of the disease, almost 10 percent of the population. At the time of the epidemic Philadelphia was the capital of the United States. The national government, including President George Washington, had to leave the city.
Elliot Gorn, in his biography, Mother Jones : the Most Dangerous Woman in America, described yellow fever as "horrifying to behold." Flu-like symptoms accompanied by pain, bleeding and vomiting characterize this deadly disease. "Yellow fever's unpredictability and its mysterious origins added to the terror." It was not until 1900 that medical science discovered that yellow fever was spread person-to-person from the mosquito.
In 1860 Mary Harris, an Irish immigrant, arrived in Memphis, Tennessee from Chicago, looking for work as a teacher. There she met and married George Jones, a skilled worker and staunch member of the International Iron Molder's Union. They settled in the poorest section of Memphis - called "Pinch Gut" - where most of the Irish lived. Mary gave birth to 4 children, 3 girls and a boy -- Catherine, Elizabeth, Terence and Mary.
In 1867 Memphis experienced an unusually rainy spring, as ponds swelled and creeks overflowed throughout the city. When the heat of summer arrived the stagnant water created a breeding ground for mosquitoes. That's when the yellow fever epidemic hit. Residents tried to halt the spread of the disease by burning barrels of tar on the streets, by spreading lime and carbolic acid. People held sponges to their noses to avoid inhaling noxious vapors; they burned the bedclothes of victims.
According to Judith Pinkerton Josephson in Mother Jones : Fierce Fighter for Workers Rights, "the epidemic hit hard in the Pinchgut slum. The wild cries of the dying and the wails of their loved ones pierced the air. Death carts rumbled through the streets." Public meetings were banned as one public official declared, "yellow fever must run its course and nothing we know of can stop it."

Mary and George watched as their children became ill. Catherine, Elizabeth and Terence died and then the baby. Soon George came down with the fever and, he too, was dead. Mary had lost her entire family - her husband and 4 children - in less than a week. "I sat alone through nights of grief," she said. "No one came to me. No one could. Other homes were as stricken as mine." Believing she had been spared in order to help others, Mary volunteered to care for other yellow fever victims and their families.
In December the first frost came to Memphis and the the epidemic gradually weakened. Over 240 people had died or one out of every hundred people in the city.
Local 66 of the Iron Molders Union held a special meeting to honor the memory of George Jones, their union brother. Mary Jones, now a 30-year old grief-stricken widow, decided to leave Memphis for Chicago. There she would find work as a seamstress for the wealthy.
Memphis suffered through six yellow fever epidemics. The worse was in the summer of 1878 when 5,150 people died. In that year over 17,000 cases were reported and over 25,000 Memphians fled the city. But some were not able, or could not afford, to flee.

Becoming Mother Jones

"The first half of Mary Jones' life prepared her for the task of becoming Mother Jones. She was, above all, a survivor -- she passed through horrific times and transcended them. This is how the twentieth century came to know her. Every time the frail old woman in her outdated black dress was arrested, issued proclamations from jail, then emerged to lead a parade of strikers, the image of her as a survivor was reinforced." (Gorn, p. 55)

"By the end of the 1890s, she had become Mother Jones, had embraced the name and embellished the persona. Once she did that -- constructed her appearance, her speech, her public demeanor, learned to tailor that persona to the needs and expectations of her audiences -- her real career was launched." (Gorn, p. 68-69)
____________

I am indebted to Elliot Gorn for his insightful biography of Mother Jones from which I summarized, paraphrased and quoted. (Gorn, Elliott J. Mother Jones : the Most Dangerous Woman in America. New York, Hill and Wang, 2001.) In the same manner I utilized Mother Jones : Fierce Fighter for Workers' Rights. Minneapolis, Lerner Publications, 1997. I was inspired by author Judith Pinkerton Josephson's storytelling approach in this well-illustrated small biography. On-line resources included: Yellow fever, History of yellow fever (Wikipedia); Yellow fever : the plague of Memphis, Yellow Fever Martyrs Memorial and Mass Grave and Yellow fever epidemics. A solidarity elbow bump to historian Rosemary Feurer and all the good people who are working with the Mother Jones Heritage Project , an effort that deserves our support.
-- Saul Schniderman, editor.

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Comments on the IWW . . . .
To all those who hard work and dedication are represented today in ALL jobs across the country, Happy Labor Day!! https://youtu.be/erSJGrpfnOI
This event is little over a week away - I hope you can join us! https://www.facebook.com/events/348909962391919/
Today only, your donation will be doubled, any amount helps. #PullmanNationalMonumenthttps Please share.
If you're in Champaign-Urbana this Friday, join The University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library and Illinois History and Lincoln Collections for a talk about Illinois labor history! You'll also get the chance to see items from both collections related to labor history (letters from Mother Jones, first printing of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, and more).
Still looking for a few more extras for filming bar scene on July 28, 2018 11 am. No pay. Food, copy, and IMDB credit. No experience necessary. Just dress as close to photos as you can and practice saying, "Long live the social revolution." See update 8 on GoFundMe page for pics. Email [email protected] for details. #haymarket #haymarketsquareriot #albertparsons #lucyparsons #womenshistory #chicagohistory
Ludlow, CO - On June 23, a commemoration of the Ludlow massacre took place, sponsored by labor unions, local officials and Greek and Greek-American civic and religious organizations. They gathered here to unveil a remarkable memorial: a new statue of strike organizer and Ludlow martyr Louis Tikas.
If anyone can help, we would deeply appreciate it.
I am trying to track down information on a labor activist in Chicago in the 1920's and 30s. He ran for Senate in 1936. Eric Bechtold. got any leads?