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Labor Day
 
The National Archives and Records Administration holds records created or received by the U.S. Government on issues of labor and labor rights, including records on unions, strikes and responses, debates about women and children in the workplace, and the Government’s role in providing economic security and workplace rights. These records document and detail the struggle to define and assert workplace rights. We not only hold these records, we provide access to them. View a selection of records from the National Archives Catalog.
 
Labor and Woman Suffrage
The struggle for labor rights and the fight for woman suffrage often intersected. Portions of our exhibit Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote look at the contributions of working women and labor organizers.
In the early 20th century, young women painted the dials of watches and clocks with radium to create glow-in-the-dark faces. Many of the women, known as Radium Girls, became horribly disfigured, and many died horrible deaths. Learn about these women in "The Radium Girls at the National Archives" and in records in our Catalog.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 caused the deaths of 146 women and inspired reforms in labor practices. Read "A Factory Fire and Frances Perkins," and view photographs of the aftermath of the fire in the National Archives Catalog.
A discussion of labor organizer Bessie Hillman in a recorded author lecture on America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today
 
 
After the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911, a march on April 5 attracted thousands of women calling for safer working conditions and union representation.
Papers of the Women’s Trade Union League and Its Principal Leaders, supported by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission
"From Slave Women to Free Women: Black Women's History in the Civil War Era," an article in Prologue magazine exploring women's labor after slavery.
 
Native girls packing pineapple into cans. By Edgeworth, taken for the Katakura & Company, November 20, 1928. National Archives, Records of the Women s Bureau
The Way We Worked
The Way We Worked, a photo exhibition focusing on the history of work in America, was displayed in the Lawrence F. O'Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, from December 2005 to May 2006. Below are links to photographs and other content related to that exhibition.
Photo Gallery
Press Kit
Prologue article, Winter 2005 
Video Resources
Additional Resources
Online Resources
 
Labor Day media
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Educational Resources
Six-year-old berry picker. Photo by Lewis Hine.
View in National Archives Catalog
Teaching Activities on DocsTeach
Lewis Hine Shedding Light on Child Labor through Photographs
Analyzing a Child Labor Photograph
Child Labor Photograph Discussion
Analyzing Photographs of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
"We Are Badly in Need of a Breath of Fresh Air": A Letter to President Kennedy About LGBTQ+ Rights (touches on federal employment discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers)
Document Sets on DocsTeach
Child Labor
Unions & Strikes
Protests & Demonstrations
House Joint Resolution Proposing a Constitutional Amendment Limiting Child Labor, 1924
Confronting Work Place Discrimination on the World War II Home Front
Teaching With Documents
Martin Luther King, Jr., and Memphis Sanitation Workers
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Online Exhibits
The Workplace Rights section of the Records of Rights covers topics including the rise of industrial America, labor organizing, women and children in the workforce, and the Great Depression and World War II.
“Labor Day, 1899" Cartoonist Clifford Berryman shows Uncle Sam bowing in respect to the figure of “Labor,” who is pictured as responsible for the nation’s prosperity.
View in National Archives Catalog
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This page was last reviewed on July 9, 2021.
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