Monday, January 26, 2015
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A teacher's regiment? Are the students that out of control? The American Civil War (1861-1865) was viewed by many as a fight over labor rights
How To Make Labor History Are you a working person? Are you laid off, but desire work? Are you retired or too young to have a job? No matter what your status, you can make labor history.
Payment: 3 3/4 cents per button This spontaneous strike was a critical catalyst for forming the Amalgamated Clothing Workers (known today as UNITE) in 1915.
How is labor often represented in the media? This famous drawing is an artist's conception of May 4, 1886, in Chicago's Haymarket Square.
Are these men really all named George? George Pullman hired former slaves as his car attendants. It became popular for people to address them as "George."
Are these people attacking the police? Memorial Day, 1937: Workers and supporters marched to the Republic Steel plant to establish a picket line.
"Unite & Fight" for what? These men and women are Chicago Stockyards employees, once the largest meat butchering and processing facility in the world.
On strike for what? Labor struggles and stories are not just history. In Chicago, hotel workers at the Congress Hotel have been on strike for over seven years.
Why is this man giving a thumbs up in a police van? Until 1982 it was illegal in Illinois for public employees to organize a union.
Union-building for builders Construction trades workers were some of the first to organize in the United States, beginning at a city level in the 1830s.
Unionize? We can do it! Women have long been leaders in organizing workers and fighting for better conditions. Illinois has a strong tradition of women who took early leadership
Health & Safety is no Accident Illinois coal miners have traditionally been among the leaders in the occupational health and safety movement.
5-12 researchers teachers
today in labor history

Thank you all of our sponsors, to every union local that placed an ad, purchased a table, or bought a ticket, to every individual who volunteered or attended the 2014 Union Hall of Honor--because of your support we had a tremendous evening!

Read a transcript of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka's speech here.

Singing Solidarity Forever with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, and the guests of Union Hall of Honor dinner sing Solidarity Forever

(photo courtesy of Mike Matejka)


Click here to make donation or payment via paypal.

Click here to make a donation or payment by check.

For information on our 2014 Hall of Honor inductees, click Read More.


Haymarket Martyrs Monument Protected

In the early 1980's, the floral decoration from the front of the Haymarket Martyrs monument was stolen. The job of recreating the bronze object from old photographs was given to conservator, Andrzej Dajnowski of the firm Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio. Before it was installed on the monument in 2011, a mold was made to insure that if damage was done in the future that it could be recreated for far less money.

The ILHS launched an online fundraising to create a rubber mold of the Governor Altgeld bronze plaque on the back side of the monument. The mold took 6 days to complete and was finished on the 25th of October.  The photos below from left to right show the conservation team setting up the scaffolding, Andrzej Dajnowski preparing the plaque to make the mold, and the Altgeld plaque during the mold-making process.

                            Preparing for work           altgeld plaque preparation          altgeld plaque mold

                                                                                                                                                            Photos by Mark Rogovin and Alexis Ellers


Below the Altgeld plaque  is a small missing plaque that had the names of Martyrs, Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe and Michael Schwab. They were granted an absolute pardon by Gov. Altgeld and the date of their natural death followed their names. We hope to have the bronze plaque and mold created and installed in the near future. Also, the precise location of the burial site of Nina Van Zandt Spies has been determined. Soon a gravestone will be made and placed at the site of the widow of Martyr August Spies.

Prepared by Mark Rogovin

rooseveltweb The Illinois Labor History Society Has a New Home at Roosevelt University
See photo at left. We're there, on the 13th floor of the Tower in the historic, 125-year old Auditorium Building (sharply contrasting with Roosevelt's new, glass structure behind it).

Our new address and phone:
430 South Michigan Ave.
Room AUD 1361
Chicago, IL 60605
NEW PHONE NUMBER is 312.341.2247
Our email remains This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Roosevelt University Library will now house and organize the archival materials of the ILHS, a parternship that will make our materials and collections more accessible to those studying the history of labor's struggles in Illinois. The Illinois Labor History Society, in turn, has a new office at Roosevelt where we will carry on organizing and expanding the programs, publications and tours that are the backbone of our Society's work. All in all, a partnership that will strengthen the ILHS and help esure its continuing contribution to the preservation of labor's story in our state.


Labor Murals in Illinois

Many of Illlinois' labor battles and landmark events are portrayed in an array of stunning murals in Chicago and around the state. In a world surrounded by billboards and advertisements, we can turn to murals to tell us of the lives of people that built our movements and communities. We're sharing the list of labor murals the ILHS developed for our 2011 Union Hall of Honor, when four working-class artists and muralists joined the roster of our inductees.

Now on special sale at our online bookstore: The re-released ILHS DVD "When Art Speaks Labor's Language," a tour guided by President Emeritus Les Orear of three iconic Chicago labor murals. Order your copy today.


Labor Monuments of Illinois

mother-jones  union-cemetary  cherry-monument  cherrysmsq  haymarket  haymarketsmsq  stockyard  diamond  more2
To see what each memorializes, hover mouse over each image.

Labor Heroes

Albert Parsons  Lucy Parsons  chavez  Randolph  Debs  Lewis  Addams  Joe Hill  gompers
To see each labor hero's name, hover mouse above each image.  To learn more, visit the Labor Heroes page.

The Illinois Labor History Society

The Illinois Labor History Society wants to share an amazing story with you. It's the story of how working people built this state. Not just by the work of strong hands and strong minds, but with the ideals of democracy, equal opportunity and human solidarity.

It's the story of the labor movement in Illinois. It's the story of some courageous amazing people Like Mary Harris "Mother" Jones who defied the powerful coal bosses and A. Phillip Randolph who taught the railroad bosses how to respect their own employees. It's also about those people whose names we will never know, but through struggle and sacrifice, made a big difference.

Much of this labor story is unknown to the general public. Some has been deliberately hidden by the wealthy and powerful. Some has never been told. Some has been lost, but perhaps will be found again.

The Illinois Labor History Society wants to share with you as much of this labor story as we can. We also want to hear your part in the labor story, because it's only history if you share it.

Through our website resources, our labor bookstore, our labor videos, our public events, our tours of labor monuments and sites and our media appearances, we want to bring this labor story to life. Not only because it is exciting and uplifting, but because it will help working people build an even better Illinois for tomorrow.


Just some of what we do: 

What does labor want?

"What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures"
~ Samuel Gompers
First President of the American Federation of Labor

"And I long to see the day when Labor will have the destiny of the nation in her own hands and she will stand as a united force and show the world what the workers can do." --- Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, 1830-1930

Get Involved



ILHSlogoIllinois Labor History Society
430 S. Michigan Ave. Room AUD 1361
Chicago, IL, 60605

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