Sunday, February 07, 2016
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About ILHS


President Larry Spivack
Regional Director,
AFSCME Council 31
Vice President Tom Suhrbur
Retired Organizer,
Illinois Education Association
Vice President Mike Matejka
Legislative Affairs Director,
Great Plains Laborers District Council
Recording Secretary Debby Pope
Chicago Teachers Union
Treasurer Nicholas Christen
Illinois Federation of Teachers
Secretary Emeritus Mollie L. West
Retired member,
Chicago Typographical Union Local 16


  • Caleen Carter-Patton
  • James Conness
  • Tim Drea
  • Mike Elliott
  • Bucky Halker
  • Angela Harkless
  • Erik Gellman
  • Katie Jordan
  • Ken Munz
  • Lisa Oppenheim
  • Liesl Orenic
  • William Pelz
  • Robert Reiter
  • Keith Richardson
  • Rich Rowe
  • Anthony Scorzo
  • Judy Simpson
  • Alma Washington

Ex Officio Members

Michael T. Carrigan - President Illinois AFL-CIO
Jorge Ramirez - President Chicago Federation of Labor


Stephanie Seawell - Executive Director


Mission and 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.

The mission of the ILHS was set forth: It shall be the Purpose of the Illinois Labor History Society to encourage the preservation and study of labor history materials of the Illinois Region, and to arouse public interest in the profound significance of the past to the present.

To that end we have, over the years, published guidebooks by Professor William Adelman. We have produced and distributed numerous monographs on topics ranging from the Union Miners' Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois, to the story of Pullman. We have established a mail order book business, currently offering books and videos to the public. We are the custodians of a National Historic Landmark, The Haymarket Martyrs Monument in Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois.

We provide: tours of Chicago's Labor History Sites; publication of a newsletter; and various commemorative programs, among them the annual Union Hall of Honor Awards Dinner.

We maintain this lively and well-respected website. It contains directions to various historic sites important to labor, a series of articles written in a popular style, and a model curriculum through which teachers can enrich the normal textbook fare with labor history topics and materials. Our booklist generates sales from as far away as Argentina.

We have a significant collection of books in our library, including some rare volumes. We are able to advise individuals and organizations who seek a proper repository for their historical records.

Our resources are sought after by schoolchildren, teachers, academicians, and media. Documentary producers, in particular, find our resources to be unique, and our personnel have appeared in several TV programs.

Let us be of service to you and your organization.

Ours is a membership organization dependent on dues and contributions for its income, supplemented by the sale of books and services, and the annual Union Hall of Honor Awards Dinner. Your tax-deductible contributions and bequests will help us carry on and to expand our programs.

You may now join the ILHS via our web site.

Consider donating to ILHS to help us fulfill our mission.

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

Copyright © 2010
by Illinois Labor History Society

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