Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

450 S Michigan Ave, AUD 1851
Chicago IL 60605
United States


Illinois Labor History Society

Biographies: A

Biographies: A

Below are a number of labor heroes, click a name to jump to the short biography. 

Esther Abrams

(1896-1985)  Grave 1, Sector A

Born Esther Gould, she was raised in Pennsylvania and later married Irving Abrams. At a dinner honoring her husband, she said, "Irving, for 25 years we have been struggling together for a better and a finer world: let us continue to do so for the rest of our lives." Esther and Irving were married for 62 years and had 2 children. Little about her life has been written and further information about her would be appreciated.

Irving S. Abrams

(1891-1980) GRAVE 2, SECTOR A

Anarchist, and member of the IWW, active in Chicago's Free Society Group, Abrams later became a lawyer and needle-trades' union organizer. He was the last surviving member of the Pioneer Aid and Support Association—the group founded in 1887 to care for the widows and children of the martyrs. Irving was the last survivor of this group, which had erected the monument to the Haymarket Martyrs in 1893. He served as a local and national president of the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, and president of the Workman's Circle. In May 1971 he turned ownership of the monument over to the Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS). Irving married Esther Gould and they had 2 children. In 1987, a book, Haymarket Heritage: The Memoirs of Irving S. Abrams was published for the ILHS by Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company.

William J. Adelman

(1932-2009)  [ashes scattered]

William Adelman began his professional career as a high school history teacher and later joined the faculty of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Illinois-Chicago. In 1952, William married Nora Jill Walters, a nurse.

Adelman was one of the few academics offering a labor history perspective in the Chicago region during the 1960's and 1970's.  His lectures, seminars and tours to labor sites became extremely popular, particularly in the labor union community. His intention was to increase public understanding of the historical roots of contemporary issues, and his encyclopedic knowledge of the subject was legendary.

Adelman helped create the Haymarket Workers Memorial Committee which issued a call for a ceremony in Haymarket Square on May 1, 1969 to correct public misunderstanding of the "so-called" Haymarket riot. The success of that effort led to the founding of the Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS) in 1969 and Adelman's election as Vice President that same year. Aware of the need for better teaching tools, Adelman produced many self-guided tours associated with the Haymarket tragedy. Most of these materials are available today through the Illinois Labor History Society.

Bill served on the committee to select the sculptor for the Haymarket Memorial sculpture installed by the City of Chicago in Haymarket Square in 2004 after 35 years of agitation by the labor community. This historic event followed the naming of the Haymarket Martyrs Monument in Forest Home Cemetery as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. National Park Service in 1998. Adelman authored the book Haymarket Revisited, a self guided tour.