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Why is it important to teach labor history in your classrooms?

According to the renowned labor historian James Green: "Today, with union membership reduced, government standards for worker rights and safety under assault, and job security in jeopardy everywhere, young people entering the labor market are still vulnerable to to abuse in the workplace.  And yet, most are alarmingly unaware of the decades of struggle that previous generations engaged in--and that union members are still engaged in today--to extend human and civil rights in the workplace."   read more

The ILHS provides online resources for teachers on a variety of subjects. 

Haymarket Tragedy

Pullman Strike of 1894

Workers on the I & M Canal

A power point on Illinois Public Education, Unionism and Civil Rights

Interested in More Reading?  Check out our Illinois Labor History Bibliography

Labor History Timelines

The United States has one of bloodiest histories of labor of any industrialized nation on Earth. It is a story rich in human drama and tragedy. It is also one of progress and hope. This is a resource that teachers of United States history can use to incorporate our rich social and labor history into their courses. Using the ideas employed here teachers will increase student understanding of the American economic system and the important issues we all face as workers today. The concepts build on each other so that at the end of the school year the student should have a working knowledge of the importance of labor in society. A guiding theme of this work is how laborers have earned a voice in the workplace and increased their share of the economic pie. Teachers should highlight the stark contrast between today's working environment and the relationship between workers and owners of the past.

The scope of United States history has been divided into eleven basic periods. These will correspond with the unit divisions that many current textbook companies use. In each period the main events and issues of US labor history are introduced. Each period includes a general overview, a time line of events, and key concepts..

Authors: These timelines were created by James D. Brown, Jr. for the Illinois Labor History Society in cooperation with teachers from the metro Chicago area and local union members.