Thursday, February 11, 2016
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Why teach labor history? For the same reasons we teach history: we study the past to understand the present and shape the future. Although the labor history is both local and global, the story of workers is only touched upon in history textbooks. We need to teach ourselves and our students that working people have been and are the builders and maintainers of society: construction, manufacturing, service, and public sector workers are not footnotes of history, but the makers of history. The struggles of labor coincide with and are a part of the struggles among civil, economic, and gender movements to make this world a better place. Bringing the labor movement and work history into the curriculum not only touches students lives but helps them to become critical thinkers.

May is Labor History month in Illinois. The ILHS Labor History Curriculum not only gives teachers ideas to incorporate during the month, but can be used throughout the school year to integrate the story of working people into U.S. History. Our map of labor monuments and historic sites along with our sister site, the offer place-based histories in which you may discover history in your own backyards! The brief biographies of Labor Heroes and honorees from the Union Hall of Honor may be springboards for research projects too.

The ILHS office holds a vast library and mini-museum and archives that include primary sources (books, pamphlets, posters, recorded interviews, and artifacts) and secondary sources (books, journals, scholarly articles, interviews). We are strongest in history related to the Packinghouse Workers Union. Interviews are available, by appointment preferred.

See also:
History Fair
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"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

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430 S. Michigan Ave. Room AUD 1361
Chicago, IL, 60605

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