December 2021: Labor History


  1. On Writing Labor History, by Penny Colman (Magazine of History, Jan. 1997)
    • An article describing best practices for researching and writing about labor history. 
  2. Why Teach Labor History? by James Green (Magazine of History, Jan. 1997)
    • Green articulates why Labor History is an essential part of any classroom beyond the required “Great Depression” and “New Deal” lesson plans.
  3. Labor History Follow-Up, by Robert D. Reynolds, Jr., Stuart B. Kaufman, and David L. Parker (Magazine of History, March 1997
    • These scholars discuss how to teach labor history through visual images. 
  4. Labor History Bibliography, by Timothy G. Borden (Magazine of History, Jan. 1997)
    • A compiled bibliography of Labor History resources up to January 1997. 
  5. Teaching Labor History, by Martin H. Blatt (Magazine of History, Jan. 1997)
    • Blatt argues for expanding the definition of Labor, when teaching Labor History in the classroom, to include leisure and community based activities. 
  6. “It’s About People”: Social and Labor History in the Classroom, by Bret Eynon and William Friedheim (Magazine of History, Jan. 1997)
    • These authors explore the social emphasis of Labor History when teaching the subject. 
  7. Film and Video Resources for Teaching Labor History, by Fred Glass (Magazine of History, Jan. 1997)
    • Glass provides tactics and resources for teaching Labor History through film and videos. 
  8. ‘I Lie to them’: Food History as Labor History in the Classroom, by Mario Sifuentez (Process History Blog, Jan. 2017)
    • Sifuentez argues for teaching Food history and sovereignty as part of labor history and the history of agribusiness in the United States. 
  9. Using Songs to Teach Labor History, by Alan Singer (Magazine of History, Jan. 1997)
    • Singer provides tactics and examples for using songs as multimedia educational tools for Labor History. 
  10. Making Disability an Essential Part of American History, by Paul K. Longmore (Magazine of History, July 2009)
    • Through the context of labor history, Longmore argues for centering Disability History in American History classrooms. 


  1. “Mill Girls” and Labor Movements: Integrating Women’s History into Early Industrialization Studies, by Shelia Kirschbaum (Magazine of History, March 2005)
    • Kirschbaum discusses how to center women in discussions of Labor Movements in surveys and Industrialization focused U.S. History courses. 
  2. What Does an Engineer Look Like? Women Engineers and the Movement for Social Change, by Laura Micheletti Puaca (The American Historian, February 2016)
    • This article examines the history of women in the field of engineering and how they were pioneers for social change
  3. Servitude to Service: African-American Women as Wage Earners, by Rita G. Koman (Magazine of History, January 1997)
    • A lesson plan on how to teach about African American women in the antebellum south. 
  4. Teaching about Rosie the Riveter: The Role of Women during World War II, by Karen Anderson (Magazine of History, June 1998)
    • This article focuses on centering social and feminist history rather than military history in classrooms that focus on World War II history. 
  5. “Cash to Corinna”: Domestic Labor and Sexual Economy in the “Fancy Trade”, by Alexandra Finley (Journal of American History, September 2017)
    • This article uses a case study of the life of an enslaved woman, Corinna Hinton Omohundro, to tell a history of slavery and capitalism. Hinton Omohundro was the enslaved concubine of a successful Virginia slave trader. Her life and labor offer a new perspective for understanding the domestic slave trade and the experiences of slavery for enslaved women. This microhistory by Alexandra Finley allows us to see the understudied role that women’s domestic, reproductive, and sexual labor played in the expansion of slavery into the Deep South.
  6. A Higher “Standard of Life” for the World: U.S. Labor Women’s Reform Internationalism and the Legacies of 1919, by Dorothy Sue Cobble (Journal of American History, March 2014)
  7. The Struggles of Women Industrial Workers to Improve Work Conditions in the Progressive Era, by Nancy J. Barrett (Magazine of History, March 1999)
    • Multiple lesson materials for teaching about INdustrial Womens’ Workers’ movements. 
  8. You’ve Come a Long Way—Maybe”: Working Women, Comparable Worth, and the Transformation of the American Labor Movement, 1964–1989, by Joseph E. Hower (Journal of American History, December 2020)
    • Pay equity rarely figures in histories of the 1980s. Joseph E. Hower reconsiders that silence through a case study of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Locating the union’s origins amid the intense, explosive organizing that swept through a younger, blacker, and more female working class during that decade, Hower shows how comparable worth emerged out of a surprisingly successful project to transform AFSCME into a vehicle for labor feminism and proved a remarkably resilient and robust focal point for postindustrial organizing deep into the Reagan era.
  9. Needles and Hoops: Sports Programs in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, the Socialist Party, and their Communist Rivals by James W.J. Robinson (Process History Blog, February 2018)
    • Robinson discusses various women’s unions and their efforts in the twentieth-century.

African Americans: 

  1. Noncombatant Military Laborers in the Civil War, by Thavolia Glymph (Magazine of History, April 2012)
    • An analysis of Black Labor on both sides during the Civil War. 
  2. Forty Years Since King: Labor Rights are Human Rights by Michael Honey (Magazine of History, April 2008)
    • Honey discusses the evolution of the civil rights movement to become a labor rights movement in the twenty-first century. 
  3. Beyond Harriet: African American Women’s Work in the Underground Railroad by Jazma Sutton (Process History Blog, October 2019)
    • Sutton argues for expanding the history and discussion of the Underground Railroad to appreciate the labor of all the Black Women involved. 

Local Movements: 

  1. Rethinking Race and PLace: The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, by Trevor Griffey (Magazine of History, January 2012)
    • This is a local history of the evolution of the Civil Rights Movement to a Labor Rights project in Seattle, Washington. 
  2. Teaching Civil War Union Politics: Draft Riots in the Midwest, by Shannon M. Smith (Magazine of History, April 2013)
    • Instructions for how to teach about violence in labor history through Midwestern case studies. 
  3. Organizing the Prisons in the 1960s and 1970s: Part One, Building Movements, by Dan Berger, Alan Eladio Gómez, Garrett Felber, Toussaint Losier, Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, Tony Platt, and Heather Ann Thompson and Process guest editor: Jessie Kindig. (Process History Blog, Sept. 2016)


  1. Sharecropper’s Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, and the African American Song Tradition, by Jessie Kindig and Michael Honey (JAH Podcast, Jan. 2016)
    • Jessie Kindig, assistant editor of the Journal of American History, speaks with Michael Honey, Professor of Labor and Ethnic Studies and American History at the University of Washington. They discuss his new book and his work.
  2. “Why So Many? Filipino Nurses & the COVID Frontlines” by Catherine Ceniza Choy, (Intervals, August 18, 2021).
    • Catherine Ceniza Choy is professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of the book, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (2003), which explored how and why the Philippines became the leading exporter of professional nurses to the United States.
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt, by William E. Leuchtenburg (Talking History, Oct. 16, 2000)
    • In part 3 of our series on presidential elections, a talk with professor William E. Leuchtenburg, author of The FDR Years: On Roosevelt and His Legacy. The program contains an op-ed by professor Bruce Schulman, author of Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism. 


  1. For Labor and Democracy: The Farm Security Administration’s Competing Visions for Farm Workers’ Socioeconomic Reform and Civil Rights in the 1940s, by Mireya Loza and Dr. Verónica Martínez-Matsuda (JAH Podcast, Sept. 2019)
    • Guest host Dr. Mireya Loza, Assistant Professor in Food Studies at New York University, interviews Dr. Verónica Martínez-Matsuda Assistant Professor of Labor Relations, Law, and History at Cornell University, about her article “For Labor and Democracy: The Farm Security Administration’s Competing Visions for Farm Workers’ Socioeconomic Reform and Civil Rights in the 1940s”, which appears in the September 2019 issue of the Journal of American History.
  2. For Labor and Democracy: The Farm Security Administration’s Competing Visions for Farm Workers’ Socioeconomic Reform and Civil Rights in the 1940s, by Verónica Martínez-Matsuda (Journal of American History, September 2019)
  3. The Transcontinental Railroad, by Stephen Ambrose (Talking History, December 18, 2000)
    • A talk with historian Stephen Ambrose, author of Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863–1869.The program contains an op-ed by Gary Marks of the University of North Carolina, co-author of It Didn’t Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the United States.
  4. Affirmative Action, by Todd Jones (Talking HIstory, September 4, 2000).
    • A talk with Todd Jones, philosophy professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and co-editor of the book Affirmative Action: Social Justice or Reverse Discriminaton?. The program contains an op-ed about welfare by professor Linda Gordon. 
  5. Salt of the Earth: Labor, Film, and the Cold War, by Carl R. Weinberg (Magazine of History, October 2010)
    • Weinberg analyzes the film Salt of the Earth as a tool for teaching both Labor History and Cold War History. 
  6. Liberty is Exploitation: The Force of Tradition in Early Manufacturing, by Barbara M. Tucker (Magazine of History, May 2005)
    • An analysis of early exploitation via the expansion of labor markets. 
  7. Labor and the Environmental Justice Movement: Why their Shared History Matters Today, by Josiah Rector (Process History Blog, April 2017)
    • Rector combines thea activism in Labor Movements and Environmental Justice Movements and argues for more attention to their alliances. 

Child/Student Labor

  1. “Age Ought to Be a Fact”: The Campaign against Child Labor and the Rise of the Birth Certificate, by Susan J. Pearson (Journal of American History, March 2015)
  2. The Job Is Football: The Myth of the Student-Athlete, by Johnny Smith (The American Historian, August 2016)
    • This article explores the historical creation of the term “student-athlete” and how universities have used the term to suppress the value of their labor force.

Colonial and Transnational:

  1. From Poverty to Slavery: Abolitionists, Overseers, and the Global Struggle for Labor in India, by Christopher M. Florio (Journal of American History, March 2016)
    • Christopher M. Florio investigates how, beginning in the late 1830s, Anglo-American abolitionists and American plantation overseers strove to transform India’s poor into cotton producers who could perform the work of African American slaves. Florio suggests that poor and enslaved people were bound together in a struggle that centered on labor and attempts at its extraction. He contends that attending to the entangled histories of slavery and poverty unsettles the historical and historiographical boundaries of slavery and freedom.
  2. Birth of the U.S. Colonial Minimum Wage: The Struggle over the Fair Labor Standards Act in Puerto Rico, 1938–1941, by Anne S. Macpherson (Journal of American History, December 2017)
  3. Migration for Labor, Migration for Love: Marriage and Family Formation across Borders, by Suzanne Sinke (Magazine of History, September 1999)
    • Sinke discusses familial relationships and how transnational migration due to a labor market might have complicated or enhanced family ties. 


  1. Robin Hood: Myth or Reality? by Thomas Hahn (Talking History, October 5, 1998) 
  2. Labor History and Passenger Outrage in the U.S. Airline Industry, by Ryan Patrick Murphy (Process History Blog, June 2017)
    • The history of Airline Unions, public flying, and activism related to flight. 
  3. Can Faculty Labor Unions Stop the Decline of Tenure? by Trevor Griffey (Process History Blog, July 2016)
    • An article on efforts by Faculty Labor Unions working to keep Tenure Alive.
  4. Working in the Digital Age: Why Information Technology May Be Re-skilling the Labor Process, by Hector Postigo (The American Historian, February 2016)
    • This article looks at how labor in the digital field has sometimes been exploited by employers due to it’s hard to define output. It also looks at strategies digital workers have used to combat unfair labor practices.