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Labor Collections

Beginning in the 1890s the Wisconsin Historical Society became one of the first institutions in the country to actively collect historical materials related to labor and working class movements. Consequently the Society Library-Archives holds outstanding labor history resources.

Particular strengths of the holdings include working class political, radical and reform movements, the nineteenth century origins of Marxism in the United States, worker education, labor economics and history, and the trade union movement. In the Library the holdings of labor newspapers, periodicals, and pamphlets is unparalleled. Noteworthy Archives collections include the International Workingmen's Association, the Socialist Labor Party, Victor Berger, John R. Commons, Adolph Germer, and John L. Lewis. Also in the holdings are the records of the American Federation of Labor, 1888-1955, and the records of eleven international unions including the International Association of Machinists, United Packinghouse Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the Textile Workers Union of America.

Reference Resources

  • ArCat.
  • Danky, James P. and Miller, Harold L., “Sources forStudy of the Labor Movement at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin,” Labor History, Vol. 31 (Winter-Spring, 1990), p. 176-184.
  • Ham, F. Gerald & Hedstrom, Margaret (eds), A Guide to Labor Papers in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, (1978).


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