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History Vault: Workers, Labor Unions, and the American Left in the 20th Century: Federal Records

Content in this Module

Workers, Labor Unions, and the American Left in the 20th Century: Federal Records  (Module 31)

This module consists of a wide range of collections documenting the American workers and labor unions in the 20th century, with a special emphasis on the interaction between workers and the U.S. federal government.
 
The collection opens with Strike Files of the U.S. Department of Justice, records of the Woodrow Wilson Administration and American Workers and records on U.S. government surveillance of radical workers. Strike Files of the U.S. Department of Justice provides a remarkably complete record of the Department of Justice’s evolving policies of intervention in labor disputes and documentation on the major strikes during the period from 1894-1920. The Wilson Administration files consist of Papers of the National War Labor Board (NWLB), Papers of the President’s Mediation Commission, and records of the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations. The NWLB records provide a remarkable window into the daily operations of private industry during a time of radical social change. The Papers of the President’s Mediation Commission cover labor struggles by Arizona and Montana copper miners, the infamous deportation of Industrial Workers of the World-affiliated miners in Arizona in July 1917, and the tumultuous situation among workers in the Chicago meat-packing industry. The government surveillance files consist of U.S. Military Intelligence Reports on radicals from 1917-1941 and Department of Justice investigations of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the Communist Party, and the use of military force by the federal government in domestic disturbances between 1900 and 1938. The U.S. Military Intelligence Reports contain significant files on IWW strikes and organizing efforts during and immediately after World War I. There are also files on anarchist, socialist, social democratic, and libertarian groups. The other collections in this module covering unemployment relief in the 1930s, farm tenancy, labor strife during World War II, and records on migratory labor in the 1950s and 1960s.