The SG Signature Papers

VOL. 1:  THE MAKING OF A UNION LEADER,  1850-1886

Volume 1 takes Gompers from his birth to his election, at age 36, as first president of the American Federation of Labor. The Knights of Labor, the New York City labor movement, the Henry George political campaign and the cigarmakers' fight against tenement production are major subjects.


VOL. 2:   THE EARLY YEARS OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR, 1887-1890

Volume 2 documents the rise of the AFL as one of the nation's leading labor organizations. Rich correspondence with P.J. McGuire, Terence V. Powderly, and others traces the roots of factional struggles that shaped Gompers' trade union strategy. The eight-hour movement, the campaign to pardon the Haymarket defendants, and the growing importance of the Socialist Labor party are highlighted.

VOL. 3:  UNREST AND DEPRESSION,  1891-1894

Volume 3 focuses on the American Federation of Labor during one of the worst economic depressions of the 19th century. Massive and often violent strikes, including the Homestead steel strike, the New Orleans general strike, the miners' strike in Coeur d' Alene, and the American Railway Union Pullman strike, set the tone for this exciting and dynamic period. Volume 3 also includes the report of the debate over the 1894 "Political Programme".

VOL. 4:  A NATIONAL LABOR MOVEMENT TAKES SHAPE, 1895-1898

Volume 4 covers a dramatic period of growth and conflict in the labor movement. While the AFL broadened its organization in the South and West, the Western Labor Union, the Socialist Trade and Labor Alliance, and the Knights of Labor all contested Gompers' leadership. Highlights include Gompers' "sabbatical" in 1895, the United Mine Workers' 1897 strike, the Lattimer Massacre, and the Western Federation of Miners' decision to join, and then leave, the AFL.

VOL. 5:  AN EXPANDING MOVEMENT AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY, 1898-1902

Volume 5 spans a period of American history marked by industrial expansion, a rising standard of living, low unemployment, and a flourishing labor movement.   With money to spend on organizers and striking workers, the AFL saw its membership grow from 250,000 to over a million men and women.   Fights over jurisdiction also increased, as did competition with the Western Labor Union.   Gompers'  interest in the National Civic Federation, the Cuba Libre Movement, and federal labor legislation are well represented.

VOL. 6:  THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR AND THE RISE OF PROGRESSIVISM, 1902-1906

Volume 6 covers a critical period of labor history: the rise of the open-shop movement, the increasing importance of the injunction as an anti-labor tool, and the birth of the Industrial Workers of the World, better known as the IWW. Documents include reports from the IWW's founding convention, correspondence generated by the Danbury Hatters' case, and reports from Gompers' organizing trips to Puerto Rico and the West Coast.


VOL. 7:  THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR UNDER SIEGE, 1906-1909

Volume 7 opens with "Labor's Bill of Grievances," the AFL's appeal to Congress and the President that marked a new political chapter in the Federation's history. Volume 7 also covers significant events that contributed to this shift: the U.S Supreme Court's 1908 ruling that the Sherman Antitrust Act applied to organized labor, the increasing hostility of the open-shop movement, and the AFL's inability to get Congress to act on the eight-hour bill, the seamen's bill, employer liability laws, and other labor-related legislation. Documenting Gompers' role in the AFL's campaign against Republican Congressman Charles Littlefield and Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon, this volume also covers significant institutional changes including the formation of the Building Trades and Metal Trades Departments, the IWW's increasing visibility as an alternative labor organization, and Gompers' efforts to broaden the influence of trade unionism in Canada and throughout Europe, as well as in Puerto Rico and Cuba.

VOL. 8:  PROGRESS AND REACTION IN THE  AGE OF REFORM, 1909-1913

Focusing on industrial triumphs and tragedies -- including the creation of the U.S. Department of Labor, the ILGWU's "Uprising of the Twenty Thousand" strike, the Cherry Hill mine disaster, and the bombing of the Los Angeles Times building by the McNamara brothers-- Volume 8 tells the story of the AFL's Labor Forward organizing campaign, the socialists' fight against the National Civic Federation, the IWW's dramatic resurgence, and the growing importance of new groups of workers, including women, and non-English speaking immigrants, to the labor movement.

To learn more about this volume, and the significant issues it covers, please read our introduction.

Index A-L, M-Z


VOL. 9:  THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR AT THE HEIGHT OF PROGRESSIVISM, 1913-1917

Spanning a volatile period of industrial conflict, revolutionary upheavals in Mexico, and cataclysmic war in Europe, Volume 9 covers the passage of the Clayton Antitrust Act – labor's so-called Magna Carta – the Ludlow Massacre, the growing influence of the U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations, the controversial rise of the military "preparedness" movement, and Gompers' efforts to keep the United States out of Mexican affairs. Heated debates over industrial unionism, eight-hour legislation, and the role of social reformers and intellectuals in the organized labor movement are also an important part of the story, and so are a wide range of activists, including Frank P. Walsh, Duncan McDonald, Morris Hillquit, "Mother" Jones, Margaret Dreier Robins, Tom Mooney, Joe Hill, and Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson – a former coal miner and union leader.

To learn more about this volume, and the significant issues it covers, please read our introduction.

VOL. 10: THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR
AND THE GREAT WAR, 1917-18

Volume 10 follows Gompers to the highpoint of his career, when wartime demands put a premium on all-out production and opened new opportunities for the labor movement. Focusing on the AFL's pragmatic pledge to support the war effort, and Gompers' emergence as a national policymaker, it covers a period of intense debate over the meaning of patriotism, the limits of individual freedom, and the value of democracy. Primary documents chart the evolution of a new relation with the federal government and the rise of labor-adjustment boards that supported the eight-hour day, equal pay for equal work, and labor's right to organize. And they chronicle Gompers’ wartime trip to Europe to bolster morale and his ongoing efforts to strengthen international labor ties. Other highlights include the Bisbee deportations, the stockyards labor organizing campaign, the IWW's free-speech movement, the Tom Mooney case, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Saint Louis Race Riot, and Gompers' controversial agreement to forgo labor's fight for the "closed" union shop for the duration of the war.

To learn more about this volume, and the significant issues it covers, please read our introduction.


VOL. 11: THE POSTWAR YEARS, 1918-1921

Volume 11 of the Samuel Gompers Papers documents a pivotal moment in labor history, when the wartime promise of industrial democracy gave way to business as usual in the postwar world. Spanning a turbulent period of wildcat strikes, racial unrest, and political experimentation, this volume presents the efforts of Gompers and the AFL to defend collective bargaining, protect hard-won wartime gains, and advance labor's role as a partner in economic prosperity and social progress. Highlights include the Seattle General Strike, the 1919 coal and steel strikes, the rise of the "American" open-shop plan, and John L. Lewis's unsuccessful campaign to replace Gompers as AFL president. Documents also illuminate Gompers's participation in the Versailles Peace Conference, his involvement with anti-immigration legislation, the founding of the AFL's Nonpartisan Political Campaign Committee, and the demands of black and women workers in the postwar era.

To learn more about this volume, and the significant issues it covers, please read our introduction.



VOL. 12: THE LAST YEARS, 1922-24

Documenting the final years of Gompers' life, Volume 12 covers a period of challenges and change. Ascendant Republicans were hostile. Conflicts over tactics and strategies divided the labor movement. And continuing unemployment kept the workforce in check. Despite all this, Gompers "kept the faith," helping revitalize the AFL's nonpartisan political efforts, launching a campaign to organize women workers, and strengthening the Pan-American Federation of Labor. At the same time, he challenged government agencies like the Railroad Labor Board and continued his efforts to abolish child labor and fight labor injunctions.

Although historians often assess these years as the most conservative and least productive period of Gompers's life, this final volume of the Samuel Gompers Papers demonstrates that even in this tumultuous time he continued his forward-looking leadership of the labor movement and retained his keen sense of judgment

To learn more about this volume, and the significant issues it covers, please read our introduction.

Labor History
SG Biography
SG Quotations
AFL
Knights of Labor
IWW
Time Line

The SG Papers
The Project
Book Edition
Documents
Microfilm Edition
To Order

Research Tools Bibliography
Index to Volumes
Micro Reel Lists
Subject Guides
Labor Links
Glossary

Contact Us
Home