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ILRLE 3450 Race and the American Labor Market in Historical Perspective: Kheel Center Resources

The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives in the ILR School’s Catherwood Library is one of the foremost archives in the country that documents both labor and management. Below you'll find some selected resources that can help you with researching your assignment.

Archival resources relating to family history may be available in the archives at the Kheel Center especially if they were a union organizer or in the leadership of a union affiliated with the Kheel Center’s collection strength including in the garment and textile industry, railroad industry, teachers unions, health and hospital workers union, fur worker, or involved with the International Workers Order/Jewish People’s Fraternal Order. Your relative may have attended the meetings of the local or office they were affiliated with, corresponded with officials, or attended union conventions. We also have the records of labor arbitrators and those in management positions in the aforementioned industries that the Kheel Center specializes in.  Searching through the Kheel Center’s guides will narrow down your family search.

You can also check out this comprehensive guide to all of the Kheel Center’s digital collections. It presents materials that are currently available online as well as others that are digitized and available by request.

For more information, please contact the Kheel Center:

ILGWU Publications

ILGWU Digital Publications

  1. The Ladies' Garment Worker - First published in April 1910, The Ladies’ Garment Worker was the official publication of the ILGWU through 1918. The journal appeared monthly and included sections in English, Italian, and Yiddish. The Ladies’ Garment Worker was replaced in January of 1919 by the new weekly journal, Justice.
  2. Justice - Justice was the official English-language publication of the ILGWU from 1919 to 1995. Currently 1919-1965 issues are available online; additional volumes have been digitized and may be requested from the Kheel Center. Editions of Justice were published in English, Italian, Spanish, and Yiddish. When compared side by side, different language editions do not have identical content
  3. Gerechtigkeit Gerechtigkeit was the Yiddish-language version of Justice, the official publication of the ILGWU. Published from 1919 to 1958, it addresses labor and employment issues in the clothing and textile industries. It also addresses wider concerns of the workers and the communities from which they come including health and safety, working conditions, collective bargaining, strikes, and labor-management collaboration. Editions of Justice were published in English, Italian, Spanish, and Yiddish. When compared side by side, different language editions do not have identical content.
  4. ILGWU Convention Reports and Proceedings, 1900-1929 - The ILGWU 1900 founding convention included 11 local delegates representing roughly 2,000 members. Reports and proceedings of the conventions were published annually from 1900-1908, biennially from 1908-1924, then sporadically until 1937. In addition to election of officers and committee reports, topics discussed include the women’s garment industry, working conditions, sweatshops, labor unity, organizing, wages and hours, union labels, boycotts, strikes, labor relations, internationalism, labor legislation, labor education, women’s rights, member benefits, and union health centers. The best available original was selected for digitization. Occasionally the original is difficult to read, missing pages, or partially cut off.

ILGWU Photograph Collections on Flickr

These Flickr albums contain a selection of images reflecting the public face of this influential, women’s-clothing industry union as it was documented over a period of 100 years.

International Ladies Garment Workers Union Photographs (1885-1985) on Flickr

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union Photographs on Artstor

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire - This exhibit site includes original sources and information pertaining to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, an industrial fire that occurred in New York City in 1911 that took the lives of 146 people in 18 minutes. This pivotal moment in history led to the transformation of the labor code of New York State and to the adoption of fire safety measures that served as a model for the whole country. This site includes:

  1. Survivor Interviews and Audio Recording featuring oral history interview recordings with Max Hochfield, Dora Maisler, and Pauline Pepe; transcripts derived from the survivor interviews; Frances Perkins’ lectures; and the Triangle Fire 50th Anniversary Commemoration.
  2. Photos & Illustrations including topics including workers and working conditions, shirtwaist strikes, Triangle fire mourning and protest, victims and survivors, commemoration, and reporting and trial of Triangle factory owners. These images were digitized from photographic prints, negatives, newspaper accounts, lantern slides, and editorial cartoons. High resolution images can be found on the Kheel Center Flickr website.
  3. Testimonials including selections from Leon Stein’s publications featuring Clara Lemlich, Rose Schneiderman, and other witnesses to the fire.
  4. Newspaper & Magazine Articles including excerpts about the fire from The New York Times, Chicago Sunday Tribune, Outlook, The Ladies Garment Worker, Literary Digest, and American Federationist.
  5. Reports including excerpts from the New York (State) Factory Investigating Commission, highlighting its creation, organization, scope, importance, and findings.
  6. Letters including correspondence from sweatshop reform activist Pauline Newman and journalist Charles Willis Thompson.
  7. Songs & Plays including "The Uprising of the Twenty Thousand"; the Ballad of the Triangle Fire; My Little Shirtwaist Fire; Episode V, The Triangle Fire from The Story of the ILGWU: A Radio Play in Six Episodes; and the Mournful Song of the Great Fire.
  8. Transcripts of Criminal Trial Against Triangle Owners consisting of full-text transcripts of the 1911 criminal trial against the owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory.


Kheel Center Resources: International Workers Order (IWO)

IWO Digital Collections at Cornell

Railroad Unions

We hold the following local files pertaining to the various railroad unions whose records we hold:

  1. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen: Original Ledger, Eugene Debs Lodge #1 (Oneonta, NY), 1885-1898; Lodge #105 (Oil Creek Lodge in Oil City, Pennsylvania); #262, Mobridge Lodge (South Dakota), 1920-1923; #595, Sunshine Lodge No. 595 in Albuquerque, New Mexico (1917-1945).
  2. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen: Lodge no. 543 (Jersey City), 1914-1926; Lodge # 907 in Auburn, NY, 1919-1950; and 1913 minute book for Lodge "Carpathia," no. 822, in Spokane, Washington.
  3. Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen: Lodge Divisions no. 115, El Capitan (San Francisco), 1892-1969 (fragmentary); Division no. 267, "Pacific" (Vancouver, British Columbia), 1891-1911; and Division no. 575, Paris, Tennessee,1965-1968.
  4. Switchmen Union of North America: Local 299, Cleveland, Ohio. There are also registers of insurance beneficiaries' claims, 1901-1964, which include names of members who were killed or injured on the job.
Here are a few other railroad collections that may also contain information on individuals:
  1. The Illinois Central Personnel files has grievance files from 1935-1960. If you know your ancestor worked for ICRR, that might be worth looking through. This collection also contains first person accounts from ICRR employees who served in WWII.
  2. The Ladies’ Auxiliaries collections sometimes have information of local members from the perspective of their wives.
  3. TWU Local 2001 files  has information on train employees in the Albany, NY area.
  4. BMoW (Cadosia, NY) records There are numerous personnel records in the Chicago and Northwestern RR records
  5. Chicago & Northwestern Transportation Company Records This collection contains grievances and filed claims, so they are organized by date in correspondence files.
  6.  ORC Local 642 has dues rolls.

Also, many old issues  of railroad union publications such as “The Railroad Trainman,” “The Journal of the Switchmen’s Union,”  the “Locomotive engineers journal,” and the “Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen’s Magazine” were scanned and are available full text up to 1922 at Hathitrust or in Google Books