Skip to main content

Labor History: Photos, Films, Graphics

A guide to U.S. labor history resources in NYU's Tamiment Library and beyond.

Search Finding Aids

Search Finding Aids

Finding Nonprint Collections

Browse our Collections List to identify collections and link to finding aids and descriptions.

Search finding aids using the box above to find processed collections.  

Once you’ve found a collection that you’d like to access, write down the collection name, number, and box numbers you’re interested in.  For example, “Alger Hiss Family Papers TAM.314, Boxes 1, 2, & 3”.  Bring your list to the Tamiment when you visit us or email us at tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu to get more information on how to view them.  Please note that some materials are held offsite and may take from two business days to a week to arrive for your use.

Search BobCat to find cataloged collections.

Labor Films @ LC

Consult the extremely useful bibliography and guide to labor-related films in the Library of Congress to identify films on your topic.  The guide also includes recommendations for background reading. 

Digital Images & Collections

A small but growing number of collections and portions of collections have been digitized and are on display through the Tamiment website.

These include posters and photographs in ARTstor and a number of online exhibits, as well as within the finding aid to the Fifteenth International Brigade Photographic Unit Photographs Collection, which documents the participation by American volunteers on the side of the Republican government in the Spanish Civil War. Some, but not all, of these digitized images may be reproduced.

Overview of Nonprint Collections in the Tamiment Library

Photographs, film, videotapes, posters and memorabilia provide a rich visual record of the history of labor and radical politics. Much of this visual material doesn't just supplement information in manuscript collections and papers--it can also provide evidence that is not available in written sources.

Photographs: Tamiment has close to one million photographs documenting a wide range of subjects including: union organizing, the workplace, the shop floor, the changing nature of work, strikes, rallies, demonstrations, progressive political campaigns, socialists, communists, anarchists, and members of other leftist organizations. They also depict working class resorts, summer camps, New York City street scenes and architecture. Photographs from the collection are often used in films, television programs, books, exhibits, and websites. They have also been displayed at both union gatherings and academic conferences.

Rose Schneiderman

Rose Schneiderman (1884-1972), posing at sewing machine, 1908. Rose Schneiderman Photographs Collection (Photos 10).

A small but growing number of these photographs have been digitized and are on display through the Tamiment website. These include the United Automobile Workers of America, District 65 Photographs Collection in ARTstor (available to NYU-affiliated researchers only); images within the finding aid to the Fifteenth International Brigade Photographic Unit Photographs Collection, which document participation by American volunteers on the side of the Republican government in the Spanish Civil War; and photographs featured in online exhibits via the Tamiment website. Some, but not all, of these digitized images may be reproduced.

Graphic Materials: The Library has a poster and broadside collection of more than 2,000 items, a number of original paintings and drawings, several thousand original pen and ink political cartoons, and more than 6,000 political buttons, as well as t-shirts, picket signs, banners, bumper stickers and other artifacts.

A selection of 1,500 of posters from Tamiment's graphics collection have been digitized and are on display in a ARTstor (available to NYU-affiliated researchers only). Selected posters are also featured in online exhibits via the Tamiment website. Some, but not all, of these digitized images may be reproduced.

Moving Images: Hundreds of video documentaries and feature films dealing with labor history and radical politics have been acquired through funding by the Jacob Blaufarb Endowment and the New York State Council on the Arts, as well as by direct donation. Videotapes cannot be borrowed but may be viewed at the Avery Fisher Center (Bobst Library, 2nd floor). A catalogue of these titles may be consulted at the Library. Among these works are two videos produced by Tamiment Library itself, drawing from two of its most important collections: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: The Rebel Girl and They Were Not Silent: The Jewish Labor Movement and the Holocaust.

The Library also holds more than 40 hours of archival film footage (including out-takes and unedited footage) which are described in a finding aid to the collection. These materials may be screened for research purposes, and some of them may be licensed. More archival film footage is available for research purposes only (contact the Nonprint Archivist for information on these materials, which are described in an offline database). The collections also include several hundred hours of film that are part of the Library's Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and Communications Workers of America collections, a small portion of which is available for research, but not for licensing.

Images Online

These are just a few of the myriad sources of images online. For information on finding additional sources, consult the Bobst Library research guide Finding Art Reproductions, Illustrations, & Pictures.                   

American Memory - Library of Congress
Free and open access through to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials are from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions and chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America.  

AP Photo Image
A subscription-based electronic library containing the Associated Press' current year's photo report and a selection of images from their negative and print library dating from the 1500s. Today, the Archive contains 700,000 photos, most of which are contemporary images made since late 1995, and grows daily as hundreds of new photos enter the Archive from AP's worldwide picture report. Photos may be downloaded or printed.  Available to the NYU community from this link.

ARTstor
A subscription database available to NYU researchers from this link containing digital images from NYU's collections along with other institutions.  The NYU collection includes more than 1,500 color posters from the United States and more than 30 countries and dating from 1904 to 1991, and 5,600 black and white images spanning the late 1930s through the early 1960s from the collection of District 65/UAW, a New York City-based labor union of warehouse, retail, and white collar workers from the collections of the Tamiment Library.  

Google Images
A vast resource for images on all topics, including labor history.

Tamiment Highlights