Skip to main content

Labor History: Periodical Guides & Indexes

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

Periodical Guides

The sources listed below provide a great deal of information on trade union periodicals. In many you can look up the name of a union and see what journals it published. 

Also see the list of Periodical Indexes on Tamiment's website.

The American Labor Press: An Annotated Directory. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Public Affairs, 1940. Compiled at the University of Wisconsin as a WPA project, this directory lists 676 periodicals, including 30 from Canada. The titles are arranged by union federation (at this time, the AFL and CIO were separate organizations) including independent unions and cooperatives. It also includes union publications issued by left political parties and organizations, general labor publications, and a separate section for Canada. The information provided includes the size, average length, price, advertising policy, and more.  

American Labor Union Periodicals: A Guide to Their Location / Naas, Bernard G. and Carmelita J. Sakr. Ithaca: Cornell University, 1956. Begun under the sponsorship of the Committee of University Industrial Relations Librarians, this acts as a union serial list with entries for over 1,700 periodicals. While out of date for holdings and listing only twenty libraries, this guide does provide important information on each title in the traditional union list format. It is divided into two parts with separate indexes for each part. Part I includes periodicals of federations, national, and international unions and their locals; Part II contains the periodicals of regional organizations in both the United States and Canada. 

Annotations: A Guide to the Independent Critical Press. 3rd ed.  updated ed. / Marie F. Jones. Baltimore: Alternative Press Center; San Francisco: Independent Press Association, c2004. Documents and describes titles that were either indexed in the Alternative Press Index and/or members of the Independent Press Association as of Fall 1998. Entries are arranged alphabetically with subject index. Availability of full text and microform, periodical review, indexing and abstracting, subject index, publishing information, columnists and noted contributors, and other information is also included.    

The Immigrant Labor Press in North America, 1840s-1970s: An Annotated Bibliography / Dirk Hoerder. New York: Greenwood Press, c1987-. The Labor and Newspaper Preservation Project, based at the University of Bremen in Germany, has compiled an impressive guide to an important historical source. Covers Canada and the United States but excludes the publications of French-Canadian, Chicano, and Puerto Rican residents. It also omits those from South America, Asia, and Africa due to the "refusal" of any North American foundation to participate in the project. Each entry contains an introductory essay with endnotes, and a bibliography of sources. The annotated listings provide extensive bibliographic information. The listings are by ethnicity within a geographic region of Europe. Volume 1 covers Northern Europe: Danes, Finns, Icelanders, Norwegians, and Swedes. Volume 2 is Eastern and Southern Europe: Albanians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Byelorussians, Carpatho-Rusyns, Czechs, Estonians, Greeks, Hungarians, Jews, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Slovaks, Ukrainians, and Yugoslavians. Volume 3 contains Southern and Western Europe: "Dutch-Speaking Peoples," English and Scots, "French-Speaking Peoples," "German-Speaking Peoples," Irish, Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards, and Welsh. Each volume ends with a combined title index. The "Speaking Peoples" sections also have their own indexes. Scholarly introductory essays.  

Labor Papers on Microfilm; A Combined List. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1965. A list of labor papers published in the United States available on microfilm and is meant to complement Naas' American Labor Union Periodicals, a Guide to their Location (see above). Each entry is arranged by title (except where noted in parentheses) within a topical section: [national] unions (by union), state & local (by state and then city), socialist & communist, anarchist, liberal & reform, farmer organizations, and general periodicals. There are indexes and limited bibliographic information.

Trade Union Publications: The Official Journals, Convention Proceedings, and Constitutions of International Unions and Federations, 1850-1941 / Reynolds, Lloyd George and Charles C. Killingsworth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1944-45. 3 volumes subject index to journals and convention proceedings of fifty international union and federations. Indexing includes letters to the editor. Volume 1 is in two sections. Part I describes the project and indicates what was or was not indexed. Part II lists unions by industry. Volume 1 has its own indexes to unions and subjects covered in these two parts. Each union entry contains basic directory information followed by an evaluative section on its history and publications. Volumes 2 and 3 are the subject index to the union publications using fifteen hundred subject headings. There is a glossary of headings, explanation of the citation system, and a list of the unions indexed and their code numbers. An important and unique source of information. 

Selected Periodical Indexes in Tamiment

See a list of available Periodical Indexes on Tamiment's website.

Collection Highlights

Periodical Indexes

Following are periodical indexes useful for labor history research. For contemporary information, indexes to newspapers such as the New York Times and general periodical indexes should also be consulted.

Alternative Press Index
A bibliographic database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles from over 300 international alternative, radical, and left periodicals. Born of the New Left, the API was launched to provide access to the emerging theories and practices of radical social change.
1991 - present - online

Alternative Press Index Archive
A bibliographic database of journal, newspaper, and magazine articles from over 700 international alternative, radical, and left periodicals that cover the period of 1969 through 1990.
1969 - 1990 - online

Index to Labor Periodicals. New York: Labor Research Department, Rand School of Social Science, 1926-1927; later Index to Labor Articles. New York: Labor Research Department, Rand School of Social Science, 1928-1953. This publication was started because the Reader's Guide and other indexes did not include union and socialist publications in their coverage. Initially appearing monthly, it indexed union, socialist, and business journals to provide a more balanced coverage of issues of importance to labor. In addition to the subject index, each issue also lists the journals indexed. With the decline of the school and the growth of individual union research departments, the index was discontinued. It still provides the only published index of union publications for the years 1941-1950. Also available as part of Socialist Collections in the Tamiment Library. Ann Arbor: UMI.

The Left Index. Complete guide to the diverse literature of the Left, with an emphasis on political, economic, social and culturally engaged scholarship inside and outside academia. A secondary emphasis is on significant but little-known sources of news and ideas. Other topics covered include the labor movement, ecology and environment, race and ethnicity, social and cultural theory, sociology, art and aesthetics, philosophy, history, education, law, and globalization. Historically significant early Left publications, such as The People (established in New York, 1891), and The Class Struggle (1931-1937), along with classic texts by Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and others, written in the formative years of the Left, are also covered. Contains 120 drawers with author and subject cards indexing a variety of left publications. NYU researchers may access the online version at the above link.

Trade Union Publications: The Official Journals, Convention Proceedings, and Constitutions of International Unions and Federations, 1850-1941 / Reynolds, Lloyd George and Charles C. Killingsworth. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1944-45. Three volumes subject index to journals and convention proceedings of fifty international union and federations. Indexing includes letters to the editor. Volume 1 is in two sections. Part I describes the project and indicates what was or was not indexed. Part II lists unions by industry. Volume 1 has its own indexes to unions and subjects covered in these two parts. Each union entry contains basic directory information followed by an evaluative section on its history and publications. Volumes 2 and 3 are the subject index to the union publications using fifteen hundred subject headings. There is a glossary of headings, explanation of the citation system, and a list of the unions indexed and their code numbers. An important and unique source of information.

University of Michigan Index to Labor Union Periodicals. Ann Arbor: Bureau of Industrial Relations, Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Michigan, 1960-1966. This index was begun at the initiative of the Committee of University Industrial Relations Librarians. Forty-one titles were indexed in 1960, eventually growing to fifty titles by its end. It was continued for three years by Michigan Index to Labor Union Periodicals.

Work Related Abstracts. Detroit: Information Coordinators, 1973-87. Warren, MI.: Harmonie Park Press, 1988-1996. Indexing and abstracting of union periodicals including approximately 250 publications from labor, government, management, and other sources. Researchers should read the forward and consult the separately published biannual subject guides. An important indexing source for union publications.