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Labor History: Published Primary Sources

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

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Selected Published Primary Sources in Tamiment

American Labor Unions' Constitutions and Proceedings, 1836-. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1983-. Given the diffusion of materials and the fact that the records of many defunct unions perished with the unions that created them, this is an extremely complete series. Entries are arranged alphabetically within twenty-two (loose) industry groups. Each entry is under the most recent official union name, and lists the union's affiliations, variant names, a brief chronology, and other basic information including referrals to related unions as well as mergers and successions (if material is available for the related unions). The entries are then divided into constitutions, proceedings, officers reports, and related documents. An index by union name and initials helps the user find the proper entry. The set, originally produced by another microfilm publisher, is now in microfiche as are the irregular supplements that bring it up to date. (Currently covering 1986-1990). This is a fundamental primary source for basic research. The proceedings are currently being cataloged in BobCat.

America's Working Women: A Documentary History, 1600 to the Present, Baxandall, Rosalyn, and Linda Gordon, eds. New York: Norton, 1995. Expanded and revised version of important 1976 collection, co-edited with Susan Reverby. Includes diverse selections from diaries, popular magazines, oral histories, letters, songs, fiction, etc., showing women's work and activism in broad array of contexts.  Tamiment Call #:  HD6095 .A662 1995.

A Documentary History of American Industrial Society, edited by John R. Commons. New York: Russell & Russell, 1958. 10 vols.  The 1910-1911 edition published by the A.H. Clark Company, Cleveland, OH, consists of 11 volumes, most of which have been digitized and made available online by the Internet Archive. Follow links below to the currently available digital editions:

Volume 1: Plantation and Frontier
Volume 2: Plantation and Frontier
Volume 3: Labor Conspiracy Cases, 1806-1842, Vol. 1
Volume 4: Labor Conspiracy Cases, 1806-1842, Vol. 2
Volume 4: Supp.
Volume 5: Labor Movement, 1820-1840, Vol. 1
Volume 6: Labor Movement, 1820-1840, Vol. 2
Volume 7: Labor Movement, 1840-1860, Vol. 1
Volume 8: Labor Movement, 1840-1860, Vol. 2
Volume 9: Labor Movement, 1860-1880, Vol. 1
Volume 10: Labor Movement, 1860-1880, Vol. 2
Volume 11

The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition / edited by Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John McMillian. New York: The New Press, 2004. A printed collection of primary source documents, arranged by subject. Chapter five concerns Land and Labor. 

Find Published Primary Sources

Use the search box on the left to search the catalog published primary sources at the Tamiment.  

Type in the box using keywords, titles, or author names.  A new window will open, taking your search to the catalog.  

On the left side of that page, you’ll see a list of links with “Limit My Results” at the top.  Click on “NYU Bobst Tamiment/Wagner” under “Library” to get results from the Tamiment only.

Collections on Microfilm

Though easy to overlook, microfilm is an excellent way to access primary source materials.  Tamiment holds more than 10,000 reels of microfilm containing serials, pamphlets, dissertations, books, and archival collections.  See the Collections on Microfilm page in this guide for more information.

Published Primary Sources - Women's History

See also the page on published primary sources related to Women's Labor History in this guide.

Tips for Finding Published Sources

To find published primary sources on your topic, try the following:

  • Add the word "sources" (no quotes necessary) to a Subject search in BobCat.

  • Add the words "documentary history" (with the quotes) to a Title search in BobCat.

Then, narrow your results by using the Subject, Library, Call Number Group, Language, and Date facets at the left of the screen.

Click on the subject headings in promising results to find additional items in the catalog.

Labor Highlights from Tamiment