Careers – Working Conditions – History of Labor Unions in the U.S.


Free online books, History of Labor Unions in the U.S., Working Conditions, History of Child Labor in the U.S., Organized Labor, Women Workers, American working class, Factory girls, Career guidance, Career Planning,



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Century Past Library

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Workers and Working Conditions

Women Workers

Child Labor

Organized Labor

Career Planning


Workers and Working Conditions

Work Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Work”. Be patient as the page loads.

Working Conditions Collection

Numerous free online books on the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Working Conditions”. Be patient as the page loads.

Quality of Work Life Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Quality of Work Life”. Be patient as the page loads.

Unemployment Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Unemployment”. Be patient as the page loads.

Hull-House Maps and Papers: a Presentation of Nationalities and Wages in a Congested District of Chicago

Hull-House Maps and Papers Book Cover

Crowell 1895         Dewey Dec.    331

Papers by residents of Hull-House (Chicago social .settlement) on the sweating system, wage-earning children, cloakmakers, Hebrew, Italian and Bohemian colonies, public charities, etc. – A.L.A.Catalog 1904

See also: Addams, Jane, Twenty Years at Hull-House, with Autobiographical Notes in Illinois Social History
Bowen, Louise de Koven, Growing up with a City in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History

Hull-House (Chicago, Ill.), Social settlements, Settlement house,

Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

Illegal People Book Cover

Bacon, David
Beacon 2008         Dewey Dec.    331.6

The author “follows the lives of undocumented workers at the Westin Suite Hotel in California and a Smithfield meatpacking plant in North Carolina, who travel back and forth from Mexico to the U.S. He examines the economic and social forces in both countries that lure workers to a market where they can earn higher wages but are vulnerable to exploitation … A fascinating look at trade and immigration policies and the people directly affected by them. -Booklist

LCSH Foreign Workers United States – LCSH Foreign Workers Developing Countries – LCSH Globalization Economic Aspects

The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutiérrez

The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez Book Cover

Breslin, Jimmy
Crown 2002         Dewey Dec.    331.6

“A true-life account of an illegal Mexican immigrant who died on a New York construction site, and of the dreary lives and modest ambitions common to Mexicans in this country.” -NY Times Book Rev

LCSH Foreign Workers Mexican New York – LCSH Illegal Aliens New York

Selected Articles on Unemployment

Selected Articles on Unemployment Book Cover

Johnsen, Julia E., comp.
H. W. Wilson 1915         Dewey Dec.    331.1

In the first decades of the 20th century publisher H.W. Wilson produced many volumes in its Debaters’ Handbook Series on social and political issues that were under discussion at the time. Each book contains the full text of selected articles and documents representing opposing views on the issue, along with a substantial bibliography of books and articles.

Most of the books mentioned in these guides are likely to be freely available online. Search by title; first at the Internet Archive (archive.org), then at HathiTrust.org. Referenced magazine articles may also be available online at the same sites, with HathiTrust the preferred site for magazines.

State of the Union: A Century of American Labor

State of the Union Book Cover

Lichtenstein, Nelson
Princeton Univ. 2002         Dewey Dec.    331

The author “analyzes the history of the labor movement from the 1930’s to the present in the context of U.S. economics, politics, and democracy and from this he formulates ideas about where labor may find opportunities in this new century.” -Libr J.

LCSH Labor Movement United States History – LCSH Employee Rights United States History – LCSH Labor United States History

From the Folks who Brought you the Weekend: A Short, Illustrated History of Labor in the United States

From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend Book Cover

Murolo, Priscilla and Chitty, A. B.
Norton 2001         Dewey Dec.    331

“Brandishing little-known facts, the authors reshape common views of social history.” -Publ Wkly

LCSH Labor United States History – LCSH Labor Movement United States History

White Capital and Coloured Labour

White Capital and Colored Labor Book Cover

Olivier, Sydney
London: Independent Labour Party 1910         Dewey Dec.    331.6

A volume in “The Socialist Library”, edited by Labour Member of Parliament Ramsay MacDonald.

Selected Articles on Minimum Wage

Selected Articles on Minimum Wage Book Cover

Reely, Mary Katharine, comp.
H. W. Wilson 1917         Dewey Dec.    331.2

In the first decades of the 20th century publisher H.W. Wilson produced many volumes in its Debaters’ Handbook Series on social and political issues that were under discussion at the time. Each book contains the full text of selected articles and documents representing opposing views on the issue, along with a substantial bibliography of books and articles.

Most of the books mentioned in these guides are likely to be freely available online. Search by title; first at the Internet Archive (archive.org), then at HathiTrust.org. Referenced magazine articles may also be available online at the same sites, with HathiTrust the preferred site for magazines.

Working in America: An Eyewitness History

Reef, Catherine
Facts on File 2000        Dewey Dec.    305

“Traces the history of labor in the United States, discussing how the work force was affected by slavery, Western expansion, war, the civil rights movement, and other key events in American history.
Eyewitness History is an interdisciplinary and multicultural series that reveals how significant events were seen and interpreted by people from all levels of society. Excerpts from primary sources — memoirs, diaries, letters, newspapers, speeches, advertisements, and more — provide a wide range of viewpoints and enhance a compelling narrative, prompting students to develop the critical-thinking skills that allow them to construct their own opinions about the people and their times.
” -Publisher.

Contents: The yeoman farmer: 1783-1900 — The role of enslaved workers: 1619-1865 — The factory system emerges: 1733-1865 — Building a transportation network: 1794-1900 — The mining frontier: 1719-1900 — Industry in the Gilded Age: 1870-1914 — Labor organizes: 1788-1918 — The cowboy: 1840-1886 — The movement to end child labor: 1875-1924 — The Great Depression: 1929-1941 — The labor movement in growth and decline: 1917-1999 — African Americans seek equality in the workplace: 1865-1996 — The changing role of women: 1776-1999 — The American worker faces the future: 1946-1999 — Appendix A: Documents — Appendix B: Biographies of major personalities — Appendix C: Maps

LCSH Labor Supply United States History

The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 million Americans and their Families

The Betrayal of Work Book Cover

Shulman, Beth
New Press 2003         Dewey Dec.    331.2

The author “analyzes one of the downsides of the ‘new economy’, the large number of American jobs that pay poverty-level wages, have few or no benefits, and create childcare nightmares.” -Libr J.

America’s Working People

America's Working People Book Cover

Spahr, Charles B.
Longmans 1900         Dewey Dec.    331

Based on personal study of conditions in New England and southern factory towns, Pennsylvania coal mines. Homestead iron mills, Chicago trades unions, farming districts of Minnesota and Dakota, and among negroes and Mormons. – A.L.A.Catalog 1904

Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do

Working Book Cover

Terkel, Studs
Ballantine 1985         Dewey Dec.    331.2

Based on interviews, this study describes the working lives and feelings of people engaged in occupations ranging from interstate truck driver to stockbroker to bookbinder to corporation president. “This is not a dry, academic treatise but a sensitive portrayal of the experience of working, with all its pain, tension, frustrations, and occasional satisfactions.” -Best Sellers

Day with a Tramp, and Other Days

A Day with a Tramp Book Cover

Wyckoff, Walter A.
Scribner 1901         Dewey Dec.    331

Contents: A day with a tramp: With Iowa farmers; A section-hand on the Union Pacific railway; A burro-puncher: Incidents of the slums.
Based on author’s experiences while making sociologic investigations as a day laborer.- A.L.A.Catalog 1904

The Workers: an Experiment in Reality. The East

– Volume 2: The West

The Workers, An Experiment in Reality Book Cover

Wyckoff, Walter A.
Scribner 1897-98         Dewey Dec.    331 P R

The East. Two months’ voluntary experience of a college-bred investigator, working as builder’s helper, summer hotel porter, farmhand, in a Pennsylvania logging camp, and while tramping between places.
The West. Further experiences as a day laborer in Chicago and in working his way westward to Pacific coast.- A.L.A.Catalog 1904

Modern Social Movements; Descriptive Summaries and Bibliographies

Modern Social Movements Book Cover

Zimand, Savel
NY: Wilson 1921         Dewey Dec.    16.3, 331

Chapter headings are: Trade unionism, The Cooperative Movement, Proposed Experiments in Industrial Democracy, – Copartnership, – National Industrial Councils, – The Plumb Plan, The Single Tax, Socialism, Guild Socialism, Syndicalism, Bolshevism, Anarchism


Women Workers

Working Women Collection

Numerous free online books on the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Women Working”. Be patient as the page loads.

Selected Articles on the Employment of Women

Selected Articles on the Employment of Women Book Cover

Bullock, Edna D. and Johnsen, Julia E., comps.
H. W. Wilson 1920         Dewey Dec.    331.4

In the first decades of the 20th century publisher H.W. Wilson produced many volumes in its Debaters’ Handbook Series on social and political issues that were under discussion at the time. Each book contains the full text of selected articles and documents representing opposing views on the issue, along with a substantial bibliography of books and articles.

Most of the books mentioned in these guides are likely to be freely available online. Search by title; first at the Internet Archive (archive.org), then at HathiTrust.org. Referenced magazine articles may also be available online at the same sites, with HathiTrust the preferred site for magazines. Some popular magazines of the day are also available on this Century Past website at General serials (Magazines) and their indexes.

Woman Wage-earners: their Past, their Present and their Future

Women Wage Earners Book Cover

Campbell, Helen
Roberts 1893         Dewey Dec.    331.4

Includes a bibliography of woman’s labor and of the woman question. – A.L.A.Catalog 1904

Also see:Bedient, Ethel Louise, The Entrance of Women into the Occupations in Illinois in Illinois Social History Books and Articles

How Women May Earn a Living

How Women May Earn a Living Book Cover

Candee, Helen Churchill
Macmillan 1900         Dewey Dec.    331.4

Outlines a variety of occupations requiring little time for preparation and gives briefly the requirements, attractions, discouragements and probable remuneration of each. Suggestive and sensible. A.L.A.Catalog 1904

Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

Factory Girls Book Cover

Chang, Leslie T.
Spiegel & Grau 2008         Dewey Dec.    331.4

“An exceptionally vivid and compassionate depiction of the day-to-day dramas, and the fears and aspirations, of the real people who are powering China’s economic boom.” -NY Times Book Rev.

LCSH Manufacturing industries China Employees – LCSH Women Migrant Labor China – LCSH Young Women Employment China

Educated Working Women; Essays on the Economic Position of Women Workers in the Middle Classes

Educated Working Women Book Cover

Collet, Clara E.
King 1902         Dewey Dec.    331.4

Full of suggestion, tersely and forcibly written, with touches of humor and happy quotations.- A.L.A.Catalog 1904

Report of the Bureau of Labor on the Conditions of Wage-Earning Women and Girls – 1914 Report

Report of the Bureau of Labor on the Conditions of Wage-Earning Women and Girls – 1916 Report

Report on the Condition of Wage-Earning Women and Girls Book Cover

Holloway, Charlotte Molyneux Holloway
State of Connecticut 1914 and 1916         Dewey Dec.    331.4

The author was an industrial investigator appointed by the state of Connecticut in 1913 to look into working conditions and wages for women in a number of industries.

Out to Work

Out to Work Book Cover

Kessler-Harris, Alice
Oxford Univ. 2003         Dewey Dec.    331.4

“This work remains a landmark in the field of analyzing the history of women’s work in the United States from Colonial times to the Reagan era.” -Libr J.

LCSH Women Employment United States History – LCSH Working Class Women United States History

The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman’s Work

The Employments of Women Book Cover

Penny, Virginia
Boston: Walker, Wise 1863         Dewey Dec.    331.4

The author, Virginia Penny, dedicated this book, “To Worthy and Industrious Women in the United States, striving to earn a livelihood”.

In the preface she explained that she researched and wrote this book to help women to earn a respectable livelihood. She said that, “the few employments that have been open to women are more than full. To withdraw a number from the few markets of female labor already crowded to excess, by directing them to avenues where they are wanted, would thereby benefit both parties.” The book was written during the Civil War, and she wrote that, “a million of men are on the battle field, and thousands of women, formerly dependent on them, have lost or may lose their only support.” But the need for jobs for women was not a temporary condition that would end with the war. She is intent in helping to open up to women occupations customarily closed to them. She also strongly advocates “… the plan of every female having a practical knowledge of some occupation by which to earn a livelihood.” “If a female is not taught some regular occupation by which to earn a living, what can she do, when friends die, and she is without means?”

The author collected the information in this volume in New York City from 1859 to 1961. She corresponded with or visited hundreds of workplaces, and talked to managers and employees. The work contains 533 articles; more than 500 of them descriptions of occupations in which women were or could be engaged, with descriptions of working conditions, effects on the health, wage rates, a comparison of wages for men and women, time required to learn the business, and other information.

See also: Bedient, Ethel Louise, The Entrance of Women into the Occupations in Illinois in Illinois Social History Books and Articles

Loom and Spindle or Life Among the Early Mill Girls

With a sketch of “The Lowell Offering” and some of its Contributors

Loom and Spindle Book Cover

Robinson, Harriet H.
Crowell 1898         Dewey Dec.    331.4

A history and description of life at the Lowell cotton mills in the 1830s and 1840s, by a woman who had lived and worked there. The “Lowell Offering” was a literary periodical produced by a group of the mill girls.

How Six Girls Made Money; or, Occupations for Women

How Six Girls Made Money Book Cover

Roe, Marion Edmonds
Brethren’s 1887         Dewey Dec.    331.4

Women and Economics; a Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution

Women and Economics Book Cover

Stetson, Charlotte Perkins
Small 1898         Dewey Dec.    331.4

Will be widely read and discussed as the cleverest, fairest, most forcible presentation of the views of the rapidly increasing group who l(X)k with favor on extension of industrial employment of women. – A.L.A.Catalog 1904

The Woman Who Toils; Being the Experiences of Two Gentlewomen as Factory Girls

The Woman Who Toils Book Cover

Van Vorst, Mrs. John (Bessie) and Van Vorst, Marie
Doubleday, Page 1903         Dewey Dec.    331.4

Two wealthy young ladies from Boston separately spent several months disguised as working girls, working in factories and taking rooms among the working classes. They each described their experiences and the conditions they found. Parts and chapters are:
Part 1 by Mrs. John Van Vorst: 1. Introductory, 2. In a Pittsburg Factory, 3. Perry, a New York Mill Town, 4. Making Clothing in Chicago, 5. The Meaning of it All
Part 2 by Marie Van Vorst: 6. Introductory, 7. A Maker of Shoes at Lynn, 8. The Southern Cotton Mills, 9. The Child in the Southern Mills


Child Labor

Child Labor Collection

Numerous free online books on the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Child Labor”. Be patient as the page loads.

Selected Articles on Child Labor

Selected Articles on Child Labor Book Cover

Bullock, Edna D., comp.
H. W. Wilson 1911         Dewey Dec.    331.3

In the first decades of the 20th century publisher H.W. Wilson produced many volumes in its Debaters’ Handbook Series on social and political issues that were under discussion at the time. Each book contains the full text of selected articles and documents representing opposing views on the issue, along with a substantial bibliography of books and articles.

Most of the books mentioned in these guides are likely to be freely available online. Search by title; first at the Internet Archive (archive.org), then at HathiTrust.org. Referenced magazine articles may also be available online at the same sites, with HathiTrust the preferred site for magazines.

Children for Hire

Children for Hire Book Cover

Levine, Marvin J.
Praeger 2003         Dewey Dec.    331.3

The author “analyzes the working conditions of people under 18, the legal context for their employment and exploitation, and the impact of such labor upon the education and development of America’s young people. An important book about a hidden problem.” -Libr J.

LCSH Child Labor United States – LCSH Industrial Safety United States – LCSH Agricultural Laborers United States


Organized Labor

Organized Labor Collection

Numerous free online books on the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Organized Labor”. Be patient as the page loads.

Labor Unions Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Labor Unions”. Be patient as the page loads.

Selected Articles on The Closed Shop

Selected Articles on the Closed Shop Book Cover

Beman, Lamar T., comp.
H. W. Wilson 1922         Dewey Dec.    331.8

In the first decades of the 20th century publisher H.W. Wilson produced many volumes in its Debaters’ Handbook Series on social and political issues that were under discussion at the time. Each book contains the full text of selected articles and documents representing opposing views on the issue, along with a substantial bibliography of books and articles.

Most of the books mentioned in these guides are likely to be freely available online. Search by title; first at the Internet Archive (archive.org), then at HathiTrust.org. Referenced magazine articles may also be available online at the same sites, with HathiTrust the preferred site for magazines.

Selected Articles on Modern Industrial Movements

Selected Articles on Modern Industrial Movements Book Cover

Bloomfield, Daniel, comp.
NY: Wilson 1919         Dewey Dec.    331

A volume in the publisher’s “Handbook Series. In addition to the selection of articles it contains a bibliography. Topics covered are:- Workers’ Co-operative Movement, – Syndicalism, Industrial Unionism, and the I.W.W., – Shop Stewards, – Scientific Management, – Guild Socialism, – Management Sharing, – Bolshevism, – Labor Parties

Selected Articles on Trade Unions

Selected Articles on Trade Unions Book Cover

Bullock, Edna D., comp.
H. W. Wilson 1913         Dewey Dec.    331.8

In the first decades of the 20th century publisher H.W. Wilson produced many volumes in its Debaters’ Handbook Series on social and political issues that were under discussion at the time. Each book contains the full text of selected articles and documents representing opposing views on the issue, along with a substantial bibliography of books and articles.

Most of the books mentioned in these guides are likely to be freely available online. Search by title; first at the Internet Archive (archive.org), then at HathiTrust.org. Referenced magazine articles may also be available online at the same sites, with HathiTrust the preferred site for magazines.

Organized Labor, its Problems, Purposes and Ideals, and the Present and Future of American Wage Earners

Organized Labor Book Cover

Mitchell, John
American Book and Bible 1903         Dewey Dec.    331.8

The author was President of the United Mine Workers.


Career Planning

Careers Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Careers”. Be patient as the page loads.

Career Planning Collection

Numerous free online books on the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Career Guidance”. Be patient as the page loads.

Job Hunting Collection

Numerous free online books at the Internet Archive, resulting from a search for books on “Careers – Job Hunting”. Be patient as the page loads.

The Work-at-Home Sourcebook

The Work at Home Sourcebook Book Cover

Arden, Lynie
Live Oak 2005        Dewey Dec.    338.7

“Each entry in this helpful listing of firms that hire freelancers and franchises that can be home-based includes contact information and advice on how to get one’s foot in the door. The book also features directories of marketplaces for handicrafts and online certification programs.” -Libr J.

LCSH Home Labor United States Directories – LCSH Home-based Businesses United States

100 Fastest-Growing Careers: Your Complete Guidebook to Major Jobs with the Most Growth and Openings

100 Fastest Growing Careers Book Cover

Farr, J. Michael
JIST Works 2006         Dewey Dec.    331.7

“Provides information about pay, outlook, education, and skills needed to obtain some of the most promising jobs in the world of work.” – Publisher

LCSH Vocational Guidance United States – LCSH Job Hunting United States – LCSH Employment Forecasting United States

Top 100 Careers for College Graduates: Your Complete Guidebook to Major Jobs in Many Fields

Top 100 Careers for College Graduates Book Cover

Farr, J. Michael
JIST Works 2007         Dewey Dec.    331.7

“Provides information about pay, outlook, education, and skills needed to obtain some of the most promising jobs in the world of work.” – Publisher

Occupational Outlook Handbook

Occupational Outlook Handbook Book Cover

U.S. Dept of Labor
Claitor’s 2012         Dewey Dec.    331.7

“Gives information on employment trends and outlook in more than 800 occupations. Indicates nature of work, qualifications, earnings and working conditions, how to enter, where to go for more information, etc.” -Guide to Ref Books

LCSH Labor Supply United States – LCSH Vocational Guidance United States – LCSH Occupations United States


Century Past Library

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