Are there working men and women in your family tree or in the book you are working on? In honor of Labor Day 2012, let’s look at a couple of excellent places to find out what the experiences of the people you are writing about might have been like. Both offer the kind of social history to add interest and detail to bring family history and historical fiction or nonfiction to life.
Northern Illinois University offers an excellent source on its Labor History Links page.
This site provides links to everything you could hope to find about labor history: Bibliographies, Research Portals, Digitized Collections of Primary Sources, Digitized Labor Journals/Directories/Proceedings, Guides to Primary Source Materials, Labor Terms & Quotes, Organizations of Labor History, and Journals in the Field. It’s a great place for a researcher to start.
The University of Washington Library offers an excellent webpage History: Labor: A research guide to primary and secondary sources for labor history. It provides topically organized documents under the headings: Strikes, Unrest & Tragedies and Working Conditions and Working Life. In addition the library offers: Additional Primary Sources, Unions, and Union Magazines & Newspapers, The library also provides an excellent collection of links to Photographs and Posters.
Good research is essential to give your reader a sense of time and place. If you are writing about events related top working people there’s no better starting point than the ones available on these sites.