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March Is Women's (Labor) History Month

Published Monday, March 1, 2021
by The American Labor Studies Center
March Is Women's (Labor) History Month

A number of events and activities commemorating Women's (Labor) History Month are being held across America and in classrooms in our Nation's schools.

It provides Teachers with an opportunity to have students explore the many contributions women have made - and are making - to our country.

The Troy, New York-headquartered American Labor Studies Center's web site (www.labor-studies.org) includes a number of excellent resources for teachers who would like to insure that not just the rich and famous women are recognized, but all women who have made their mark on history:

A Brief History of Women in the Labor Movement (www.labor-studies.org/pdfs/Womens-Labor-History-Month-Article.pdf) - An article by Juliet H. Mofford for Women's History Magazine is an excellent brief piece that could be easily reproduced for students.

The Face of the Labor Movement: Women on the Front Lines highlights a number of women Trade Union Leaders.

The Illinois Labor History Society has an article When Women Were Knights (www.illinoislaborhistory.org/labor-history-articles/when-women-were-knights) citing their role in the 19th century labor organization and many other excellent resources.

The Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) was a key institution in reforming women's working conditions in the early 20th Century.  The WTUL not only played a pivotal role in organizing the Garment Workers and Textile Workers, but in working for protective Labor legislation for women and better factory working conditions for all.

Highlights of American women's labor organizing in the late 19th century traces a number of efforts by women to organize in the 1800s.

The Lowell Mills Girls highlights the story of the women and girls who worked in the Massachusetts Lowell Textile Mills in the mid-1800s.

The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Union’s "Women's Labor History"" is an extensive resource - including links to biographies of a number of prominent women Labor Leaders and a "Women in Labor History" timeline.

The Coalition of Labor Union Women's (CLUW) section on "Women's Rights"" provides links to such topics as pay equity, gender discrimination, child care, the Family and Medical Leave Act, minority rights, sexual harassment and sex discrimination - among others.

Teachers can also access the lyrics to "Union Maid" and play the song sung by Joe Glazer that was composed by Woodie Guthrie in 1940.  Teachers can ask students to write and sing their own version,

Women's Labor History, 1790-1945, by Lois Rita Hembold and Ann Schofield, can be downloaded for $24 or read free on-line by clicking on the link.

The LaborSite.com features Women in the Workplace - a History.

Follow this link for an excellent resource for materials on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

Brigid O'Farrell's "She Was One of US: Eleanor Roosevelt and the American Worker" is an excellent account of Roosevelt's lifelong commitment to the American Labor Movement.

Teachers can also learn about Kate Mullany, a young Irish Immigrant, who formed and led the Nation's first all-female Union and whose house in now a National Historic Landmark and National Historic Site in Troy.

In her July 15th, 1998 speech dedicating the Mullany House as a National Historic Landmark, then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton said: “I would argue that the real difference between the United States of America and every nation that has ever existed, is not that we had great Generals because others have as well, not that we had great political leaders, because others have as well, not even that we had great business leaders or great creative geniuses, because you can find those in any society, in any country throughout time.  It is because more than any other effort in the entire history of human civilization, we have empowered average men and women - working men and women - we've given them the reason to believe that they too can make something out of their lives.  That they can walk and live and work with dignity and confidence. That is what has made America different.  That is what has made America great.”

Contributions to help restore the Kate Mullany House can be made by visiting www.katemullanynhs.org.

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