Labor Research Guide

The State Historical Society of Missouri’s labor collections preserve the historical records of working people and their organizations. These collections include materials such as union records, papers of labor leaders and organizations, and other materials on labor-related issues.

The evolution of improved labor conditions can be attributed to the unionization of trades workers, legislation, and other governmental action to protect Missouri’s labor force. Several manuscript collections reflect the experience of labor organizations in Missouri. Examples of these collections include the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union Records, the Kansas City Typographical Union (ITU) #80 Records, and the James Adam Davis Papers.

Articles in the Missouri Historical Review

Catalog

Many of the State Historical Society’s holdings are included in Merlin, the shared library catalog of the four University of Missouri campuses. The best terms to search for labor sources are simply “labor,” “unions,” and “workers.”

Historic Missourian Biographies

The Society’s Historic Missourians website contains biographies of a number of significant businessmen, journalists, and activists who worked on behalf of the laborers throughout the state of Missouri.

  • Adolphus Busch (1839 - 1913) - Adolphus Busch was a German immigrant who built the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association in St. Louis into the largest brewery in the United States. In 1891, in response to a boycott of Anheuser-Busch beer from the American Federation of Labor, Busch became the first major brewer to sign an agreement with a labor union. In 2007, the US Department of Labor Hall of Fame honored Adolphus Busch for promoting fair labor practices.

  • George Creel - George E. Creel was a journalist, politician, and author. Creel launched a newspaper, the Independent, wwith his friend Arthur Grissum in 1899. Grissum soon left, and Creel became sole editor and publisher. He used the Independent to promote political reform and the rights of women and labor.

  • A.P. Green - A. P. Green was a successful manufacturer who brought jobs and economic growth to Missouri. His brick manufacturing business became a multimillion-dollar firm with branches all over the world. Green expressed interest in the welfare of his nonunionized employees and routinely gave lectures about safety issues to his staff.

  • Kate Richards O'Hare - Kate Richards O’Hare was an activist, reformer, and Socialist. She sought to improve conditions for the working class through advocacy and reform. Some of the reforms she supported, such as the abolishment of child labor, succeeded and continue to this day.

  • Nell Donnelly Reed - Nell Donnelly Reed was a prominent women’s clothing manufacturer, entrepreneur, and owner of the Donnelly Garment Company. She provided her employees with a pension plan, established an on-site medical clinic and cafeteria, paid for group hospitalization and life insurance benefits, and provided a recreation center for her employees. When the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) attempted to unionize the Donnelly Garment Company in 1937, its effort was rejected by company employees. It was not until 1968, long after Reed had retired, that company employees joined the ILGWU.

Manuscripts

Society manuscript collections include union records, papers of labor leaders and organizations, and materials on labor related issues.

View All Labor Manuscript Collections

Newspapers

Several newspapers in the Society’s collection reflect Missouri’s worker’s associations and labor union history. These newspapers featured news coverage aimed at manufacturers, laborers, and their families. For example, the Farmer's Union, a weekly newspaper published on Thursdays in Memphis, Scotland County, Missouri, was a Populist journal that supported the Farmers’ and Laborers’ Union in northeast Missouri.

Additional newspapers found on SHSMO's Digital Collections website also share news relating to union workers and labor strikes.

For a list of all digitized newspapers, visit the Missouri Digital Newspaper Project.

For a list of newspapers on microfilm at the State Historical Society of Missouri, visit the newspaper catalog.

Labor and Union Newspapers in SHSMO Holdings

County City Title Also Available On Date Range
Greene Springfield Springfield Labor Record Microfilm 1979-1985
Greene Springfield Springfield Laborer Microfilm 1916-1917
Greene Springfield Union Labor Record Microfilm 1937-1979
Jackson Kansas City Kansas City Labor Microfilm 1895
Jackson Kansas City Kansas City Labor News Microfilm 1924-1938
Jackson   Labor Herald Microfilm 1904-1940
Jackson   Labor Journal Microfilm 1942-1962
Jasper   Labor Record Microfilm 1900-1901
Jasper Joplin Joplin Missouri Trades Unionist Microfilm 1908-1921
Marion Hannibal Hannibal Labor Press Microfilm 1915-1972
Scotland Memphis Farmers’ Union Microfilm 1891-1895
St. Louis   Illinois Labor Tribune Microfilm 1963-1966
St. Louis   Indiana Labor Tribune Microfilm 1955-1970
St. Louis   Labor Microfilm 1893-1899
St. Louis   Labor Campaign Microfilm 1894
St. Louis   Labor Compendium Microfilm 1901-1905, 1907-1911
St. Louis   St. Louis/ Southern Illinois Labor Tribune Microfilm 2012-2014
St. Louis   Labor’s Call Microfilm 1977-1979
St. Louis   Midwest Labor World Microfilm 1943-1963
St. Louis   Milwaukee Labor Microfilm 1894
St. Louis   Missouri Labor Microfilm 1896-1906
St. Louis   Southern Illinois Labor Tribune Microfilm 1954-1963, 1966-1970
St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis Commercial News and Labor Gazette Microfilm 1911
St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis Labor Microfilm 1895-1896, 1903-1930
St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis Labor Tribune Microfilm 1937-1985
St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis Union Microfilm 1883
St. Louis St. Louis St. Louis Union Labor Advocate Microfilm 1934-1958
St. Louis   Troy Labor Microfilm 1894

Photographs

SHSMO has numerous collections containing photographs documenting labor and unions in Missouri. A small percentage of these photographs have been digitized and are available in the Columbia Digital Photograph Collection.

Highlighted Collections

Outside Resources

These links, which open in another window, will take you outside the Society's website. The Society is not responsible for the content of the following websites: