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 from Missouri Historical Review and Missouri Times


Many of the State Historical Society’s holdings are included in the SHSMO online catalog. 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.


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

View All Labor Manuscript Collections


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.

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

CountyCityTitleAlso Available OnDate Range
GreeneSpringfieldSpringfield Labor RecordMicrofilm1979-1985
GreeneSpringfieldSpringfield LaborerMicrofilm1916-1917
GreeneSpringfieldUnion Labor RecordMicrofilm1937-1979
JacksonKansas CityKansas City LaborMicrofilm1895
JacksonKansas CityKansas City Labor NewsMicrofilm1924-1938
Jackson Labor HeraldMicrofilm1904-1940
Jackson Labor JournalMicrofilm1942-1962
Jasper Labor RecordMicrofilm1900-1901
JasperJoplinJoplin Missouri Trades UnionistMicrofilm1908-1921
MarionHannibalHannibal Labor PressMicrofilm1915-1972
ScotlandMemphisFarmers’ UnionMicrofilm1891-1895
St. Louis Illinois Labor TribuneMicrofilm1963-1966
St. Louis Indiana Labor TribuneMicrofilm1955-1970
St. Louis LaborMicrofilm1893-1899
St. Louis Labor CampaignMicrofilm1894
St. Louis Labor CompendiumMicrofilm1901-1905, 1907-1911
St. Louis St. Louis/ Southern Illinois Labor TribuneMicrofilm2012-2014
St. Louis Labor’s CallMicrofilm1977-1979
St. Louis Midwest Labor WorldMicrofilm1943-1963
St. Louis Milwaukee LaborMicrofilm1894
St. Louis Missouri LaborMicrofilm1896-1906
St. Louis Southern Illinois Labor TribuneMicrofilm1954-1963, 1966-1970
St. LouisSt. LouisSt. Louis Commercial News and Labor GazetteMicrofilm1911
St. LouisSt. LouisSt. Louis LaborMicrofilm1895-1896, 1903-1930
St. LouisSt. LouisSt. Louis Labor TribuneMicrofilm1937-1985
St. LouisSt. LouisSt. Louis UnionMicrofilm1883
St. LouisSt. LouisSt. Louis Union Labor AdvocateMicrofilm1934-1958
St. Louis Troy LaborMicrofilm1894


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