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Interactive archives map

Hard to believe, isn’t it? It’s Labor Day already! Where has 2019 gone? Kids back in school, days growing shorter… fall is right around the corner.

As genealogists, we all appreciate Labor Day as a day off from work, a day when maybe we can sneak in a little extra research.

The Legal Genealogist proposes that we spend at least a little of that extra research time looking into the particular records of our particular ancestors who contributed to giving us that day off, and that research time.

Our labor union ancestors.

A century and more ago, we wouldn’t have had today off. We wouldn’t have had eight-hour work days, 40-hour weeks, paid vacations, employee health benefits, worker safety laws, compensation for on-the-job injuries or any of the other myriad benefits we think of today as perfectly ordinary and routine.

Each of these was fought for by our working ancestors and the unions they formed to stand up to big business. They fought for them, and sometimes died for them.

So… where can we find some of these labor union resources, records and repositories?

It’s easy.

We use the map.

Labor archives map

This cool tool was created by Conor Casey for the Labor Archives Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists. Its title says it all: Interactive Map of Labor Archives in the United States and Canada: A Directory.1 (Note: If that link doesn’t work, try this one or this one!)

Highlighting everything from Dalhousie University’s collection (manuscript material and photographs concentrating on Nova Scotia unions and local chapters of national and international unions) in the east to the Center for Labor Education & Research Labor History Archive at University of Hawai’i (contracts, union newsletters, books and pamphlets focusing on Hawai’i’s labor history) in the west, this tool can help us find the labor resources we need.

It works like any other Google map: there are pins on the map showing the repositories and zooming in lets us choose which repository we want to look at if there’s more than one in one location, like New York City or Minneapolis.

Clicking on any pin produces a description of that specific repository:

Labor archives map

Here, I clicked on one of the pins for Detroit, and the left hand column showed me it was the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, gave me the web address and a full description of the holdings — including that it is the “Official repository of the United Auto Workers; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; The Newspaper Guild; the American Federation of Teachers; the United Farm Workers; Service Employees International Union; Air Line Pilots Association; Association of Flight Attendants; and the Industrial Workers of the World.”

The interactive map is based on another cool tool that Casey updated and put on the web: a listing called Labor Archives in the United States and Canada: A Directory, most recently updated in August 2019.2

So… as a map or as a list, we have the information we need to find repositories we need to begin to research our labor union ancestors.

Happy Labor Day.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Mapping Labor Day,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 2 Sep 2019).


  1. Conor Casey, Interactive Map of Labor Archives in the United States and Canada: A Directory, Google Maps ( : accessed 2 Sep 2019).
  2. Labor Archives Section, “Labor Archives in the United States and Canada: A Directory,” Society of American Archivists ( : accessed 2 Sep 2019).
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