International Workers’ Day: Honoring Labor

May 1 marks International Workers’ Day and the first week of May a significant time period in the history of labor and labor organization. May 4 is the 133rd anniversary of the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, an event in city and state history that resounded around the world and it, along with the events leading up to the Affair, are widely cited as the inspiration for International Workers’ Day. The IDHH highlights items from the Chicago History Museum relevant to the Haymarket Affair, workers’ rights, and labor organization across the state of Illinois.

The Chicago History Museum’s Prints and Photographs Collection includes prints and photographs that picture Haymarket Square, the location of a workers’ rally held as part of efforts to instate the eight-hour work day as a national standard and in response to the killing of several protestors on the previous day by police. The rally was initially peaceful but ended in the explosion of a homemade bomb, seen rendered in the print below by the artist, Paul J. Morand, that killed seven police officers. Police veterans of the Haymarket Affair were honored by their department and by local and municipal leaders, as evinced by the banner in an 1895 parade. Organizers, including those killed by police in the aftermath of the bomb and those wrongly accused in the fury of investigations and trials following the bombing were commemorated mainly by labor organizations.

Check out more items that relate to the Haymarket Affair, and workers’ rights and labor in Illinois. There are also many collections with items pertaining to labor, such as the Pullman State Historic Site’s Southeast Chicago Historical Society collection. To learn more about the Haymarket Affair, check out this article from the Encyclopedia of Chicago. For a timeline of events, search strategies, and a sampling of newspaper articles contemporaneous to the Haymarket Affair, see the Library of Congress webpage on the event.

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