Documentary History of American Industrial Society

Simon McKay
History 336
Primary Source Report
A Documentary History of American Industrial Society

1. What is it?
The Documentary History of American Industrial Society is a ten-volume collection that covers the labor history of the United States from the mid 1700's up to the 1880's. It brings together historical documents dealing with labor issues from all regions of the country. The documents represent a wide variety of sources including; labor newspapers; pamphlets encompassing local and national trade unions their constitutions, actions and meetings, political movements, court resolutions, strikes, the current labor issues (wages and conditions, and information on meetings); transcripts of material unreleased by particular libraries; plantation records, standards and daily routines, diaries of slaves and masters, laborers and owners, census'; and really anything that can be tied to labor in America.

2. When was it made? By Whom? Why?
The ten volumes were made by the American Bureau of Industrial Research founded in 1904 with the purpose of producing an all-encompassing history of American Industrial Society up until 1880. The Bureau consisted of: Richard T. Ely, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Wisconsin, John R. Commons, Professor of Political Economy a the University of Wisconsin, John B. Clark, Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University, V. Everit Macy, financial contributor and treasurer of the Bureau, Albert Shaw, Editor of American Review of Reviews, Ulrich B. Phillips, Professor of History and Political Science at Tulane University, Eugene Gilmore, Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin, Helen L. Sumner from The United States Bureau of Labor, and John B, Andrews, the Executive Secretary for The American Association for Labor Legislation. The Documentary was printed in 1910.

3. Who appears in it?
People of all classes and ways of life. There are sources from slaves, masters, laborers, foremen, owners, capitalists, union members, journalists, socialists, immigrants and members of congress.

4. How is it Organized? How do you use it?
The work is split into ten different volumes. The first two cover the heading "Plantation and Frontier"; the third and fourth under the heading "Labor Conspiracy Cases"; the final six volumes under the heading the "Labor Movement" which is split into three time periods, 1820-1840, 1840-1860, 1860-1880; the last volume of the "Labor Movement" also includes a very useful Index. All the volumes have a very detailed Table Contents that lead directly to primary documents. There is also a Bibliography in the first volume that can lead to extended research.

5. What kinds of question does it answer?
This Documentary is very useful for those with any interest in labor, its origins in the United States, the building of unions, strikes, the impact of immigrants on labor, the influence of socialism in America, and basically how labor has combated capitalism in the United States. Although the period is slightly before the period I am researching these documents should give a detailed foundation for my research.