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Defining Moments

Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement

  • Author/Editor: Kevin Hillstrom
  • Binding: Library binding
  • Trim Size: 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • Page Count: 236
  • Book Level:
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-7808-1130-0
  • List Price: $60.00
  • Sample Pages
  • Printable Information Sheet
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The relationship between labor and management in the American workplace has often been a contentious one. From colonial foundations to slavery, from the industrial revolution in the 19th century to the unionization of labor in the 20th, the history of the labor movement in America shadows the history of America itself—replete with struggles against powerful oppressive forces, acts of courage both individual and collective, and a hunger for equal rights.

Defining Moments: Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement presents an authoritative account of the origins and progression of the labor movement in the United States. It also explores the era’s lasting impact on America’s political and cultural landscape. The volume is organized into three distinct sections—Narrative Overview, Biographies, and Primary Sources—which offer a one-stop resource for student research.

  • The Narrative Overview section provides a detailed, factual account of what led up to the American labor movement, the events and issues during the era, and its legacy in American society
  • The Biographies section presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the American labor movement
  • The Primary Sources section collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era, including official documents, song lyrics, memoirs, editorials, and other important works

Other notable features include a glossary of important people, places, and terms; a detailed chronology featuring page references to relevant sections of the narrative; an annotated listing of selected sources for further study; an extensive general bibliography; and a subject index.

Standard Features

  • Library binding, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • 240 pages
  • 30-40 photographs and other illustrations
  • Narrative Overview section: Provides a detailed, factual account of the “defining moment”
  • Biographies section: Presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the event
  • Primary Sources section: Collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era
  • Research Topics: Proposes a list of topics suitable for conducting historical research and writing reports, a valuable starting point for student research
  • Source Attribution: Contains references for primary sources and other quoted material that guide users to other historical research resources
  • Glossary of Important People, Places, and Terms: Gives brief definitions for the many terms used in the book
  • Chronology: Highlights the related events in chronological order, along with “see” references that direct the reader to pages in the narrative with additional information
  • Sources for Further Study: Provides annotated citations for selected sources that are most useful to students
  • Bibliography: Lists books, periodicals, web sites, and videos consulted in preparing the volume
  • Subject Index: Includes people, places, organizations, events, and other topics

Research Topics

Each volume in the Defining Moments series covers a wide range of topics that students can use as starting points for further research. Potential research topics for Defining Moments: Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement are below:

  • Describe the work arrangements from apprenticeships to slavery in the British colonies and early America
  • Analyze the impact of wider social and economic trends like immigration, industrialization, and urbanization on American work
  • Discuss union organizing and union-busting activities in mining, railroads, and other leading 19th-century industries
  • Examine the influence of radical political thought on the growth and direction of early American labor organizations
  • Chart the similarities and differences in the ways that Samuel Gompers, Eugene Debs, “Big Bill” Haywood, John L. Lewis, and other labor leaders viewed the struggle to strengthen worker rights
  • Analyze Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal labor policies and their impact on labor unions and working-class families
  • Compare and contrast landmark clashes in U.S. labor history, ranging from the Homestead and Pullman strikes of the late 19th century to the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-37
  • Explicate the factors that have contributed to the labor movement’s decline in power, influence, and popularity from the mid-20th century to the opening years of the 21st century


“Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement offers three sections packed with labor history perfect for high school to college-level collections. … A ‘must’ for any American history or business collection.”

—California Bookwatch, Jan ’11

“[Hillstrom] gives the broad history of labor without being superficial. This, along with the clear writing style, makes the book excellent for basic, introductory research on the subject. … This title is highly recommended for middle school and high school students researching the history of the labor movement. It’s both a good place to begin research and a useful reference when reading other works.”

—Library Journal, Mar ’11

“A well-written and concise history of the country’s labor movement. … Suggested research topics, sidebars, and numerous black-and-white illustrations enhance the book’s usefulness for research.”

—School Library Journal, Mar ’11

“Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement is a well-organized, balanced, and approachable reference source for its intended audience, undoubtedly reflective of the composition of the series advisory board (public and school librarians and educators).”

—American Reference Books Annual, 2011