The History of Labor Day

Have you ever wanted to know why we celebrate Labor Day? It traditionally marks the end of summer and is celebrated with a day off work, parades, and cookouts, but where did it all start?

During the Industrial Revolution in America, workers' rights became a tense issue for many: 12-hour working days, no days off (7 day work week), very low pay, unsafe working conditions, and child labor all contributed to workers' fears and concerns. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers marched in New York City, on the first Monday in September. This became a popular tradition, but it wasn't until the deadly Pullman Strike of 1894 did Congress make Labor Day a Federal holiday.

To learn more about the history of Labor Day, visit The History Channel's History of Labor Day page.

On the site, you will find:
  • Labor Day History: This section breaks down into four parts, with each bringing you a different facet of Labor Day history.
    • How did we come to celebrate Labor Day?
    • What events took place that influenced labor history?
    • What is International Labor Day (or May Day) celebrated on May 1?
    • Why do we celebrate Labor Day in September?
  • Labor Leaders: Here you will learn about the men who may have proposed that the holiday be celebrated. No one knows for sure who founded the holiday, but you can learn about the men who most likely did here. This section breaks down into five parts, each dedicated to a different person or organization that has made a difference in the way labor is looked at. From labor laws to riots, these men surely influenced change.
  • Video: Here you will find eight videos on Labor Day history, including the new industrial revolution, child labor and more.
  • Image Gallery: Here you will find ten images from parades, factories, fields and strikes that color the history of labor in America. Not too exciting for us screen reader visitors, but nice for the low vision folks.
  • Poll: Here you can take a poll on whether or not you think the minimum wage should be increased.


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