The nation’s leading trade unionist in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Samuel Gompers was president of the American Federation of Labor from 1886 until he died in 1924. “If there is any truth at all in democracy, if democracy has any real justification,” he said, “it is as thoroughly justified in our industrial life as it ever was in our political life.”
This web site can be used as a research guide to the eleven volumes of the Samuel Gompers Papers published so far and to our microfilm collections.
Along with biographical information about Gompers and some leading labor activists, a chronology of the labor movement in the Gompers’ era, and a selection of Gompers’ thoughts on various issues of the day, this web site also offers a sampling of primary documents including correspondence, newspaper articles, and political cartoons. Researchers can find extensive documentation of the founding of the American Federation of Labor, its trade union philosophy, and its organizing efforts and the founding of its predecessor, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions. We also provide an eye-witness report of the Industrial Workers of the World’s founding convention. Conflict between the Cigar Makers International Union (Gompers’ union) and the Knights of Labor is all well-documented here.