Labor Events Yearbooks

These yearbooks provides the most complete account of labor events available for any region of the United States-- a day-by-day database of hundreds of strikes, protests, campaigns, and labor political initiatives occurring in the state of Washington.

So far we have yearly coverage of two dramatic eras: (1) 1915 to 1919 and (2) 1930 to 1939.

The early period includes World War I and the 1919 Seattle General Strike. The second begins with the Great Depression when unemployment reached perhaps 35 percent in Washington State and unions were bankrupt and weak and then shows the dramatic rise in labor activism starting in 1933.

Historians usually focus on big strikes and famous labor confrontations, but our yearbooks show that there were hundreds of other organizing drives, strikes, and political initiatives undertaken by workers that have been forgotten. Here we expose that hidden history of labor activism and in doing so learn much about the breadth and diversity of the movement. Our research has uncovered campaigns by unions of all sorts, white collar and blue collar, large and small, including unions in some surprising job sectors (the Embalmers Union). Some of the most interesting involve workers in the entertainment industry: musicians, theatre workers, projectionists. Women workers struck Seattle's garment factories and organized unions in stores and restaurants. Some of the activities of workers of color also become visible in these yearbooks, especially in the 1930s when Filipino workers created the Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers Union and engaged in a long list of protest actions.

Yearbook and database

Below we present detailed information (including news articles) about hundreds of labor events in Washington State, arranged year by year in chronological order. Most of the information comes from two labor owned weekly newspapers: the Seattle Union Record for the years 1915 to 1919; and the Washington State Labor News, for much of the 1930s. The WSLN is supplemented for a few years by articles from leftwing weekly newspapers (Voice of Action, Commonwealth News, Sunday News, Washington New Dealer).

Each year is presented separately. Click the links below to see the full database of events and accompanying news articles and also to read a "labor highlights" report about the year.

1915 events database and highlights by Jessica Hutton
1918 events database and highlights by Tanner Dietz
1919 events database and highlights by Amy Smith
1930 events database and highlights by Eunji Lee
1931 events database and highlights by Brandon Letsinger
1932 events database and highlights by Raevynn Leach
1933 events database by Brittany Barrett
1934 events database and highlights by Nick Hamblet and Amanda Higgins
1935 events database and highlights by Andie Erhart
1936 events database by Katherine Edwards and Caitlyn Hamilton
1937 events database and highlights by Nathaniel Bade
1938 events database and highlights by Nick Manos
1939 events database by Brittany Barrett