Editor's Note

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Welcome to the St. James Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide. Our aim is to provide a scholarly, encyclopedic treatment of the labor movement during the past 200 years. The encyclopedia covers 300 key events in labor history, from the struggle to abolish slavery both in the British Empire and in the United States during the 1800s; to the rise of trade unions later in the century; to the often violent clashes between labor and management in the early twentieth century; and to the onset of globalization toward the end of the twentieth century. Throughout the encyclopedia, events are placed in the context of the labor movement as a whole and related to societal change and development worldwide.

Scope and Coverage

The encyclopedia includes 300 events from period from 1800 to 2000. Two-thirds of the articles focus on U.S. labor history and one-third are devoted to international history. Because of this distribution, international events in particular were chosen for their relevance to larger social movements and their impact on development of the labor movement in a country or region. The entries were selected by an advisory board of expert labor historians, whose names and affiliations are listed elsewhere in this frontmatter; more information about the advisers is available in the "Notes on Advisers and Contributors" section at the back of Volume 2. The entries were written by labor historians, freelance writers, librarians, and journalists.

Format of Volumes, Entries

In response to feedback from public and academic librarians, we have arranged the volumes alphabetically by entry title. An alphabetical listing of the entry titles is included in the frontmatter. In addition, readers may also wish to consult the chronological listing of entries elsewhere in the frontmatter as well as the detailed index at the back of Volume 2.

Within each entry, readers will find the following format:

  • Entry title, location, and date. Although the location is typically the country where the event occurred, in some cases it refers to the place where an organization or movement was founded.
  • Synopsis: Brief overview of the event.
  • Event and Its Context: In-depth discussion of the event and its impact.
  • Key Players: Brief biographical notes on people who figured prominently in the event.
  • Bibliography: List of sources used to compile the entry.
  • Additional Resources: Other sources that readers may wish to consult.

In addition, each entry contains a chronology of key events in world history, so that readers may better understand the historical context in which the event occurred. At the end of most entries, readers will find cross references to other entries in the encyclopedia that may be of interest.

Other Features

In addition to the main text, the encyclopedia features two lengthy introductions, one of which discusses international labor history and another that covers U.S. labor history. In addition, users will find a glossary of labor terms; a general chronology consisting of key events in world history combined with important labor events; a reading list covering English-language sources devoted to labor history; and a subject index. The encyclopedia also includes more than 350 photographs as well as nearly 50 sidebars that provide information on other subjects of interest.


The editors wish to thank the following individuals for their assistance in preparing the encyclopedia: Judson Knight, who compiled all of the sidebar material in addition to the chronologies; Caryn E. Neumann, who prepared the glossary; and Willie Thompson and Daniel Nelson, who wrote the introductory pieces.

—Neil Schlager