Our Mission

To document and celebrate the artistic and cultural heritage of working people and the labor movement, and encourage understanding of their often-overlooked contributions to our society.

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Labor Day Souvenir circa 1910
The early American labor movement used patriotic images to convey the role of workers in building the country and its democracy.
1963 Photograph
“I’m surprised that of all that pain, some beauty came,” Martin Luther King, Jr. is quoted as saying of this series of photographs by Bob Adelman.
Defending the Social Safety Net
The social safety net isn’t an entitlement program, it’s a social insurance program that protects our most vulnerable, and it’s under attack. This 1936 poster introduces the concept to senior citizens.
Women Firefighters in NYC
A law gives qualified women the right to work as firefighters, but making that a reality has been a struggle.
[Image: First transgender NYC firefighter marching in the 2011 NYC Pride Parade.]
Political Clothing, 1947
Labor activists could wear their politics around their necks during the campaign to repeal the 1947 Taft-Hartley law.
Union Square, a National Historic Landmark
Stories and images behind six large illustrated brass plaques commemorating the history of labor in New York's Union Square.
Sisters in the Brotherhood
Some women made history in the 1970s-80s by going to work every day—as truck drivers, firefighters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters.
Civil Rights History Walks into the Classroom
Funeral button for Martin Luther King. King’s casket was carried by a mule-driven farm cart, symbolizing his support of the rights of poor people.
Generations of Brooklyn
Portrait paintings of multi-generational Brooklyn families. Artist Nina Talbot interviewed each person, and intertwines their histories into the backgrounds of the portraits.
Labor Sings!
Music has always energized the labor movement in this country. Listen to songs from the 1930s and ’40s, including “Sit Down,” “Which Side Are You On?,” “Union Maid,” and the ever-popular “Solidarity Forever.”
Clara Lemlich Awards for Social Activism
Celebrating AC Cunningham, Mirene Ghossein, Evie Rich, Alix Kates Shulman, and Doreen Wohl.
1835 Banner
A Philadelphia carpenters’ union banner showing exploitative working conditions and their demands for improvements.