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The Gilded Age, 1870-1914
Guide: Workers of the World, Unite!

These resources on the development of labor unions explain how and why labor unions were created. Use these resources to support your students' evaluation of the success of labor unions in improving working conditions Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Labor unions developed as social and political movements
  • Rural and urban areas have distinct needs that shape political and economic concerns
  • Racial and ethnic groups have fought to obtain civil rights and liberties
  • Government accountability relies on a politically engaged populace
  • Society's idea of morality changes over time
  • A balance between public safety and economic growth is desirable
  • A nation's diplomatic powers rest in its ability to have a foreign presence
  • There are multiple factors that a nation must consider when deciding to go to war
  • The U.S. has gone through periods where it feels it is in its best interest to remain detached from certain global events
  • Negotiating a peace involves compromises and consensus and can extend well beyond the end of hostilities

Key Questions

  • Describe working conditions for the average laborer in the 19th century.
  • What reasons did workers have for organizing labor unions?
  • What tactics did labor unions employ to get their demands met?
  • How did employers respond to workers' early attempts to form labor unions?
  • Do you think labor union demands were fair for workers? For employers?


  1. Overview: Workers of the World, Unite!
  2. Topic Center Overview: The Gilded Age, 1870–1914
  3. Visuals: Workers of the World, Unite! (Visual)
  4. Outline: Outline
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Key Question: Knights of Labor
  7. Photos & Illustrations: Clothing industry strike: women pickets
  8. Photos & Illustrations: Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire
  9. Reference Articles: American Federation of Labor
  10. Reference Articles: Industrial Workers of the World
  11. Reference Articles: Knights of Labor
  12. Reference Articles: labor movement
  13. Reference Articles: Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire
  14. Cultural Documents: Sinclair, Upton: The Jungle (1906), excerpt
  15. Newspapers & Magazines: Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire: newspaper account (1911)
  16. Speeches: Jones, Mother: Speech at a Public Meeting (1912)

MLA Citation

"Workers of the World, Unite!." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2153036. Accessed 25 Aug. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2153036

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