Labor Day History
In June, 1894, Congress passed an act declaring the first Monday in September Labor Day and a legal holiday in all states, territories and the District of Columbia. Created by the nation's labor movement and dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers, Labor Day is an annual yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Pieces of History: A Different View of Labor Day and Labor Icons
- Read the Full History of Labor Day
- The Real Maguire - Who Actually Invented Labor Day?
- DOL's Historian on the History of Labor Day
- Labor Daze Pride, Chaos and Kegs on Labor's First 'Day'
- Rosie: By Any Other Name The Riveting True Story of the Labor Icon
- View the Department's 2012 Labor Day Posters
DOL Celebrates 100 Years
We're turning 100! March 2013 marks the Department of Labor's first 100 years of service. However, we are not waiting to start commemorating our centennial. We have launched a year's worth of educational events outlining the Department's history. When you see this icon, expect to find out some tidbit of history, or about an event or activity celebrating our first century of service to America's workers.
- Learn more about DOL Celebrating 100 Years
- Take a Virtual Tour of the Department's Historical Timeline
- View our Centennial Video "100 Years of DOL History"
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
The events on the Saturday afternoon of March 25, 1911 at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City stirred America to move to protect workers. In less than 20 minutes, 146 people were dead – some burned to death; others leaped to their deaths from 100 feet up – victims of one of the worst factory fires in America's history.
- Take the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Mobile Tour
- View the Web Version of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Mobile Tour
- Read Secretary Solis' Blog Post about the Fire
- View Photos from a Rally for the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
- View Photos from the International Rights Forum's Not One More Fire! Award Ceremony
Looking Back at Labor Day in Photos
- Info on the first Labor Day celebration, from 1882
- Cover of an undated pamphlet issued by the Department of Labor on the history of labor day
- Amos Cummings & the Pen used for Labor Day Legislation
- Pin: Justice to All - Labor Day Helena 1901
- Pin: Labor Day, Atlanta 1903
- Women's Auxiliary Typographical Union
- Pin: A.F. of L. Meadville, Pa., Labor Day, Sept 6, 1915
- Horse-drawn Labor Day Float 1916
- President Woodrow Wilson (Left) with American Federation of Labor founder and long-time president, Samuel Gompers (Center), and DOL Secretary William B Wilson at an undated Labor Day Rally
- Pin: Labor Day 1920 IB of BDF&H Labor Omnia Vincit
- Pamphlet on Organized Labor - 1935
- Labor Day Parade Houston, Texas. 1955
- A.F. of L. Pin. Probably 1950s or 1940s
- 1956 3-cent Stamp commemorating Labor Day
- 1956 Block of stamps
- Detailed illustration of a 3-cent stamp issued to commemorate Labor Day in 1956. The image comes from a mosaic in the lobby of the AFL-CIO biulding in Washington, D.C.
- Bakers Uniln, Local 78, march in Labor Day Parade. Date and Location unknown, likely 1950s or 1960s
- Alamgamated Fighting Butchers marching in Labor Day parade. Date and city unknown.
- United Auto Workers and other laborers cheer the parade. City and date unknown.
- WPA Workers encouraged to unionize with C.I.O. by marcher in Labor Day parade. City and date unknown.
- Labor Day Parade, New York City. 1963
- Parade Marchers, Carpenters No. 101 AFL-CIO, Baltimore, Md., 1975
- Pin: Across America We Will Be Heard 1983
- Pin: We Will Be Heard In Idaho, Labor Day 1983
- 1980s Labor day dignitaries - Bob Healey AFL-CIO president. City unknown.
- 1980s Labor Day dignitaries take to the streets and march in a Labor Day parade. City unknown.
- 1980s Labor Day parade marchers stop for a photo op. City unknown.
- 1987 A float celebrates the Department of Labor's diamond jubilee 75th anniversary. City unknown.
- 1980s Representatives from the Department's Women's Bureau march in a Labor day parade. City unknown.
- 1980s Representatives from the Department's VETS division. City unknown.
- 1980s The Reverend Jesse Jackson addresses the media during a Labor Day parade. City unknown.
- 1980s ETA's 2000 workforce march in the parade. City unknown.
- 1980s AFGE Local 648 march in Labor Day parade. City unknown.
- DOL Ensignia, Celebrating Labor Day