Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a national holiday honoring the contributions workers have made to the prosperity and well-being of the country. The first Labor Day observance was organized by the Central Labor Union in New York in 1882, with an estimated 20,000 workers marching in support of labor law reforms including the eight-hour work day. Labor organizations in other cites held similar events the following year, and a handful of states made Labor Day an official state holiday, including Massachusetts in 1888. Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894.
This year the Digital Commonwealth has been celebrating Labor Day by posting photographs of Massachusetts workers on the Digital Commonwealth Facebook Page. These images include cranberry pickers, bakers, construction workers, clerical workers and more from around the Commonwealth, and you’ll find many more photographs of workers in the Digital Commonwealth collections.
Links to All the Selected Photographs
- Picking Cranberries — Cape Cod — Photograph by Arthur Griffin, from the Arthur Griffin Photographs collection of the Griffin Museum of Photography
- Charles River Dam construction work, Boston — Photograph by Spencer Grant, from the Spencer Grant Collection of the Boston Public Library
- Sorting linens at the Faulkner Hospital laundry — Photograph by Harold Orne from the Faulkner Hospital collection
- Librarian Lydia Masters and five Girl Scouts packing boxes for the “Books for Servicemen” program during World War II — From the collection of the Watertown Free Public Library
- Women workers posing by the satinet machines in the Taft or ‘Old Huguenot Mill approximately 1880 — From the collection of the Oxford Free Public Library
- Little, A.E. and company. Shoe manufacturer. Stitching room personnel. 70 Blake St. — From the collection of the Lynn Public Library
- At the lensometer: Dr. Edgar D. Tillyer at work, at the American Optical Southbridge — From the Southbridge Collection of the Jacob Edwards Library
- NE Life Insurance Co. Hispanic file clerks at work, Copley Square, Back Bay — Photograph by Spencer Grant, from the Spencer Grant Collection of the Boston Public Library
- Splitting Dept. — From the Boston Mat Leather Company, Peabody, Mass. Collection of the Peabody Institute Library, Peabody
- Filling the pies, Table Talk factory, Worcester — Photograph by Leslie Jones, 1947, from the Leslie Jones Collection of the Boston Public Library
- Cape Cod decoy carver – Harwich Port — Photograph by Leslie Jones, 1947, from the Leslie Jones Collection of the Boston Public Library
- Kurrachee rugs, Wakefield Rattan Company, Arthur Dulong, driver, circa 1890s — From the Wakefield Municipal Gas Collection of the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library