Past Event

The Best Labor State in the Nation – postponed (please see below)

A Road Scholar Program by Rosemary Feurer

POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE – to be rescheduled as soon as possible. We regret any inconvenience.

Historian Rosemary Feurer will place Illinois’s vibrant labor history in local, national, and global perspectives. The statement that Illinois was &quotthe best labor state in the nation&quot came from the best-known labor organizer of the early twentieth century, Mother Jones, in 1923, when she decided that when she died she would buried in Illinois. She concluded that labor unions in Illinois had been pivotal in the transformation of the entire nation’s social and political landscape.

Indeed, the base of unions in the state of Illinois had been a force for unionization across the nation, and this presentation will provide evidence for Mother Jones’s statement. It will explain how and why Illinois became a &quotbest labor state&quot by telling, but moving beyond, the better-known stories of unionization in Chicago and developing an understanding of labor activity in all regions of Illinois and the role of unionization in building a middle class.

Rosemary Feurer’s extensive knowledge of the entire state’s labor history will enable her to tailor the presentation to different locations. The presentation will focus especially on how the dynamics of late-nineteenth struggles of immigrants helped to define what the labor movement became in Illinois and how that resonated across the long twentieth century, illuminating connections between immigration and unionization. It will also place the recent decline in unionization in historical perspective. Although that decline has been associated with diminishing rights to unionization in surrounding states, Illinois remains among the most highly unionized states in the nation today.

This event is Free and Open to the public.

For more information, please contact Katie Lucas,