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By the early 1900s labor unions had begun to gain ground in their struggles for reform in the workplaces of America. But it was slow going, as legislation necessary to mandate changes in the working conditions of the everyday man and woman lagged behind the demands for change.

In 1905 a small group of economists formed the American Association for Labor Legislation. The group's initial purpose was the study of labor conditions and labor legislation in the United States. By 1909, however, under the leadership of John Andrews, this "study" group took an activist turn and began actively promoting, lobbying for, and effecting major changes in worker's compensation, occupational health and safety, and child labor laws.

Now the history of this powerful labor reform group is available for political scientists, labor-law researchers, historians, social scientists, and students interested in:


  • charting the evolution of major labor legislation in the United States
  • tracing the growth of the labor movement and the labor lobby
  • studying reform movements and reform patterns in the early 20th century
  • obtaining documentation in the study of famous labor leaders

The collection contains the AALL's correspondence, organizational papers, and research materials from exhaustive studies of labor problems and legislative reform, as well as pamphlets, broadsides, and press releases. The Correspondence section is the largest and most significant part of the collection--a who's-who of American labor reform in the 20th century.

A sample listing of the individual and institutional correspondents includes:


  • Jane Addams
  • Louis D. Brandeis
  • Felix Frankfurter
  • Samuel Gompers
  • National Child Labor Committee
  • National Women's Trade Union League
  • American Federation of Labor
  • National Consumer's League

The legislative program of the AALL is defined and traced historically through this valuable collection of records. The AALL concerned itself with four major areas during its 36-year history:


  • alleviation of adverse working conditions
  • promotion of health and safety measures
  • action against unemployment
  • social insurance

By resolving such elementary problems as safety and health conditions on the job, the AALL laid the groundwork for future progressive labor legislation. And it directed the nation's attention to more far-ranging social issues concerning the labor movement.

The collection was filmed from the archives of the Labor Management Documentation Center, New York State School of Industrial Relations, Cornell University.

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