Women in the Labor Movement

Labor History is Women's History

Women’s work has powered American history, but it hasn’t always been easy. Here you can find the stories of people and places that have been part of the struggle to make life better for women at work. Some of these women came together in unions to demand fair pay and safe working conditions. They took to the streets in strikes and boycotts to make their voices heard. Others fought in courtrooms and meeting rooms for laws and policies that would protect women workers and give them a fair shake. Often, their struggles connected to broader fights against racism and sexism and for a fairer society. Read more NPS stories of labor history.

Explore the stories of women in the labor movement.

  • Woman dressed in white holding a banner.
    Margaret Hinchey

    Margaret “Maggie” Hinchey's passionate speeches advocated for both economic justice and political equality for women.

  • Four women wearing picket signs.

    The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) was one of the largest labor unions in the United States in the 1900s.

  • Sue Ko Lee with her husband and child.
    Sue Ko Lee

    Sue Ko Lee was a Chinese American garment worker and labor organizer with the Chinese Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Association.

  • Woman with large hat and white fur stole.
    Mink Brigade

    The “mink brigade” was a group of wealthy women who supported the labor movement in the early 1900s.

  • Head and shoulders portrait of a young woman with brown hair.
    Rose Schneiderman

    Rose Schneiderman’s fierce advocacy for women and workers earned her a reputation as “a tiny, red-haired bundle of social dynamite."

  • Woman wearing white blouse and skirt.
    Clara Lemlich Shavelson

    With her emphasis on “revolutionary thinking," Clara Lemlich Shavelson was well known in the garment trades as an agitator and organizer.

  • Young woman wearing a plaid dress.
    Emma Tenayuca

    Emma Tenayuca was a Mexican American labor organizer and civil rights activist who led a wave of strikes in Texas in the 1930s.

  • Woman wearing glasses and smiling.
    Rosina Corrothers Tucker

    Civil rights and labor activist Rosina Corrothers Tucker played a pivotal role in the creation of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

  • Women picketers on a city street.
    Women of the 1910 Chicago Garment Strike

    When 16 young women walked out of Hart, Schaffner, and Marx’s Shop No. 5, they launched one of the biggest strikes in Chicago history.

  • Exterior image of a stone building.
    Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

    The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory (Brown Building) was the site of a devastating 1911 fire that killed 146 workers, mostly young women.

  • Red poster with three women holding picket signs.
    Places of Chicago Women's Labor Activism

    Working-class activists like Kate Hyndman, Vicky Starr, and Sylvia Woods organized mass rallies and walkouts in Depression-era Chicago.

  • Male police officer fingerprinting a woman.
    Places of Rosa Parks

    Although Rosa Parks is best known for Montgomery bus boycott, her experience in the civil rights and labor movements is much more extensive.

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    Last updated: May 6, 2021


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