Samuel Gompers (1850-1924) devoted his life to improving the conditions of American workers through better wages, shorter workdays, and safer workplaces, achieved through common effort, democratic organization, and practical action. His objective was betterment, or, as he often said, "more." His moral vision was grounded in a commitment to social justice and a passion for service. A cigar maker by trade, he became the American Federation of Labor's first president in 1886 and, except for one year, remained its president until his death, guiding it through prosperity and recession, war and peacetime. By the time Gompers died, the AFL was a major force on the national scene and had claimed over four million members.
Gompers was a tireless writer and impassioned speaker, and he left behind an immense archive of articles and editorials, addresses and testimony before a variety of audiences, and extensive correspondence with allies and adversaries alike. His correspondents included trade unionists and political leaders, reformers and radicals, captains of industry defending their positions, and workers asking for help or advice.
The twelve volumes of The Samuel Gompers Papers, edited by Stuart B. Kaufman, Peter J. Albert, and Grace Palladino, for the first time make Gompers' wide-ranging and complex documentary legacy accessible to scholars, students, historians, and serious readers in the labor movement and among the public at large.
This invaluable comprehensive index provides a key to the Gompers volumes. It not only allows quick reference to individual documents but permits scholars to see at a glance the contours and emphases in subject matter and locate the substantive annotations of key individuals and unions, strikes and lockouts, conferences and meetings, and legislation and key concepts in the history of the Gompers era.show more