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Labor Archives of Washington

Labor Archives of Washington:

Preserving the Voices of Labor

Discover the past, empower the present, and shape the future with the Labor Archives of Washington.

Welcome to the Labor Archives of Washington

A unit of the Special Collections of the University of Washington Libraries, the Labor Archives is a collaborative project of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies and the University of Washington Libraries. Initial funding for the Archives came largely from the labor movement; the contributions of dozens of unions and hundreds of individuals made this possible. Their names are recorded in the Labor Archives Founders Circle.

Scope of Collections

The Labor Archives houses over 350 collections of labor and labor-related materials from individuals and organizations. These collections provide comprehensive documentation of the local, national, and international aspects of the labor movement in the Pacific Northwest. Moreover, they shed light on the intricate intersections between labor unions and social justice, civil rights, and political organizations that focus on labor relations and labor rights.

Our Founding Story

In 2008, a group of dedicated labor historians and activists came together with a shared vision: to create a repository that would safeguard the rich heritage of labor movements in the Pacific Northwest. The Labor Archives of Washington (LAW) was born from this collective passion for preserving the stories, struggles, and triumphs of workers who have shaped our region’s history.

Our Mission

LAW is committed to capturing the essence of the labor movements that have left an indelible mark on our society. Our mission is to collect, preserve, and make accessible a comprehensive collection of materials that chronicle the labor experience, promoting a deeper understanding of the vital role workers play in shaping communities and industries.

Guardians of History

Since it began operating in 2010, the LAW has grown into a haven for archival treasures, including photographs, documents, oral histories, artifacts, and more. We take pride in being the guardians of history, meticulously cataloging and preserving these invaluable resources for future generations.

A Living Legacy

LAW isn’t just about dusty records. We are committed to making history come alive. Our dedicated team hosts and install traveling exhibitions, educational programs, and public events that engage the community and showcase the relevance of labor history in contemporary issues.

The Power of Stories

At the heart of LAW are the stories of real people—workers, activists, organizers, and their families—who have stood up for their rights and contributed to the social fabric of our region. These stories remind us of the ongoing struggle for justice, equality, and fair treatment in the workplace.

A Future of Connection

As we move forward, LAW remains dedicated to fostering connections between labor history and the present. Our digitization efforts and online resources ensure that anyone, anywhere, can access the stories that have shaped our communities.

Join Us in Preserving History

The Labor Archives of Washington invites you to be a part of our journey. Whether you’re a historian, researcher, student, or simply curious about the labor movement’s impact, your involvement helps us continue our mission of preserving and celebrating the voices of labor.

Our Services Include:

– Curation of collections and materials in all formats
– Donating collections and funding
– Reference questions
– Consultations on records management, research workshops, oral history, exhibits, and appraisal
– Tours for groups
– Labor Archives press and publicity
– Class orientations for faculty
– Oral history, digital humanities, exhibits, and archives projects Project Proposal Form
– Permissions of use for labor materials
– Research help

Access and Preservation

At LAW, we play a crucial role in historical research by preserving the records of unions, labor leaders, and activists.

Collection and Consultation

Our dedicated staff collaborate with unions, offering guidance on records management and facilitating donations of historical materials to LAW.

Outreach and Education

LAW develops educational projects accessible to union members, schools, and the public. Students also have the opportunity to serve as interns in the Labor Archives, gaining firsthand knowledge about unions and their essential role in our region’s history.

For inquiries, please reach out to us regarding:

– Reference questions
– Preservation and processing questions
– Regional records survey information
– Social media inquiries and collaborations
– Research help

Reading Rooom


1. Subject Guide to Labor-Related Collections (Finding Aids)

– Union Collections: Many unions have designated the Labor Archives as the official repository for their historical records, encompassing minutes, office correspondence, membership files, publications, and contracts. Union Collections

– Personal Papers: Prominent labor leaders, attorneys, arbitrators, rank-and-file workers, and labor rights advocates have generously contributed their personal papers. Personal Papers

– Organizational Records: These records come from organizations that have actively supported organized labor, workers’ rights, civil rights, as well as records from labor critics and opponents. Additionally, we house records from employers, some of whom have been collective bargaining partners and, at times, opponents of unions. Organizational Records

2. Online Digital Collections

  • Digital Collections – LAW boasts over a thousand photographs and digitized documents showcasing workers, industrial settings, strikes, union activities, civil rights campaigns, and more.
  • Northwest Labor Press – The Northwest Labor Press is an independent, union-supported newspaper that reaches over 50,000 members of more than 80 unions in Oregon and Southwest Washington. An online edition has been maintained at since 1997. Our collection covers the print edition from January 2006 to December 2017.

– SeaTac-Seattle Minimum Wage History Project:

SeaTac-Seattle Minimum Wage History Project, This digital archive comprises documents and interviews, including audio and video interviews with supporters and opponents involved in the struggles over a $15 minimum wage at SeaTac and in Seattle, as well as the broader national impact and ongoing efforts.

– Oral History Portal:

Oral History Portal, Explore dozens of oral histories related to workers and their lives, with particular strengths in oral histories of labor activists and organizers, women, African Americans, Japanese Americans, and Jewish Americans. Our collection also extends to the Internet Archive.

– Digitally Preserved Labor and Labor-Related Websites:

Oral History Portal on The Internet Archive We regularly capture and preserve labor union and labor-related websites and social media accounts across the Pacific Northwest. Our captures are more frequent, comprehensive, and distinct from those in the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine. Union/Labor Websites

3. Labor Archives TV and Radio Programs

– Watch episodes of LAW’s TV segment on UW360, a University of Washington television program that highlights our collections and researchers, airing on KOMO, UWTV, and available for streaming.

View playlist.

– Listen to our regular radio segment, “Learn Yourself,” on KSVR FM’s We Do the Work radio program. This segment explores labor history events, showcases our collections, and serves as a valuable resource for researchers nationwide. Listen to the shows.


Contact Us

Visit us at the Special Collections Reading Room the the University of Washington’s Seattle campus or explore our website to learn more about our collections, upcoming events, and how you can contribute to this vital repository of labor history.

Conor Casey
Head, Labor Archives of Washington


Help Preserve and List Regional Labor Records

Affiliated Organizations

  • The Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, University of Washington– The Bridges Center coordinates the efforts of faculty members throughout the University of Washington to develop and expand labor-related components of the University’s curriculum and provide encouragement and assistance to young scholars studying work and workers. The Bridges Center co-founded the Labor Archives of Washington in 2010.