This week we’ve got labor on our minds, especially the history of labor unions in Ohio. And the best place to start learning more about them is the Rogowski-Kaptur Labor History Room at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Part of TLCPL’s Local History collection, it includes a wide range of materials that document the history of labor issues both in Ohio and around the world.
Luckily for us armchair historians, many of the items have also been digitized and are available online through DPLA right now. One fantastic resource is the Photo history of the Toledo Auto-Lite Strike scrapbook (contains some graphic images), created by photographers from the Toledo News-Bee newspaper during the Electric Auto-Lite Strike that occured in 1934.
The Toledo Auto-Lite strike lasted for two months and included five days of violence between strikers and members of the Ohio National Guard and local police, leaving 2 labor supporters dead and hundreds injured on both sides. Known as one of the key strikes in U.S. labor history, it paved the way for widespread unionization and worker support during the Great Depression and beyond.
With thousands of strike supporters in the streets, Toledo News-Bee photographers documented skirmishes, injuries, and their aftermath, even sustaining injury to themselves while in the midst of the chaos. Seen below are two photographs made from broken glass plate negatives that were saved when a cameraman was knocked down. Because of their dedication to documenting this event, we are able to learn from it and appreciate the contributions that the labor movement has made to today’s workforce.
Thanks to the Toledo Lucas County Public Library and Ohio Memory for sharing their collections with DPLA.