The American Labor Movement: Chicago Stockyard Strike (1904)

Figure 1.---This photograph was taken in Chicago during the 1904 Stockyards Strike. Chicago was emerging as America's most important industrial city nd the The stockyards were at the center of the city's economy. The stockyards wer owned by the Union Stock Yard & Transit Company and were located in the New City community. As in many early strikes, the wives and children often joined with their striking fathers and husbands. I'm not sure what is going on here. Source: Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Digital ID: ichicdn n001009. Chicago Historical Society.

The Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen led by Michael Donnelly conducted a strike in the Chicago Stockyards. The Stockyards were owned by the Union Stock Yard & Transit Company and were located in the New City community area of the city. Many of the workers were emigrants having a difficult time surviving on the low wages paid. As a major industrial center the strike generated considerable press attention. The companies again succeeded in breaking the Union. Two important figures emerged from the strike. One was a young journalist, Upton Sinclair, who covered the strike for a Socialist magazine. Posing as a worker, he interviewed striking workers. The material he collected provide the basis for The Jungle (1906)with along with other Muckraking materials helped secure the passage of the Pure Food and Drugs Act. The other was Mary E. McDowell. She was impressed with Jane Adams' settlement work. She was sympathetic to the Railway Workers and set up a settlement house behind the Stock Yards (1894). Because of her settlement work she became known as the "Angel of the Stockyards."She was also interested in labor reform. She founded the Women's Trade Union League in 1903 and co-organized the Chicago Stockyards Strike. McDowell played a role in persuading President Theodore Roosevelt to order a Federal investigation of working conditions and wages for women and children.


Siclair, Upton. The Jungle (1906).

Yellen, Samuel. American Labor Struggles.


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Created: 7:32 AM 8/4/2006
Last updated: 7:32 AM 8/4/2006