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Labor Day Reading List 2023

In the latter half of the 19th century, growing labor movements and unions pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the contributions of American workers. On June 28th, 1894, President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day, the first Monday in September, a national holiday.

From global histories of work to local histories of labor organizing, explore our curated selection of titles for your Labor Day reading.


The Story of Work
A New History of Humankind

Jan Lucassen

The first truly global history of work, an upbeat assessment from the age of the hunter-gatherer to the present day


Grounds for Dreaming
Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the California Farmworker Movement

Lori A. Flores

An incisive study of labor, migration, race, gender, citizenship, and class


Women, Work, and Politics
The Political Economy of Gender Inequality

Torben Iversen and Frances McCall Rosenbluth

The first book to integrate the micro-level of families with the macro-level of national institutions


(Not) Getting Paid to Do What You Love
Gender and Aspirational Labor in the Social Media Economy

Brooke Erin Duffy

An illuminating investigation into a class of enterprising women aspiring to “make it” in the social media economy but often finding only unpaid work


The Craftsman

Richard Sennett

In his most ambitious book to date, Richard Sennett offers an original perspective on craftsmanship and its close connections to work and ethical values


Humans Need Not Apply
A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Jerry Kaplan

An insightful, engaging tour by a noted Silicon Valley insider of how accelerating developments in Artificial Intelligence will transform the way we live and work


The People’s Revolt
Texas Populists and the Roots of American Liberalism

Gregg Cantrell

An engaging and meticulous history of the hard‑pressed farmers and laborers from Texas who organized a movement for economic justice called the Texas People’s Party


The Strike That Changed New York
Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis

Jerald E. Podair

A superb revisit of the Ocean Hill–Brownsville crisis—a watershed in modern New York City race relations and teacher’s rights


The Week
A History of the Unnatural Rhythms That Made Us Who We Are

David M. Henkin

An investigation into the evolution of the seven-day week and how our attachment to its rhythms influences how we live


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