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Chicago Teamsters’ Strike of 1905: Topics in Chronicling America

In 1905, Chicago Teamsters and other unions come together and strike resulting in riots. This guide provides access to materials related to the "1905 Chicago Teamsters' Strike" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"The Teamsters' strike in Chicago." May 1, 1905. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

In 1905, the United Brotherhood of Teamsters joined the United Garment Workers' union in Chicago in a sympathy strike. Other Chicago unions followed suit and the strike quickly became violent. Near-daily riots erupted from early April until July, when most unions voted to withdraw from the strike. By the time the strike ended, 21 people had been killed and over 400 people had been injured. The 1905 Teamsters’ strike highlighted inter-union solidarity, but it also severely damaged public support for unions, making it one of the most consequential strikes in the 20th century. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

November 19, 1904 6000 members of the United Garment Workers’ Union go on strike.
April 6, 1905 Thousands of drivers in the United Brotherhood of Teamsters join the striking tailors in a sympathy strike.
April 29, 1905 Tensions among strikers, strikebreakers, and police escalate into bloody conflicts.
April 30, 1905 Hundreds of African American men are recruited from other cities as additional strikebreakers.
July 21, 1905 Two large sectors of the Teamsters’ Union vote to call off the strike.