This research guide is designed to introduce researchers to the extensive resources available at UNC Chapel Hill’s Wilson Special Collections Library about the Labor Movement in the U.S. South. This guide is not meant to be a comprehensive list of all library materials on Southern labor history, but it is intended to serve as a starting point for research. The list includes books, articles, archival collections, oral histories, and links to other online resources.
Southern labor historians contend that the arc of the labor movement in the region is unique, relative to other regions of the United States, due to historically low unionization rates among rank-and-file workers, the region’s reactionary political climate, and because of the economic and social legacies of chattel slavery.
Wilson Library collections include rich documentation on labor organizing in the "New South" period of the late-19th- and early-20th-century, especially in textile mills in piedmont North Carolina. Newer collections reflect lesser-known (and still unfolding) stories such as radical and BIPOC-led labor mobilizations in sectors such as food processing, migrant agricultural labor, education, and health care.
This guide is organized into the following areas of collection strength: