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Researching Labor Unions at NYPL: Pamphlets, Histories, Bibliographies

Billings Numbers and Pamphlet Volumes

Many of our materials are classified by Billings numbers, an idiosyncratic classification system developed early in the library’s history. Browsing the catalog by Billings numbers can be a good way to get a sense of the library’s holdings in a specific area, but keep in mind that these numbers had been largely replaced with a new system by the 1970s. Because much of our most-used material related to trade unionism predates that time, a lot of relevant material is discoverable using Billings numbers.

To browse by Billings number, visit the Legacy Catalog and select “Staff call no.” from the drop down menu. Then enter the beginning of the Billings number.

Books on the subject of "Capital and Labor" are categorized under Billings number TD. For researchers interested in labor unions, the following will be especially salient:
        TDR: Labor Associations and Organizations

        TDRA: Labor Associations and Organizations, Periodicals and Society Publications

Other helpful Billings numbers to keep in mind:

TDG: Strikes and Lockouts. Arbitration. Conciliation

TDI: Working Classes, History and Condition of

Many of our holdings related to trade unions are Pamphlet Volumes, known as “p.v.”s. P.v.s are multiple pamphlets bound together in a single volume. These pamphlets are not always catalogued individually online, so they can sometimes only be found in the Black Books. The bibliographic information for p.v.s is often sparse compared to other periodicals and books, so a record may not contain subject headings or an author. To find p.v.s related to trade unionism, search for, e.g., “TDR p.v.” using the method described above


Trade Union Publications: The Official Journals, Convention Proceedings, and Constitutions of International Unions and Federations, 1850-1941, by Lloyd G. Reynolds and Charles C. Killingsworth
This immensely helpful three-volume reference work indexes the publications of trade unions representing a vast range of industries and locations. The full text is available online from Cornell University's Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives. The three volumes are also available at the Library.

Though not a bibliography, another very helpful source is Florence Peterson's Handbook of Labor Unions (1944). Organized by trade, this book includes entries on both major and lesser-known unions across the country, and each entry includes the title of the union's organ when applicable.

For more bibliographies, indexes, and directories, see the following subject headings. Where "United States" is included, remove that subheading or replace it with the name of another country to view sources that are international in scope. Adding a country's name between, e.g., "Labor Movement" and "Bibliography" is also a possibility.

Labor Unions -- United States -- Bibliography

Labor Unions -- United States -- Directories

Labor Unions -- Bibliography

Labor Unions -- Periodicals -- Bibliography

Labor Movement -- Bibliography

Working Class -- Bibliography

Industrial Relations -- Bibliography

Some further bibliographies, though mostly histories, may be found under Press, Labor -- United States.

Replace "Bibliography" in the above with "Periodicals" to see newspapers and magazines, e.g. Working Class -- Periodicals.

Histories and other academic works

Try looking under the following headings. As with the above, remove or replace "United States" to see more results. Where "History" is appended to the end of a heading, that can also be removed to see more results.

Collective bargaining -- United States

Labor disputes -- United States

Labor movement -- United States -- History

Labor unions -- United States -- History

Mediation and conciliation, Industrial -- United States

Strikes and lockouts -- United States

Syndicalism -- United States


Recent Titles in Labor History