The U.S. Department
of Labor Library, established in 1917, is one of the oldest Cabinet-level
libraries. The Library was created with the consolidation of the libraries of
the former Children's Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Large segments
of the Librarys collection, which document the history of labor, labor
unions and the growth and development of the labor movement in a national and
world context, are unique either in their nature and content or in the length
and completeness of their coverage. The Library's role as an information
repository and access point is central in supporting the day-to-day regulating,
monitoring, and analytical work of the Department.
The Library's online catalog provides access to all materials that have
been acquired by the Library since 1975, as well as access to selected pre-1975
items. All catalog records, however, have not been converted to electronic
format and a card catalog still provides access to most holdings acquired prior
The Library's journal collection, which is predominantly historic, is
distinguished by a large collection of labor union newspapers and periodicals,
numbering more than 3,000 titles. Labor union newspapers representing more than
60 national unions, some no longer in existence, date to the 1860s. More than
400 American trade unions are represented by their constitutions, proceedings,
reports and journals. Foreign union publications are extensively represented as
On March 28, 2000, the Library was dedicated in honor of former U.S.
Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz and
his wife Mrs. Jane
Wirtz to become the Wirtz Labor Library of the U.S. Department of Labor. In
the same year, the Library was designated a Millennium Library by the White
House Millennium Council in recognition of its unique historical holdings.
The James Taylor
Taylor Collection comprises some of the Wirtz Labor Library's most valuable
and historical materials. These materials are maintained under secure,
limited-access, climate-controlled conditions in the Library's James Taylor
Room because of their unique or historically significant nature, and/or their
relatively frail physical condition. This collection is housed separately from
the Main Library and is available for researchers by appointment only.
The James Taylor Room, which houses the James Taylor Collection, was
dedicated on June 3, 1991, by then U.S. Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin, to the
memory of the late James Taylor (1919-1991). Mr. Taylor was a 50-year employee
of the U.S. Department of Labor, friend of the Library, and champion of
preserving the history of labor. Mr. Taylor was an ardent volunteer for the
Labor Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Phillip Arnow award in 1984. The
Arnow Award is given to outstanding DOL employees
Trade Union Periodicals
The Wirtz Labor Library provides access to an extensive collection of
union periodicals, which are located in a separate section of the stacks in the
Main Library. This valuable collection of trade union periodicals is divided
into U.S. Unions and Foreign Unions representing both a wide variety of trades
and a growing number of nationalities. The items in this collection are
generally more current than the periodicals in the Folio Collection.
The Folio Collection
The Folio Collection consists primarily of trade union serials, both domestic and foreign, which date back in some cases to the early 1890s. The folios encompass a wide variety of items including newspapers, periodicals and statistical summaries that describe and depict the rise of the labor movement in this country and abroad (Sample). This collection of rare and valuable materials consists of some 750 titles.
Due to the fragile condition and importance of the material in the Folio Collection, it is available for researchers by appointment only.
The Portrait Collection
The U.S. Department of Labor showcases a unique collection of original
paintings of former
Secretaries of Labor that are located throughout the Wirtz Labor
Library. The latest addition to this collection is a portrait of Elaine L. Chao,
who served as U.S. Secretary of Labor from 2001 to 2009. It is the custom to
have the portrait painted after the Secretary leaves office.