More on the Bread and Roses Strike

While the strike in Guerdon was fictional, the Strike for Three Loaves in Lawrence, MA–now better known as the Bread and Roses Strike–was real, and really did inspire a wave of textile strikes up and down the East Coast as well as inspiring changes to child labor laws and providing rhetorical fodder for furious pamphleteers of several different political persuasions.

There’s a wealth of information about the strike from many perspectives. Here are a few links to get you started:

The Lawrence History Center’s digital exhibit “Bread and Roses Strike of 1912” gives a concise, lively introduction to the conditions surrounding the strike and the people involved on both sides of it, along with many photographs.

The LHC’s Lewis Hine Project features Lewis Hine’s photos of ten of the many child workers in Lawrence, together with Joe Manning’s interviews with the descendants of the pictured children.

Twelve-year-old Camella Teoli’s testimony to Congress about her work injury, which helped to swing public opinion toward the strikers, can be read online on the History Matters website for students and instructors.

IWW member Justus Ebert’s 1913 book The Trial of a New Society gives a vivid, almost contemporaneous, and highly partisan account of the Lawrence Strike–and also of the trial of strike leaders Joseph Ettor and Arturo Giovanitti for murder. (While nobody alleged that Ettor or Giovanitti fired the shot that killed Anna LoPizzo on the edge of a tense standoff between police and strikers, the prosecution argued that their agitation in support of the strike had led to rioting and had therefore caused her death.). You can read the book free online here, or hear my audio recording of it free here.


Bruce Watson’s book Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream gives a comprehensive and very readable account of the strike, replete with primary source quotes from all sides.