More Labor Press Data

Following up on the 1925 American Labor Press Directory data set, I’ve worked up a set from the 1940 volume of the same title. Unlike it’s predecessor, the 1940 volume reflects the mainstream status of the labor movement. It was compiled through a WPA project directed by labor economist John R. Commons at the University of Wisconsin.

Of the 680 newspapers listed, only a couple radical papers remain, and there are no (zero) non-English papers. The 1925 directory had about 60 non-English newspapers. Some drop off might be attributed to the passing of the immigrant generation, but more likely that Commons, et al. didn’t think it was important. Still, the 1940 volume reflects the geographic spread of unionism after 1935 with many more papers on the west coast. You can search the data set here. There is also a 1946 “Labor Who’s Who” that includes a much smaller Press Directory. Still waiting on a better quality scan to get the whole directory.

Mapping the Labor Press

I recently discovered the 1925 American Labor Press Directory, compiled by the same crew that put together the Labor Who’s Who. Luckily, the press directory (ALPD) is much easier to convert to data. There is less information in each entry, and the entries are more regular. Craig Messner at the Center for Digital Humanities did an initial run at it to show me how it could be done. Then I put in the hours with OpenRefine and Excel.

Here’s my first map. It shows about 250 of the 800 news sources in the directory, mainly labor, radical, and farmer-labor papers with a national audience. I’ve updated the map with most of the local, Canadian, and Mexican newspapers listed in the directory. It’s notableĀ  that Chicago alone had 56 papers (not counting locally focused papers).

What I would like to do next is create links between the ALPD and the ALWW, and between both data sets and public sources like Wikidata. For instance, Vern Smith was the editor of Industrial Solidarity, published at 3333 Belmont in Chicago. His Wikidata entry is here, and links to his Virtual International Authority File (VIAF), which indicates that he is also the author of four books (at least one is wrong). A stronger example is Earl Browder, editor of the Worker’s Monthly (Wikidata, VIAF, LOC Name Authority) The point being there is already linkable data available, and there should be a way to use it to enrich these data sets and vice versa.

But for now, there is more cleaning to do. The local labor papers section is a mess.