Labor Day was officially established and signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894 to recognize the contributions of American workers. Smithsonian Libraries houses many books dealing with labor history and trade unionism's hard fought appeals for the right to organize in the workplace, the eight hour workday, the five day work week, workman’s compensation, the abolishment of night work without compensation, equal pay for equal work, and the abolishment of child labor.
Smithsonian Folkways offers a playlist from the Solidarity Sing Along songbook that features several labor songs. Images from the Smithsonian collections document the changing nature of our work. Labor may be physical, use brain power, or be a labor of love—volunteer work. All these are honored this weekend, as we pause to reflect on the nation we have built together.