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.

Chicago had a thriving labor press in 1925.

Chicago had a thriving labor press in 1925.

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. It’s notable that Chicago alone had 56 papers (not counting locally focused papers). WordPress won’t display the map, but you can link to it here.

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). 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.

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