With the Labor Day holiday weekend upon us, we take a moment to celebrate the
American Worker with this series of historic Kansas City postcards from the early 1900’s,  depicting a number of blue collar work scenarios showing men and women practicing their trade.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in New York on Sept. 5, 1882, planned by the Central Labor Union of New York City. Through the coming years, the idea for a
workers’ holiday spread with the labor movement in New York. New York’s labor unions selected the first Monday of September to honor America’s workers, and the concept spread like wildfire throughout the country during the 1890s.

By 1894, 23 states had adopted resolutions to honor the American labor movement with a holiday in September. In June of that year, Congress passed an act to make
Labor Day an official national holiday.

John Kelley Flour Mills

This Real Photo postcard shows six workers inside the John Kelley Flour Mills in Kansas City’s East Bottoms, circa 1911. It was sent to Mrs. Nathan Story of Essex,
Mass., on April 22, 1911. Two huge flywheels flank the workers, who are look to be standing in front of a boiler, stolidly into the camera.
The Kelley Mill was located roughly
where Rochester Avenue would have intersected with Nicholson. Today, Cargill’s Soybean plant stands on the Kelley site.

Loose-Wiles Biscuit Factory

Two views (above) inside the Loose-Wiles Biscuit factory, circa 1909, part of a thirty card set of promotional postcards used by company salesmen to send to customers who operated country stores. We have card #22 showing women working in the hand dipped chocolate department and card #5 showing a man working at one of the sweet cake machines.

Schwarzschild & Sulzberger Packing Plant

This promotional postcard (above) shows meat cutters working the Beef Killing Floor at Schwarzschild & Sulzberger Meat Packing Company in Armourdale, Kansas. This card is one of a five card, promotional postcard set published for the company’s sales forcein the early 1900’s.

Grading the site for the Witte Engine Works plant at 12th & Winchester in the Blue Valley Industrial District.

This photo postcard shows men using horse drawn graders for the soon to be built Witte Engine Works in the Centropolis District of Kansas City, MO. Centropolis was near present day Truman Road and Winchester in the Blue Valley Industrial District. Witte’s plant was located between 12th and 14th onWinchester, just to the south of the old Ford Plant.

This Real Photo postcard shows three men working in what looks to be some kind of secondary processing plant. A large vat and a smaller machine on the right with what looks like a belt feeder attached on the right. No other publisher or company markings are on the back of this card.

While you’re enjoying your three day weekend, take a moment to celebrate the American Worker and Tradesman.

Here’s a link to a cool, Labor Day piece our own
Dorri Partain wrote last year too.