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Research Guides

Working for a Living: a solidarity exhibit 1919-2019: Spotlight on Lumber & Logging

Lumber was one of the most dangerous industries in the Pacific Northwest. Loggers often worked ten-hour days for low pay, handled deadly machinery, and lived in squalid, over-crowded conditions. Attempts to organize the lumber industry began in the late 19th century by the shingle weavers, a group of craftsmen within the industry, but their progress, and those of other organizations, fluctuated with the economic status of the industry. In the years preceding 1917, a surplus of labor in the region and the instability of this workforce gave lumber companies the edge when it came to negotiations. However, the United States’ entry into WWI in 1917 led to an increased need for labor and lumber, setting up conditions favorable for the loggers to organize a successful strike. Further labor strikes by lumber workers, including the notable 1935 strike, would occur into the later 20th century.

Lumber and Labor in the Pacific Northwest

Lumber Union Newspapers

A headline from the Timber Worker that states: "Timber Workers of the World Have United!!"

The Timber Worker, 14 January, 1914

A large spruce tree with a young boy lying down in a large cut in the middle of the trunk and surrounded by five men posing for the photo in a forest.

Falling crew and 9 foot wide spruce, Copalis Lumber Company, ca. 1917

University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, CKK0088

Image Collections on Pacific Northwest Logging