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Idaho labor herald. : (Boise, Idaho) 1913-1914
Place of publication:
Boise, Idaho
Geographic coverage:
C.H. Shepherd
Dates of publication:
  • -v. 2, no. 28 (Dec. 10, 1914).
  • Began in 1913.
  • English
  • Boise (Idaho)--Newspapers.
  • Idaho--Boise.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205276
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 2, no. 23 (Nov. 7, 1914).
sn 88056074
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Idaho labor herald. November 14, 1914 , Image 1


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Idaho Labor herald and The Gem Worker and the Idaho Labor Herald

On August 7, 1913, John Alden published the first issue of the Idaho Labor Herald in Boise. The slogans "For Toilers in City and Country" and "Co-operation Means Success" bracketed the masthead, with the subtitle, "Published in the interests of Organized Labor- For a Decent Living Wage Scale and Better Working Conditions." These themes of organization and cooperation to improve workers' lives tapped into the nationwide labor movement of the time.

Published as a four-page, six-column weekly paper, the Idaho Labor Herald covered local labor and union activities, reporting on new legislation, trials, victories, and defeats relating to the movement. About one page of each issue was filled with a fictional serial installment. On November 19, 1914, Alden included a piece about the difficulties that had kept him from publishing "as good a paper as we could have liked," but he told his readers that positive changes were coming soon.

The Idaho Labor Herald became the Gem Worker on December 17, 1914. For reasons of copyright and because of business considerations, the paper was renamed the Gem Worker and the Idaho Labor Herald until the end of December. Alden described the Gem Worker as the "successor" to the Herald, without the "errors and mistakes of past mismanagement" : a publication with a clean slate, "absolutely free from partisan bias." The paper remained six-columns in size, and the page count fluctuated between four and six, with the exception of a ten-page Labor Day issue in 1916.

Shortly after launching the Gem Worker, Alden received a letter from the district organizer of the American Federation of Labor, stating that the opinions of the paper were at odds with those of the Federation. Alden believed that there was no inevitable enmity between labor and capital, and that as long as the laborers were provided good wages and safe working conditions, employers were free to pursue profits. The Federation took a harder line, viewing the employer as "nothing more than a flea on the laborer's back" and declaring that the "duty of every Labor paper [should be] to make that clear in the minds of the workers." Eventually, the Federation reached a compromise with the Gem Worker, and the paper became the official organ of the Idaho State Federation of Labor, as well as of the Boise Trades and Labor Council.

The Gem Worker published lists of local businesses sympathetic to the Labor movement or supportive of union workers. Articles included such topics as the fight for the eight-hour workday, the end of child labor, municipal ownership of public utilities, injury and disability compensation, and the progress of local and national political candidates friendly to workers' interests. Mirroring the sentiments of the wider labor movement, the Gem Worker was strongly anti-immigrant and supported a rigorous citizenship examination and language test to keep unskilled immigrants, desperate for work, from undermining the efforts of the movement.

Alden published the last issue of the Gem Worker on January 18, 1917.

Provided by: Idaho State Historical Society