American Labor Museum and the Pietro and Maria Botto House | Haledon, New Jersey

January 14, 2022

Strike meeting at the Botto House 1913 by Mike Conner.
 

Home of the American Labor Museum

 

New Jersey was the home of many silk mills during the last century. 

 

It is now the home of the American Labor Museum.

 

Thousands of people were employed in those silk mills, under deplorable conditions. 

 

Long hours doing difficult and back-breaking work was the norm. Pietro and Maria Botto, immigrants from northern Italy, were two of those workers. 

 

So was their daughter.

Pietro and Maria Botto house in Haledon, New Jersey. Home of the American Labor Museum.

In 1913, the workers decided to go on strike. 

 

Over 25,000 of them walked out, shutting down the silk industry. 

 

They wanted an eight-hour day, among other demands. 


Pietro and Maria Botto House in Haledon, New Jersey

 

The workers were forbidden to strike in Paterson, so they moved over the town line to neighboring Haledon. 

 

Pietro and Maria had a modest house in Haledon, but the front balcony was perfect for giving speeches. At the time, there was much free space and lawns for large crowds to gather in front of the house. 

 

Soon labor leaders from around the country descended upon this home. Upton Sinclair, the author of The Jungle, a famous and muckraking novel of conditions in factories and mills, was one of the speakers. 

 

The Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), better known as the “Wobblies”, also were there. They were considered the “outside agitators” of the strike. 

 

This is a wonderful and succinct video of the strikes: 

 

 

The Botto house is now an official National Historic Landmark and the American Labor Museum is located there.

  sign

Pietro and Maria Botto
bedroom
The Dining Room
kitchen
kitchen

 

More About the American Labor Movement

 To see how the other half lived, you can check out my photos from 2014:  Lambert Castle Parts 1 and 2  

To read more about the silk strikes of 1913: Paterson Silk Strikes of 1913

If you are interested in reading books about labor, please read my reviews of Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, and Punching In: The Unauthorized Adventures of a Front-Line Employee by Alex Frankel.  

 

Thanks for visiting New Jersey Memories!

Comments

  1. That is such a cool place. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. It's a very interesting place. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. I think they were very brave to go on strike and risk losing everything.

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    1. They sure were. They really did risk losing it all.

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  3. What courageous people they were! I would like to read more about it. I knew about the Wobblies and some about the labor movement but had never heard of this couple. Muckracking seems like such a derogatory term for an author who actually I think accomplished a lot with his writing.

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    1. I never cared for the term "muckraking" either. I do agree that the strikers back in those days were very brave.

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  4. Historic events. always interesting. Love their kitchen stove!

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