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Explore Charlotte labor history with new online resource

Front page of Charlotte Labor Journal Feb. 18, 1943

The Charlotte Labor Journal and Dixie Farm News is now available online through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center after being nominated for digitization by staff in Atkins Library. This fascinating newspaper sheds light on the activities and opinions of Charlotte’s organized labor leadership and members during the early to mid-twentieth century. 

This weekly newspaper, which ran from the 1930s through 1950s, focused on local and national labor news as well as topics of national significance. The paper was endorsed by the North Carolina State Federation of Labor, and front page stories tended to follow the activities of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) as well as other labor organizations in and around Charlotte, in the South, and the nation. 

The Charlotte Labor Journal’s perspective was closely aligned with the AFL. Disaffected leaders within the AFL formed the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1935 over a disagreement on how to organize industrial workers, and the two unions were rivals until the CIO rejoined the AFL in 1955 to form the AFL-CIO. The Charlotte Labor Journal’s editors were largely critical of the CIO.

In-between reporting on labor union activities, news, and opinion pieces, the editors made space for lighter fare. In the June 15, 1939 issue, an article, “Wrestling Fans Like the Outdoor Wrestling Card,” describes how wrestling promoter Jim Crockett held the first outdoor wrestling match at Hayman Park in Charlotte (home of the Charlotte Hornets baseball team), which featured Cowboy Luttrall and Matros Kirilenko.

The library holds this rare journal in microfilm, but now anyone can read it online, for free. This paper is one of many local newspapers published in Charlotte and made available through the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center. You can browse local newspapers across North Carolina through this interactive map.  

-Rita Johnston