The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Authorizing Labor Day

Did you know that the first Labor Day celebration was held in New York City on 5 September 1882?  The event was called for by the Central Labor Union (CLU).  After a successful first holiday, the CLU organized a second Labor Day celebration the following year.  In 1884 the CLU marked the first Monday of September as the day to observe the holiday, and encouraged cities around the country to join New York City in celebrating. 

Three years later Massachusetts became one of the first states to declare the first Monday of September an official state holiday. Oregon had been the first, passing legislation in February 1887.

Below is a detail image from Acts and Resolves Passed by the General Court of Massachusetts in the Year 1887 (Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1887) showing the approval of the act to make "Labor's Holiday" a legal holiday. 

Detail of page from Acts & Resolves Passed by the General Court of Massachusetts featuring the text of the law making Labor Day a holiday.









In 1897 Congress passed an act making Labor Day a federal holiday.  

permalink | Published: Saturday, 3 September, 2011, 8:00 AM