Charlie’s Monday Markers

Featuring weekly programs highlighting the many labor markers throughout Western Pennsylvania and the people and events that made them significant.

Dr Charles McCollester is the Retired Director of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Labor Center, and he is a founding member and past President of the Battle of Homestead Foundation.

128 years later, the Homestead Strike of 1892 retains its capacity to shock. It was a defining event which revealed in the starkest terms the respective strength of labor and management in America in the 1890s. The crushing defeat of the workers meant that there would be no recognized trade unionism and collective bargaining in steel and other heavy industries until the 1930s.

Martin Robison Delany was born free on May 6, 1812, in Charles Town, Virginia, now within West Virginia. The youngest of five children, Delany was the son of a slave and grandson of a prince, according to family reports. Delany was home schooled by his mother at first but he continued his education in Pennsylvania, alternating with work to help support his family.

When he was 19, he walked the 160 miles to Pittsburgh to attend the Bethel Church school for blacks and Jefferson College, where he studied Latin, Greek and classics. He also apprenticed with several abolitionist doctors to learn medicine. In Pittsburgh, Delany became active in abolitionist activities, including leading the Vigilance Committee that helped relocate fugitive slaves, helping to form the Young Men’s Literary and Moral Reform Society, and joining the integrated militia to help defend the black community against white mob attacks.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Martin Delany’s Pa History and Museum Commission marker is located at 5 PPG Place, 3rd Avenue and Market Street, Pittsburgh, Pa.

In this video, Charlie is describing the life and contributions of Crystal Eastman (1881-1928), a pioneer in Worker Health and Safety Studies and author of Worker Compensation laws. Crystal Eastman was also a pioneer in Women’s rights and Suffrage. 

Eastman’s investigation of industrial accidents in Pittsburgh, published as “Work Accidents and the Law” (1910), seemed to be a legal and political breakthrough. She radically revised inherited common law standards, advocating a re-distribution of risk and loss to reconcile common law with common justice. Her formula seemed simple enough. “As I see it,” she explained in 1910, “the risks of trade, borne through all these years by the workmen alone, should in all wisdom and justice be shared by the employer.”

In recognition of her research, Crystal Eastman’s Pa History and Museum Commission marker is located in Market Square, Pittsburgh, Pa.

View an interactive map of the many historical labor sites in the Pittsburgh area: