Monday, September 2, 2013

Holiday or "Labor" Day?

How many of you are camping or barbecuing or doing other fun things today? And how many of you are laboring— even writing? Since we no longer enjoy sleeping on the ground, I will probably be among the latter, slaving away on my WIP (Work in Progress).

A national tribute to the contributions workers have made, Labor Day was originally marked by cities, then a few states, and then became a national holiday in 1894.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor website, more than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."

But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.

What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

March 2013 marked the U.S. Department of Labor's first 100 years of service.

So, back to writing, are any of you writing about the labor movement in history? Is it a murder mystery, a character involved in organizing, or one opposed? Every holiday offers fodder for our writing. Enjoy your holiday, whether you are playing or working!

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in North-central Arizona. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.


  1. Life as usual here on the mountain. When you're "retired" one day is pretty much the same as the next one. My current WIP is set in February--don't know if Valentin's Day will show up on the page yet, as I haven't pinned down the exact dates.

    Terry's Place

  2. "Labor" is such a tricky notion for a writer, isn't it, since it is also our great joy? Seems that in our country a dichotomy is expected to exist between what brings us joy and what puts food on the table, and to the extent possible it is my goal to refuse to enforce it!

    I am writing. Happy Labor Day, and may your labors bring meaning and joy to your lives!

  3. Isn't that the truth, for writers?!
    Is your WIP a romance or a mystery?

  4. Happy Labor Day to all who celebrate the holiday.We had company today, so I did not work, unless you count working outside on my property. My son and I fertilized the front pasture.

  5. Interesting that we have a day to celebrate laborers yet minimum wage is still poverty level pay. We used to respect hard work. Now we consider it "unskilled labor."


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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