The Homestead Strike

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 10 pages.
This role play activity on the famous 1892 Homestead Strike, explores the possibility of solidarity among workers of very different backgrounds and at different levels in the workplace hierarchy.

  • Themes: Immigration, Labor, Organizing, Social Class | Reading Levels: High School | Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free)
The Pinkerton men leaving the barges after the surrender. Harper's Weekly, July 16,1892. Image: WikiCommons.

The Pinkerton men leaving the barges after the surrender. Harper’s Weekly, July 16,1892. Image: WikiCommons.

Students are often skeptical about the possibility of people genuinely working together when at least their short-term interests appear in conflict. The Homestead Strike is a historical test case that may challenge their skepticism. In this widely used role play, students become participants in one of the most famous strikes in U.S. history, the 1892 strike in Homestead, Pennsylvania. [Learn more about the strike from the Battle of Homestead Foundation and a chapter from Strike! by Jeremy Brecher.]

In the Homestead Strike role play, students begin to explore some of the themes that are important in understanding the relationship between workers, owners, and government, after the 19th century: different types of unions; the role of government intervention; new capital formations that stimulated industry-wide organization among workers.

The Power In Our HandsAvailable for Download

This is one of the 16 lessons available from The Power In Our Hands. Other lessons available for individual download are:

Unit I: Basic Understandings
Unit II: Changes in the Workplace/”Scientific Management”
Unit III: Defeats, Victories, Challenges
Unit IV: Our Own Recent Past
Unit V: Continuing Struggle


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