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Illinois Railroad Laborer Diary

 Collection — Box: MISC-15, Folder: MSS-0146
Identifier: MSS-0146

Content Description

The one year Excelsior brand diary of an unidentified man from Illinois who worked for the railroad contains entries from January 1 through December 31, 1894. The author and his family appear to have lived near Springfield, Illinois. The entries comment on the weather, strikes by coal mine and railway workers, the Panic of 1893 and ensuing economic depression, and daily life. There are references to injuries to fellow employees in the railyard and some later dying. The diary writer does not seem to be wholeheartedly in agreement with the labor movement and the railroad strike in 1894. Also included in the collection is a five page typed document, "Proceedings Concerning This Diary In the Courts of The Italian Society of Letters."

Partial transcription provided by the seller:

Jan 12, 1894

Bossiness some better Martin was hurt in the yard today don't know how bad the brakeman who was hurt yesterday died last night at the Hospital.

Jan 28, 1894

Has been cloudy today very little if any wind has got warm and has thawed some looks like some snow this evening. Has been my Sunday afternoon off Business seems worse if anything instead of better!

Feb13, 1894

Has been a nice day after the storm clear frost of the day thawing some yesterdays storm said to be one of the worst for years, over a great deal of territory Alice left this morning for Springfield Illinois there she goes to work in the Singer office and we will miss her very much.

April 24, 1894

Business very quiet in the yard. Conditions at present all very peculiar thousands of coal miners strike hundreds of men marching towards Washington.

April 25, 1894

Clear and warm today wind south east. Still it is hard times papers full of the industrial armies marching on to Washington: coal miners strike and railroad employees of the North West on strike. What is this county coming to.

April 26, 1894

The same old story in regard to business everyone seems uneasy cant tell who the result is going to be it looks as tho there is going to be trouble with these industrial armies as they call it.

May 7, 1894

Cloudy this morning with threatening rain wind in the North West. Business very quiet on the road and in the yard. The river is still coming up no change in the coal miners strike yet !

May 14, 1894

Has been warm today very dull on the road today about 600 people here from off the narrow gage railroad by invitation of the businessmen of Buel they had a fine time and were well entertained.

May 15, 1894

Very quiet as usual river on the decline papers still full of news pertaining to strikes and the industrial armies the outlook is anything but encouraging.

May 19, 1894

It was a terrible day on the lakes ! A great many lives lost and vessels lost the cold has done lots of damage in a great many places.

May 31, 1894

The miners strike is still on and it is getting to be a serious matter with the railroads for fuel ! Very dull in the yard today.

July 2, 1894

Everything is very quiet here - no people ? To about to anything but times in Chicago are exciting. The strikers are on top so far.

July 5 1894

Railroading very quiet here ; Caused by the strike matters in Chicago anything but quiet not much change in the strike both sides feel confident of wining. Troops have been called out.

July 6, 1894

Everything very quiet but little business being done by the road it is getting forty once more ? in Chicago are getting serious they are destroying property and lives are being lost also.

June 7, 1894

Pretty fair on the road and in the yard, river is falling again the striking miners are making trouble in places now.

June, 6 1894

Things along the ? Outside of Chicago are very quiet but in Chicago just inside the city there is rioting and blood being split great excitement all over the country.

July 9, 1894

The strike situation is no better the mob part of it has been checked to a certain extent Mr. Cleveland has issued a proclamation which is similar to marital law in Chicago.


  • 1894

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The collection is open for research use. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the Nebraska Public Records Statutes (Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 84-712 through 84-712.09), and other relevant regulations. Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Nebraska Omaha assumes no responsibility.

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The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, Archives & Special Collections will provide information about copyright owners and related information. Securing permission to publish or use material is the responsibility of the researcher. Note that unless specifically transferred to the University of Nebraska at Omaha, any applicable copyrights may be held by another individual or entity. Further information about copyright policy is available at


0.01 Cubic Feet (1 folder) : Diaries

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Custodial History

Purchased from ebay seller matts_diaries_curiosities_dustytomeson April 29, 2019.

Illinois Railroad Laborer Diary
Amy Schindler; Angela Kroeger
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Nebraska at Omaha Archives & Special Collections Repository

Archives & Special Collections
Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library
6001 Dodge St.
Omaha Nebraska 68182-0237 United States