Labor Day Parade, 1894

Omaha’s Labor Day parade of 1894 was a “wonderfully successful affair, and was viewed from railings, steps, windows and sidewalks by fully 30,000 people,” according to the Omaha World-Herald of September 4, 1894. “A careful estimate of the number of men in line places the figures at fully 3,000.”

“The three orators of the day, Thomas I. Kidd of Chicago, Sidney J. Kent of Lincoln and D. Clem Deaver, and Julius Meyer of the Central Labor union rode in a prominent place in the line. Omaha Central Labor union, eighty strong, the central representative body of labor, marched four abreast with S. P. Smith in the lead as color bearer and C. L. Newstrom as marshall.”

Descriptions followed of each union’s representatives in the parade-their costumes, banners, and general appearance. Seventy cigar makers marched in white shirts with red rose boutonnieres. Brickmakers, “all attired in white shirts and trousers,” carried a “gift banner of last winter’s international convention at this city.” Plumbers and steam and gas fitters had a group photograph taken before joining the parade.

Several unions attracted special attention. Each of forty marching electrical workers “had a small storage battery in his pocket with wires connecting with a frame upon which there were thirty various colored globes and several alarm bells.” The Tin, Sheet Iron, and Cornice Makers’ Union No. 3 sported “real stovepipe hats of galvanized and polished tin, and canes and the men marched along in a jaunty manner.” The horseshoers’ union “had a novel exhibition in their wagon, on which M. Conley and A. Mason were stationed, turning out shoes.” Their section of the parade also featured a decorated wagon with a genuine anvil chorus, keeping time with a South Omaha band which followed. (Five other bands also provided music for parade participants and spectators.)

Besides laboring men, the parade also included “city and county officials [who] turned out to express themselves as well pleased with the men of brawn who elected them to their respective positions.” Omaha sales clerks and business advertisers “formed the finishing touch in a way which indicated their sympathy with the Labor day movement and demonstrated the extent and strength of their forces. All sorts of floats, wagons, carriages and vehicles were in line, representing almost every imaginable article of domestic consumption. . . . and the statesman, politician, pretty girls, mothers, city dads and dudes, and the clerks and salesmen were glad that they were in it at the finish.” 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.