“I have a print Robert Rauschenberg made for the 100th anniversary of the American Federation of Labor. To me, it symbolizes my own transition from buying decorations to respecting art—and the art of labor.”

St Louis labor lawyer Bruce Feldacker and his wife Barbara have collected over 400 paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture on the theme of work and the role of workers in this country and around the world. The breadth of style, the century-long time span, and the range of artists all make the collection a treasure for students of American art and American labor history.

In 2004 the Feldackers designated the collection as a promised gift to the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, where some of the works are currently on display. Public images of workers in America tend to be limited—and often stereotyped. We hope this first installment of images from the collection will spark discussion—and research. If you have additional information about these works please contact us or share it on our facebook page.

Working Overtime Malcolm & Mary Ann Owen circa early 1990s
Decorative art—Sculpture

Image courtesy of the Feldacker Collection

Decorative Arts

Train Porter Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Ceramic Figurine

Glass Maker Fenton Art Glass Company
1970
Decorative Art—Plate

Screw Louis De Christopher
circa mid 1990s
Decorative Art—Metal

Hairdresser Artist Unknown
circa 1950s
Decorative Art—Ceramic Figurine

Butcher Artist Unknown
circa 1950s
Decorative Art

Zelandia Bakery 50th Anniversary Plaque Artist Unknown
1950
Decorative Art—Ceramic

Teacher Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Porcelain

Worker with Axe Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Wood Carving

Worker Opening Barrel Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Wood Carving

Tractor with Driver Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Metal Assemblage

Coal Wagon F. Lilly
1908
Decorative Art—Sculpture, Coal

Miner Rullo
circa 1950s
Decorative Art—Table Lamp

Blacksmith holding a wheel Artist Unknown
circa early 1900s
Decorative Art—Metal/Bronze

Welder Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Sculpture, Metal Assemblage

Laborer Shoveling Artist Unknown
circa early 1990s
Decorative Art—Bronze

Working Overtime Malcolm & Mary Ann Owen
circa early 1990s
Decorative Art—Sculpture

African American Worker with Hammer Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Ceramic

African man gathering crops (or roots) Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Metal

Lathe Jonny Dalton
circa early 1990s
Decorative Art—Metal

Bricklayer Artist Unknown
Decorative Art—Glass

News Illustrations

Labor’s New Bill of Rights Daniel Fitzpatrick
1933
News Illustration

Taft-Hartley Act Daniel Fitzpatrick
1949
News Illustration

Where He Keeps the Labor Vote W. A. Rogers for Harpers
1908
News Illustration

The Strike in East St. Louis T. de Thulstrup for Harper's Weekly
1886
News Illustration

Parade of N.Y. Freight Handlers B.C.D. Weldon
News Illustration

Photography

Craftman’s Hands Bernard Waxman
Photograph

Arkansas Prison Labor Bruce Jackson
circa 1970s
Photograph—B&W

Industrial Scenes, War Workers Gordon Parks
circa 1943-44
Photograph

Posters

You are the Face of Democracy Dennis Detoye
Poster

A Spiritual Poster Charles Criner
2000
Poster

Jobs, Justice, Peace American Postal Workers Union
Poster

Our First Century Chicago Federation of Labor
1996
Poster

America’s Labor Heritage Ralph Fasanella
early 1980's
Poster

Martyrdom of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg Charles Keller
circa 1953
Poster

Ship building Artist Unknown
1986
Poster

Association of Women in Industry (Birmington, Alabama) Artist Unknown
circa 1986
Poster

Badges of Pride Smithsonian Institute
Poster

For All These Rights Ben Shahn
1948
Poster

Prints

Business Artist Unknown
circa late 1980s
Print—Lithograph

Heroes of 9/11 Tracy Sugarman
circa early 2000s
Print—Gicle

Nancy Jane Michael J. Gallagher
circa 1937
Print—Lithograph, B&W

Sharecroppers M. Dollard
1936
Print—Etching B&W

Swing Shift Will Barnet
circa 1980s
Print—Etching/Aquatint

A Women’s Work is Never Done Yolanda Lopez
Print—Screenprint

Sweatshop William Gropper
1934
Print—Lithograph

Workers United (Climbing Workers on Scaffold) Pat Gagala
circa 1990
Print—Woodcut

Steel Valley Lozowick
1936, 1942
Print—Lithograph

Factory Series J.L. Steg
1951
Print—Lithograph

Bath Ship Build Carrol Thayer Berry
1941
Print—Wood Block Engraving

Going to Work Ralph Fasanella
1982
Print—Serigraph

Labor’s Centennial Robert Rauschenberg
1981
Print—Lithograph

Sculpture

Banana Worker Artist Unknown
circa 2001
Sculpture—Wood Carving

Glassblower Rousseau
circa early 1900s
Sculpture—Metal Figure

Tapping the Heat Raymond Elozua
1989
Sculpture—Gouache on Metal

Works on Paper

Visible Work—Invisible Workers Marilyn R. Smith
2006
Work on Paper—Watercolor