Labor of Love: Revs. Addie and Claude Wyatt Photographs

Addie Wyatt speaking, 1974
Rev. Addie Wyatt speaking at first Coalition of Labor Union Women convention in Chicago, 1974. Source: Chicago Public Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection, Rev. Addie and Rev. Claude Papers, Box 346, Photo 40

Chicagoan Addie Wyatt was a minister, labor activist and civil rights activist who founded the Vernon Park Church of God in 1955 with her husband, Claude Wyatt. The Vivian G. Harsh Collection recently completed the addition of more than 2,800 photos documenting the Wyatts' family life, ministry, and labor and civil rights work from the early 1940s through the 1990s. These photos are part of the Rev. Addie and Rev. Claude Wyatt Papers.

The photographs are arranged into seven separate subseries:

Adding these photos so close to Labor Day seems appropriate given Addie Wyatt’s never-ending concern for the rights of working people.

Wyatt began working in the meatpacking industry in 1941. In the packinghouses, she honed her belief in the principles of organized labor and took a more active role in the United Packinghouse Workers of America, eventually serving as president of her local in 1953.

By the 1960s, she was selected to represent the union internationally. In 1976 she became the first female international vice president in the history of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen and later served as director of its Human Rights and Women’s Affairs and Civil Rights departments.

In 1984, she formally retired from the labor movement, but her work on the picket line, in meeting rooms and halls, at the White House and overseas will always be remembered.

Read more about Wyatt in Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender and Racial Equality.