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Alice Henry (1857–1943)

Italian Woman Home Finisher, illustration, in Alice Henry, A Trade Union Woman, New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1915.
"Italian Woman Home Finisher," illustration, in Alice Henry, A Trade Union Woman, New York: D. Appleton
and Co., 1915.

As an Australian immigrant to the United States, Alice Henry personfied the nexus between immigration and early-20th-century progressive politics by serving as a feminist journalist and labor activist for the Women's Trade Union League (WTUL). Born in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, to Scottish immigrant parents, she attended the Swedenborgian Church, completed a high-school education, and taught briefly. In the mid-1880s, Henry became a feature reporter for the Melbourne Argus and its magazine, the Australian, where she worked for nearly 20 years. She also lectured on various reform topics, such as women's rights, prohibition, and labor. In the 1890s, she became involved with Australian politics, and toward the end of the decade became an anti-imperialist in reaction to the Boer War. In 1905 she represented the Melbourne Charities Organization at a conference in Britain and used that opportunity to leave Australia. Unable to find work in England, she came to the United States, arriving in January 1906.

Henry soon became involved with a group of feminists and reformers and became the office secretary of the Chicago branch of the Women's Trade Union League. She was an active participant in the Progressive Movement of the early 1900s, whose politics blended Marxism and Unitarian humanitarianism. She added a unique dimension to the Progressive labor movement by encouraging an understanding of the British and Australian reform movements.

In 1908, she began to edit the women's section of the Chicago Union Labor Advocate, and in January 1911 became the founding editor of the WTUL's monthly Life and Labor, where she remained as editor (working with Stella Miles Franklin, who later became one of Australia's leading novelists) until 1915. She served in a variety of ways and positions at the WTUL, including investigating the conditions of woman brewery workers (1910), authoring The Trade Union Woman (1915), serving as a field organizer (1918–1920), serving as the director of the education department (1920–1922), and publishing an update of Women and the Labor Movement in 1923. She returned to Britain for a lecture and investigation tour in 1924 when she was 67, and retired to Santa Barbara, California, in 1928. She returned to Melbourne in 1933 and died there ten years later.

Immigration to the US Resources

Listed below are digital resources from the Immigration to the US collection about, or related to, Alice Henry. These resources represent only a selection of Harvard's materials by or about this individual.

The Economic Position of Women. New York: Academy of Political Science, Columbia University, 1910. Chapter: "Women and the Trade-Union Movement in the United States."

Henry, Alice. The Trade Union Woman. New York, D. Appleton and Co., 1915.

Women and the Labor Movement. New York : G.H. Doran Co., 1923.