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American Labor Colleges

The independent labor colleges represented the most radical form of workers' education in the early twentieth century. Work People's College (1903–1941) located in Duluth, Minnesota; Commonwealth College (1925–1939) in Mena, Arkansas; and Brookwood Labor College (1921–1941) in Westchester County, New York, earned the most notoriety. They grew out of the American noncommunist left, namely the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World, which flourished during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Educational progressives also provided intellectual support by serving as trustees and guest lecturers. Although uniquely American, labor college students and teachers knew about the workers' education efforts of their British counterparts.

The labor colleges maintained two educational goals: creating a new social order and preparing worker-students for active service in the labor ...

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