May Day!

Think Rare Books and Special Collections is just about beautiful things? Well think again – rare book libraries have long been central to the preservation of testimonies, facts, and reflections central to social arguments of all kinds.

This morning, singing of the Internationale erupted on the Montreal metro. If the day has put you in the spirit, come by and see some of the roots of support for workers here in Canada and around the world from earlier days.

See, for example, Daniel De Leon’s Socialist Reconstruction of Society. Originally delivered as an address to unionists in Chicago in 1905 under the title “The preamble of the Industrial Workers of the World,” the text has been reprinted many times. This copy dates from 1944.


Socialist Reconstruction of Society: the industrial vote, by Daniel De Leon (New York : New York Labor News Co., 1944). HD8055 I5 D4 1944 Rare Books/Special Collections – Lande-Arkin Canadiana. Inserted is a 2-sided flyer for the Socialist Labor Party of Canada.

This 1944 copy had affixed inside it (now loose) a note by the Socialist Labor Party of Canada with a description of its aims, an address to contact for more such publications, and an advertisement of the official publishing arm of the party. With the flyer is a pre-paid postcard to join the Canadian SLP:


Back of a pre-paid postcard (for 1 cent) to join the Socialist Labor Party of Canada. ca 1944. Tipped into De Leon’s Socialist Reconstruction of Society

See also material from outside of Canada. The book figured below, Zabastovka by N. Adolʹf, published in Moscow in 1931, is about the 1930 Berlin metal-workers strike. The work is for children, just one of many books from the early Soviet era in McGill’s significant collection of Children’s Soviet books. Many of these, which include a great deal of striking art,  can be viewed online:


Zabastovka, by N. Adolʹf. (Moskva [Moscow] : Molodai︠a︡ gvardii︠a︡, 1931). Children’s Books Soviet A36Z3 1931 [By Consultation] Rare Books/Special Collections

Happy May Day!


Leave a Comment