Foote Bros. Gear and Machine Company


In the 1920s, Foote Bros. was located at 213 N. Curtis Street, but by World War II the factory had moved to the burgeoning industrial corridor in the Brighton Park community area at 5225 South Western Boulevard. This photo of Captain Foss, United States Marine Core Reserves, visiting the Foote Bros. plant evokes the industrial expansion in Chicago during World War II. Although Chicago's industries had a relatively late start in war production, by 1942 scores of plants converted from production for the consumer market to war production. Foote Bros. produced gears for Pratt and Whitney engines used in military planes and in blimps that flew over U.S. Naval convoys, alerting them to approaching submarines and other enemy craft. The skilled work at Foote Bros. was largely the domain of white workers. Also shown here were some of the women who famously entered industrial work at greater rates than ever before the war. In the 1940s, workers at Foote Bros belonged to the radical United Electrical Workers (UE) union. Between 1945 and 1949, the workers split over membership in UE; the Chicago Tribune reported on "revolt against Communist leadership" in the union. In May 1950, after UE's leadership refused to sign anti-Communist affidavits and the CIO expelled the union, Foote Bros. employees voted 444 to 165 to end their affiliation with UE, joining the CIO's International Union of Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers.

Labor Trail





5225 S Western Blvd/s Western Ave

Chicago History Museum, ICHi - 22895

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at:

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer