Terence Vincent Powderly (1849–1924) was a national celebrity who personified the American labor movement in the late nineteenth century during his tenure (1879–93) as head of the Knights of Labor, the era's largest organization of American workers. Unions were especially important in his native Pennsylvania and his reform efforts found a sympathetic political audience. He was also a dedicated public servant with three terms (1878–84) as a progressive mayor of Scranton and a reform-minded federal bureaucrat (1897–1924) in Washington, DC. In addition, he supported Irish nationalism, serving as a member of the secret pro-independence Clan Na Gael society and the Irish Land League political organization that favored the rights of tenant farmers. He was often photographed, or had photographs given to him, and late in life became an avid photographer with thousands of photographs preserved in his personal papers housed at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

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