Steven Parfitt

PhD in History (Nottingham), BA in History and Economics, BA(Hons)and MA(Hons)in History (Auckland)

  • Teaching Fellow in History

Steven's research addresses the social history of Britain and the United States in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the global history of labour and labour movements. Most of his published work deals with the global history of an American social movement, the Knights of Labor, including a book with Liverpool University Press: Knights Across the Atlantic: The Knights of Labor in Britain and Ireland. This is in addition to numerous articles and book chapters on the Knights, and on the history of the American labour movement during the First World War. His work has appeared in prestigious British, American, Australian, New Zealand and Dutch journals.

He is currently working on a global history of the Knights, titled The First-and-a-half International. This book will bring together new research along with the arguments from his published work. It will emphasise the importance, hitherto under-recognised, of the Knights to global labour history. He has also assembled a collection of the writings of a pioneer woman trade unionist, Emma Paterson, which should be published in 2019 with Nottingham Trent Editions. His next project concerns the issue of precarious labour and the idea of a “precariat,” a word that has become widely used by politicians and activists as well as by academics, in historical perspective.

In articles aimed at the general public, he has drawn connections between historical and contemporary history for the GuardianTheConversation.comJacobinIn These TimesLabor NotesOpenDemocracy, and the Times Higher Education Supplement. He has also worked with the Trades Union Congress Library to create a public exhibition on the historic ties between the British and American Labour movements, provisionally titled “A Special Relationship,” which opened in February 2018 at the Working-Class History Museum.

His teaching load this year (still provisional) is:

Semester 1

  • Atlantic World (lectures)
  • Dissertation (supervision)

His office hours are 10-12 Friday.

Semester 2

  • Slavery in a Global Context (seminars)
  • Berlin Field Trip (supervising)
  • Dissertation (supervision)

Office hours for semester 2 TBC.

Selected publications

Full publication list


  • 2017. Knights Across the Atlantic: The Knights of Labor in Britain and Ireland. University of Liverpool Press.
  • 2018. (edited with Matthew Kidd, Lorenzo Costaguta, and John Tiplady) Workers of All Countries Unite? Working-Class Nationalism and Internationalism Until 1945. Cambridge Scholars Press.

Articles and Book Chapters

  • 2018. “Hadyn Sanders,” in Keith Gildart and David Howell (eds.), Dictionary of Labour Biography: Vol. XIV. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2018. “The Knights of Labor and the British Trade Unions, 1880-1900,” in Yann Beliard and Emmanuelle Avril (eds.), Labour Disunited. Manchester University Press.
  • 2018. “Academic Casualisation in the UK,” International Labor and Working-Class History, 93: 221-27.
  • 2018. (with Lorenzo Costaguta, Matthew Kidd and John Tiplady) “Working-Class Nationalism and Internationalism Until 1945,” in Workers of All Lands Unite: Working-Class Nationalism and Internationalism Until 1945, Cambridge Scholars Press.
  • 2017. “Powderly Will Go to Paris: The Paris Exposition and the Knights of Labor,” International Labor and Working-Class History, 92: 183-212.
  • 2017. “Constructing the Global History of the Knights of Labor,” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, 14:1: 13-37.
  • 2017. “A Nexus Between Labour Movement and Labour Movement: The Knights of Labor and the Financial Side of Global Labour History,” Labor History, 58:3: 288-302.
  • 2016. "Writing the History of the Australian Knights of Labor.” Labour History, 110: 1-18.
  • 2015. “The First-and-a-half International: The Knights of Labor and the History of International Labour Organization in the Nineteenth Century,” Labour History Review, 80:2: 135-67.
  • 2015. “Bringing the IWW Back In: Industrial Democracy and the Repression of Radicalism in the United States During the First World War,” Socialist History, 46.
  • 2015. “The Justice Department Campaign Against the IWW, 1917-1920,” University of Washington IWW History Project at
  • 2014. “Whither Industrial Democracy? The Federal Government and Organized Labour in the Telegraph Industry During the First World War,” Journal of American Studies, 48:2: 517-39.
  • 2013. “Brotherhood From a Distance: Americanization and the Internationalism of the Knights of Labor,” International Review of Social History, 58:3: 463-91.
  • 2013. “Democracies in Conflict: Union Democracy, Industrial Democracy, and Machinists in Bridgeport, Connecticut during the First World War,” Historical Studies in Industrial Relations, 34: 83-110.
  • 2010. ‘“Working Men Pass Through all the Stages of Union”: The Role of District Assembly 82 of the Knights of Labor in the Formation of the American Railway Union’, Australasian Journal of American Studies, 29:2: 24-44.

In Press

  • Emma Paterson: Feminist, Trade Unionist, Radical: Collected Works (provisionally appearing 2019 with Nottingham Trent Editions).
  • “Global Master Workman: Terence Powderly and Transatlantic Radicalism,” in Frank Jacob and Mario Kessler, Radicalism Beyond Borders: Transatlantic Anarchists and Socialists. Liverpool University Press (appearing 2019).
  •  “The Knights of Labor in North-East England,” North-East History Journal(forthcoming, 2019).
  • “Resisting Casualisation,” The Times Higher Education Supplement (October 2018)
  • “My Nearest Marginal Union,” Red Pepper (October 2018)
  • “New Unionism in the 21st Century,” Monthly Review Online (November 2018)


  • The First-and-a-half International: The Global History of the Knights of Labor, 1860-1920 (proposal submitted to Cambridge University Press).

Public Exhibition

  • 2018. Labour’s Special Relationship? Connections Between the British and American Labour Movements from the Nineteenth Century to the Present, a public exhibition held in conjunction with the Trades Union Congress Library. Launched in February 2018 at the Working-Class Movement Library, Manchester.


Online Essays