“As a colleague and friend, we here at the Reuben G. Soderstrom Foundation are happy to report the progress we have made on the book, 40 Gavels: The Life of Reuben G. Soderstrom and the Illinois AFL-CIO.

During his life Reuben G. Soderstrom served as Illinois State Representative from 1918 to 1936 as well as president of the Illinois State Federation of Labor and AFL-CIO from 1930 to 1970.   Our team has spent an extensive amount of time researching and writing this colorful story of not only Reuben’s life, but also the history of the labor movement state-wide and nationally.

With over 20,000 pages and images we have accumulated more than 50 years of Reuben and Illinois State AFL-CIO minutes, newsletters, photographs and historical documents.

As a political figurehead Reuben created close personal contacts with some of our nation’s most influential leaders such as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eugene Debs, President Lyndon B. Johnson, President John F. Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King.  Reuben was a frequent White House guest, attending numerous private functions from 1930 onward.

As the spark and driving force behind the merger of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Reuben helped lead the labor movement on a national level.

To commemorate his life’s work, a bronze statue of Reuben has been created by the world famous sculptor, Lonnie Stewart, of Peoria, Illinois.  This statue is a duplicate pose from a photo we discovered of Reuben with Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigning in Mendota, IL in 1920 speaking from the back of a pick up.

In this historical shot, Reuben is seen making an emphatic point at a labor rally in 1920 side by side with FDR.  In his statue’s hand is a gavel, depicting his 40 years as president of the AFL-CIO.  The statue preserving Reuben’s legacy has been placed in his hometown of Streator, IL.

Our contact and website information can be found below.  We look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your time and remembrance of one of our nation’s greatest leaders.”

-Carl Soderstrom, M.D.

-Chris M. Stevens


Who we have reached out to for support thus far:
Representative Frank Mautino
Governor Pat Quinn
Representative Keith Sommer
Senator David Koehler
Representative Michael Madigan
President Trumka of the AFL-CIO
Former President David Walsh of the AFL-CIO
President Jorge Ramirez of the Chicago Federation of Labor
Senator Sue Rezin
Representative Pam Roth
Secretary of the Department of Transportation Ray LaHood


Link to additional pictures

Click to view a few of our photos of Reuben



If you have memories, photos, stories, or information about Reuben G. Soderstrom, please let us know!

Call 309-690-6072 or Email:contactus@reubengsoderstromfoundation.com



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