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
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.
over 20,000 pages and images we have
accumulated more than 50 years of
Reuben and Illinois State AFL-CIO
minutes, newsletters, photographs and
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
-Carl Soderstrom, M.D.
-Chris M. Stevens