We’re closed for Labor Day 2015

In honor of Labor Day, Columbia University, SIPA and the Office of Admissions & Financial Aid are closed on Monday, September 7, 2015. We will reopen at 9:00 a.m. EST on Tuesday, September 8, 2015.

While we won’t be available to respond to application inquiries during the long weekend, you can take advantage of the down time by exploring this blog. There are plenty of tips on how to communicate with us, how to write your essays, and how to ask your references for help. You can also Submit An Idea if there’s something in particular you’d like us to write about.

And if you’re curious to know why the United States celebrates Labor Day, here’s some history from the U.S. Department of Labor:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

To help you visualize what that first Labor Day celebration looked like, here’s an illustration of the first Labor Day holiday in NYC, dated 1882.

[Public domain photo: Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882 (Lithographie)]

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.