An exhibit titled “Working for Change: Stories of Labor History in Illinois” greets visitors as they enter the North-South Corridor of the main library on the UIUC campus. A series of six cases filled with objects ranging from flyers and course schedules to photos and news clippings draw on archival materials held at the Illinois History and Lincoln Collections, the University Archives, and the Champaign County Historical Archives.
These cases—and the helpful posters above them—tell the story of the many labor activists who pursued better working conditions for themselves and their co-workers. A walk along the hallway will teach you about early UAW efforts, the laundry strike led by women workers in Champaign-Urbana in 1937, and the labor struggles in Decatur in the 1990s, among others.
The display, which runs through the end of July, celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Steelworkers Summer Institute, one of several labor institutes hosted by the School of Labor and Employment Relations at UIUC.
The University of Illinois Press is pleased to be among the very best labor studies publishers in the country. For further reading on Illinois labor, labor education, and women in the work force, check out these recent titles:
Working Class to College exposes an education class divide that is threatening the American dream of upward social mobility and sowing resentment among those shut out or staggering under crushing debt. The book addresses ways to reduce college costs and shares the inspiring accounts of those who have endured all sorts of hardship—homelessness, an incarcerated parent, dangerously low self-esteem–and fought their way to college and commencement.
Ruth Milkman’s groundbreaking research in women’s labor history has contributed important perspectives on work and unionism in the United States. On Gender, Labor, and Inequality presents four decades of Milkman’s essential writings, tracing the parallel evolutions of her ideas and the field she helped define.
The essays in this collection examine the challenges and opportunities for engaged scholarship in the United States and abroad. A diverse roster of contributors discuss how participation in current labor and social struggles guides their campus and community organizing, public history initiatives, teaching, mentoring, and other activities. They also explore the role of research and scholarship in social change, while acknowledging that intellectual labor complements but never replaces collective action and movement building.
As well as these important titles from our backlist:
This collection represents the thirty-year intellectual trajectory of one of today’s leading historians of gender and labor in the United States. The seventeen essays included in Alice Kessler-Harris’s Gendering Labor History are divided into four sections, narrating the evolution and refinement of her central project: to show gender’s fundamental importance to the shaping of U.S. history and working-class culture.
In Yellow Steel, the first overarching history of the earthmoving equipment industry, William Haycraft examines the tremendous increase in the scope of mining and construction projects, from the Suez Canal through the interstate highway system, made possible by innovations in earthmoving machinery.