Labor History News

  • 24 Jun 2011 10:14 AM | Posted by GNHLHA
    The Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives is pleased to announce the completion of its Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company (CCI) Records Digitization Project.  Funded with a grant from the National
    Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the project features a website with access to approximately 70,000 digital reproductions of historic records documenting the history of the iron mining and lumber industries in Michigan's central Upper Peninsula.   The records are from the Agents' Annual Reports of CCI's Lumber, Land, and Mining Departments, spanning the years 1892 to 1960.  Also included are 235 historic maps documenting land use and mining activities. Users can access these documents by clicking on links within the modified Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aid.  The website also includes historic mining photographs that are linked to the Archives' Flickr photostream, lesson plans for Michigan fourth graders, and an instructional blog for archivists and other public historians who would like to learn more about the digitization of historic materials. 

    Archivists and researchers can view the website at

    For more information, please contact Rachael Bussert, Project Archivist, at
    906-227-1225 or
  • 24 Jun 2011 10:10 AM | Posted by GNHLHA

    On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides

    First Hand Experiences of New Haven Freedom Fighters
    and what we can do today

    A discussion by
    Lula White, Heidi Herrick, Yzvonne Gore, Craig Gauthier

    Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 1 p.m.

    New Haven Peoples Center
    37 Howe Street
    New Haven CT 06511
    (203) 624-8664


    A video will be made

  • 10 Jun 2011 9:31 AM | Posted by GNHLHA
    Hi friends: 
    The CT Center for a New Economy (CCNE) has asked me to lead a walking tour of Hartford as a fundraiser on Tuesday, June 21 at 5:30.  A leaflet is attached.  This is a NEW tour, not the one we have done in the past, and it centers around Dutch Point.
    It's fun, interactive (if you want it to be), and informative (I learned a lot putting it together).  The walk focuses on "people's history," that is, the stories left out of the history books. If you are like me, learning about our local past is inspiring.
    The same kind of important organizing work that YOU are doing right now-- on labor, civil rights, anti-war, tenant/homeless and other social justice issues-- has been done for more than 100 years here in Hartford.
    Most of all, this is a great way to help CCNE and its important work.
    The attached leaflet gives all the details and who to contact.  Hope to see you there!
    Steve Thornton

  • 18 May 2011 1:01 PM | Posted by GNHLHA
    Paula and Frank Panzarella received this year's Augusta Lewis Troup Pass It On Awards at the GNHLHA Annual Meeting on May 15th!

    Missed it? Enjoy some photos from the event which are posted on our Facebook page by clicking here>>

  • 20 Apr 2011 5:17 PM | Posted by GNHLHA

    On May 1, 2011 at 3 pm, 6th and 8th grade students from Katherine Brennan and Worthington Hooker Schools of New Haven, CT will convene at the May Day Festival on the New Haven Green to celebrate labor history with a reading and musical performance.  The performance marks the culmination of the “Family Work History Project,” a collaboration between the Greater New Haven Labor History Association and New Haven Public Schools which began in February.  The performance is free and open to the public.

    Students will read excerpts from essays they have written about mentors in the labor force, based on material they have gathered through oral history interviews about their mentors’ work experiences.  Following the reading, music educator and song-writer Mike Kachuba will lead the students in song with “They Did Their Part,” an original composition he has written based on the students’ collective stories. 

    Kachuba is known for his curriculum-based work with children across Connecticut.  When writing the song, he sought to incorporate common themes from the students’ essays, including immigration, struggle, perseverance and lessons learned from those who came before us.  He says: “I think the music has a bit of a ‘cool’ factor to it, and I think it's also easy for people to sing.”  For more information about Mike Kachuba, visit

    GNHLHA is in the process of raising funds to repeat and expand the scope of the project for the 2011-2012 school year. Contact us at (203) 777-2756 ext. 2 or if you would like to contribute.
  • 18 Apr 2011 10:41 AM | Posted by GNHLHA
    Click here to download our April Newsletter
  • 10 Apr 2011 11:24 AM | Posted by GNHLHA
    Click here for article source
    By Jim Shelton, Register Staff
    NEW HAVEN — They’ve got their shoulders to the grindstone at the Greater New Haven Labor History Association these days.

    Not that it’s ever been a walk in the park, generating buzz about the story of organized labor in the city, but lately it’s taken on something of a crisis management vibe.

    Labor history is shifting by the minute. In Wisconsin, state officials recently sought to shut down certain collective bargaining rights for state workers. Legislators in other states are considering similar measures. Here in New Haven, there have been rallies, protests and an appearance by the Rev. Al Sharpton in response to the city’s negotiations with local labor unions.

    Meanwhile, a surging chorus of politicians and taxpayers contends that labor unions are breaking the backs of state and local budgets.

    What better time, then, to revisit the 1902 trolley workers’ strike, or the teachers’ strike of 1975?

    “Younger people, even people in my generation, don’t understand how hard the struggle was in days gone by,” says Joan Cavanagh, archivist and director of the labor history organization. “Where did the five-day workweek come from? Where did the weekend come from? They didn’t just happen. People lost their lives to get them.”

    Actually, Cavanagh’s group would be making its presence known anyway, even if the labor movement weren’t already at Threat-Level-Midnight.

    Its traveling exhibit, “New Haven’s Garment Workers: An Elm City Story,” is currently on display at the New Haven Free Public Library; a second exhibit, focusing on workers at New Haven’s Winchester plant, is being readied for later this year. Self-guided tours of labor history landmarks in the city are available for download at the group’s website,

    In addition, the group launched a pilot program in which nearly 100 local students conducted oral interviews with adults in the labor force. There’s also a push to make labor history part of the history curriculum in Connecticut public schools.

    “If we don’t watch out, kids will never know any of this,” says Nick Aiello, 86, president of the association and former business agent for Amalgamated Clothing Workers Local 125.

    Aiello says he can’t recall a tougher time for putting out the word about labor history. Part of the problem, he speculates, is that organized labor has lost some of its punch and American workers are no longer united.

    “It’s a bigger struggle today,” he says.

    Of course, local labor history is full of struggles.

    You had the printers strike of 1871, which included a 500-person rally on the Green; the Candee Rubber Co. walkouts of 1884, when an employer refused to open factory windows during a sweltering heat wave; and the Franklin Street fire of 1957, when dozens of workers were killed or injured in a blaze at a former carriage factory.

    “Moments in New Haven Labor History,” a 2004 book written by Neil Hogan and published by the Greater New Haven Labor History Association, details those incidents and many others. For example, it notes the working conditions of garment workers in 1927:

    “You went to work at seven, you got out at six, even on Saturday,” said 14-year-old Beatrice Bonafacio, who worked at Lerner’s Dress Shop. “And if you didn’t finish the work, you’d go in on Sunday, or you didn’t have a job on Monday. Sometimes you made $4 a week. Sometimes you made $5. There was no air conditioning, no fans, nothing of the sort. Filth. But you had to work.”

    More recently, there was a six-month strike at the Olin Winchester Sporting Arms factory in 1979, and striking Yale University workers in 1984 drew national attention.

    Aiello and several others founded the local labor history association in 1988, sensing that a vital link to labor’s past was fading from memory. The group’s first project was to organize a reunion of 300 garment industry workers and gather oral histories from them.

    Since then, the group has created a labor almanac, organized a bus tour of labor history sites, gathered and inventoried nearly two dozen collections of labor history memorabilia and commissioned a labor history mural by Susan Bowen at Augusta Lewis Troup School.

    “People seem to forget labor built this country,” says Lula White, a retired New Haven teacher who is a board member of the labor history group. She and her sister (and fellow board member), Dorothy Johnson of Hamden, have been collecting oral histories of former Winchester workers.
  • 08 Mar 2011 10:41 AM | Posted by GNHLHA

    By GNHLHA Member Joelle Fishman

    Today, as public workers are under attack, we salute and stand in solidarity with the leadership of women struggling for union rights, equal pay, social justice and peace.

    International Women's Day was adopted by the Second International Women’s Conference, held in Copenhagen in 1910. The date was chosen to commemorate a huge demonstration of New York women garment workers held on March 8, 1908 to demand the vote and to urge the building of a powerful garment trades' union.

    The success of the 1908 demonstration became known internationally among socialist women.  Clara Zetkin proposed that March 8 become an International Women’s Day each year dedicated to fighting for equal rights for all women in all countries.

    In March, 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist fire took the lives of 140 working women and children in New York City. That same year women textile workers of Lawrence, Massachusetts went on strike for "Bread and Roses"  The cause of working women of all races and nationalities and their struggle for equality remains at the center of International Women's Day.

    In 1975 International Women's Day was adopted by the United Nations. The UN is now celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the first celebration.

    The important role women are playing not only in Wisconsin but around the country and the world, and in Connecticut, inspires us and gives us confidence that we can succeed in the struggle for women's rights, workers' rights and a more just and equal world.

    Joelle Fishman, Chair, Connecticut CPUSA
  • 04 Mar 2011 3:59 PM | Posted by GNHLHA
    The UConn Waterbury Library Celebrates Women’s History Month ….

    Worker at the Cheney Brothers Silk Manufacturing Company of
    Manchester, Connecticut, ca. 1925, Courtesy of the Dodd Center

    All in a Day's Work:
    Photographs of Women in Connecticut Industry from the collections
    of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

    View Images of the American Brass Company, Waterbury; Cheney Brothers Silk Manufacturing
    Company; Manchester, Farrel Company, Ansonia; New Brtiain Machine Company, New Britain;
    New Haven Railroad, Wauregan-Quinebaug Company, Wauregan

    Women in Connecticut have a long and rich history as workers. Their traditional place
    was in their own homes, where nearly all household goods and services produced were
    done so through women's labor. The Industrial Revolution ushered in a new role, that of
    paid worker, and women entered the workforce in significant numbers. Economically
    disadvantaged women augmented their household income by working in the textile
    mills and industrial factories that proliferated across Connecticut. By 1900, 1 in 5 females
    over age 10 were paid workers, and 25% of them worked in manufacturing.

    About the Photographs

    The photographs in this exhibit are from the Business History Collections in Archives &
    Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center of the University of
    Connecticut in Storrs. Many of the companies had their start as family-owned and
    operated small businesses and evolved into nationally known producers of such
    products as brass, hardware, machine tools, cutlery, clocks and watches, silk and other
    textiles, and toiletries. The collections are composed of a wide variety of materials
    including administrative and financial records, maps and facilities drawings, and
    advertising samples, as well as thousands of photographs depicting the diversity of
    workers and their work.

    Save the Date! Panel Discussion on March 31, 2011, at 4:00 p.m. in the MPR
    Co-sponsored by the OLLI program at UConn and the Library.

    For more info, contact:

    Shelley Goldstein
    Library Director
    University of Connecticut at Waterbury Campus
    99 East Main St., Waterbury CT 06702
    (203) 236-9908
    Visit the UConn Waterbury Blog for updates on resources and services:

Greater New Haven Labor History Association  •  267 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06513 • •

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