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Civic LaborsScholar Activism and Working-Class Studies$
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Dennis Deslippe, Eric Fure-Slocum, and John W. Mckerley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040498

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040498.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Making History Every Day

Making History Every Day

The Iowa Labor History Oral Project and Popular Education

(p.159) Chapter 10 Making History Every Day
Civic Labors

Jennifer Sherer

University of Illinois Press

In this chapter, the author presents an approach to teaching labor history drawn from her experience as an educator at the University of Iowa Labor Center. In particular, she focuses on the Iowa Labor History Oral Project, initiated by the Iowa Federation of Labor in the 1970s to document the experiences of workers across the state. Workers encountering these oral histories in classrooms or union halls not only learn about Iowa's labor history, but they also gain a clearer view of the contemporary workplace and organizing challenges they face; this process subordinates narrative and historical context to stimulate activism in the present and future by drawing on commonalities between present and past. The author chronicles the history and educational ambitions of the project, highlighting the creative ways in which the Labor Center harnesses this resource in educational outreach to workers. She shows that oral histories work well as an educational tool because they bring the personal and emotional experiences of workers to the surface, enabling participants to relate to one another and to labor's history.

Keywords:   teaching, labor history, University of Iowa Labor Center, Iowa Labor History Oral Project, Iowa Federation of Labor, workers, oral histories, Iowa, activism, educational outreach

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