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A history of labor told from the grassroots on up

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

Return to a conversation about Iowa's labor history and a project aimed at telling it.

Since the late 1970s, the Iowa Labor History Oral Project has been collecting interviews with working-class Iowans.

On this edition of River to River, listen back to host Ben Kieffer's conversation with historian Shelton Stromquist and John McKerly, the oral and public historian at the Iowa Labor Center, about Iowa's rich labor history. During this conversation Kieffer, Stromquist and McKerly highlight six individuals from the collection whose stories, when put together, help best tell Iowa's labor history.

"There are interviews that touch literally every town and city in the state and every realm of work and labor union acitivity," said Stromquist, "I don't know of another collection in the country that has that character."

This program was originally produced on September 5, 2019.


  • John McKerley, oral and public historian at the Iowa Labor Center
  • Shelton Stromquist, emeritus professor of history at the University of Iowa
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River