This program originally aired on Septmeber 5, 2019.
Since the late 1970s, the Iowa Labor History Oral Project has been collecting interviews from the working class across Iowa. They are collecting history from the ground up, as opposed to leaders or people with power.
"We have access to new kinds of sources, including those of the Iowa Labor History Oral Project, that enable us to get at the experience of ordinary people, of everyday working people," said Shelton Stromquist, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Iowa, "whose work lives, whose organizing, whose building of unions in many cases is really an integral part of the fabric of our state and of the nation."
On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Stromquist and the Oral and Public Historian at the Iowa Labor Center, John McKerly, 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."
John McKerley, Oral and Public Historian at the Iowa Labor Center
Shelton Stromquist, Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Iowa