Working History

Working History

Working History spotlights the work of leading labor historians, activists, and practitioners focusing especially on the U.S. and global Souths, to inform public debate and dialogue about current labor, economic, and political issues with the benefit of historical context.

All Episodes

Ismael García Colón discusses his new book, Colonial Migrants at the Heart of Empire, Puerto Rican migrant farmworkers, and their labor experiences in the post-World War II United States.

Jun 23

26 min

Michael Goldfield discusses his new book, The Southern Key: Class, Race, and Radicalism in the 1930s and 1940s, union organization in the South's leading industrial sectors, and how contests between labor and capital in the New Deal-era South continue to shape American politics today.

May 7

28 min

Mary Stanton discusses her book, Red, Black, White: The Alabama Communist Party, 1930-1950, New Deal-era political activism, and movements for racial, economic, and social justice in the Jim Crow South.

Apr 7

36 min

Emily E. LB. Twarog discusses her book, POLITICS OF THE PANTRY, the consumer activism of American housewives, and food's central role in consumer politics in the twentieth-century United States.

Feb 19

38 min

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall discusses her new book, SISTERS AND REBELS: A STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF THE SOUTH, the southern upbringing of Grace and Katharine Lumpkin, their social activism, and contributions to the overlapping labor, feminist, and civil rights ferment in the pre-World War II South.

Jan 7

38 min

Eileen Boris discusses her new book MAKING THE WOMAN WORKER: PRECARIOUS LABOR AND THE FIGHT FOR GLOBAL STANDARDS, the history of the ILO's labor protections for women, domestic and home workers in the Global North and Global South, and ongoing fights to recognize precarious labor from the care economy to the gig economy.

Oct 2019

42 min

Dr. Wendy Gonaver discusses her book, "The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry, 1840-1880," the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Virginia, and the roles that race, the institution of slavery, and slave labor played in the development of psychiatric diagnosis and care through the nineteenth century and beyond.

Sep 2019

54 min

Jody Allen, Assistant Professor of History at the College of William and Mary and Director of The Lemon Project: A Journey of Reconciliation, discusses William and Mary's slaveholding past and the genesis, research, and ongoing community outreach of The Lemon Project.

Jul 2019

34 min

Joshua Specht discusses his new book, RED MEAT REPUBLIC, and how the history of beef production tells the story of broad changes in the American economy, society and political landscape during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Jun 2019

37 min

Anthony Harkins (Western Kentucky University) and Meredith McCarroll (Bowdin College) discuss their edited volume, APPALACHIAN RECKONING: A REGION RESPONDS TO HILLBILLY ELEGY, the complexities of the region known as Appalachia, and challenging popular stereotypes of the region and the people who live there.

May 2019

35 min

Jessica Wilkerson, Assistant Professor of History and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, discusses her book, "To Live Here You Have to Fight," and the recent history of feminist social justice activism in Appalachia.

Mar 2019

36 min

Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Wiley Cash discusses his novel, "The Last Ballad," writing fiction inspired by the South, and exploring the complexities of southern class, race, and gender relations against the backdrop of the 1929 Loray Mill strike.

Feb 2019

31 min

Matthew Hild and Keri Leigh Merritt discuss their new edited volume, Reconsidering Southern Labor History, the nexus of race, class and power in the history of labor in the South, and how a new generation of southern labor scholars are changing our understanding of labor's past, present and future in the region.

Dec 2018

23 min

Blain Roberts and Ethan J. Kytle, Professors of History at California State University—Fresno, discuss their co-authored book, Denmark Vesey’s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy, competing narratives about slavery in the South, and the fraught history of race, memory and memorialization in the region.

Nov 2018

47 min

Paul Ortiz, Associate Professor and Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida, discusses his most recent book, An African American and Latinx History of the United States, the myth of American exceptionalism, and globalizing America's past.

Oct 2018

25 min

Katherine Rye Jewell, Assistant Professor of History at Fitchburg State University, discusses her book, Dollars for Dixie, and the evolution of political and economic conservatism in the twentieth-century South.

Mar 2018

41 min

Karen Cox, Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses her new book, Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South, and what one murder case in 1930s Mississippi reveals about race relations, criminal justice, and life in the Jim Crow South.

Feb 2018

33 min

J. Blake Perkins, assistant professor of history at Williams Baptist College, discusses his new book, Hillbilly Hellraisers: Federal Power and Populist Defiance in the Ozarks, regional relations with the federal government, and the evolution of grassroots politics.

Jan 2018

39 min

Keri Leigh Merritt discusses her book, Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South, and intersections of race, class, politics, and slavery in the pre-Civil War South.

Oct 2017

30 min

Bryant Simon, Professor of History at Temple University, discusses his new book, The Hamlet Fire: A Story of Cheap Food, Cheap Government, and Cheap Lives, and the tragic consequences of the ethos of "cheap" for workers, communities, and the nation.

Sep 2017

34 min

Lane Windham, Associate Director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, discusses her book, Knocking on Labor’s Door, and why the 1970s should be seen as more than a moment of decline for the U.S. labor movement.

Aug 2017

41 min

Traci JoLeigh Drummond, archivist for the Southern Labor Archives at Georgia State University in Atlanta, discusses the preservation of materials related to southern labor history, new collections open to researchers, digital access to archival sources, and what makes a collection of records "archive worthy."

Aug 2017

33 min

Joshua Hollands, of the Institute of the Americas at University College London, discusses his award-winning essay, “There’s a Bigot in Your Biscuit’: Workplace Discrimination at Cracker Barrel, Civil Rights, and Corporate Activism in the Southern United States,” and the past and present of LGBT discrimination and activism in the southern workplace.

Jun 2017

42 min

Professor Adrienne Petty discusses her book, Standing Their Ground: Small Farmers in North Carolina Since the Civil War, the black and white farmers in the South who were part of the "small farming class," and their evolving strategies for holding onto their land through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

May 2017

41 min

Professor Greta de Jong of the University of Nevada, Reno, discusses her book, You Can't Eat Freedom, rural organizing, social justice movements, and the connected histories of the Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty in the US South.

May 2017

32 min

Professor Cindy Hahamovitch of the University of Georgia discusses her research connecting the global histories of 19th-century indentured servants and today's guestworkers.

Apr 2017

40 min

Professor Julie Weise of the University of Oregon discusses her book, Corazón de Dixie, the long history of Mexican migration to states in the Deep South, and the roots of anti-immigrant politics and policies in the region today.

Dec 2016

37 min

Professor Blain Roberts of California State University, Fresno, talks about intersections of race, identity, and memory in the South in a wide-ranging discussion that starts in the segregated beauty parlors of the Jim Crow era and ends with remembrances of slavery in modern-day Charleston, South Carolina.

Nov 2016

35 min

Professor Robyn Muncy of the University of Maryland discusses the history of the term "working class" and its uses in American politics from the 1930s to today.

Sep 2016

32 min

John Weber, Assistant Professor of History at Old Dominion University, discusses his book, "From South Texas to the Nation," migrant agricultural labor, immigration policy, and the long-term impacts of the labor relations model that developed in South Texas during the early twentieth century.

May 2016

40 min

Alex Lichtenstein, Associate Professor of History at Indiana University, discusses his new book with co-author Rick Halpern, "Margaret Bourke-White and the Dawn of Apartheid," photojournalism, and writing transnational histories of labor and social justice movements.

Apr 2016

36 min

Derek Krissoff, Director of the West Virginia University Press, discusses academic publishing and university presses, the open access movement, and current trends in history publishing.

Mar 2016

42 min

Professor Ellen Griffith Spears of the University of Alabama, author of "Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town," discusses the decades long struggle for environmental and civil rights justice in Anniston, Alabama, and broader lessons to be learned from this fight to address one community's exposure to toxic chemicals.

Mar 2016

30 min

Professors Melissa Walker of Converse College and Giselle Roberts of Australia’s La Trobe University, editors of the Women’s Diaries and Letters of the South series, discuss the field of documentary editing and how the personal writings of southern women reveal the broader history of life in the U.S. South during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Feb 2016

40 min

Professor Chad Pearson of Collin College, author of "Reform or Repression," traces the roots of modern anti-unionism in the U.S. to the early 20th century open shop movement and a push by business interests nationwide to break unions and stall the momentum of organized labor.

Jan 2016

34 min

Scott Nelson, Legum Professor of History at the College of William & Mary and SLSA’s immediate past president, presents the lecture, “The White Whale: Why Moby Dick Is a Story about the Fate of Southern Labor in the Age of Slavery.” The lecture and Q&A session were recorded at the SLSA luncheon at the 2015 Southern Historical Association meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dec 2015

43 min

Professor Michael Honey of the University of Washington, Tacoma, discusses the documentary that he directed and co-produced, "Love and Solidarity: The Story of Rev. James Lawson," and Lawson's work of building solidarity and movements for social justice from the Civil Rights Era to today.

Dec 2015

34 min

Professor Michelle Haberland of Georgia Southern University, author of "Striking Beauties: Women Apparel Workers in the U.S. South," discusses the dynamics of gender, class, race and globalization in the southern apparel industry from the 1930s to today.

Nov 2015

44 min

Professor Kenneth Fones-Wolf of West Virginia University discusses his book, co-authored with Elizabeth Fones-Wolf, "Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South," the role of religion in the CIO's Operation Dixie, and provides perspective on the participation of faith communities in the modern labor movement.

Oct 2015

31 min

Professor Jacob Remes of SUNY Empire State College discusses his book, "Disaster Citizenship," and challenges prevailing assumptions about how ordinary people, governments, and institutions act in the wake of natural disasters.

Oct 2015

39 min

Professor Talitha LeFlouria, a fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia, discusses her book, "Chained in Silence," and the lives, labors, and legacies of incarcerated black women and the convict lease system in the early 20th century South.

Sep 2015

34 min

Julie Greene, Professor of History at the University of Maryland and author of the forthcoming book, “Box 25: The World of Caribbean Workers,” discusses the men who built the Panama Canal, working and living conditions in the Canal Zone, and how U.S. expansionism at the turn of the twentieth century fueled the growth of a transnational working class.

Aug 2015

36 min

Activist and grassroots organizer Anton Flores of Alterna discusses immigrant rights, federal immigration policy, and the detention of undocumented immigrants at the Stewart Detention Center in Georgia. Guest hosted by Professor Jennifer Brooks of Auburn University.

Aug 2015

40 min

Professor Evan Bennett of Florida Atlantic University, author of "When Tobacco Was King," discusses the development and demise of family tobacco farms, tobacco farming culture, and the New Deal's Federal Tobacco Program.

Jul 2015

43 min

Professor Elizabeth Shermer of Loyola University Chicago explores the impacts of corporate influence and the politics shaping higher education, past and present.

Jul 2015

36 min

Professor Jay Driskell of Hood College, author of "Schooling Jim Crow," traces the roots of black protest politics to early 20th century Atlanta and the fight for equal education.

Jun 2015

44 min

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