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Call for Papers: Interpreting Labor History at Museums and Historic Sites

by Robert Forrant and Mary Anne Trasciatti, UMass Lowell and Hofstra University on

Interest in and support for labor unions is on the rise in the United States, especially among millennials. Younger Americans tend to view unions as one of the few organizations to offer stability, solidarity, and a voice for workers in an increasingly precarious economic environment. At the same time that support for labor is growing, the very survival of unions is at stake, with right-to-work laws threatening to eviscerate what remains of a once vibrant labor movement. The combination of growing support and increased threats makes labor history more relevant than ever, as the future of unions may depend on the nature and extent of our understanding and appreciation of their past. Academic labor history programs reach a relatively small audience; consequently, museums and historical sites have a particularly important role to play in interpreting labor history for a broader public.

Essays are sought for a proposed volume that will explore how labor history is interpreted outside the academy in a variety of contexts, including but not limited to: museums, monuments and memorials, and state and national parks. Essays that consider the intersection of labor history with other types of history (women’s, gender and sexuality, African-American, migration, technological etc.) are welcome. We seek to represent a range of time frames, geographic locations, and approaches, but all contributors should frame their essay for an audience that includes museum professionals, public historians, and anyone with a general interest in the history of working people in the U.S. and should highlight the potential of labor history for generating interest in and support for 21st-century labor movements.

Please send your 250-word proposals and a brief bio by January 15, 2018 to:
Mary.Anne.Trasciatti@Hofstra.edu and Robert_Forrant@uml.edu

Contributors will be notified about the status of their submission by March 15, 2018. Essays of 4,000 
words will be due July 1, 2018.

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