If the thought of W.C. Fields and Ethel Barrymore walking a picket line strikes you as incongruous, it’s time to brush up on some labor history. On the Long Island History Project Podcast, Caroline Propersi-Grossman, a labor historian and PhD candidate at Stony Brook University, relates the story of the 1919 Actors’ Equity Strike and how it fits into labor history. [Read more…] about Labor History: 1919 Actors’ Equity Strike
This year is the 185th anniversary of the founding of the Long Island Railroad. Despite service delays and fare increases it remains the spine of Long Island and the center of its transportation network. The LIRR serves over 300,000 passengers a week with about 90 million rides a year.
The origins of the LIRR, chartered by New York State in April 1834, have a little remembered dark side. Much of the railroads early funding came from profits from Caribbean sugar produced by enslaved African labor. The key link between the LIRR, sugar and slavery was William F. Havemeyer. [Read more…] about NYC Mayor Havemayer: Sugar, Slavery and the Long Island Railroad
Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Jennifer Egan and historian and activist Annelise Orleck will be the honorees on Thursday, November 29 at the New York Labor History Association’s 32nd Annual John Commerford Labor Education Awards.
Egan and Orleck are being honored for the work they do bringing workers’ history to life and illuminating its relevance for today. Egan’s most recent novel, Manhattan Beach, and Orleck’s most recent book, We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now, demonstrate just how much workers’ stories matter to understanding history. [Read more…] about Jennifer Egan, Annelise Orleck Win Labor Education Awards
A whaling frenzy gripped the East End of Long Island in the mid-1600s. Prominent settlers in the area fought the elements and each other to pursue this often brutal, bloody, yet extremely profitable trade. And the most sought-after crews were drawn from the local Native American population: Shinnecock, Unkechaug, and Montauketts.
Dr. John Strong, professor emeritus of Southampton College, documents this history in his latest book, America’s Early Whalemen: Indian Shore Whalers on Long Island, 1650-1750. Combing records and primary sources from across the Island, he pieces together a portrait of a neglected period of American history. [Read more…] about Early Whaling on Long Island
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Jennifer Goloboy, an independent scholar based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the author of Charleston and the Emergence of Middle-Class Culture in the Revolutionary Era (University of Georgina Press, 2016), helps us explore the origins of the American middle class so we can better understand what it is and why so many Americans want to be a part of it. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/190 [Read more…] about Origins of the American Middle Class
Newly organized and now available to researchers, Cornell University Library’s Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives railroad collection tell stories about the seismic shifts, catalyzed by railroads, that shaped the modern age.
Part of the collection, more than 1,600 geotagged photos of railroads around the nation from the 1950s, have now digitized and are available on the library’s digital collections site. 380 boxes of records, photographs, correspondence and more, make up the 63 newly processed railroad collections. [Read more…] about New Railroad Archives Opens for Research; Photos Online
The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has announced a two-day conference to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Taylor Law, the law that grants public employees in New York State the right to collectively bargain with their employers while prohibiting strikes.
The conference will be held from May 10-11, 2018 at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Albany. [Read more…] about Labor History: Taylor Law Conference to Mark 50th Anniversary
While researching a pair of books on North Country iron mining, I unexpectedly became privy to tragedies that many families faced. Mining accidents were frequent and involved excessive violence, often resulting in death. Victims were sometimes pancaked — literally — by rock falls, and their remains were recovered with scraping tools. Others were blown to pieces by dynamite explosions, usually as the result of, in mining parlance, “hitting a missed hole.”
The “missed hole” nomenclature refers to unexploded dynamite charges accidentally detonated later by another miner when his drill made contact with the material or caused a spark. The resulting blast was often fatal, but not always. Those who survived were usually blinded, burned badly, or maimed in some fashion.
In 1878, in Crown Point’s iron mines at Hammondville, near Lake Champlain, a young laborer, Billy Richards, was tasked with holding a star drill (basically a hand-held chisel with a star point) against the ore face while his partner — his step-father, Richard George — struck it with a sledge hammer. Through this commonly used teamwork method, a cadence developed whereby the star drill was struck and the holder then turned it slightly before it was struck again. [Read more…] about Playing the Hand You’re Dealt: Billy Richards, ‘the Armless Wonder’
The many controversies that surrounded Robert Moses during his long career as New York’s “Master Builder” were sharpened by his long battle with Jane Jacobs and by Robert Caro’s 1974 biography, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (1974).
But his least contentious achievements are also the most unknown: the construction of the New York Power Authority’s hydroelectric plants along the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers. [Read more…] about Robert Moses’ Least Controversial Triumph
Not much has been written about this civil disturbance that occurred on the afternoon of August 12, 1862 when Irish and German stevedores protested against local dock bosses, demanding increased pay for their work, and preventing others from working however when police responded the rioters overpowered them and Chief Dullard and other members of the force injured.
Ultimately the police regained control of the situation with gunfire wounding two rioters and arresting the ring leaders. [Read more…] about Buffalo’s Dug’s Dive Riot of 1863