Over time there have been a number of threads on worker autobiographies. I have put them together here with thanks to everyone who contributed their knowledge, time and energy. Seth Wigderson, H-Labor Moderator
Subject: John Mellana's Quest For Worker Biographies
A few months ago, John Mellana posted a query asking for worker biographies. He has asked to repost his query in the hopes that it will get even more responses now. To avoid confusion, I have appended the results of his original query. Seth Wigderson H-Labor moderator He writes: For a special project in a teaching unit on U.S. labor history, I'm interested in knowing whether anyone has put together a list or syllabus of books or extended monographs concerning biographies and autobiographies of workers in all fields of labor. I'd like the coverage to be comprehensive--rural and urban, male and female, 17th-20th centuries, all North American regions, races, and ethnicities. The readings should be as first-person as possible, and within the range of difficulty for a late high school-to-early college audience. Any and all suggestions are welcome, even if these are recommendations of single titles. Any response re. how individual titles have worked (or not worked) would also be appreciated.
And here are the original responses
From:Chris Suggs <JCSJJ@CUNYVM> David Katzman and William M. Tuttle edited PLAIN FOLK: THE LIFE STORIES OF UNDISTINGUISHED AMERICANS. Urbana: UIlP, 1982. From the back cover of the pb edition: "Katzman and Tuttle have drawn upon 75 brief autobiographies or 'lifelets' of working-class Americans published between 1902 and 1906 in THE INDEPENDENT magazine." Introduction and headnotes to each autobio.
From: David Montgomery <firstname.lastname@example.org> I hope John Mellana succeeds in finding, or more likely creating, a bibliography of first-person narratives of American working people. There is one bibliography that will help, because it is well indexed and very many of the British workers covered by the book spent some time in the United States. It is John Burnett, David Vincent, and David Moyall, eds., The Autobiography of the Working Class (Brighton, Sussex, 1984-9). There is also considerable information on activists who spent some time in the United States in Franco Andreucci and Tomasso Detti, eds., Il Movimento Operaio Italiano (5 vols plus index) Etirori Riuniti, Rome, 1975). Thompson's article on time, etc. appeared first in Past and Present, no. 38 (December, 1967), 56-97. David Montgomery
From: "Robert H. Zieger" <RHAGZ@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu>
I did a piece 17 years ago that may contain some useful cites. Robert H.
Ziege r, "Memory Speaks: Observations on Personal History and
Working-Class Culture, " Maryland Historian, Fall, 1977.
JOAN HAC WRITES: Several books come to mind which may fit your needs. First of all are most things written by Studs Terkel. I am most familiar with WORKING w hich was also made into a play and shown on public TV in the early 1980's. He also wrote THE GREAT DIVIDE, another book of short bios of workers and other av erage citizens around the country.
Another source you might consider is RANK AND FILE by Alice and Staughton Lynd. It is short bios of working class organizers.
Other suggestions include: AMERICA'S WORKING WOMEN edited by Rosalyn
Baxandall, etal; BLACK FOREMOTHERS by Dororthy Sterling; HARD TIMES
COTTON MILL GIRLS by Victoria Byerly; FIRST FEMINISTS, British Women
Writers by Moira Ferguson; THE BROTHERS REUTHER by Victor Reuther; and
CHAMPIONS OF LABOR by David Selvin. good luck with the class. Joan Hac
Although the original query was for U.S. worker biographies, I also wanted to call the list's attention to Robert Tressell The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists NY: Monthly Review Press, 1962 
Tressell was a turn-of-the-century British worker writer and activist who wrote this very interesting description of his own life and that of the workers he knew. It seems long for course adoption, has anyone used it successfully in a course? Seth Wigderson H-Labor moderator Lives
Here are some responses to John Mellana's second call for workers autobiographies. I might add that there is a sort of subset of what could be called visitors - middle class authors who genuinely experience working class life. The two that come to mind are Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before The Mast [an excellent and underutilized work] and of course the incomparable George Orwell, Down and Out In Paris and London. Seth Wigderson, H-Labor moderator
PHIL SCRANTON: Re: labor autobiographies. I've got four on my shelf that weren't in the original response group, so here goes. Try _Dock Walloper: The Story of "Big Dick" Butler_ by Richard Butler and Joseph Driscoll, NY(Putnam), 1933; _Tramping on Life_ by Harry Kemp, Garden City, NY (Garden City Pub. Co), 1922; _Journeyman Machinist on Route to the Stars_ by Oscar S. Marshall, Taunton, MA(n.p.), 1979, and for something out of Steve Meyer's baliwick, _Twenty Years a Labor Spy_ by GT-99, Indianapolis (Bobbs-Merrill), 1937. Good luck hunting. Best, Phil Scranton (email@example.com)
MEL DUBOFSKY: John Mellana might want to look at the genre of immigrant autobiographies of which there are many. Two that come immediately to mind are Elizabeth Hasanovitz, ONE OF THEM (I think that's the title) and Rose Cohen, OUT OF THE SHADOW. Also I think M.E. Ravage, AN AMERICAN IN THE MAKING. There are many others. Mel Dubofsky
[Elizabeth Hasanovitz. One of them, Chapters from a passionate autobiography. NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1918. Rose Cohen. Out of the Shadow. NY: George H. Doran Co. [c1918]. M.E. [Marcus Eli] Ravage. An American in the making: the life story of an immigrant. NY: Harper, 1917.] BARRY CARR: Working class biographies. These are some suggestions taken from British history. they may still be useful for the enquirer: Lewis Jones, We Live: The Story of a Welsh Mining Village (London: Lawrwnce & Wishart, various editions)
Ernie Benson, To Struggle is to Live: a Working-Class Autobiography (Newcastle: People's Publications, 1980).
Margaret Pollock, Working Days: Being the Personal Records of Sixteen Men and Women Written by Themselves (London, 1926).
Margaret Llewellyn Davies (ed.), Life As we Have Known It: By Cooperative Working Women (London: Virago, 1977).
Also of interest (but dealing with the genre of "working-class stories" rather than autobiographies ) is: H. Gustav Klaus (ed.), Tramps, WorkMates and Revolutionaries: Working Class Stories of the 1920s (Journeyman Press, 1993, London).
Finally, there is a wonderful collection of worker reminiscences (written in a highly reflective mode) published in the pages of New Left Review in the middle and late 1960s. They began in May-June 1965 and were continued for several years. Also useful would be a quick scanning of the journal History Workshop which carries articles and bibliographical notes dealing with many parts of the world. It has carried material on worker autobiography. Barry Carr History Department, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, AUSTRALIA, 3083 email: firstname.lastname@example.org +++++ Subject: European Worker Biographies
Thanx to Eric Weitz for these citations. SW For those interested in working-class autobiographies and memoirs from the other side of the Atlantic, there are good collections edited by Alfred Kelly on Germany, Victoria Bonnell and Reginald Zelnik on Russia, Mark Traugott on France. Also, Mary Jo Maynes has an important study on French and German workers' autobiographies. It is forthcoming from University of North Carolina Press and is entitled *Taking the Hard Road*.
Eric Weitz Department of History St. Olaf College. email@example.com
Alfred Kelly The German Worker: working-class autobiographies from the age of industrialization/ translated,edited and with an introduction by Alfred Kelly. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987
Victoria Bonnell The Russian Worker: life and labor under the tsarist regime. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1983
Zelnik, Reginald E. [cn] S. [Semen] Kanatchikov, A Radical Workers in tsarist Russia: the autobiography of Semen Ivanovitch Kantachikov. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1986
Mark Traugott The French Worker: autobiographies from the early industrial era. edited, translated and with an introduction by Mark Traugott Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993
Subject: Two More Biography Suggestions
Thanx to Trent and Chris for these suggestions. SW Seth, On the subject of European worker autobiographies, Eric Weitz mentioned Mary Jo Maynes's forthcoming book. Has anyone mentioned her Social Science History article from the Fall '92 issue? It's called "Autobiography and Class Formation in Nineteenth Century Europe". Trent Alexander <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Pardon me if this is a duplicate: Denby, Charles. *Indignant Heart, A Black Worker's Journal* (1979) np:nl. I've taught this once and my students responded well to it 'though its sectarianism is a bit heavy in the last half. The first half may well be Denby's voice and is effective. My copy is at my office so I haven't any pub.data.
Chris Suggs email@example.com
(Charles Denby. Indignant Heart: A Black Workers Journal. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989 [c. 1978] ) Subject: Woman Worker Autobiography Responses
Here is Ginny Boynton's original query. Thanx for Julie Greene suggestion of Malkiel, as well as Gail Malmgren, Bob Zieger, Mel Dubofsky, and Zaragosa Vargas who all suggested Rose Pesotta Seth Wigderson, H-Labor moderator
From- Virginia R Boynton <firstname.lastname@example.org> Does anyone know of a good published primary source on 20th-century American women in the labor movement? I'm looking for something to use with advanced, bright undergraduates. It would need to be in print and available in paperback. I'm considering using Elizabeth Gurley Flynn's _The Rebel Girl_, but I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions?
Thanks in advance.
Ginny Boynton Ohio State University
From: Julie Greene <greenej@spot.Colorado.EDU> Virginia Boynton might want to look at Theresa S. Malkiel's _The Diary of a Shirtwaist Striker_, published by ILR Press in 1990 (originally published in 1910).
Julie Greene, U-Colorado
I suggest Rose Pesotta's Bread Upon the Waters, reissued with a new introduction by Ann Schofield by Cornell University/ILR Press in 1987 -- for a very different "take" on life in the labor movement from Flynn's. Gail Malmgreen, Wagner Labor Archives, NYU
From: "Robert H. Zieger" <RHAGZ@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu> ILR Press at Cornell has recently reissued Rose Pesotta's "Bread upon the WEate Waters," a classic of the CIO era. The introduction is by Ann Schofield.
From: Melvyn Dubofsky <DUBOF@BINGVMB> Tell Ginny Boynton that Rose Pesotta's BREAD UPON THE WATERS, might work better. Its available from I&LR Press, Cornell in paper, and Pesotta had more direct working experience and contact with forms of radicalism and the main- stream labor movement than Flynn. I am not sure what else comparable is still available inprint in paper.
How about Bread Upon the Waters, the story of labor organizer Rose Pesotta of the ILGWU.
Z. Vargas History UC-Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA 93106 email@example.com
Subject: More 20th c. Women Autobiography Titles
Many thanx to Chris Hawkins for these important additions. SW Emma Goldman was involved in labor issues; her *Living My Life* is one of the greatest books ever written. The first volume and about 100 pages of the second concerns her life in the U.S. Mother Jones wrote a short autobiography, and a large book of her speeches, etc. is also in print, or was recently. Dorothy Healy, Peggy Dennis are two CP members whose autobiographies should still be available. Mary Heaton Vorse's *Footnote to Folly* is good, I'm not sure if it is still in print. Sally Miller did an anthology of writings by Kate Richards O'Hare, an SP stalwart. Baxandall's *Words on Fire* is an anthology of Flynn's writings. cliff hawkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>