Welcome to H-Labor, a member of H-Net Humanities & Social Sciences OnLine. H-Labor is particularly interested in fostering international discussion and colaboration on labor history topics. It also recognizes that teaching the history of workers entails maintaining some knowledge of working people and their unions today.

Re: John L. Lewis "the greatest labor leader"?

I am not a specialist on Lewis or the UMWA but I am a trained labor historian. My speciality is Latin America but I have read a lot of books on US labor history, especially the UMWA. My view is that Lewis was a formidable force but he also did not allow dissent from his membership. He was an authoritarian figure who promoted business unionism and was anti-communist. I am a fan of the book Death and the Mines: Rebellion and Murder in the United Mine Workers (1971) by the journalist Brit Hume.

Re: Hutton on John Sayles, 'Matewan'

There were many liberties taken in Matewan. Sayles acknowledged some of them in his book Thinking in Pictures. Few Clothes wasn't part of any of the events depicted in the film; he took part in a related struggle. The film's bittersweet ending is one of numeorus compressed moments. Matewan was one of a series of upheavals linked to the longer Battle of Blair Mountain, which even included aerial bombings of strikers and gun gangs hiding in the hills. (That wasn't as bad as it could have been as it was the early days of flight and bombing was not very accurate.) 

CFP: Call for Papers, Nineteenth Century Studies Association (NCSA) 2023 Conference, “Remaking the Past,” Sacramento CA

Sacramento, host city for NCSA’s 2023 conference, lends itself to exploring issues of revivals and re-creations of the past. Sacramento’s nineteenth-century history encompassed California’s Gold Rush, the genocide and displacement of Indigenous populations, the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, and the building of a capital city that became a stage for the reinventions–productive and problematic–of the past so central to the nineteenth century.