Kresge Library

History Comes Alive Series

Professor Daniel Clark will present the lecture on "Reframing the History of Autoworkers in the 1950s," on Wednesday, September 19, 2007 at 7 p.m. in Gold Rooms B & C of the Oakland Center.

Most investigations of auto work and the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the post-World War II era focus either on top-level union leaders, like Walter Reuther, or on specific events, like the Ford speed-up strike of 1949. In other words, the current history of autoworkers in the 1950s contains the voices of very few autoworkers and offers little concrete information about how they lived their lives. This lecture will reframe that history by exploring the experiences of actual autoworkers on the basis of oral history interviews conducted in recent years with UAW retirees in the metropolitan Detroit region.*

While most accounts of autoworkers in the1950s emphasize that this was a decade of increasing prosperity and middle-class stability, this talk will demonstrate how many autoworkers experienced the decade as one of job instability and economic insecurity.

Professor Clark teaches U.S. Labor History, Post-1945 U.S. History and Oral History. His book Like Night and Day examines the impact of unionization on textile mill workers in the South.

Admission is free, but reservations are requested. Please call (248) 370-3511 or e-mail

Books by Dr. Clark at Kresge Library:

Clark, Daniel J. Like night & day : unionization in a southern mill town. Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press (1997).

Related Online Articles**:

Boyle, Kevin. "The Kiss: Racial and Gender Conflict in a 1950s Automobile Factory." The Journal of American History, 84.2 (Sep. 1997): 496-523.

Gabin, Nancy. "'They Have Placed a Penalty on Womanhood': The Protest Actions of Women Auto Workers in Detroit-Area UAW Locals, 1945-1947." Feminist Studies 8.2 (Summer 1982): 373-398.

Nelson, Bruce . "The Triumph and "Tragedy" of Walter Reuther." Reviews in American History 24.3 (1996): 488-494.

Lichtenstein, Nelson. "Auto Worker Militancy and the Structure of Factory Life, 1937-1955." The Journal of American History 67.2 (Sep. 1980): 335-353.

Pizzolato, Nicola. "Workers and Revolutionaries at the Twilight of Fordism: The Breakdown of Industrial Relations in the Automobile Plants of Detroit and Turin, 1967-1973." Labor History 45.4 (November 2004): 419-443.

Related Online Books**:

Asher, Robert and Ronald Edsforth. Autowork. State University of New York Press (1995).

Related Books in Print at Kresge Library:

Zetka, James. Militancy, market dynamics, and workplace authority : the struggle over labor process outcomes in the U.S. automobile industry, 1946 to 1973 . Albany, NY (1995).

Keeran, Roger. The Communist Party and the auto workers unions. Indiana University Press (1980).

Babson, Steve. "Building the union : skilled workers and Anglo-Gaelic immigrants in the rise of the UAW." Rutgers University Press, (1991).

Linton, Thomas. "An historical examination of the purposes and practices of the education program of the United Automobile Workers of America, 1936-1959" University of Michigan, School of Education (1965).

Asher, Robert and Ronald Edsforth. Autowork. State University of New York Press (1995).

Fujita, Kuniko. Black worker’s struggles in Detroit’s auto industry, 1935-1975. Saratoga, Calif. : Century Twenty One Pub. (1980).

Barnard, John. American vanguard : the United Auto Workers during the Reuther years, 1935-1970. Wayne State University Press (2004).

*Description from the Histrocy Comes Alive 2007 Lecture Series Brochure & Daniel Clark.

**Please note, the materials listed below are restricted to use by Oakland Students, Faculty, and Staff (or from a computer located on the Oakland network). Find out why...

Created on1/10/07 by Daniel Clark, Bill Cramer & Robert Slater / Last updated on 3/7/18 by Robert Slater
Oakland University

Oakland University, Kresge Library
2200 N Squirrel Rd., Rochester, MI 48309
(248) 370 - 4426