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Photo of Marching International Woodworkers Association Strikers. International Woodworkers Association Photo Collection. Homepage
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ABOUT THE PROJECT

Vision Statement

The ambition of The Labor Project at the University of Oregon is to locate and catalog materials relevant to the history of labor and the working-class in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. Our region has a peculiar labor history, defined by an economy of resource extraction and reflective of libertarian and radical politics. While we maintain an interest in all aspects of labor history, we endeavor to reflect that distinct character, focusing heavily on the movements, organizations, and people that have operated outside the political and social mainstream. Moreover, we define our boundaries broadly, to include not only urban and industrial work, but also rural, agricultural, domestic, and non-traditional sites of labor. Through cooperative alliances with diverse institutions and organizations, we seek to become a portal through which scholars and the public can identify and access a wide range of material related to the region’s labor history.

Project History

Since its creation, The Labor Project has expanded its goals and overall vision. Recognizing the lack of attention paid to the unique and rich history of labor in the Pacific Northwest, the contributors took a more proactive stance. Our searchable database helps researchers sift through an extensive number of labor related collections at the Knight Library. Additions and revisions are regularly made to this database to reflect the most recent acquisitions. In the future, we hope to link our database to other libraries in the region to act as a portal for the study of labor history in our region.


In addition to publicizing important labor-related manuscript collections at the Knight Library, we are dedicated to the preservation of documents from underrepresented portions of the Northwest’s working-class. In addition to fulfilling our original purpose, we are currently engaged in several projects that demonstrate the broad scope of The Labor Project’s goals.

Contributors

The Labor Project was developed in 2001, as part of a strategic alliance between four groups at the University of Oregon campus.

After several plenary sessions in the fall of 2001, representatives from these groups drafted a vision statement and set several project goals. They resolved that the Knight Library at the University of Oregon should become a regional leader in the field of labor and working-class studies and a repository for information related to this field. Additionally, the organization established funding for a Graduate Fellowship to hire a graduate student from the history department to oversee execution of The Labor Project’s goals. With supervision and direction from James Fox, Director of Special Collections at the Knight Library, the project is currently overseen by Alex Morrow.

Survey Project

In 2002, The Labor Project began a survey of more than 400 organizations related to the history of labor in the Pacific Northwest. Information from the survey helps us in several ways. Primarily, we want to locate collections of materials related to the labor movement that may not be permanently preserved. At The Labor Project, we can provide technical support and information to organizations and individuals about archiving their records. In some limited cases, in coordination with an organization, records can be transferred to our public archive for permanent retention. Secondarily, The Labor Project serves as a gateway for researchers and activists to access the history of labor and the working-class in the Pacific Northwest. We hope to network collections that are relevant to this work.

Summer Labor Exhibit

The Labor Project participated in the 2003 AFL-CIO Summer Camp, held at the University of Oregon and coordinated by the Labor Education Research Center. We organized an exhibit that highlights the history of labor in the Pacific Northwest.

The Future

As The Labor Project is a new creation, the vast majority of its important work lies in the future. In the coming months and years, we who work on the project hope to accomplish a number of goals related to the project that fall outside of the parameters of collecting papers. We seek to actively engage with the local and regional labor community not only to identify and locate collectable materials, but also to build a stronger bond between the project and the people it hopes to represent.

Detail of American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Campaign Poster. Oregon American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
 AFL-CIO Campaign Poster
Oregon AFL-CIO

 

Photo of the Co-operative Exchange, Kelso, Washington. George O. Adams Collection.
 Photo of the Co-operative Exchange, Kelso, Washington
George O. Adams Collection

 

Photo of International Woodworkers Association Strikers. International Woodworkers Association Photo Collection.
 International Woodworkers Association Strikers
IWA Photo Collection

 

Photo of Furniture Workers Following a Vote to Join the Union. International Woodworkers Association Photo Collection.
 Furniture Workers Following a Vote to Join the Union
IWA Photo Collection

 

 

 

© 2003 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries  University of Oregon