Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Archives Ensures Voices of Labor Won't be Lost

Students and scholars can now take advantage of new resources available in Ball State’s University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections Research Center for the study of organized labor. The Muncie Labor Archives has been established to document the history of workers and unions in America’s “Middletown.”

A central part of the Muncie Labor Archives is a collection of oral histories conducted by Warren Vander Hill, Ball State provost and vice president of academic affairs emeritus, under the sponsorship of the Center for Middletown Studies and funded by a grant from the Muncie Community Foundation.

The idea for recording interviews with organized labor leaders from Muncie and establishing a labor archives was proposed by former state legislator Hurley Goodall, who helped identify and contact interviewees.

The collection includes 15 interviews conducted by Vander Hill between December 2005 and February 2006. Photographs were also taken of each interviewee. The recordings, transcripts, and photographs will be digitized and made available in the Digital Media Repository, http://libx.bsu.edu, on the University Libraries’ Web site.

When Vander Hill interviewed community labor leaders, he found that they had documents, photographs, and other materials that they were willing to donate to the labor archives. For example, Charlie Anderson presented the Archives with his papers related to his union activities with the Ball Brothers Corporation, The Republic of Cyprus’ union leaders, and United Auto Workers Locals 93 and 662, in addition to his taped interview.

Others collections that comprise the beginning of this new labor archives include:
· Daniel R. Crowder Collection of interviews with Local 287, UAW-CIO members
· An agreement between the City of Muncie, Muncie Fire Department, and Local 1348, International Association of Firefighters, AFL-CIO
· UAW Local 287 History, 1937-78
· Everett H. Ferrill Collection
· UAW Local 287 Records
· Chevrolet, UAW Local 499 Records and Photographs
· Warner Gear Collection
· Borg-Warner Corporation Records
· McCormick Brothers Collection
· Working in Middletown Oral History Project Collection

As it continues to grow through new donations, the Muncie Labor Archives will become an even richer resource for students, faculty, and other researchers and scholars in history, sociology, political science, and other disciplines. As the oral history interviews and other documentation are digitized and made available in the Digital Media Repository, scholars from around the world will be able to “hear the voices of labor” from that much-studied “representative American community,” Muncie as Middletown.

The Muncie Labor Archives is one more important component of the “Teaching Archives” that characterizes the Archives and Special Collections Research Center.

Postscript

In conjunction with the opening of the Muncie Labor Archives, an exhibit on Once There was a Union Town: A History of Organized Labor in Muncie is on display outside the Archives and Special Collections Research Center, Bracken Library room 210, through January 31, 2007.

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