During the winter quarter, my students are doing work in UCLA Special Collections. Here’s the course description:
Candace Hansen takes a “selfie” while researching in the Justice for Janitors collections.
“In the last decades of the 20th century, working people and their allies transformed the political culture of southern California. Once a stronghold of antiunion employers, and a crucible for the politics of resentment against immigrants and poor people, Los Angeles is now considered one of the most progressive and immigrant-friendly cities in the country. Driving this change forward was a network of service-sector unions, working-class community organizations, and activist researchers and artists. Sometimes separately and sometimes in dialog, they pioneered new forms of social movement unionism, political engagement, policy research, and political iconography. Students in this research seminar will explore the stories behind this rise of L.A. Labor using the recently donated records of the Justice for Janitors campaign, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and other archival collections at UCLA.”
Over the last two decades, digital technologies have transformed practically every aspect of historians’ professional lives. When I entered graduate school in the 1990s, there were still professors who wrote articles out by hand, and then turned over stacks of legal pads to the departmental secretaries to key into computers. In the archives we took notes with paper and pencil and made as many photocopies as we could afford. Today, laptops have displaced the office staff, most archives allow personal digital cameras, and we leave the archives with hundreds of JPEG files instead of note cards.
You can read the rest of my article at LaborOnline, the website of the Labor and Working Class History Association and the journal Labor.
Welcome to the Los Angeles Social Justice History Project, a collaborative effort to document and preserve the history of labor and social justice organizing in Los Angeles. The project is an initiative of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor & Employment (IRLE) working with the Center for Labor Research & Education, the Center for Oral History Research, and the History Department.
Our current focus is the history of the Justice for Janitors campaign. You can read more about the project in the L.A. Times and the UCLA Daily Bruin.