Meet Alison Stankrauff, University Archivist

Although Wayne State University archivist Alison Stankrauff loved history, she wasn't quite sure what to do with her history degree as an undergraduate student at Antioch College in Ohio. That changed when she landed an internship at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. There, she was tasked with researching the oldest house in the city, built by the city's founders and rumored to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.  read more »

1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(8885) I AM a Man

AFSCME Local 1733 was several years in the making.

Thomas Oliver (T.O.) Jones passionately believed in the necessity of a union for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. A sanitation worker himself, he experienced unfair working conditions and accompanying low pay. In the 1960s, forty percent of full-time Memphis sanitation workers qualified for welfare assistance. The men had to carry heavy trash bins, often leaking, from residents’ yards to the trucks in sweltering Memphis heat. Black workers did not  read more »

Now on view: All Labor Has Dignity: The 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, Photographs by Richard L. Copley

(8890) Dignity sought in Memphis

In 1968, Memphis sanitation workers, AFSCME Local 1733, went on strike for increased wages and union recognition, but most importantly, to be treated with respect and dignity. The strike became an important chapter in the civil rights movement, attracting the support of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was visiting the striking workers when he was assassinated. Photographer Richard L. Copley documented key moments  read more »

Women Engineers Moved the Midcentury Motor City

While the number of women in engineering increased dramatically between 1900 and 1950, the actual number of women in engineering was still quite small: approximately 3,000 women, or just two-tenths of one percent of working engineers in the United States. Detroit's automobile industry presented a growing number of opportunities for women in engineering, however, and local papers in the 1950s and 1960s frequently published articles about these female curiosities in what was still very much considered "a man's world." The stories of Society of Women Engineers Detroit Section members provide a fascinating look at the opportunities and challenges faced by midcentury women engineers as they thrived–or not–in the Motor City.  read more »

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