In celebration of labor history month each May, the Untold Stories series presents programs and talks on both local and national labor history topics. Past programs in the series have featured historian Robin D.G. Kelley, singer Larry Long, author Cheri Register, and walking tours by local historian Dave Riehle. The series received the 2003 John Sessions Memorial Award from the American Library Association for service to the labor community. All events are free and open to the public.
2017 Season (complete)
Untold Stories Labor History Series: A World in Turmoil: 1917-2017
Worker’s Memorial Event
Wednesday, April 26, 7 p.m.
St. Paul Labor Center, 353 7th Street West
Panelists explore workplace safety issues in advance of the national commemoration of Worker’s Memorial Day. Presenters include Phil Qualy, a railroad conductor and Director of the United Transportation Union Minnesota Legislative Board; John Sielaff, author of A Workplace Accident: John Anderson’s Fall from the High Bridge, recently published in Ramsey County Historical Society Magazine; and Mike Scully, an attorney from Sieben Carey, knowledgeable about workers’ compensation history and current changes and threats to the system.
David Noble Lecture with Roderick Ferguson
Tuesday, May 2, 7 p.m.
Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, 301 19th Ave S., Minneapolis
The annual Noble Lecture honors a groundbreaking professor of American Studies by offering fresh perspectives on our history and culture. This year’s presenter is Roderick Ferguson, Professor of African American and Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Illinois, speaking on “The Bookshop of Black Queer Diaspora.”
Go back in time to 1917 for a look at politics and labor, from the nonpartisan league to the Twin Cities Streetcar Strike, to women’s suffrage. Panelists include Augsburg College History Department Chair Michael Lansing, author of Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics; local historian and former engineer Dave Riehle; and Dr. Jill Zahniser, co-author of Alice Paul: Claiming Power.
Nativism and Resistance – Then and Now: Tuesday, May 9, 7 p.m.
East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street
The politicization of anti-immigrant fears is nothing new, nor are grassroots efforts to resist such campaigns. Join East Side Freedom Library co-executive director Peter Rachleff as he discusses the ways that business and political leaders promoted nativism in WWI era Minnesota as a means to squelch the labor movement and its farmer allies. Peter’s presentation will bring us into a conversation between the past and the present as we consider the re-emergence of nativism today.
Racism in our Hometown: The Story of the Arthur and Edith Lee Family, Minneapolis (1931): Monday, May 15, 7 p.m.
East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street
Presented by the APWU Solidarity Kids Theater Theater
The multi-media puppet show introduces the Lee Family in the years following WWI. Arthur Lee was an African American, WWI veteran who worked at the Minneapolis Post Office, and moved into an all-white neighborhood. His union coworkers, a majority of whom were white, protected his family when police failed to defend the family against the racist mobs that numbered around 3,000 and tried to force him from his home. The puppet show emphasizes the significance of the Lee family’s courageous struggle and its enduring inspiration in the Twin Cities.
Three speakers present a look at the Saint Paul Public Library 100 years ago, from one of the Carnegie libraries celebrating a centennial. Greg Gaut will discussing the Carnegie Library project in Minnesota; Bill Lindeke focuses on St. Paul’s four libraries celebrating centennials; and Billie Young provides a glimpse into what the library was like 100 years ago.
Professors William Jones, Yuichiro Onishi, and James Robinson will provide a portrait of the early history of the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, from the participation of A. Philip Randolph to the presence of the Brotherhood in St. Paul, and how the workers are remembered today.
Payne Avenue Walking Tour & Library Celebration
Sunday, May 21, 10:30 a.m.
Back by popular demand! Tour Payne Avenue with Professor Peter Rachleff and end the walk at the Arlington Hills Library for a celebration of the library’s centennial. Space is limited; reservations required at sppl.org/storyfair.
Untold Stories is coordinated by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit thefriends.org or call 651-222-3242. Co-sponsors include AFSCME Council 5, Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church, East Side Freedom Library, Hmong American Farmers Association, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Metropolitan State University Institute for Community Engagement and Scholarship, Micawber’s Books, Minnesota Association of Professional Employees, Minnesota Historical Society, Ramsey County Historical Society, Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, Twin Cities Labor History Society, and the University of Minnesota Labor Education Service. This series is supported by an endowment created with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation, as well as a gift from the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees Women’s Committee.