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Labor history digitized

Economic shifts, globalization chronicled in publication added to DigitalCommons@ILR

Labor Research ReviewCrisis and opportunity for the American labor movement played out for two decades in the Labor Research Review.

The publication which captured an era of change is now available to scholars and the public at DigitalCommons@ILR.

All 24 issues of the Labor Research Review were digitized this year by the Catherwood Library.

The publication was a forum for analysis, criticism and strategic thinking from 1982 to 1996, said Lance Compa, who proposed the project.

"These were years of wrenching change for organized labor, with an economic shift from industry to services and the growing impact of globalization," said Compa, a senior lecturer in the ILR Department of Labor Relations, Law, and History.

"But it was also a period of creative organizing, bargaining, and alliance building whose effects carry into the present day," he said.

From the first volume on strategies for halting plant shutdowns to the final volume on new models of organizing, bargaining and international solidarity, he said, the journal "was an outlet for labor strategists willing to break with orthodox thinking and offer an alternative vision of trade union revitalization."

It was published by the Midwest Center for Labor Research in Chicago.

Contributors to Labor Research Review, Compa said, "are still deeply involved in trade union advocacy at all levels – union leadership, community organizations, and in the industrial relations and labor law field."

They are thrilled it is now available online for public use and as a resource for trade unionists and their allies, he said.

"The goal of DigitalCommons@ILR," said Catherwood Web and Digital Projects Manager Jim DelRosso, "is to make material such as this available to those who can use it."

According to DelRosso, preserving historical material is a priority for the Catherwood Library, and that priority is reflected in many of the collections within DigitalCommons@ILR, which now contains more than 13,000 documents.

The online document collection, he said, "shows some of what Catherwood does -- not just for scholars and researchers -- but for the world of work, in general."