This article focuses on the significance of sites and landscapes of labor history in public history, particularly in the fields of preservation and interpretation. Through the preservation of labor history sites, public historians can educate various audiences about the diversity of the working-class experience in the United States. Although sites of work have long been identified as historically significant, all too often the workers have been excluded from these narratives. By understanding which sites are important in working-class history and by bringing workers’ voices into the act of protecting, commemorating, and interpreting sites of labor, we can achieve a more inclusive view of labor history—one that connects these stories to the national narrative and illustrates the centrality of labor and labor activism to American history.
Placing and Preserving Labor History
Rachel Donaldson is an assistant professor of public history in the Department of History at College of Charleston, in Charleston, South Carolina. She holds a PhD in history and a masters degree in historic preservation. She recently revised and wrote new material for the Labor History Theme Study of the National Historic Landmark Program, from which sections of this article are adapted. She has contributed to the Baltimore Heritage online tour program, Explore Baltimore, and the Ultimate History Project. She has also published two books on the folk music revival of the mid-twentieth century.
Rachel Donaldson; Placing and Preserving Labor History. The Public Historian 1 February 2017; 39 (1): 61–83. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2017.39.1.61
Download citation file: