“Our Mothers Were the Shining Stars:” Perspectives on the Founders of the Society of Women Engineers, From a Daughter Who Grew Up Among Them



Alexis Jetter discusses her long-running project, a memoir unraveling the life and death of her mother Evelyn Jetter, a physicist, engineer, and in 1950 a founder of the Society of Women Engineers. After writing a master’s thesis and article in the 1980s that explored whether her mother’s death at age 52 was caused by her work with radiation at the Atomic Energy Commission and other companies — from the 1940s through 1970s — Alexis felt a growing desire to better understand Evelyn’s career in relation to her private life. Alexis describes her experience growing up in mid-century America among the founding members of SWE, brilliant women who found a way to enmesh their professional lives as engineers with their personal lives as women and mothers. Alexis also decodes the symbiotic professional and personal relationship between Evelyn and SWE’s founding president, Beatrice Hicks, who hired Evelyn as a consultant when she left the workforce for 12 years to raise her four children, an act emblematic of the “sisterhood” that SWE engendered in its early years. Alexis Jetter is a journalist and lecturer at Dartmouth College.

Related Collections
American Society of Women Engineers and Architects Records
Society of Women Engineers Records
Society of Women Engineers Publications
Profiles of SWE Pioneers Oral History Project
SWE Grassroots Oral History Project
SWE StoryCorps Oral Histories
…oral history transcripts

Related Resources
Jetter, E. (1986, June 29). “Did radiation kill Evelyn Jetter: A daughter’s inquiry,” The Newsday Magazine
Society of Women Engineers

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Alexis Jetter
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


From the Vault: Metalsmith and Professor Phillip Fike and the Wayne State Academic Mace



In anticipation of the upcoming Wayne State University graduation ceremonies, University Art Curator Grace Serra and University Archivist Alison Stankrauff share the history of the university’s academic mace, a ceremonial and symbolic object carried during commencement exercises and other important events. The first mace, commissioned in the 1950s, has been lost to the ages. A second mace was created specifically for the university’s 1968 centennial. The third mace, currently in use, was crafted in 1984 by famed metalsmith and Wayne State professor Phillip Fike using ebony wood, bronze, and steel. As Serra and Stankrauff discovered during a visit to the Reuther Library’s vault, what the centennial mace lacks in artistry, symbolism, and gravitas when compared to the Fike mace, it makes up for in being easy to carry.

More Information
Blog: The Wayne State University Mace
Image: Phillip Fike Academic Mace
Image: Centennial Academic Mace
Image: Centennial Academic Mace

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Grace Serra and Alison Stankrauff
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


“Taxing Limits: The Political Economy of American School Finance”



Kelly Goodman speaks about the political history of funding education through local and state taxes. Having worked as a data analyst for the Detroit public schools, Goodman pursued graduate school to explore the structural issues surrounding questions she often found herself asking: why are some schools perceived to be bad? Why do some schools receive less funding than others? How does the economy work, and for whom?

To answer those questions, Goodman’s research for her dissertation, “Taxing Limits: The Political Economy of American School Finance,” reorients political history around enduring tensions between the control of decisions and the allocation of money in federalism by exploring the 1930s and 1970s public budget crises in Michigan and California. Both states were notable for their powerful labor unions and business associations, and for their pioneering role in applying the fiscal concept of tax limitation to constrain, not cut, government. Her extended research at the Reuther Library has led her deep into the archives of the American Federation of Teachers and AFT tax guru Arthur Elder, as well as records documenting the UAW’s political actions on school finance and teacher organizing. Goodman is Ph.D. candidate in History at Yale University.

Related Collections
AFL-CIO Metropolitan Detroit Records
AFT Secretary-Treasurer’s Office Records
Selma Borchardt Papers
Arthur Elder Papers
Michigan Federation of Teachers Records
Michigan AFL-CIO Records
UAW President’s Office: Walter P. Reuther Records

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Kelly Goodman
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


Reevaluating Comparable Worth: AFSCME’s Pay Equity Campaigns of Yesteryear and Today



In celebration of Equal Pay Day on April 2, 2019, podcast host and American Federation of Teachers archivist Dan Golodner recounts a time 100 years ago when male teachers tried, and failed, to prevent female teachers from bargaining for pay equity with their male peers. AFSCME archivist Stefanie Caloia discusses AFSCME’s groundbreaking equal pay campaigns for public employees in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in Local 101 in San Jose, California and Council 28 in Washington state. To alleviate the large pay disparities between male and female public employees, the “comparable worth” of jobs typically held by men and jobs typically held by women were reevaluated. City managers and politicians got cheap, librarians got tricky, union members got cheeky with a barbecue grill, and eventually female AFSCME members got a raise, although not enough to completely erase pay inequity between women and men. Producer and archivist Troy Eller English threatens to celebrate Equal Pay Day by editing out just 80 percent of Dan’s cursing, but scolds him for mouth breathing, instead.

More Information
Pay Equity and the Public Employee

Related Collections
AFSCME Communications Department Records
AFSCME Office of the President: Gerald W. McEntee Records
AFSCME Office of the President: Jerry Wurf Records
AFSCME Office of the Secretary-Treasurer: William Lucy Records
AFSCME Program Development Department Records
AFSCME Women’s Rights Department Records
Coalition of Labor Union Women Records
Susan Holleran Papers
SEIU District 925 Records
SEIU District 925 Legacy Project

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewees: Stefanie Caloia
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


Documenting the Now: SEIU Archivist Sarah Lebovitz on Using Archives to Empower the Future



SEIU archivist Sarah Lebovitz explains how her background in anthropology informs her work as an archivist, preserving and revealing the experiences of underrepresented groups. She recounts successful SEIU actions including the implementation of needlestick protocol for healthcare workers and the organization of women office workers in SEIU District 925, which served as inspiration for the classic 1980 film 9 to 5, starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda (whose oral history about the movement is available at the Reuther Library). Lebovitz describes the challenges and opportunities of archiving social media and digital content, and making archives more accessible and interactive for researchers. She and host Dan Golodner discuss the challenge of convincing union organizers and members that the work they’re doing today is historically important and worth documenting.

Related Collections
SEIU archival collections at the Reuther Library
SEIU District 925 Records
SEIU District 925 Legacy Project Oral Histories
SEIU Oral Histories

More Information
Documenting the Now
Omeka

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewees: Sarah Lebovitz
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


“She Never Gave Up on This City:” Remembering Firebrand Detroit City Councilwoman Maryann Mahaffey



Labor and Urban Affairs archivist Shae Rafferty shares how Maryann Mahaffey’s college summer job as recreation director at the Poston Japanese internment camp in Arizona in 1945 strengthened her resolve to fight against discrimination and help those in need later in her career in social work. In Detroit, Mahaffey created a tenants’ council while program director at Detroit’s Brightmoor Community Center in the 1960s, and established the Detroit Mayor’s Task Force on Malnutrition and Hunger while also teaching in the School of Social Work at Wayne State University. Although she lost her first campaign for public office in 1970, she won a Michigan Supreme Court ruling affirming women’s right to use their maiden names when running for public office.

During her time on the Detroit City Council from 1973-2005, including many years as president, Mahaffey created the city’s first rape crisis unit within the police department, expanded the city’s healthcare benefits to include gay couples, chaired the Council’s Housing Task Force, opened the Detroit Athletic Club to women. Host Dan Golodner calls for a building to be named in her honor. The Maryann Mahaffey Papers are now open and available for research at the Reuther Library.

Related Collections
Maryann Mahaffey Papers
Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collection

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewees: Shae Rafferty
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


Woman wearing large apron holding a goose in her arms stands with two boys, November 8, 1912

Dirty Socks, Goose Fat, and Hot Toddies: Cold Remedies from the Folklore Archive



Reuther Library archivists Elizabeth Clemens and Dan Golodner raise a glass for the regional and ethnic cold remedies collected in the Reuther’s extensive Folklore Archive, including whiskey, honey, lemon, hot toddies, goose fat poultices, the color red, horehound, catnip tea, dirty socks, and the more dangerous turpentine and kerosene — don’t try those at home! Clemens explores why the informants interviewed resorted to folklore remedies, why we still use them today, and why a few of these remedies just might work.

Related Collections
Folklore Archive

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewees: Elizabeth Clemens
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink


“Long Memory is the Most Radical Idea in America:” Field Report from Reuther Collections Gatherer Louis Jones



Dr. Louis Jones discusses his work in building relationships to bring records into the Reuther Library documenting the American labor movement, civil rights, and the history of metropolitan Detroit. He explains how he brought three recent acquisitions into the Reuther Library: the papers of labor activist and folk singer Utah Phillips; the business records of civil rights organization NAACP Detroit; and the records of LGBT Detroit, an organization working to support and advocate for Detroit’s LGBT community. Jones is the field archivist for the Walter P. Reuther Library, and received a Ph.D. in history from Wayne State University.

*Note: Since the recording of this episode, we have received word that our former colleague discussed in the episode now prefers to be known as Perez.

Related Resources
Collection Spotlight: LGBT Materials at the Reuther Library
Collection Spotlight: The Utah Phillips Papers
NAACP Detroit Branch Records – An addition to a long history of fighting for civil rights and community improvement

Related Collections
LGBT Detroit Records
Utah Phillips Papers
NAACP Detroit Branch Records

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewee: Louis Jones
Sound: Troy Eller English
With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace


“Democracy is Sweeping Over the World:” Brookwood Labor College at the Nexus of Transnational Radicalism in the Jazz Age



While the 1920s are often described as “lean years” of progressive action, Andreas Meyris explains how the Brookwood Labor College in Katonah, New York served as a conduit for transnational radicalism in the 1920s while also training labor journalists and up-and-coming labor leaders like Walter Reuther and Rose Pesotta, setting the stage for the explosion of industrial unionism during the 1930s.

Meyris is a PhD candidate at the George Washington University, specializing in American labor and political history. He received a Sam Fishman Travel Grant in 2018 to examine the Brookwood Labor College Records at the Reuther Library in support of his dissertation, “Democracy is Sweeping Over the World:” Transnational Radicalism During the “Jazz Age.” Meyris explores in his dissertation American networks of radicalism and reform during the “roaring twenties,” a period generally thought to be lean for labor and progressive action. However, Brookwood created active movements for economic reform, by keeping in close contact with labor colleges abroad, hosting foreign labor leaders, teaching courses in comparative labor and political studies, and specifically inviting speakers who warned of the dangers of fascism in Germany and Italy.

Related Collections
Brookwood Labor College Records
Brookwood Labor College: Mark and Helen Norton Starr Papers
The Brookwood Review

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewer: Meghan Courtney
Interviewee: Kristin M. Szylvian
Sound: Troy Eller English
With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace


The First Noel (Night): How the Public Found Its Detroit Adventure in Noel Night, The City’s Festive Cultural Open House



Outreach archivist Meghan Courtney traces the evolution of Detroit Adventure, a coalition of cultural organizations founded in 1958 to promote cultural conversations and experiences in metropolitan Detroit. In 1973 the organization debuted Noel Night, a free holiday open house in Detroit’s cultural center. Now run by Midtown Detroit, Inc., Noel Night features: performances and family activities at Detroit’s midtown museums, churches, and venues; holiday shopping; food; horse-drawn carriage rides; and more. Courtney offers a sneak preview of the Reuther Library’s contributions to the 46th Noel Night on December 1, 2018: live labor- and holiday-themed music from our talented University Library System musicians; story time with children’s books from the ULS Special Collections department; Hanukkah games; festive archives-inspired crafts and photobooth opportunities; snacks and hot chocolate; and modern indoor plumbing. All for free!

More Information
NoelNight.org
Reuther Library Subject Focus: Detroit Adventure and the First Noel Night

Related Collections
Richard McGhee Papers
Wayne State University Office of the President Clarence B. Hilberry Records
Detroit Public Library Burton Historical Collections: Detroit Adventure Records, 1958-1980

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewees: Meghan Courtney
Sound: Troy Eller English
Music: Bart Bealmear

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, Paul Neirink, and Mary Wallace