Working-class Americanism : the politics of labor in a textile city, 1914-1960 /
Gary Gerstle.
Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c1989.
xii, 356 p. : ill. ; 24 cm. --
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Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c1989.
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Includes bibliographical references and index.
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Appeared in Choice on 1990-02:
During the 1930s and '40s the Independent Textile Union (ITU) of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, took advantage of the pro-labor climate of the Roosevelt era to create an island of industrial democracy in southern New England. The ITU's program of workplace and social reform was initially the product of two very different cultures and belief systems; the traditional communalism of French-Canadian rank and filers and the progressive socialism of a smaller group of Franco-Belgian radicals. Central to the actions of both groups were changing definitions of what it meant to be a US citizen. For the latter group it meant altering their vision of a dramatic transformation of US society to fit in with the political and economic realities of their adopted homeland. For French-Canadians it represented a major step in their ongoing passage out of the confines on a insular ethnic enclave. Their Depression-fostered alliance fell apart in the wake of WW II as the local woolen industry declined and the rise of virulent anti-Communism redefined concepts of Americanism. This thoroughly researched and well-written study reflects the growing sophistication of labor historians in dealing with the complex interrelationship of class, ethnicity, and, to a lesser extent, gender, a trend reflected in David Emmons's The Butte Irish (CH, Oct '89). Reproductions of visual materials from the ITU's newspaper add credence to the author's major arguments. Upper-division and graduate collections. -H. Harris, Pennsylvania State University, New Kensington Campus
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Choice, February 1990
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Table of Contents
List of illustrations and tables
Preface to the Princeton edition
Introductionp. 1
Ethnictown, 1875-1929
The French Canadiansp. 19
The Franco-Belgiansp. 61
The emergence of an industrial union, 1929-1936
Beginnings, 1929-1934p. 95
Citywide mobilization, 1934-1936p. 127
Working-class heyday, 1936-1941
"A new, progressive Americanism"p. 153
Ethnic-style unionismp. 196
Ethnic renaissancep. 230
The crucial decade - and after, 1941-1960
The struggle for union power, 1941-1946p. 263
"Be American!": refashioning a political language, 1944-1946p. 278
The failure of two dreams, 1946-1960p. 310
Conclusionp. 331
Locals organized by ITU, 1932-1955p. 337
A note on union sources and a list of intervieweesp. 341
Indexp. 346
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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