3 pm to 5 pm
“The Elusive Postwar Boom: Detroit Autoworkers in the 1950s”
Daniel Clark, Oakland University
This paper will draw on newspaper research that is part of a manuscript-in-progress on Detroit autoworkers from 1945-60. Interviews with more than 40 former autoworkers—white, black, male, and female—revealed consistent themes of economic insecurity and job instability, which generally run counter to our understanding of the era. I hoped that the newspaper research would either corroborate or contradict those findings. Overwhelmingly, the newspapers confirmed and amplified the themes of job instability and economic insecurity for Detroit-area autoworkers. No one at the time thought that the auto industry provided steady work and consistent incomes.
Commentator: Kevin Boyle, Northwestern University and Colleen Doody, DePaul University
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