Labor History Seminar: Colin Davis, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Center for American History and Culture Programs
Labor History Seminar
Friday, November 4, 2011

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Room 101

“Transatlantic Women: Fishermen’s Wives’ Organizations in Gloucester and Hull
Colin Davis, University Of Alabama at Birmingham
My paper will detail the emergence of fishermen’s wives organizations in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and Hull, England.  During the late 1960’s women organized on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to protect the interests of their husbands and sons.  In the U.S. case wives organized the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association (GFWA).  The catalyst for such action was the appearance of large foreign fishing fleets off the coast of New England.  The women argued that their men folk spent considerable time at sea and therefore could not present their case before local and national politicians.  Their tactics included giving testimony before Congress and the Massachusetts Legislature, creating a fish recipe book, and demanding an extension of the territorial limit to 200 miles to protect the traditional New England fishery.  In the Hull case, wives and female supporters organized to improve safety aboard trawlers.  The spark was a series of disasters where three Hull trawlers were lost during the winter of 1968.  Known as the Triple Trawler Disaster, the loss of three trawlers and 60 men galvanized the women to act.  The actions of these women were instrumental in persuading the British government to create a wide-ranging inquiry on safety in the trawling industry.  The paper will then address the questions of movement culture and the motivations for female action.  Just as vital, the transnational comparison will highlight the differing class positions of the women and how it influenced their political behavior.

Commentators: Maureen Flanagan, Illinois Institute of Technology and Susan Levine, University of Illinois at Chicago

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.