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New Yorkers at Work Oral History Collection

Call Number



1979-2000, inclusive


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Bernhardt, Debra E.
Baskin, Alex (Role: Donor)
Harris, Joseph (Role: Donor)
Kornblun, Joyce (Role: Donor)
Ramirez, Antonio (Role: Donor)
Weinstock, Louis, 1903-1994 (Role: Donor)


29.66 Linear Feet
in 5 record cartons, 8 card boxes, 21 cassette boxes, 7 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, and 224 other containers.

Language of Materials

English .


New Yorkers at Work is an ongoing oral history project of New York University's Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives that seeks to document the history of labor and the working experiences of New Yorkers.

Historical Note

Begun in 1979, The New Yorkers at Work Oral History Collection is an ongoing series of interviews, conducted primarily by the staff of New York University's Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, that document the history of labor in the metropolitan area. The largest group of interviews were collected for the New Yorkers at Work: Oral Histories of Life, Labor, and Industry Curriculum Project. In 1980, with a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, about 150 interviews were conducted with workers and union activists in industries representative of the city's economy. Eight documentary radio programs were produced from these interviews for broadcast over National Public Radio. Additional interviews were conducted by Archive staff to augment archival and manuscript collections; a few others were donated by researchers or students. The most extensive of these was a series of 15 interviews conducted by SUNY Old Westbury Labor Studies students of Professor Joe Harris—many of them with Long Island labor leaders.


The interviews are grouped into 1 series, arranged alphabetically by the name of the interviewee in finding aid. Access compact disks have been assigned numbers based on order of digitization.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of oral history interviews broadly representative of 20th century New York City working conditions and union experiences. Topics include the impact of labor-saving construction techniques on the building trades; immigrant labor; CIO organization; the role of the Left in the labor movement and the impact of the expulsion of communist-dominated unions in 1949; public employee collective bargaining and the Fiscal Crisis of 1974-75; clerical organizing; new technology and its impact on printers and longshoremen; and the quest for economic opportunity by minorities and women. Please note the use of some interviews is restricted; transcripts or indexes exist for several of the tapes/CDs.

Notable interviewees include: Harry Avrutin, Brenda Berkman, Peter J. Brennan, Philip A. Carey, Charles Cogen, Edward J. Cleary, Sam Dolgoff, Ralph Fasanella, Abram Flaxer, Harry Fleischman, Philoine Fried, Dolores Huerta, Theodore Woodrow Kheel, Kitty Krupat, Josie McMillian, Joyce Miller, Pauline Newman, Lillian Roberts, Cleveland L. Robinson, Joe Stack, Leon Sverdlove, and Belle Zeller.

Labor unions and other organizations documented include: Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America; New York Joint Board; AFSCME; District Council 37 (New York, N.Y.); Bakery and Confectionery Workers' International Union of America; Coalition of Labor Union Women (U.S.); Communist Party of the United States of America; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; Local no. 3 (New York, N.Y.), International Jewelry Workers Union; International Ladies' Garmet Workers' Union; International Longshoremen's Association; National Maritime Union of America; New York Hotel Trades Council; Newspaper Guild of New York; Social Service Employees Union; Local 371 (New York, N.Y.); United Automobile; Aircraft, and Vehicle Workers of America; District 65; United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America; United Farm Workers of America; United Federation of Teachers; United Office and Professional Workers of America; United Storeworkers (Organization); and Local 3 (New York, N.Y.).

For items with multiple cassette instances, master copies are housed in boxes 22-35 and user copies are housed in boxes 35-42.


Access Restrictions

Repository permission is required for access to some items. Please contact the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives,, 212-998-2596.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives name are maintained by New York University. Permission to publish or reproduce materials in this collection must be secured from repository. Please contact Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Alex Baskin, Joseph Harris, Joyce Kornblun, Antonio Ramirez, and Louis Weinstock, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; New Yorkers at Work Oral History Collection; OH 001; box number; folder number or item identifier; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was created by Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation; additional materials were donated by Alex Baskin in 1997, Joseph Harris in 1991, Joyce Kornblun in 1982, Antonio Ramirez in 1996, and Louis Weinstock in 1981. The accession numbe associated with this collection is 1979.012.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access to audiovisual materials in this collection is available through digitized access copies. Researchers may view an item's original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection's finding aid and can be requested in our reading room. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Collection processed by

Tamiment staff

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-01-30 10:42:05 -0500.
Language: Finding aid written in English

Processing Information

Decisions regarding arrangement, description, and physical interventions for this collection prior to 2023 are unknown. In 2023, audiocassette materials were removed from storage cabinets in the ACM spaceon the 10th floor of Bobst Library and housed in 21 new cassette boxes. Cassette identification numbers were added to existing inventory titles.

Revisions to this Guide

May 2022: Edited by Rachel Mahre to state that audio materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons.
November 2023: Edited by Maddie DeLaere DeLaere to add additional top containers and update locations for audiocassettes.
January 2024: Updated by Olivija Liepa to state that audio materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons.

Edition of this Guide

This version was derived from NewYorkWorkforw.doc


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012