Miriam Frank Oral Histories on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Activists in the Labor Movement
Language of Materials
In preparation for her 2014 book Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America, historian Miriam Frank conducted several oral history interviews with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer labor activists across the United States from 1994-2009. These 79 interviews comprise this oral history collection and cover such topics as family and class identity, the influence of the institutions of the political left and/or the church, and death. Through these interviews, Frank sought to expose individual situations of struggle and to create a detailed history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer activism in labor unions. Items in this collection have been digitized for researcher use unless otherwise indicated.
Miriam Frank's exploration into labor-gay alliances began in 1990 with the publication of a handbook titled Pride at Work: Organizing for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Unions, which she co-authored with her wife Desma Holcomb. This project entailed oral history interviews with New York City activists, which sparked Frank's initiative to delve further into the subject. In 1994 Miriam was awarded New York University's Stephen Charney Vladeck Junior Faculty Fellowship. That year she began conducting interviews in New York City and would travel to six other cities to pursue her research. Her findings eventually culminated in 2014 with the publication of her book Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America.
Frank received her B.A., M.A. and PhD from New York University where she served as an Adjunct Professor and Master Teacher of Humanities 1983-2014. She also taught labor history courses at union extension programs in Detroit and New York City, 1977-2009. She is the author of many other publications including The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter: the story of three million working women during World War II (1982). In 1994 Miriam was awarded New York University's Stephen Charney Vladeck Junior Faculty Fellowship. That year she began conducting interviews in New York City and would travel to six other cities to pursue her research. Her findings eventually culminated in 2014 with the publication of her book Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America.
Frank received her B.A., M.A. and PhD from New York University where as of 2018 she is a Master Teacher of Humanities. She has also authored many other publications including The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter: the story of three million working women during World War II (1982).
The order in which these materials were sent to the Tamiment Library has been maintained. The tapes are organized alphabetically by last name.
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of 79 interviews conducted by Miriam Frank in 1994-2009. Possible alternate spellings of interviewee names and/or pseudonyms are noted in the Scope and Contents note of that interview. Summaries of content are also located in the Scope and Contents note for each tape. These summaries are based on Frank's research notes.
The interviews are both biographical and topical covering such themes as family and class identity, the influence of the political left and/or the church, love, and death. Specific labor topics Frank sought to document were institutional policies and new bargaining issues with regard to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer workers; the history of gay participation in unions, both hidden and "out"; resistance to LGBTQ workers and activists in some sectors of the labor movement; labor education and AIDS education; the influence of community organizing; and union organizing and collective bargaining in queer community workplaces.
Through these interviews, Frank sought to expose individual situations of struggle and to create a detailed history of LGBTQ activism in the labor movement. In the course of her research, Frank conducted and recorded over 100 interviews, 79 of which are located at the Tamiment Library. Most of these interviews are quoted and indexed in Frank's book Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America.
Conditions Governing Access
Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection, created by Dr. Miriam Frank, was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder.
Identification of item, date; Out in the Union: Gays and Lesbians in the Labor Movement, Miriam Frank Oral History Collection; OH 039; box number; folder number or item identifier; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Placed on deposit by Dr. Miriam Frank in 1998; the collection plus additional materials were donated by Frank in 2015. The accession numbers related to these gifts are 1998.022 and 2015.022.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.
Duplicate cassettes of some interviews were deaccessioned because they did not contain original content.
About this Guide
At the time of accessioning, a preliminary file list and a collection-level finding aid was created to describe these materials. No physical processing or arrangement was done at this time.
In 2013-2015 the collection was digitized by the New York University Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department. Through this process, access CDs were created for researcher use, and the original material was placed in archival housing. After the digitization process was finished, a complete finding aid was published in 2015.
In 2023, a student worker added additional instances for audiotapes to existing archival objects.