Story+ Project

Women in Labor Movements


The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, acquired by the Rubenstein Library in 2015, documents women at work, broadly conceived, from the mid-fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Among the over 17,000 works in the collection are materials documenting the role of women in labor movements. These materials complement the holdings of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture related to women as workers and labor organizers. This combination of material from the Baskin Collection with long-held collections of the Bingham Center and other labor holdings of the Rubenstein Library offers a unique opportunity for scholars to make new connections among the histories and ongoing stories of women’s contributions to labor movements within and beyond the U.S. This project will explore what it means to have this newly available and transformative collection of material from the Lisa Unger Baskin Collection situated here in Durham, NC, at Duke University, in the context of the South, and in conversation with labor histories already housed in the Bingham Center and Rubenstein Library. We hope participants will tell the story of how the activist history documented in the Rubenstein Library—from 19th century textile mill organizing to the 2016 Allen Building sit-in by Duke Students and Workers in Solidarity—might impact current debates and struggles in the labor movement locally, nationally, and internationally.

Project Sponsor(s): 

Laura Micham, Merle Hoffman Director, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture

Kelly Wooten, Research Services and Collection Development Librarian, Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture

Graduate Mentor(s): 

Claire Payton, PhD Candidate in History


Sadia Ayaz, Gia Cummings, Elaine Zhong

Tradeswomen. Photo by Bettye Lane. Image held by the Duke University Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.


  • Women/Girls
  • Labor History
  • Oral History
  • Civil Rights
  • Archives

Skills required

  • Collaborative Work
  • Interviewing & Oral History
  • Website Design
  • Working with Primary Sources & Archival Research
  • Writing & Editing