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Green, James : Papers, 1964-2010


16 boxes


Processed by Kenneth Selnick: May, 2011
These records were donated to the University Archives and Special Collections Department of the Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston Library by Professor James Green in February of 2011.


Professor Green was born in 1944 to Gerald and Mary Green in Oak Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1966 and received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1972. In 1977 Professor Green joined the faculty of UMass Boston’s College of Public and Community Service (CPCS), where he created and directed the Labor Studies Program in 1981 and the Labor Resource Center in 1995. He also served as Acting Dean of CPCS from 1995-1996. In the spring of 2008, Professor Green left the CPCS in order to join the History Department at UMass Boston, where he created and directed the graduate program in Public History. In 1987 Professor Green began lecturing on labor history at the Harvard Trade Union Program, an executive training program for union leaders located at the Harvard Law School.
During this time, Professor Green took an active role in protest politics, union support work, civil rights campaigns, and community history projects, particularly through the Massachusetts History Workshop, which he helped to organize in 1981. He also published scholarly works along with essays and books aimed at an activist audience and the larger public. In addition to articles in journals, periodicals, and newspapers, and interviews for radio and television, James Green has authored five books and co-authored two others on the history and politics of the American working class. In 2009 he received the Sol Stetin Award for Labor History from the Sidney Hillman Foundation.
Professor Green’s interest in politics grew as a result of his contact with United States Senator from Illinois Paul H. Douglas, a former professor and at the time the nation’s leading liberal. While serving as an intern in Senator Douglas’s office during the summers of 1965 and 1966 he also had the chance to meet Senator Eugene McCarthy, whose presidential primary campaign of 1968 he joined, and Senator George McGovern, who received a Ph.D. in labor history from Northwestern University. All three of these men played roles in public life that he admired and he graduated college with a belief that historians could contribute to the public good.
While studying at Yale, Professor Green was influenced by the historian C.Vann Woodward whose commitment to writing history “with a purpose” had a profound impact on him. As he became involved with the anti-war movements he also became fascinated with the history of radicalism and political protest in the United States and later became committed to studying the dissenter and insurgent movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries in the context of social and cultural history. He began experimenting with ways of telling movement stories in the 1970’s first by publishing articles for activist publications like Radical America and then in 1981 by authoring a series of seventeen op-eds and book review essays for the Boston Globe, in which he brought historical perspective to bear on current political issues and social problems. Since then he has actively been involved in bringing these issues to public audiences through museum exhibits, public library lectures, union education programs, oral history workshops, film documentaries, historical commemorations and celebrations and public art projects.

Scope and Content

This collection is divided into 13 series detailing the scholarly career and activist history of Professor James Green dating from 1964-2010. Scholarly materials consist of research materials related to Professor Green’s published books and work related to his contributions to documentary films as well as essays, published articles, book reviews, public addresses, political speeches, papers presented and correspondence with scholars and colleagues. There is also a significant portion of the collection devoted to his administrative duties as director of the Labor Resource Center and his duties within the College of Public and Community Service. These items include correspondence, documents, proposals and memos related to curriculum reform, the creation of a new general education program, about the theory and practice of adult education and labor education and of the establishment of the only BA degree in Labor Studies in New England. Additionally there are numerous documents highlighting his role on various faculty and professional committees including notes, agendas, minutes, evaluations and project reports.
Materials pertaining to his role as labor and anti-war activist include correspondence with intellectual activists and scholars documenting protests within the American Historical Association, and Organization of American Historians, as well as the emergence of radical history as a field and of the Radical Historians Caucus. There are also documents relating to the Student Strike Coordinating Committee at Yale University and manuscripts from the Radical America editorial collective based in Somerville, MA, and correspondence with social historians in Britain about labor history and the overthrow of fascism in Spain and Portugal. 
In addition, Professor Green has collected Boston-oriented documents, letters and flyers from community groups supporting school desegregation and opposing urban renewal and gentrification in Boston’s South End. Labor Union material consists of documents, correspondence and essays relating to strikes, working conditions and protests of the General Electric factory workers in Lynn, MA, the Colonial Provision Co. meat packers, utility workers, Harvard clerical workers in Boston, Hormel meat packers in Austin MN, International Paper workers in Maine, coal miners in Appalachia, and steel workers in Pennsylvania.
There are also letters and documents highlighting the creation by Boston historians of the Massachusetts History Workshop which conducted oral histories and held reunion and memorial celebrations of events with the Lynn shoe workers, Lawrence textile workers, and Boston Clerical and packinghouse workers from 1979-1989. Also included are files Green used in helping to produce a documentary film with Barbara Kopple about the United Mine Workers (1990) and in serving as research director for a series of films for the PBS series “The Great Depression” (1993). Other materials in the collection encompass Green’s articles and books, particularly a number of folders with material on his 2006 work, Death in the Haymarket. The publication of the book entailed many media interviews, public appearances, and reviews in publications like New Yorker, the New York Times and Harpers.


 I:        History and Politics, 1967-2006
 II:       People's History, 1973-1999
 III:      Boston Politics and History, 1970-2008
 IV:     UMB College of Public and Community Service, 1977-2010
 V:      United Mine Workers of America, 1913-1993, (bulk 1977-1990)
VI:      VHS tapes and CDs, 1984-2003
VII:     Labor History, 1981-2009
VIII:    Documentary Films and Blackside, Inc.; The Great Depression PBS series, 1990-93
IX:      Labor History and Unions, 1967-2002
X:       Workers Education, Labor Studies BA Degree Program, Labor Research and Labor Resource Centers, CPCS, UMB, 1985-2007
XI:      Labor and Working Class History Association and the Journals: Labor History and Labor, 2002-2008
XII:      Letters, 1964-2009
XIII:     Miscellaneous projects, articles, and reviews, 1981-2009