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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Cultural Traditions of Ironworkers in America’s Upper Midwest

In 2011, Professor James P. Leary, from the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Dr. Clark D. "Bucky" Halker of Chicago, Illinois, received an Archie Green Fellowship though the non-profit organization Company of Folk to document the "Cultural Traditions of Ironworkers in America's Upper Midwest." Leary and Halker independently interviewed a total of 26 ironworkers in Chicago, Illinois and Wisconsin during 2011-2012. Most interviews were conducted at workers' homes and at local union headquarters, especially the Iron Workers Union Local #63 Headquarters in Broadview, Illinois.

This collection consists primarily of audio interviews, but is supplemented with substantial photographic documentation, including both images shot during the interviews and copies of informative historical on-the-job photographs taken between the 1950s and the 1980s, which were contributed by some of the interviewees. Those interviewed include ironworkers from a variety of generational, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, including several involved in Local #63's initiative to train Native American ironworkers. The project was undertaken in cooperation with union locals, especially the Iron Workers Union Local #63 in the Chicago suburb of Broadview, Illinois, and the #383 in Madison, Wisconsin.

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