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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Illuminating History: Union Electricians in New York City

In 2016, New York researcher and electrician Jaime Lopez, in affiliation with SUNY Empire State College's Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center of Labor Studies (HVASLS), and The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW, Local #3) in Queens, New York, received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to document the occupational culture of urban IBEW electricians, who “through manufacture, installation, and maintenance serve the greater New York City area.” Lopez worked with a research team that included labor faculty Barrie Cline and labor historian Anne D’Orazio from HVASLS, Queens-based artist/documentarian Setare S. Arashloo, Local #3 electrician Paul Vance, and folklorist Naomi Sturm from Staten Island Council on the Arts, who served as consultant to the project. The team recorded oral histories with 22 IBEW Local #3 electricians. Those interviewed represent a wide range of ages, backgrounds, experiences, and occupational specialties. Many interviews are accompanied by worksite photographs and photographs of union-related activities.

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