Department of History
University at Albany, State University of New York

The following recordings are drawn from numerous audio archives, though most come from -- or are processed at -- the University at Albany. They are organized by topic. Many of our older recordings were prepared for the Web in the early years of the Internet when phone modems and low bandwidth were quite common. We are now in the process of upgrading older recordings to downloadable MP3 files.

[NEW] SISTERS IN THE BROTHERHOODS [www.talkinghistory.org/sisters]. On-line resources supplementing Jane LaTour's Sisters in the Brotherhoods: Working Women Organizing for Equality in New York City (Palgrave, 2008). Contains an extensive collection of oral histories (with transcripts) of women who broke through gendered occupational lines in New York. Produced by LaTour, Gerald Zahavi, and Carolyn Wavrin.



Nathan Spero was the Research Director for the United Electrical Workers Union (UE) for thirty-nine years, from 1944 until 1983. Prior to his career with the UE, Spero worked as a statistician for the National Research Project on Productivity and Technological Change for the U.S. Department of Labor (from 1937 until 1943).

During his career in the UE, in addition to his regular duties Spero served as the co-chair of the 13-union joint committee on pensions and insurance in negotiations with General Electric and Westinghouse from 1975 through 1981. He was also intimately involved with UE convention work and was responsible for pre-convention assembly and editing of all convention resolutions. Also during his years in the UE, Spero was a member of the Department of Labor's Commission on Incentives.

From 1991 to 1992 Spero served as the President for the New School for Social Research's Institute for Retired Professionals. Through the 1990s and until very recently, he taught math and labor history at the Manhattan branch of Queens College in New York City.

Spero's publications include the War Labor Board's Brief on Equal Pay for Women on Jobs of Comparable Worth, various United Electrical Workers annual reports on the economic situation in the electronics industry, and industrial pamphlets on such topics as ERISA, Social Security, and Occupational Hazards.

Between 1994 and 1996, Jane Latour interviewed Nathan Spero about his life, his work, and the history of the UE. The interviews focused on the 1930s through the 1980s. These interviews, as well as supplementary documentary materials on Spero's life and career are included here.


"The Fight for America's Future: A Teach-In with the Labor Movement," held October 3-4, 1996 at Columbia University, NYC. Plenary speeches and selective workshop sessions. Tapes courtesy of WRPI (Troy), University at Albany History and Media Project, and Thad Russell. Original tapes held by the Oral History Program, University at Albany, Albany, N.Y. All of the following now link to MP3 files.

Opening Plenary Session: Introductory remarks. Speeches by Columbia University President George Rupp, Steve Fraser, and Eric Foner -- including introduction to Betty Friedan's speech which follows. (October 3, 1996). [28:12 minutes]

Opening Plenary Session: Speech by Betty Friedan (October 3, 1996) [14:47 minutes]

Opening Plenary Session: Speech by Richard Rorty (University of Virginia) (October 3, 1996) [16:38 minutes]

Opening Plenary Session: Speech by Patricia Williams (Columbia University) (October 3, 1996) [18:07 minutes]

Opening Plenary Session: Speech by John Sweeney, Pres. AFL-CIO (October 3, 1996) [30:49 minutes]

Opening Plenary Session: Speech by Cornell West (Harvard University) and conclusion of opening plenary session (October 3, 1996) [28:48 minutes]

Plenary Session #2, "The Incorporation of America" -- Introductory Remarks (October 4, 1996). Remarks by Josh Freeman (Columbia University), Brian McLaughlin (Pres. of the NYC Central Labor Council), and Ira Katznelson (Columbia University). Also Katznelson's introduction of first speaker, Linda Chavez-Thompson. [14:08 minutes]

Plenary Session #2. Speech by Linda Chavez-Thompson (Executive Vice-President, AFL-CIO) (October 4, 1996). [19:09 minutes]

Plenary Session #2. Introduction of, and speech by Orlando Patterson (Harvard University) (October 4, 1996). [19:15 minutes]

Plenary Session #2. Introduction of, and speech by Katha Pollitt (Writer, The Nation) (October 4, 1996). [19:58 minutes]

Plenary Session #2. Introduction of, and speech by Joel Rogers (University of Wisconsin, Madison) (October 4, 1996). [25:34 minutes]

Plenary Session #2. Concluding remarks by Ira Katznelson and Josh Freeman (October 4, 1996). [3:10 minutes]

Plenary Session #3. Whole session. Individual speeches will soon appear below as separate files. Speakers include: Nelson Lichtenstein (U. of Virginia), Manning Marable, Chair (Columbia University), Francis Fox Piven (City University of New York), Karen Nussbaum (Womens Department, AFL-CIO), Jose LaLuz (Intl. Area Director, AFSCME), David Montgomery (Yale University), Richard Trumka (Sec.-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO). (October 4, 1996). [2 hrs, 19 minutes]

Workshop #6: Labor Teach-in Workshop on Culture, Identity and Class Politics. Convener: Nelson Lichtenstein (U. of Virginia). Speeches by Todd Gitlin (NYU), Robin D. G. Kelley (NYU), and Jo-Ann Mort (UNITE). Recorded October 4, 1996. [1 hr, 43 minutes]

Workshop #7: The Wages of Race: Unions and Racial Justice. Convener: Thomas Sugrue (U. of Pennsylvania). Speakers include David Roediger (Univ. of Minnesota); Derrick Bell (New York University); Mae Ngai (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO); Michael Eric Dyson (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill). Recorded October 4, 1996. Please note that the audience was not "miked" and thus questions to the panel may not be audible. Answers were clearly recorded. Optimized for 28.8 kb./sec modems and faster internet connections. [1 hr. 21 minutes]

Workshop #10: Labor Teach-in Workshop on Work, Welfare, and the Labor Movement. Convener: Josh Freeman (Columbia University). Speakers: Katherine Newman (Harvard University), Bill Fletcher (Education Department, AFL-CIO, Herb Gans (Columbia University). (October 4, 1996). [1 hr, 33 minutes]

Workshop #15: Labor Teach-in Workshop on Labor's Values ("Are Labor's Values Still Everybody Else's?"). Convener: Ronald Aronson (Wayne State). Speakers: Heidi Hartman (Institute for Women's Policy Studies), Lewis Gordon (Brown University), Jerry Deneau (Graphics Communications International Union). Audience comments and questions were also recorded, although the sound quality of the recording of that portion of the workshop is not very good.(October 4, 1996). [1 hr, 30 minutes]

The following set of recordings come from the G. Robert Vincent Voice Library at Michigan State University.

William Jennings Bryan (1896)
Eugene V. Debs (1904). OK, so this is an actor re-reading Debs' speech. Very nice delivery!
William Howard Taft (1906)
William Howard Taft (1912)
William Jennings Bryan (1912)
Woodraw Wilson (1912)
Theodore Roosevelt (1912)
Tom Mooney (1939)
Fiorella LaGuardia (1945)

Workfare Hearings Recorded in Albany, New York (March 11, 1997). Workfare Hearings, including testimony of workfare workers, recorded in Albany (NYS Legislature, LOB, March 11, 1997). [1 hr, 17 minutes].


A collection of interviews, oral memoirs, and home recordings pertaining to the life and career of CPUSA leader and activist Sam A. Darcy

* Audio File: Sam Darcy interview, Feb. 2, 1992. Long selection from a recorded interview conducted by Nelson Pichardo on February 1, 1992, from the archives of the Oral History Program, University at Albany. Darcy was the California District Organizer for the Communist Party in the early 1930s and was heavily involved in leading the efforts to organize California farmworkers. 1 hour 2 minutes long. [I'm working on improving the quality of the audio].

* Audio File: Sam Darcy radio interview, conducted Thursday, December 3, 1998 by Prof. Gerald Zahavi and Greg Giorgio. Capital District Progressive Radio, WRPI-FM: MP3
A 2-hour on-air interview exploring Sam Darcy's career in the CPUSA.
DARCY BIOGRAPHY: Sam Adams Darcy was born in 1905 in the Ukraine. In 1908, he emigrated to the U.S. with his parents, and spent his youth in NYC. He attended De Witt Clinton High School and NYU -- all the while working at a variety of factory jobs. While still in high school, he immersed himself in the radical socialist subculture of the Jewish needle trade workers, and joined the Young People's Socialist League. After the Russian Revolution, he entered the newly established Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA). Immediately taking an active role in the organization, Darcy helped found the Young Workers' League, a predecessor of the Young Communist League. In 1927, he was sent to Moscow, where he taught at the Lenin School and served on the Executive Committee of the Young Communist International. He also spent some time in China and the Philippines helping to organize radical working-class movements there. Returning to New York in 1929, he briefly served as editor of the Daily Worker, the Party's national organ, and led the International Labor Defense, a major left-wing civil and criminal rights defense organization. When the Great Depression hit, Darcy established his reputation as a superb public speaker and organizer by leading the largest protest of unemployed workers ever held in the U.S. At the age of twenty-five, Darcy was appointed California District Organizer and sent to San Francisco. There, he was especially active in organizing seamen, longshoremen, and farmworkers, and was a major strategist behind the San Francisco general strike of 1934 and many of the farm labor organizing drives that swept the state in the early 1930s. Throughout his California tenure he worked hard to unite the disparate ethnic working-class populations of the state -- Filipinos, Japanese, Mexicans, and Anglos. In 1935, Darcy left for the Soviet Union as a representative of the CPUSA to the Communist International (Comintern); for the next 22 months he held several important positions in the Comintern, including the leadership of the South African secretariat. Returning from the Soviet Union in 1938, Darcy continued to hold important posts in the CPUSA -- as Central Committee Representative to the Northwest District, and, during World War II, as District Organizer of the Eastern Pennsylvania District. In 1944, however, because of his active opposition to Party General Secretary Earl Browder, Darcy was expelled from the CPUSA. Although vindicated in 1945 when Browder was removed from office, Darcy did not rejoin the Party. From the mid-1940s until his death on November 8, 2005, Darcy maintained his interest in domestic and international labor and economic policy issues. He also continued to be a political and civic activist and was a frequent speaker on college campuses. He wrote several books in his life, including Late Afternoon for the Nation State, Thomas Jefferson: The Second Revolution, and The Challenge of Youth.

The following selections come from the Endicott Johnson Corporation Oral History Project, presently stored by the Oral History Program, Department of History, University at Albany.

For background information on these interviews, see Gerald Zahavi, Workers, Managers, and Welfare Capitalism: The Tanners and Shoeworkers of Endicott Johnson, 1890-1950 (Urbana, Ilinois: University of Illinois Press, 1988). These interview selections will complement Prof. Zahavi's planned oral history of the Endicott Johnson Corporation, "Ain't Gonna Be So Loyal Anymore": An Oral History of the Endicott Johnson Corporation.

Selection from Sam Salvatore [Endicott-Johnson Corp. worker] interview by Gerald Zahavi, July 7, 1981 (audio file)

Prof. Gerald Zahavi comments on corporate loyalty at Endicott-Johnson (video and audio file). Interviewed by Brian Mauriello, March 1, 1996.

For a 2010 NPR/Radio Diaries broadcast that utilized, in part, some the EJ oral histories in our collection, see: http://www.npr.org/2010/12/01/131725100/the-legacy-of-george-f-johnson-and-the-square-deal.


Updated August 09, 2017

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