LARC Celebrates 20 Years
Big turnout at the Labor Archives and Research Center anniversary
February 28, 2006 1:17 PM
About 160 people attended the 20th Anniversary of the SF State Labor Archives and Research Center (LARC) at Plumber’s Hall on Market Street.
"Who will tell it like it is if labor doesn’t do that?” said the President of the Labor Archives Advisory Board Judith Goff at the celebration on Feb. 24, which kicked off at about 7 p.m. “SF State provided a strong foundation by providing the space for the Center,” she said.
Founded in 1985 by trade union leaders, historians, labor activists and university administrators, the Labor Archives are a collection of Bay Area labor activity, which date back from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. The Center was created through a series of events, first of which began after previous success with local labor studies programs in the 1970s.
The collection includes materials from the counties surrounding San Francisco Bay, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. More than 6,000 feet of primary source material is available for research, and many unions have made the Labor Archives the official storehouse for their historical records, according to the SF State Web site.
The LARC is a unit of the J. Paul Leonard Library at SF State, but is currently located near the university at the Sutro Library on 480 Winston Drive in San Francisco.
The anniversary celebration included an introduction by Goff, and a short speech given by Lynn Bonfield, the Center's first archivist and director, who will be retiring this May. A special performance by the Labor Heritage/Rockin’ Solidarity Chorus also took place, followed by an hour-long speech given by Grace Palladino, the Center’s 2006 distinguished labor history lecturer and author of the book entitled, "Skilled Hands, Strong Spirits: A Century of Building Trades History."
Guests in attendance varied in age range from 18 to 80. One SF State student said she came because of her interest in the study of symbolism and hidden meaning in organizations such as the labor movement.
“I ran a program called 'Battle Emblems,' which is about the symbolism in such traditions, like the handshake and the peace sign,” said Kim Munson, who plans to fulfill her master's degree in art history. She just completed her bachelor's degree this past year.
Others attended because they wanted to learn more about the LARC.
“I’ve never actually visited the Labor Archives and Research Center," said Tami Bryant, a member of
"I came here tonight to find out more about the historical and cultural perspectives. You don’t find much about it in mainstream media,” she added.
Carol Cuenod was an archivist for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union for many years and has since retired. She has been working at the LARC four days a week for the last 14 years. She said she is half paid and half volunteer.
“The event covered a lot of territory and culminates our fund drive, which is how (me and the other volunteers) get paid,” said Cuenod.
Goff stated that there had been a recent loss of staffing, and he plans to render this problem as soon as possible.
There are also plans to move the archives into a new home later this year - the J. Paul Leonard Library.
For more information on the LARC, visit www.library.sfsu.edu/special/larc.html, or call (415) 564-4010.
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