Lara Vapnek teaches history at St. John's University and specializes in the history of gender and labor in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. She is the author of Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920 (2009) and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: Modern American Revolutionary (2015). Her current research focuses on mothers, milk, and public health in New York City from the 1850s through the 1930s.
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn described herself as a "mortal enemy of capitalism." This lecture explains how Flynn became a socialist and traces the arc of her career as an activist. She began as a teen-aged soapbox speaker on the streets of New York City. She became an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World, where she helped lead landmark strikes in Lawrence, Mass. (1912) and Paterson, N.J. (1913). She joined the Communist Party in the 1930s, becoming a key leader, and serving time in prison during the McCarthy era. Her biography illuminates the history of the radical labor movement in the United States.