OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Miriam Frank

Portrait of Miriam Frank
Image Credit: Karen Dubiner

Miriam Frank started her professional life in Detroit as a founder of women’s studies at the community college level in the early 1970s. She went on to develop programs with the National Endowment for the Humanities to offer cultural events and discussions at union halls and working-class community centers. She moved to New York City in the 1980s and for the next thirty-five years taught humanities in New York University’s liberal studies program. Women's studies and labor education influenced her thinking about working-class history, gender, and social movements. In 1995 she began research on Out in the Union: A Labor History of Queer America (2014), a history of collaboration between two vital movements in the twentieth century which was named a Choice outstanding academic title. She collected approximately one hundred oral histories from union activists, many of whom were speaking out at great risk to their personal safety and careers. These activists' voices gave a human shape to the conventional documentation she found in archives: policy analyses, economic reports, newspaper clippings, and convention minutes. Her book's everyday witnesses narrate the deeply American events that brought two unlikely communities together to claim common ground.

OAH Lectures