The Working Women’s History Project (WWHP) is the successor organization to the 1996 Women & Labor History Project (WLHP) which was begun to research and publicize stories of Chicago women who had been active in the labor movement.
WLHP researched, wrote, and produced dramas about historical Chicago women who had made significant contributions on behalf of working people. These were performed at our own galas, in schools, colleges, at other public venues, for labor unions, and on CAN TV. For some we wrote curricula to assist classroom teachers whose students attended productions.
WLHP also created workshops to teach union women to write their own stories, participated in conferences for teachers to bring women’s history into the classroom, and collaborated in holding roundtable discussions on issues affecting working women. WLHP introduced “Working Women’s Stories,” a newsletter promoting education on the role of women and labor in Chicago’s history.
When incorporating as a 501 (c)(3) organization in 2003, the organization changed its name to the Working Women’s History Project in order to reflect interest in all working women—living as well as dead—and modified its focus to include activist Chicago women working in social justice movements beyond the labor movement.
One of our first acts as WWHP was to publish Working Without Uniforms: School Nursing in Chicago 1951 – 2001 by Helen Ramirez-Odell, a book of oral histories on Chicago Public School Nurses. Together with the Women’s Rights Committee of the Chicago Teachers Union, we have published single-page pieces on Women’s Labor History in Chicago. We continue to write and produce dramas, now mostly about living women, with a broader focus than just workplace equity.
WWHP continues to interview Chicago women activists and publicize their work in “Working Women’s Stories” or in conferences such as “Climb That Ladder to Equality!” in 2008, or we invite activists to speak at our events such as “From Bonnets to Briefcases: A Journey of Chicago Women in Law in 2009 or “Women, Justice, and the Law” in 2010.
In 2010 our work was recognized when we received an award from the Regina Polk Foundation at the U. of Illinois at Chicago.