A Lifetime of Labor: The Autobiography of Alice H. Cook

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Overview


The work of the indefatigable Alice Hanson Cook benefitted the lives of working people—and especially working women—on four continents. A pioneer in union organizing, worker education, and equal rights for working women, Cook carried on her path-blazing work across the country and around the world, across racial, ethnic, national, and class lines, and across boundaries she refused to accept were impassable.

In A Lifetime of Labor, called "a deeply satisfying memoir" by the Times-Picayune, Cook recounts a life of activism, teaching, and research that spanned nearly a century and intersected with progressive movements at home and abroad. Cook lucidly recalls the many phases of her long and remarkable career, including her years of research on creating just and viable options for working women. As the Syracuse Herald-Journal noted, "Cook helped bring to the public issues as equal pay and comparable worth, maternity leave and support programs for working mothers."

Alice Cook's autobiography, written when she was in her eighties and nineties, is a unique document in social history, an important record of her ground-breaking thought and research, and a matter-of-fact account of a life devoted to justice and lived to the fullest.

"A spirited autobiography by a pioneering feminist, labor organizer, socialist and scholar."—Kirkus Reviews.

Alice H. Cook (1903-1998) was a professor in the New York State College of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University and a member of the executive board of Cornell's Women's Studies Program. Her books include The Most Difficult Revolution: Women and Trade Unions and The Working Mother: A Survey of Problems and Progress in Nine Countries.

Arlene Kaplan Daniels is emerita professor of sociology at Northwestern University.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Cook died in February 1998, at the age of 94, ending a life-long career in labor activism. She is best known for her research on and programs for working women. Following early work with the YWCA, she spent nearly 30 years at Cornell Universitys College of Industrial and Labor Relations. In 1978, the Ford Foundation published her book, The Working Mother, based on international study of womens and household conditions. A 1993 film, Never Done: The Working Life of Alice H. Cook, documented her life and work. Now she has chronicled her full life story from her birth in 1903. Drawn from her own diaries and notes, this book is both graceful autobiography and perceptive social history that will be of lasting value to students of labor history and feminist studies. An important addition for both academic and public libraries.Linda V. Carlisle, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville
Kirkus Reviews
A spirited autobiography by a pioneering feminist, labor organizer, socialist, and scholar. Alice Hanson Cook (1903-98) may not be a household name, but she helped change the American workplace culture by pressing for, among other things, comparable-worth legislation (whereby women earn as much as men for doing the same work) and policies aimed at bettering the lot of working women. In this autobiography, completed just before her death, she writes of her education as an activist. As a pacifist during and just after WWI, she encountered jingoist scorn, as well as the displeasure of her Spanish-American War veteran father, who "deplored my activities"; she later traveled to Weimar Germany to study, and there she witnessed the rise of Nazism, which, like so many other foreign observers, she thought a passing phase of German discontent. Converted to socialism, she returned to the US, lived in a commune informally called "Soviet House," held a great variety of odd jobs (which prepared her, she writes, to understand the true nature of "women's work"), and later became a teacher of labor history and labor education at Cornell University. As a scholar, Cook studied the economic role of working women in several cultures, traveling widely through Europe and East Asia; as an activist connected with entities like the Ford Foundation, she was able to advance her case that women should be more justly rewarded for their indispensable contributions in the workplace and at home. Her book closes with reflections on her long struggle for equality-and with a firm slap at the Republican Contract with America, which, she says, "abandoned the helpless by equating poverty with laziness." A worthy addition tothe literature of labor activism and women's studies. (b&w photos, not seen) .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558611894
  • Publisher: Feminist Press at CUNY, The
  • Publication date: 9/1/2000
  • Series: The Cross-Cultural Memoir Series Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 354
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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