People’s History in Texas

photo of Emma Tenayuca at San Antonio pecan shellers strike.
Emma Tenayuca at San Antonio pecan shellers strike.

New Journalism Project is collaborating with People’s History in Texas (PHIT) to publish two new editions of previous works released by PHIT.  As a new generation of activists finds inspiration in the history of organizing in Texas before they were born, these books will resonate with new audiences.

Talkin’ Union: Texas Women Workers is in the final stages of production. This book was originally published under a different title in 1979 to accompany the Peoples History in Texas documentary, “Talkin’ Union.” The film and the book use oral histories and archival photos to tell the story of Texas women garment workers and pecan shellers who organized successful labor actions in the 30s.  The 1979 edition of Women in the Texas Workforce: Yesterday and Today was edited by Richard Croxdale and Melissa Hield with a preface by Glenn Scott. That earlier edition relies on workforce research and transcribed interviews with participants in the labor actions of the 30s. A new introduction by Richard Croxdale frames the material for new readers.

A second edition of another People’s History in Texas book is also in production. Clarksville: Whose Community? by Jennifer Sharpe was first published in 1982 and chronicles an important fight against gentrification in a west Austin neighborhood.  Clarksville was founded in 1871 as black freedom town where former slaves reunited with family separated and displaced by slavery.  In the late 70s, this community waged a battle against developers. This upcoming book will add to the history of gentrification in Austin.

About People’s History in Texas: PHIT’s first project in 1976 was the Women in Texas History Calendar, one of the first compilations of Texas women’s history facts.  PHIT’s research uncovered stories of women workers and activists who organized labor unions in the 1930s and l940s. With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Youth Grants Program and the Texas Committee for the Humanities, they collected oral histories of Texas women labor organizers and produced “Talkin’ Union” (1979, 58 mins., b/w film/video), an oral history of four women who participated in the pecan shellers and garment workers unions. PHIT published Women in the Texas Workforce: Yesterday and Today (1979), essays on women’s work for wages.

Peoples History in Texas (PHIT), a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1975 by five women including a writer, an elementary school teacher, a librarian, and two graduate students.  PHIT brings to life the stories of ordinary people and significant socio-political movements through its research, publishing, and media production.