Labor Lectures Winter/Spring 2023

Please check back  for upcoming Fall 2023 Labor Lectures



Tuesday, July 12th at 6pm – The History of the Meatpacking District and Its Pioneers with Jackie Ottman. (This lecture is both in-person and online.)

New York’s Meatpacking District is now known for its trendy boutiques, restaurants  art galleries, and the Highline, but for over a hundred years it was the center of the meatpacking industry within the greater Metropolitan area.

Jacquie Ottman, a fifth-generation member of the Ottman family whose storied meat-purveying firm supplied New York’s finest restaurants beginning in 1850 will present us with a richly illustrated part-history, part-memoir of the Meatpacking District when it was still a vibrant working market.  The talk is based on her new book, “Ottman & Company: Meatpacking District Pioneers”. The Lecture will be followed by a book-signing.

Tuesday July 19th at 6pm – Travelers: Journeys on the Railroads from the Early Surveys to Modern Vacations with Barriger Railroad Library Curator, Nick Fry (Online)

A review of the journeys along the railroads from the surveys of the Army Engineers and civilians like Asa Gray to modern vacation trips by rail. Offered in connection with the exhibition Travelers, Tracks and Tycoons: The Railroad in American Legend and Life,” curated by the St. Louis Mercantile Library at the Grolier Club.

  • Thursday December 16th, NY in the Progressive Era: Social Reform and Cultural Upheaval 1890-1920 with author Paul Kaplan. This event will be offered both online an in-person.
Today’s headlines are largely rooted in the Progressive Era. The years 1890-1920 produced sweeping reforms and profound change in American life and especially in New York State. Reacting to the great inequalities from the Gilded Age, reformers pressed for laws for better housing, women’s suffrage, personal income tax, labor protections, and far more. The era saw innovative ways of combatting social issues like the Settlement House movement. An unlikely alliance of reformers and Protestant ministers also passed Prohibition laws. Land preservation and animal rights were considered for the first time. This talk with Paul Kaplan based on his book, NY in the Progressive Era: Social Reform and Cultural Upheaval 1890-1920, will explore these social movements exposing their nuances and little-known dissenting voices.  Historic photos, archived video, and poetry about and from that period will bring this era alive.

For the in-person link for registration, please click here

For the online link for registration, please click here


Tuesday, July 20th at 6pm – Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: A Pictorial History of Working People in New York City with Rachel Bernstein

For a reservation please click here

Rachel Bernstein is the co-author of Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives: A Pictorial History of Working People in New York City, which tells the stories of the men and women who built the City—of towering structures and the beam walkers who assembled them; of immigrant youths in factories and women in sweatshops; of longshoremen and typewriter girls; of dock workers and captains of industry.

In this talk, Ms. Bernstein will discuss the traditions these workers carried with them to this country and how they helped create new ones, in the form of labor organizations that provided recent immigrants, often overwhelmed by the intensity of New York life, with a sense of solidarity and security.

Astounding in their own right, the book’s photographic images, most drawn from seldom-seen labor movement photographers, are complemented by poignant oral histories which tell the stories behind the images. Ms. Bernstein will showcase some of these images and oral histories during her lecture.

To purchase the book, please click here

Suggested donation:

$15 General Admission; $10 General Society Members, and Senior Citizens; $5 Students.

Advance registration is required to receive the link to the Zoom Webinar Platform


Radiators and Pandemics, A Curious Marriage

With Dan Holohan, International Authority, Steam Heating and Hydronics Founder,

An Online Lecture on Tuesday, March 2nd at 6 p.m.

To  Register, please click here

When Dan Holohan was researching his book, The Lost Art of Steam Heating, in the late-1980s, he came upon a reference to The Fresh Air Movement that made him curious. He dug deeper and learned of the relationship between steam- and hot-water radiators and the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic. Boards of Health and the Anti-tuberculosis League were demanding that windows be left partially open to help fight disease, and this changed the way we heat buildings for decades to follow. He dug deeper still and learned that disease actually inspired the very invention of the radiator before the Civil War, and that Harriet Beecher Stowe also played a role after the war. It’s a curious marriage that radiators and pandemics have, and one that continues through this modern-day pandemic.

Suggested donation: $15 General Admission; $10 General Society Members and Senior Citizens; $5 Students.

Advance registration is required to receive the link to the Zoom Webinar Platform.