Benjamin Blake

University of Maryland
Labor Archivist for the George Meany Labor Archives
College Park, MD
Ben Blake is the Labor Archivist for the George Meany Labor Archives at the University of Maryland, where his is responsible for the national records of the AFL-CIO, carpenters and bakery workers unions. Ben has over eighteen years of experience as an archivist in a wide range of positions and has been involved in a number of projects documenting the history of labor organizations and individuals. He holds a BA in social science from Hampshire College, a master’s degree in history from Cleveland State University, an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh and the SAA’s Digital Archives Specialist Certificate. Ben’s research interests include documenting the now, born digital records, labor community archives and the history of the labor movement. He has published an article in the American Archivist on the history of labor archives, “The New Archives for American Labor: From Attic to Digital Shop Floor,” and is currently working on articles on steelworkers in the Depression era and a new documentation strategy for labor archives.

Presentation summary

The goal of recent social media initiatives by the George Meany Labor Archives has been to overcome our invisibility and isolation from labor movement by broadcasting examples of little known collection material related to broad social justice issues. As a suburban campus-based archives open primarily during regular business hours, access to our archives is very limited for union members and the general public. To meet this challenge, we have used a new Instagram account and the “Cool Things from the Meany Archives” segment in the Metro DC AFL-CIO Council’s Labor History Today podcast to broadcast selected social justice related content as a first step in building a new labor based community of interest around our collections.