Humanities@Home: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Behind the Headlines


Who was Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and why is this NH-born labor activist suddenly in the news? Much more than just a radical, this lecture will look beyond the headlines about Flynn--specifically the recent controversy of a historical marker at the site of her childhood home in Concord, NH that was erected and removed this past May--to put the “Rebel Girl” in context and share her story. Born in Concord in 1890, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn had a rich and varied career calling out injustices and fighting for the right to express dissenting ideas. Flynn described herself as a "mortal enemy of capitalism” in a time when workers had limited rights and frequently died while working in unsafe conditions.

In this Distinguished Lecture through the Organization of American Historians, Dr. Lara Vapnek will explain how Flynn became a socialist and trace the arc of her career as an activist. She began as a teen-aged soapbox speaker on the streets of New York City and became an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World in 1907, where she helped lead landmark strikes in Lawrence, MA (1912) and Paterson, N.J (1913). She joined the Communist Party in the 1930s, becoming a key leader, and serving time in prison during the McCarthy era. Her biography illuminates the history of the radical labor movement in the United States during a turbulent period as well her experiences of the red scares that followed World War I and World War II.

About the presenter: Lara Vapnek earned her Ph.D. in History at Columbia University. She is a professor at St. John’s University, in Queens, New York. She has written two books, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: Modern American Revolutionary (2015) and Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920 (2009), and she is currently completing her third book, “Mothers, Milk, and Money: A History of Infant Feeding” with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Vapnek belongs to the editorial board of the Journal of American History, and she serves as a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.


Event Details


Friday, July 21, 2023 5:00pm


New Hampshire Humanities
Concord NH 03301

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New Hampshire Humanities

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New Hampshire Humanities,