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This is the story of what it was like to go first.

The women's movement of the mid-20th century inspired many women to seek new opportunities in the workplace. Beginning in the mid-1970s, pioneering young women sought to break down gender barriers in traditionally male, blue-color jobs. They faced daunting obstacles to entering these occupations. On the job they endured unrelenting, often vicious harrassment. They also received support from men who taught them their trades and helped them navigate unfamiliar territory.

Twenty years ago journalist and labor activist Jane LaTour began an oral history project dedicated to preserving their remarkable stories. The focus of her work is a group of women who entered the blue-collar workforce in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sisters in the Brotherhoods is their story, told in their own words and voices.

This website, produced by Talking History in partnership with LaTour, features audio and transcripts of the Sisters interviews as well as material from LaTour's book Sisters in the Brotherhoods: Working Women Organizing for Equality in New York City (2008).

The image of each Sister is a link to her profile page.

Copyright © 2012
Jane LaTour/Talking History
book cover joi beard brenda berkman janine blackwelder brunilda hernandez jane jacobs ann jochems laura kelber cynthia long rebecca lurie yvone maitin angela olszewski marty pottenger consuelo reyes lois ross evan ruderman irene soloway margarita suarez eileen sullivan veronica session elaine ward kay webster ilene winkler Joi Beard Brenda Berkman Jeanine Blackwelder Brunilda Hernandez JoAnn Jacobs Ann Jochems Laura Kelber Cynthia Long Rebecca Lurie Yvone Maitin Angela Olszewski Marty Pottenger Consuelo Reyes Lois Ross Evan Ruderman Ronnie Sandler Irene Soloway Margarita Suarez Eileen Sullivan Veronica Session Elaine Ward Kay Webster Ilene Winkler