"I first became involved with the Greater New Haven Labor History Association during the summer of 2009 as a student intern inventorying the Local Lodge 609 collection. I really liked the work the group was doing and became more actively involved in the beginning of 2010. At this time I was settling down in New Haven and had become interested in the incredibly rich history of our city.
"I felt as though the way in which labor unions tied in with the history of the city was incredible. I learned that my favorite aspects of history, namely the interactions between people and their past and the power of the narrative, were right in the city in which I lived. New Haven labor history, as I am learning, is both social and geographic. Each of our neighborhoods have vast histories of their own and yet can also be tied together into one comprehensive historical narrative.
"I feel that the Greater New Haven Labor History Association is the group which is best facilitating a comprehensive historical analysis. I am both enthusiastic and proud to contribute to an organization so important to the city I have grown quite attached to."
Nick Aiello of UNITE! talks with Ray Pompano of Local 243. Nina Wolfson sits with Mary Johnson (back of head unmistakable!) Both are Labor History Association Executive Board members and active members also of the New Haven Federation of Teachers’ Retirees Chapter.
Mary Doherty JohnsonMary Doherty Johnson was born on March 29, 1922, in Winsted, CT. Mary attended the New Haven State Teacher’s College and pursued a career as an elementary teacher in New Haven. Mary taught at Troup Middle School in New until her retirement in 1982.
Johnson’s family has been an important part of her life, but an equally
significant part has been her ongoing labor, peace, civil rights and
social justice activism, dating back to the 1950’s. Like many activists, Mary says that the Vietnam War propelled her more deeply into peace work in the 1960’s and 70’s. In the 1980’s, she protested United States intervention in Central America.
activist on both the national and local level, Mary was a member of
Spinsters Opposed to Nuclear Genocide (SONG), a New Haven based women’s
affinity group. Mary joined the New Haven Federation of
Teachers in 1967 and was a member of the Executive Board until her
retirement. In 1974, Mary got involved in the national organizing
effort of the United Farm workers' Union, helping to strengthen a New
Haven committee that leafleted, picketed, and passed out information
about the boycott of Gallo wine (made from non-union picked grapes.)
Over the years, Mary has been involved with many other organizations
such as the May Day Celebration Committee; the Coalition to Stop
Trident; the Pledge of Resistance; and the New Haven Coalition Against
the War in the Gulf. She supported the efforts of the Yale labor unions
and was active in the movement to pressure Yale to divest its holdings
from apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. In the 1990s, she worked with
a group of citizens who were outraged that the city of New Haven, under
pressure from a downtown redeveloper, removed several key bus stops
from the central downtown area.
continues to be an active member of several groups which address a wide
range of social justice issues, including the Greater New Haven Central
Labor Council, the New Haven Federation of Teachers Retiree Chapter,
the Greater New Haven Labor History Association, the Coalition for
People, the Middle East Crisis Committee, and People Against Injustice.
Mary has worked with Archivist Joan Cavanagh to have a Records Inventory performed for her by the GNHLHA. Learn more about Mary's history or learn about how you can have your historical narrative captured with your own Records Inventory.