David Montgomery Memorial Service on January 28th at 1pm, Battell Chapel, New Haven

08 Jan 2012 2:00 PM | Posted by GNHLHA
DAVID MONTGOMERY December 1, 1927-December 2, 2011

It was with great shock and sadness that members of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association learned of the passing of our life member, David Montgomery, on the day after his 84th birthday.  We mourn his loss and will always cherish the memory of this exceptionally gifted and giving teacher, writer, historian, activist and friend. 

David began his career as a union organizer while working as a machinist in various shops in Minnesota and New York.  He was fired from a number of jobs because of his activism and turned to academia, earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Minnesota. His dissertation, Beyond Equality: Labor and the Radical Republicans 1862-1872, a study of the labor movement during the time of Reconstruction, was published as a book in 1967. Several other books followed, including the highly influential Workers’ Control in America: Studies in the History of Work, Technology and Labor Struggles and The Fall of the House of Labor: the Workplace, the State, and American Labor Activism, 1865-1925. In his writing and in his teaching, he not only told the story of labor struggles, but painted vivid pictures of workers’ lives on the job.

David first taught at the University of Pittsburgh and then at Yale University, where he became Farnam Professor of History. At both universities he earned teaching awards. He began at Yale in the late 1970s, and he and his wife, Martel W. Montgomery, became part of the fabric of life not only at Yale but in the broader New Haven community. Known as an intellectually rigorous proponent of the “new labor history,” along with colleagues E.P. Thompson, Herbert Gutman and David Brody, David remained an advocate for the struggles and aspirations of workers, supporting Yale’s clerical workers in their 1984 strike and the efforts of the Graduate Employee Student Organization (GESO) at Yale to achieve recognition as a union for graduate student workers.

David was a life member of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association and he participated in many GNHLHA events.                                      

In 2005, after his retirement from Yale and shortly before he and his wife moved to Kennett Square, PA., he helped lead GNHLHA’s River Street Walking Tour, and held a remarkable roundtable discussion afterward at Fair Haven Woodworks, attended by about 75 people.

The Board and Staff of GNHLHA extend deepest sympathies to his widow, Martel Montgomery, their sons and their families. David Montgomery will be missed sorely and long remembered.

There will be a public memorial service for David Montgomery on Saturday, January 28th, 2012, at Battell Chapel in New Haven from 1 to 2:30 p.m. with the Rev. Frederick J. Streets officiating.

Greater New Haven Labor History Association  •  267 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06513 •  info@laborhistory.org •

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