Vol. 1, No. 11
December 2014


An End to 2014

It's been a whole year since I sat down with WWHP President Jacqueline Kirley to discuss my new role as WWHP's Editorial Intern. Since then, we've produced a year's worth of newsletters, each one better than the last. We've had guest contributors, including WWHP board members and friends, and I've had a chance to learn and expand, conducting interviews and doing research. Thanks to Jackie and the rest of the board for guiding me, and thanks to Lynn Pearson for contributing her skills in graphic design.


Now that we've looked back on the past year, let's look back on WWHP's history. The WWHP was originally founded as the Women and Labor History Project in 1994, before becoming the Working Women's History Project in 2003.The following three articles are chronicles of its founding members.


-Laura Umland, WWHP Communications Manager


Katie Jordan

Katie Jordan is a lifelong activist for women's rights, workers' rights, and human rights. Her granddaughter Arlita "A.J." Jordan says Jordan's "life story has been one of determination and perseverance. Her favorite saying, 'Take eyes off self, and help somebody.' She has spent a lifetime doing just that and inspiring others to join her in that quest."


Jordan was one of the first African American woman Fitter-Tailors at her workplace in the mid-1960s, a top-paying position in a company known for discrimination. Her co-workers elected her as the first African American woman union shop steward, and later she was the first African American woman elected secretary, vice president, and president of her union local.


Jordan retired 19 years ago, but A.J. Jordan says she "didn't retire from her fight for the dignity of all people. She is a 'Go Getter'-she goes after the things she believes in."


Currently Katie Jordan is the President of the Chicago Chapter of Coalition of Labor Union Women. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her lifetime of activism.


She is still active in unions, including Workers United and SEIU. WWHP is proud to call her one of our own.

Bobby Hall

Bobby Hall is the founder of the Working Women's History Project. Her activist career began in high school. During WWII, she was the first woman to work in the tool room at Bendix Aviation Corporation, where she fought against sex discrimination and harassment and helped to organize a union. She was the president of UAW Local 330 and the first female member of the Illinois Industrial Union Council, where she fought for equal pay and recognition of the need for child care and battled unfair management and racial discrimination.


In a difficult time for liberals to remain active during the McCarthy red scare, she never wavered. Together, she and Dr. Jeremiah Stamler, fought in the courts with a petition to dissolve the McCarthy Hearings. They were instrumental in getting Congress to withdraw their funding which ended the role McCarthy played in our nation. When Bobby became one of the founders of the WWHP she worked tirelessly to bring women together who had made their contributions in various fields that furthered the struggle for their inclusion in positions never before held by women. I was one of those women who felt I had done enough already, but being a friend of Bobby, you never could say enough is enough as she pushed me into the education field of teaching and union leadership as well as the WWHP.


-Rose Meyer, WWHP Board Member

Helen Ramirez-Odell

Helen Ramirez-Odell is a founding member of the Women and Labor History Project. She explains, "I remember when little women's history was taught and little labor history either. Hardly anything was taught about women's struggles and achievements in the labor movement until we started the Women and Labor History Project in 1994."


Ramirez-Odell is currently a WWHP Vice-President and active in the national Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW). She worked in the Chicago Public Schools for more than 40 years and represented school nurses in Chicago Teachers Union until she retired in 2011. Ramirez-Odell chaired the Chicago Teachers Union Women's Rights Committee for 25 years, a volunteer job she was passionate about and she is proud of the committee's achievements. She currently represents retirees as a CTU delegate.


Ramirez-Odell believes women in traditional roles have powerful stories to tell and wrote Working Without Uniforms: School Nursing in Chicago 1951-2001, which was published by WWHP in 2002. "WWHP values the stories and lifework of ordinary women," she says."Women build our society and can change the world

Like us on Facebook