What a dissertation! I'm reading it and am amazed at the quality of Joyce M. Latham's research and her overturning of conventional wisdom.
Discussing historians like Raber, Wiegand and Harris who indict the library profession for failure to take stands on social issues, Latham sees these scholars as having blind spots. Her research demonstrates that librarians did engage on issues of race and class.
"The evidence demonstrates that front-line public librarians not only organized themselves in the face of economic challenge brought on by the Depression, but also engaged with the working classes of all races from a different perspective, which established an egalitarian platform of mutual influence. The affiliation of public librarians and library workers with the CIO white-collar movement recast the role of the public library as an agency of social justice."
Forthcoming article based on the dissertation, "So Promising of Success, " by Dr. Latham is in press for the Progressive Librarian 30 (winter 2007/2008).
Joyce M. Latham, “White Collar Read: The American Public Library and the Left Led CIO: A Case Study of the Chicago Public Library, 1929-1952.” PhD Dissertation, University of Illinois, 2007.