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Southwestern Professor Joseph Hower Receives National Endowment for Humanities Stipend for New Book

Historian will use $6000 award to fund research trips and writing this summer.

Visiting Assistant Professor of History Joseph Hower has been awarded a Summer Stipend by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to fund work on his new book, A Revolution in Government: Jerry Wurf and the Rise of Public Sector Unions in Postwar America.

“I’m thrilled and honored to accept the award,” Hower said. “For over half a century, the NEH has played a crucial role in supporting and sustaining methodologically rigorous, publicly accessible scholarship on history and culture.”

Hower applauded Southwestern for its generosity in supporting travel for his research over the past two years, while acknowledging that such awards as the NEH research stipend play a crucial role in the support of scholarly writing. This is especially true during the summer, when research and writing goes unfunded at many colleges and universities.

“The NEH grant will allow me to conduct two short research trips to New York City and Cornell University,” Hower said. “More importantly, it will support six weeks of uninterrupted writing that will allow me to complete my book manuscript.”

Hower’s new book explores the significance of the growth of public sector labor unions to broader transformations in American politics and society during the second half of the twentieth century. It draws on a wide range of rarely used or recently opened archival materials to explore this rich and largely untold history through a social biography of Jerry Wurf, organizer, local leader, and national union president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the most important architect of public sector unionism in the United States.

The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 created the National Endowment for the Humanities as an independent federal agency, the first grand public investment in American culture. The law identified the need for a national cultural agency that would preserve America’s rich history and cultural heritage, and encourage and support scholarship and innovation in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, and other humanities disciplines.