Working at 40

For three years in the early 1970s, journalist Studs Terkel gathered stories from a variety of American workers, from baby nurses to gravediggers. He then compiled them into Working, an oral-history collection that went on to become a classic. Four decades after its publication, Working is more relevant than ever. Though the specificities of individual occupations may have changed, the core themes at the heart of Terkel’s narratives—the struggle of survival and the hope of self-actualization—continue today. Terkel, who regularly contributed to In These Times, once wrote, “I know the good fight—the fight for democracy, for civil rights, for the rights of workers—has a future, for these values will live on in the pages of In These Times.”

In honor of that sentiment and of Working’s 40th anniversary, ITT writers have invited a broad range of American workers to describe what they do, in their own words.