Story Of Reo Joe

9781592132577: Hardback

9781592132584: Paperback
Release Date: 9th June 2004

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 272

Series Critical Perspectives On The P

Temple University Press

Story Of Reo Joe

Work, Kin, And Community

The Reo Motor Car Company operated in Lansing, Michigan, for seventy years, and encouraged its thousands of workers to think of themselves as part of a factory family. Reo workers, most typically white, rural, native-born Protestant men, were dubbed Reo Joes. These ordinary fellows had ordinary aspirations: job security, decent working conditions, and sufficient pay to support a family. They treasured leisure time for family activities (many sponsored by the company), hunting, and their fraternal organizations. Even after joining a union, Reo Joes remained loyal to the company and proud of the community built around it. Lisa M. Fine tells the Reo story from the workers' perspective on the vast social, economic, and political changes that took place in the first three quarters of the twentieth century. Lisa Fine explores their understanding of the city where they lived, the industry that employed them, and the ideas about work, manhood, race, and family that shaped their identities. The Story of Reo Joe is, then, a book about historical memory; it challenges us to reconsider what we think we know about corporate welfare, unionization, de-industrialization, and working-class leisure.
Hardback / £67.00
Paperback / £24.99

The Reo Motor Car Company operated in Lansing, Michigan, for seventy years, and encouraged its thousands of workers to think of themselves as part of a factory family. Reo workers, most typically white, rural, native-born Protestant men, were dubbed Reo Joes. These ordinary fellows had ordinary aspirations: job security, decent working conditions, and sufficient pay to support a family. They treasured leisure time for family activities (many sponsored by the company), hunting, and their fraternal organizations. Even after joining a union, Reo Joes remained loyal to the company and proud of the community built around it. Lisa M. Fine tells the Reo story from the workers' perspective on the vast social, economic, and political changes that took place in the first three quarters of the twentieth century. Lisa Fine explores their understanding of the city where they lived, the industry that employed them, and the ideas about work, manhood, race, and family that shaped their identities. The Story of Reo Joe is, then, a book about historical memory; it challenges us to reconsider what we think we know about corporate welfare, unionization, de-industrialization, and working-class leisure.

AcknowledgmentsIntroducing Reo Joe in Lansing, Michigan1. Making Reo and Reo Joe in Lansing, 1880-19292. Reo Joe and His Big Factory Family, 1904-19293. Reo Joe's New Deal, 1924-19394. Reo Rebellions, 1939-1951: Wars, Women, and Wobblies5. A Cold War Factory Family6. The "Fall" of Reo, 1955-1975Epilogue: Reo of the MindAppendix: TablesNotesIndex

Lisa M. Fine is Associate Professor of History at Michigan State University. She is the author of Souls of the Skyscraper: Female Clerical Workers in Chicago, 1870-1930 (Temple), and coeditor, with Mary Anderson, Kathleen Geissler, and Joyce Ladenson, of Doing Feminism: Teaching and Research in the Academy.

"Insightful, engaging, and important, The Story of Reo Joe is a terrific book. Fine brings into the spotlight the sort of workers—overwhelmingly white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant male farmers—who played such a pivotal role in industrial history but who, because of their homogeneity, are largely overlooked. Fine's extraordinarily sensitive portrayal of Reo Joe makes us understand and care about the working people of Lansing. [We] see their lives as they saw them, celebrate their victories, and feel their losses."—Kevin Boyle, author of The UAW and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945-1968

"This superb social history illuminates the lived experience of class in towns and cities throughout the twentieth-century Midwest. Fine's attention to the bonds of manhood forged in and out of the workplace and to the power of the imagined Reo factory family offers an important new perspective on labor history."—Nancy Gabin, Purdue University

"Fine traces workers and their relationship to their community, their family, women and their bosses with a combination of scholarship and theories from...modern gender history. The result is a work that is readable, occasionally funny, and sensitive and respectful of her subjects."—Industrial Worker

"Fine's admirable case study enriches our social description of American autoworkers, underscores how their sense of manhood shaped and reshaped their lives, and generally enriches our knowledge and understanding of American autoworkers."—Michigan Historical Review

"Fine presents a well-researched case, and her emphasis on the racial and gender components of worker identity enrich labor history."—The Journal of American History

"This timely and engaging history of the Reo Motor Car Company represents a valuable contribution to the work of labor historians trying to analyze the phenomenon of conservatism in many working-class communities in the United States.... Fine uses oral histories to good effect..."—Labor History

"[L]abor educators may benefit from [the book] as a way to understand both how the local context impacts worker behavior and political activities. The study of Reo Joe may offer insight into understanding the conservative tendencies of significant segments of the American working class."—Labor Studies Journal