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Abstract

This paper examines the activism of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Union – Canada (MMSW) in the 1940s and 1950s. Drawing on Institutional Ethnography (IE), this paper examines the work of individual MMSW Auxiliary locals across Canada and the ways in which localized political action was coordinated through texts. The paper focuses on how Ladies Auxiliary locals activated two kinds of texts, the MMSW Ladies Auxiliary (LA) Constitution and the district and national Auxiliary newsletters, and examines how these texts coordinated Ladies Auxiliary members’ union work. The paper reveals the political organizing efforts of the LA women within their own locals, the MMSW union, and in broader political movements. In doing so, this paper challenges the prevailing notion that Auxiliaries merely served their male union counterparts in times of labour disputes.

Note on the Author

Elizabeth Quinlan holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies. She teaches and researches in the areas of sociology of gender, health, and work in the Department of Sociology, University of Saskatchewan with associate status in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Her research examines physical, psychological, and social health in terms of the gendered relations enacted through formal and informal caregiving, while shedding light on the historical fluidity of gendered definitions of caregiving.

Andrea Quinlan is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University. Her areas of interest include feminist methodologies and histories of activism. Her current research examines histories of feminist activism around forensic technologies for sexual assault investigation and prosecution

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