"Portraits In Steel" Receives 1995 Book Award From Oral History Association

Release Date: September 28, 1995 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "Portraits in Steel," the nationally celebrated collaborative work on Buffalo steelworkers by University at Buffalo history professor Michael Frisch and documentary photographer Milton Rogovin, both of Buffalo, has received the 1995 Book Award from the Oral History Association -- the first ever presented by the organization.

It will be conferred next month at the association's annual meeting in Milwaukee.

The book, published by Cornell University Press in 1993, features oral histories of steel-industry workers who discuss their jobs and their lives before, during and after the shut own of the region's steel companies and affiliated industries in the late 1970s.

Dale Trevelen, president of the association, said that members of the selection committee were particularly impressed with the book's "refreshing authenticity."

"They recognized Milton Rogovin's photographs as both dignifying their subjects and documenting continuity and change in the lives of the featured steelworkers and their families," he said.

According to Trevelen, the committee noted that "Frisch's thoughtful interviews brilliantly complement the photographs, not only enhancing the dignity of his subjects but empowering them as well.

"Conscious always of the shared authority about which he has written," he added, "Frisch encouraged his respondents to reflect on how their lives fit into larger social processes, opening up new ways of thinking about such abstractions as industrialization and deindustrialization.

He added that Frisch's "beautifully written introduction...provides a succinct history of the political and economic evolution of Buffalo, New York...offering insight into the historical causes of social change and affords an elegant context for the photographs and interviews, which illuminate the meaning in human terms of the 'post-industrial world.'"

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