Ellsworth Lecture set for Mar. 20

The Ellsworth Trust has selected a speaker for this year’s Ellsworth Trust lecture, a 2010 JSC alum with a degree in history and Ellsworth scholar, Scott McDowell. Currently, McDowell is enrolled in a graduate program at UVM, and will return to JSC to give his lecture.

“He was chosen as this year’s lecturer due in part to his connections with JSC and the Ellsworth Trust,” said Samuel Skelding, an Ellsworth scholar and student assistant.

McDowell will be speaking about the Vermont Marble workers’ strike of 1935-1936, and its influence on Vermont history.

“The Vermont Marble workers’ strike of 1935-36 was a labor conflict that unfolded over the course of eight months between the Vermont Marble Company and its employees in and around Rutland, Vt,” said McDowell. “The strike occurred within the context of the New Deal Era when a change in the federal government’s attitude toward labor resulted in the development of legislation sanctioning the existence of unions and providing them with various legal protections.

“In their struggle, the marble workers sought to use both the Wagner Act and state labor laws as a tool to end the strike. However, the network of friendship that existed in Vermont between business and politics created a power dynamic that prevented laws at both the federal and state level from having meaningful significance in practice, influenced public opinion, isolated workers from positive state intervention while making them susceptible to negative intervention and ultimately thwarted the collective efforts of the striking workers at Vermont Marble. Power – social, economic, and political – remained on the side of capital.”

McDowell said he would give ” a brief outline of the strike itself – the story – and then will be focusing primarily on the role that Vermont labor laws played during the course of the strike and what an examination of the laws’ functions help us to understand about the nature of power and how entanglements between the company and the state influenced the course of the strike.”

Robert A. Ellsworth, a former professor at JSC, created the Ellsworth Trust in 1983. The trust was founded to give scholarships to deserving students who major in history or political science scholarships. The trust also supports students and alumni with travel grants and funds the Ellsworth lecture each year.

The lecture will be Wednesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. in Bentley 207. It is free and open to the public.