Insight: Professor Joseph McCartin
One of Professor McCartin's favorite places to visit in D.C. is the National Archives. (Photo: Claire Callagy)
If you could time travel, at what historic event would you most like to be present?
I'd like to have been on the National Mall by the reflecting pool on August 28, 1963, for the march on Washington.
What is your favorite aspect of teaching and/or researching at Georgetown?
The students. I find teaching Georgetown students, both undergraduates and graduates, to be immensely rewarding.
What would be the first book you would recommend to anyone wishing to learn more about your subject?
Maybe Thomas Bell's autobiographical novel, Out of This Furnace, a book that traces the saga of three generations of Slovak steel workers in the Pittsburgh area. First published in 1941, it would not qualify as great literature, I suppose. The prose is plain and understated. Yet there is something alluringly authentic about the book that has held a lasting attraction for me. Reading it as an undergraduate helped get me interested in labor history, and I've assigned it to students many times myself.
What is your favorite museum or historic landmark in DC?
The National Archives. I especially like visiting the rotunda where the nation's founding documents are on display near closing time in the off season when the tourists are fewer and when the guards are often the only ones there to keep you company. The guards have pointed out a few things to me about those documents that I didn't know. And there is something about the way they care for the place that I find inspiring.
McCartin posits in his upcoming work that U.S. labor relations changed dramatically for the worse with the 1981 strike of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO): a subject of some contentious debate amongst labor historians.
Kevin Powers is an excellent example of where keen interest and exceptional faculty can take you as a student.
I am fascinated by the rich history of the U.S. labor movement, and Professor McCartin’s course was recommended to me by other students who were involved in labor rights activism on Georgetown’s campus.