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Henry Himes

Ph.D. Candidate, Graduate Assistant-West Virginia University Institute for Labor Studies and Research

Courses Taught

HIST 152: Growth of the American Nation to 1865

HIST 153. Making of Modern America: 1865 to the Present

Major Field

U.S. Labor and Working Class History

Other Fields

Twentieth-Century U.S. History; African American History; and Twentieth-Century European History


Ken Fones-Wolf

Research Interests

I am a fifth year Ph.D. student at West Virginia University with a major field in U.S. Labor and Working-class history.  I am originally from Youngstown, Ohio where I attended Youngstown State University for my B.A. and M.A. degrees.  At Youngstown State, I worked three years for the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor (YHCIL), holding various positions such as docent and archival assistant. Before my academic career, I served as an artillery officer at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, holding the ranks of second lieutenant through captain. 

Working under the guidance and mentorship of Professor Ken Fones-Wolf, I have undertaken a dissertation that explores the United Steelworkers of America’s influence on the historical development and evolution of the public/private welfare state.  This study builds on existing labor and welfare state scholarship and further illuminates these historical themes in four distinct ways:  First and foremost, the study charts the historical origins of the "divided" welfare state in the United States and looks at how both union leaders and rank-and-file members shaped and interacted with that system.  Second, it seeks to uncover the unique relationship the union had in advocating for public forms of welfare security while bargaining for and winning private forms of welfare security.  Third, it records the attachment of rank-and-file steelworkers to the private system of company-provided pensions and healthcare benefits.  More specifically, it seeks to use the rank-and-file's relationship to private welfare security as a lens from which to analyze class, race, and gender issues within the union, as well as a tool to gauge the rank-and-file’s attitude toward postwar liberalism.  Finally, the study addresses generational issues that developed between active workers and retired workers over access to benefits, especially during the era of deindustrialization.  When finished, this dissertation will better contextualize our current understanding of the "divided" welfare state, which will ultimately promote a stronger understanding of the social welfare and old-age security challenges we face in the twenty-first century.