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Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Irwin Herness
BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Irwin Herness was born in Ottertail County, Minnesota, about 1901. He lived there until he was eleven years old and his father died; then relatives in South Dakota offered him a home. There he was exposed to the Nonpartisan League, and formed his political ideas. In 1918 Irwin began studying at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, but finished his degree at the University of North Dakota at Ellendale. After graduating from college, Mr. Herness moved to Duluth, where he worked as a salesman. When the depression put him out of work, he found a job in the state department of agriculture in St. Paul. Eventually, he transferred to the cooperative division of the department, and helped to start rural electrical cooperatives. During this time he was quite active in the Farmer-Labor Party. When Harold Stassen was elected governor, Mr. Herness found a job with Midland Cooperatives. During the Second World War he worked at Northern Pump Company's ordnance plant. Following the merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor Parties in 1944, Mr. Herness became largely politically inactive, except for his involvement in the Henry Wallace campaign of 1948. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Description of the meetings of a Farmer-Labor Party ward club. Marches of farmers and unemployed people to the state capitol, 1930s. Financial support of the Farmer-Labor Party by state employees, 1930s. Assessments of Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson. Attempt to establish a state liquor control board by Benson, 1938. Gubernatorial campaign of 1938: anti-Semitism, Red-baiting, effect of the split in organized labor upon Benson's support. Opinions about military spending, 1940s and 1970s. Formation of electrical co-ops under the Rural Electrification Act. Memories of the 1946 DFL convention. Assessment of the merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor Parties. Red-baiting at Midland Cooperatives, early 1940s. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: The transcript has only been partially edited, so the spellings of many names are approximate. RESTRICTIONS ON USE: The tape and transcript cannot be quoted directly for publication.
1 hour sound cassette
16 pages transcript
Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
01:00:42 running time
Interviewee: Herness, Irwin
Interviewer: O'Connell, Tom
Interviewer: Trimble, Steve
|Holding Type||Oral History - Interview|
OH 30.36 (Library Call Number)
AV1990.228.63 (Accession Number)
MNHS Library Catalog
Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'