Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Elizabeth Hoff Bruce
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Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Elizabeth "Betty" Hoff was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1913. Her father, Otto Hoff, was a banker, and died when Betty was still young. Her mother, Alette Fjelstad Hoff, became a teacher in order to support her family. Ms. Hoff moved to Minnesota in 1931 to attend the University in Minneapolis. Because of the Great Depression, she soon dropped out and became a teacher for the Worker Education Program of the Works Progress Administration. Her particular specialty was drama: writing, acting, and producing plays about workers' lives. She was quickly promoted to administration, however, and directed the Minneapolis workers' education program. In 1940 she married Alan Bruce, and the couple moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Ms. Bruce continued to teach through the Southern School for Workers and the American Labor Education Service. The Bruces returned to Minneapolis in 1942, and Ms. Bruce joined the board of directors of the Young Women's Christian Association, as chair of the industrial department. During the Second World War, this position drew her into the YWCA's efforts to find employment and housing for Japanese American women (relatives of Nisei men who were in training at Fort Snelling). After raising a family, Ms. Bruce returned to work for the North East Neighborhood House, where she had lived and worked as a student. Her job included developing programs for senior citizens, helping the neighborhood to adjust to urban renewal projects, holding classes and social activities for young mothers, and organizing a neighborhood association. At the time of the interview, Ms. Bruce was retired and living in Richfield, Minnesota. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Use of theater in workers' education, 1930s. Unionizing workers' education teachers. Organizational structure of the WPA Worker Education Program and description of the course offerings. Evaluation of the successfulness of the program. Political pressures on the program from state administrators, Communists and Trotskyists, and union leaders. Training of worker education teachers. Founding of the Minneapolis Labor School, and its structure. Development of labor union sports teams. Attempts to start worker education classes for women. Working with both the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial. Organizations in the Minneapolis Labor School, late 1930s. Recruiting Hubert Humphrey to be state director of worker education. Growth and development of worker education programs nationally, especially those for women workers. Experiences in worker education in North Carolina and Georgia, including adjusting to racial segregation. Persecution of labor organizers in the South, early 1940s. Racial integration at the Minneapolis YWCA. Resettlement of Japanese Americans in Minnesota during World War II. Programs and activities of the North East Neighborhood House (Minneapolis), 1960s and 1970s. Urban redevelopment in Northeast Minneapolis, 1960s. Involvement with the League of Women Voters, 1960s and 1970s. Structure and program of the Greater Minneapolis Federation of Neighborhood Centers, 1970s. Impressions of Robbins Gilman; his concern about child labor. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: This is a lively, clear, sequential interview covering a wide variety of topics.
Quantity 2 hours sound cassette
34 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:59:04 running time
Creation Interviewee: Bruce, Mrs. Elizabeth Hoff
Interviewer: Ross, Carl E.
Made in Richfield, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Made in Richfield, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 06/26/1989
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 30
Accession Number AV1990.228.7
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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