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Franklin Rosemont, 1943-2009: Surrealist poet, labor historian

Historians in the News




Franklin Rosemont, a surrealist poet and labor historian, maintained Chicago's long history of leftist activism through prolific writing and his stewardship of 123-year-old radical publishing house Charles H. Kerr.

Mr. Rosemont, 65, died Sunday, April 12, in the University of Illinois Medical Center, after possibly suffering a stroke or an aneurysm, said his wife, Penelope. He was a resident of Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood.

The son of a printers union activist, Mr. Rosemont joined the Industrial Workers of the World, a leftist trade group nicknamed the Wobblies, when he was 7, adopting a faith from which he never wavered....

His books included "Joe Hill, the IWW & the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture," a study of the early 20th Century labor movement, and "Jacques Vaché and the Roots of Surrealism," a biography of a surrealist pioneer. He edited and wrote introductions for "The Rise & Fall of the Dil Pickle," a history of an early 20th Century nightspot, and "From Bughouse Square to the Beat Generation."

"His book on Joe Hill is the best model of all the things labor history can be," said David Roediger, a University of Illinois history professor who co-edited "Haymarket Scrapbook," an illustrated labor history, with Mr. Rosemont.

Mr. Rosemont was also editing a series on surrealism for the University of Texas.

Many of his books were published by Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., where he essentially served as editor-in-chief. He and his wife enlisted a younger generation to write and work for the company, many drawn by Mr. Rosemont's infectious personality.
Read entire article at Chicago Tribune

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Lorraine Paul - 4/22/2009

May I offer my condolences to Mr Rosemont's family.

Too often the history of labour is ignored to our peril. It isn't Henry Ford who is the hero, but the workers who agitated against his far-right politics and soulless workplace practices.