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Heidi Durham papers and oral history interviews, 1937-2017
- Durham, Heidi
- Heidi Durham papers and oral history interviews
- 1937-2017 (inclusive)19372017
- 1.57 cubic feet (2 boxes)
- Collection Number
- 6264 (Accession No. 6264-001)
- Papers and other materials of one of the first female electricians for Seattle City Light and labor activist
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
- Access Restrictions
No restrictions on access to paper-based materials. No user access copy is currently available for the audio cassettes. The DVD-R can be previewed onsite in the Special Collections Reading Room during open hours. Contact Special Collections for more information or to inquire about reproductions.
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
Heidi Durham (1953-2015) was a participant in Seattle City Light's Electrical Trades Trainee (ETT) Program in the early 1970s, and was one of the first women to be admitted to an apprenticeship program in City Light's skilled trades. When the City eliminated the Electrical Trades Trainee Program punitively for the activism of the programs director and the participants, Durham was one of the plaintiffs in a civil rights complaint which restored the program's participants ability to get skilled craft training and continued employment.
Heidi Durham was born and raised in San Pedro, California in 1954, and moved to Bellingham, Washington in 1971 to attend Western Washington University. She moved to Seattle in 1973 and joined Radical Women, a socialist feminist organization led by Clara Fraser.
Durham began working in the food service industry. In 1974, Fraser was tasked with creating a recruitment and training program for female electrical workers at Seattle City Light, the Electrical Trades Trainee (ETT). Durham was recruited in a competitive application process and, at 21, became the youngest of the 10-member ETT program. As one of three Radical Women members among the group, Durham played a leading role in the struggle for gender and race equity at the utility, where she co-founded the Employee Committee for Equal Rights at City Light (CERCLE) in 1983, and in her union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 77.
Following a landmark verdict on behalf of the women in January of 1976, Durham became one of the first women admitted to City Light’s Line Worker apprenticeship program.
Durham worked on the line crews until suffering a broken back in a near-fatal fall from the top of an electrical pole in 1977. Durham was partially paralyzed but fought to continue working in the field, returning to City Light as a Junior Power Station Operator. When she retired in 2004, she held the title of Senior Power Station Operator.
Through her longtime leadership in Radical Women and the Freedom Socialist Party, Durham participated in various political causes. In 1984, Durham co-founded the Ad Hoc Committee for Fair Employment and Open Housing, which successfully organized community support to defend and strengthen Seattle anti-discrimination laws.
Durham was also a writer. In 1982, she wrote The War on the Disabled: Adding Insult to Injury and co-authored Women Workers: Sparkplugs of Labor with Megan Cornish in 1990.
In 1991, Durham campaigned for City Council on the Freedom Socialist Party ticket. That same year, she was named Active Advocate of the Year, along with fellow ETT pioneer Megan Cornish, by Washington Women in the Trades. In 2004, Durham was a member of the Seattle Organizing Committee for the Million Worker March on Washington, D.C. and was a featured speaker at the event. Durham died in August of 2015 at the age of 62.
Belew, Ellie. 2019. High voltage women: breaking barriers at Seattle City Light. Seattle: Red Letter Press (Forthcoming: March 2019)
Grant, Nicole. “Heidi Durham: Electrical Trades Trainee (ETT) Program, Seattle City Light” Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project. https://depts.washington.edu/civilr/durham.htm
Grant, Nicole. “Challenging Sexism at City Light: The Electrical Trades Trainee Program” Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project. http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/citylight.htm (Data accessed January 2018).
https://socialism.com/fs-article/farewell-to-heidi-durham-revolutionary-feminist-and-fighter-for-the-oppressed/ Seattle Times https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=heidi-durham&pid=175821675
Casey, Conor. “How Minority Men and Tradeswomen Won Justice on the Jobsite.” Lecture, Museum of History and Industry History Café, Seattle, February 21, 2018. https://tinyurl.com/JusticeJobsite
Casey, Conor “Justice on the Jobsite: Collections on Labor Organizing of Minority Men and Tradeswomen at the University of Washington Libraries' Labor Archives of Washington and Special Collections" Pacific Northwest Quarterly. Summer 2018 Issue.
Belew, Ellie. 2013. Bringing power to the people: the history of IBEW Local #77.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
Materials relating to the Electrical Trades Trainee Program at Seattle City Light and the subsequent discrimination case by most of the ETT against City Light. Also includes files on the history of City Light as a utility, ETT program head Clara Fraser and her discrimination case against City Light. The collection includes materials on the Employee Committee for Equal Rights at City Light (CERCL) as well as subject files on the 10 members of the ETT program. Oral history interviews done by Nicole Grant with Durham, and fellow ETT trainees and Radical Women members Megan Cornish, and Teri Bach are included in audio cassette and video DVD formats. The collection includes newclippings about Durham and the history of the ETT program and subsequent lawsuits.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Creator's copyrights transferred to the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
|1/1||Chronologies for Electrical trades trainees case||1973-1996|
|1/2||Draft history of electrical trades trainees case||1982|
|1/3||City Light early history||1937-1993|
|1/5||Clara Fraser retirement||1986|
|1/6||City Light walkout||1974|
|1/8||Bill of rights and responsibilities||1974-1975|
|1/9||Hiring of electrical trades trainees||1974|
|1/10||Hoax leaflet - redbaiting||1974|
|1/12||City Light managers||1980|
|1/13||Electrical trades trainees legal case||1975|
|1/14||Electrical trades trainees fight||1974-2017|
|1/15||Legal materials from trainees' injunction hearing||1975|
|1/16||Electrical trades trainees case victory||1976|
|1/17||Electrical Trades Trainee Program||1974-1979|
|1/18||Trainee Program (part 1 of 2)||1973-2017|
|1/19||Trainee Program (part 2 of 2)||1973-2017|
|1/20||Office of Women's Rights findings in ETT case||1975|
|1/21||Electrical trades trainees case settlement||1976|
|1/22||Clara Fraser case||1974-1979|
|1/23||Clara Fraser case||1980-1982|
|1/24||Clara Fraser case||1983|
|1/25||Clara Fraser case victory||1983|
|1/26||City Light and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers correspondence||1974-1981|
|1/27||International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers correspondence Local 77||1974-1990|
|1/28||Non-discrimination clause in contract||1981|
|1/29||Songs and skits||1980|
|1/30||Heidi Durham apprenticeship evaluations||1976-1977|
|1/32||Heidi's draft letter to Dan Haw from "group"||1978|
|1/33||Human Rights Department complaint||1983-1984|
|1/34||Gamma Vision, human relations training project||1984-1985|
|1/35||Employee Committee for Equal Rights at City Light (CERCL)||1983-1988|
|1/36||Sherrie Holmes / CERCL||1986|
|1/37||Employee Committee for Equal Rights at City Light (CERCL)||1987|
|1/38||Employee Committee for Equal Rights at City Light (CERCL)||1991-1994|
|1/39||CERCL vs. City Light||1984-1989|
|1/40||CERCL letter to Randy Hardy||1985|
|2/1||Ad hoc Committee for Fair Employment and Open Housing||1983-1986|
|2/2||Electrical trades trainees' retirement||2004-2005|
|2/3||City Light press coverage||1986|
|2/4||Electrical Trades Trainee Program 25th anniversary||1999|
|2/5||Reference material on equal employment||1969-2018|
|2/6||Political ideology / gay pride||1995-1997|
|2/8||Nina Firey case||1983-1989|
|2/11||Seattle, City Light affirmative action statistics||1972-1979|
|2/12||Heidi Durham writings||1981-2000|
|2/13||Articles by and about Heidi Durham||1987-2007|
|2/14||Radical Women writings on working women||1962-2010|
|2/15||Women's participation in unions||1974-1976|
|2/16||Press clippings, leaflets||1975-1995|
|2/17||Interview of Heidi Durham by Nicole Grant and Trevor
Video recording on DVD-R
|2/18||Interviews of Megan Cornish and Teri Bach
Audio recording on 90-minute audiocassette
|2/19||Heidi Durham on KCMU radio -- Deregualtion and the threat
Audio recording on 90-minute audiocassette
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Feminism--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Labor movement--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Labor unions--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Labor--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)
- Women and socialism--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Women's rights--Washington (State)--Seattle
- Women--Washington (State)--Societies and clubs
- Radical Women--Archives
- Radical Women--Records and correspondence
- Labor Archives of Washington (University of Washington) (host institution)