Cover image for Packinghouse daughter : a memoir
Packinghouse daughter : a memoir
Register, Cheri, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
St. Paul, MN : Minnesota Historical Society Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
280 pages ; 21 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F614.A27 R44 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The violence that erupted when the company "replaced" its union workers with strikebreakers tested family loyalty and community stability, and attracted national attention when the governor of Minnesota called in the National Guard, declared martial law, and closed the plant.

Register skillfully interweaves her own memories, historical research, and first-person interviews of participants on both sides of the strike into a narrative that is thoughtful and impassioned about the value of blue-collar work and the dignity of those who do it. Packinghouse Daughter also testifies to the hold that childhood experience has on personal values and notions of social class, despite the upward mobility that is the great promise of American democracy.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This is both a bittersweet memoir of growing up in the 1950s and a history of the 1959-60 strike at Wilson & Co. Meatpacking in Albert Lea, MN. Register (Living with Chronic Illness), the introspective daughter of a union meatpacker, blends lyrical memories of nighttime Christmas shopping with hard-edged descriptions of the killing floor and the picket line. The author attended school with friends who were the children of plant managers but was well aware of the stark divide between blue- and white-collar workers during the 109-day strike and after. Today's world is more complex than the "workers vs. the rich" view she held as a girl, but Register remains loyal to the idea that ordinary people matter. Toward the end of the book she writes, "Any life has meaning which knows its connection to the world." In this memoir, Register rediscovers the bonds that give her own life meaning. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.DDuncan Stewart, State Historical Society of Iowa Lib., Iowa City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

The Blue Workshirtp. 5
The Settingp. 11
The Plant
The Field Tripp. 25
Dad Talks about His Workp. 36
A Nod to Vegetariansp. 47
At the End of the Trailp. 50
Legends and Lost Histories
How We Became Working-Classp. 75
A Dream of Joe Hillp. 99
Hearsayp. 119
1959p. 135
On Strikep. 149
Fellow Adversariesp. 165
The Breaking Pointp. 176
English Lessonsp. 192
Under Siegep. 196
"Dear Governor Freeman"p. 213
Back to Workp. 216
Faith in the Face of Realityp. 232
How to Make Historyp. 243
My Vengeance on the Wienie Mogulsp. 249
Mellowingp. 259
Acknowledgmentsp. 277