Robert Molchan, Dan Kerr, Nate Davis, Robert Jackson, and Michael Davidson, members of the Day Laborers Organizing Committee (DLOC), meet in Chicago with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network in 2003.

Engaged History is a blog brought to you by Dan Kerr that seeks to explore the relationship between activism, social change, and history.  Can the study of history facilitate movement building in community?  Can a transparently subjective approach to the past lead to a sharper understanding of the world we live in?  What does it mean to be an engaged historian?

Dan Kerr, an historian at American University, has recently published Derelict Paradise: Homelessness and Urban Development in Cleveland, Ohio where he seeks answers to the question, “Who benefits from homelessness?” The book takes the reader on a sweeping tour of Cleveland’s history from the late nineteenth-century through the early twenty-first. Kerr is currently working on a manuscript addressing the research he conducted with the Cleveland Homeless Oral History Project where he has interviewed close to 200 homeless people and has facilitated dozens of workshops and meetings in the shelters and drop-in centers of Cleveland, Ohio. He addresses this work in detail in his article, “We Know What the Problem Is,” in Oral History Review, Winter/Spring 2003. From 2005-2011, Kerr taught at James Madison University where he directed the Shenandoah Valley Oral History Project and researched and taught a class on the history of the poultry industry. Kerr specializes in the fields of environmental history, urban social history, community history, oral history, and public history. Kerr has made an active effort to make his research accessible and relevant to those who promote social justice in the community.

For more, see:

Oral History and Homelessness

Daniel Kerr, “How Oral History can Facilitate Movement Building”