Tribute to Studs Terkel, Voice of the Underdog

Historians in the News

Studs Terkel, who died on Oct. 31 at 96, was remembered on Sunday as the father of oral history, the voice of the American worker, a pre-eminent listener, the sage of Chicago and a champion of the underdog.

A dozen friends and admirers — including the writers Jimmy Breslin, Victor Navasky and Walter Mosley — hailed Mr. Terkel, author of “Working” and “The Good War” (winner of the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction), saying he taught America how to listen to and understand the unpretentious and the unpolished: the steelworker and nurse, the shipbuilder and waitress.

“The pages of history are cluttered with the pronouncements of presidents and military heroes,” Howard Zinn, the historian, told the crowd of 800 at the Great Hall at Cooper Union. “Studs brought people back onto the pages of history, people with feelings, people with anguish and their joys.”

“He was always concerned with what he called the ‘et cetera’ of history,” Mr. Zinn added. “The people left out.”

The tribute was presented by his longtime publisher, The New Press, and co-sponsored by The Nation magazine and The Indypendent, a newspaper of New York’s independent media.

“Studs used to say, I tape, therefore I am,” said Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation’s editor in chief. “Only one other person used the tape recorder with as much fervor: Richard Nixon.”

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