Remembering Our Friend and Colleague, Professor David H. Bensman

Historians in the News
tags: obituaries, labor history

David H. Bensman, a respected professor and labor historian who retired last month as the longest-serving active faculty member in the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, died on July 25. He was 70.

“David made a major contribution to scholarship on labor history specifically and the labor movement more broadly,” Dean Adrienne Eaton said. “But most importantly, he was a caring mentor and friend to dozens of labor studies students over the multiple decades of his career at Rutgers and made a significant difference in many lives. I am moved by the emails I’ve been receiving from many people who felt supported and cared for by David.”

An award-winning scholar with a passion for the printed page and a deep respect for workers and the dignity of work, Bensman wrote or co-authored seven books, three book chapters, and countless journal articles, reports, and opinion pieces. His 1987 book, Rusted Dreams: Hard Times in a Steel Community, co-authored by Roberta Lynch, examined how the decline of the American steel industry decimated one South Chicago neighborhood. It was nominated for a National Book Award.

“I was fortunate to have Dr. Bensman as my professor in the late eighties,” said Angelica Santomauro, who earned her Ed.D. at Rutgers in 1989. “I went on to co-teach a course with him and serve as a substitute for his class. He became a friend, mentor and supporter of the American Labor Museum, where I now serve as Director. David Bensman is truly one of the reasons why I fell in love with labor history, which changed my life’s course.”

Read entire article at Labor and Working Class History Association

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