Packinghouse Daughter: A Memoir
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Packinghouse Daughter: A Memoir

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  117 ratings  ·  15 reviews
A unique blend of memoir and public history, Packinghouse Daughter, winner of the Minnesota Book Award, tells a compelling story of small-town, working-class life. The daughter of a Wilson & Company millwright, Cheri Register recalls the 1959 meatpackers' strike that divided her hometown of Albert Lea, Minnesota. The violence that erupted when the company "replaced" it...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 21st 2001 by Harper Perennial (first published 2000)
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Reproduced from my "Editor's Perspective" in the Summer 2001 issue of THE ANNALS OF IOWA:
I don’t much like memoirs. But Packinghouse Daughter, by Cheri Register, is enchanting, disturbing, and provocative. It should be read by a wide range of readers, including academics and other middle-class professionals who pride themselves on “siding with the working class.” It shatters some of our illusions and our tendency to romanticize our identification with working-class people even as it encourages u...more
This book was required reading in a college level introductory creative nonfiction English class. People are selling this book as a look into union life and the "working class" family. What is left for the reader to figure out is the author is a communist. I attribute the 1959 violent strike to union leader Ralph Helstein who was influenced by Saul Alinsky (a Machiavellian style of community organizing), See page 359.

This book is being used as a tool for indoctrination on college campuses to pr...more
I read this when it first came out and interviewed the author for a review in TCT. Read it again just before she came to Madison on 9/10/2001 for a book signing when the paperback came out.

My original review follows. (Published Friday, November 10, 2000).

I spent election night with the television on but the sound turnedoff, burying myself instead in the pages of Cheri Register's memoir aboutgrowing up in Albert Lea, Minn., a Midwestern labor town. It was anappropriate activity for this election...more
I grew up on a farm near Storm Lake, Iowa where there packinghouse. Her story brought back memories of the packing house and the period of time when it closed one day, laid off all the union workers, supposedly sold the plant (at least in opened in another name) and brought it immigrants to staff it.

Cheri Register tells his story from the perspective of one who experienced what it was like to be part of the family where a father whom she remembers with great respect, worked in the packing house,...more
I agree with Heid - a strong memoir, honest and self-reflective, giving voice to a particular generation's struggle, class issues, and especially (for me), a relentless emphasis on the ways we can't know our parents as human beings until late in life, or even, too late. I read this in preparation for teaching a course on memoir writing, and ended up using a couple of chapters as great models for how to be both intensely personal, and deeply universal. I also appreciated the photos included. The...more
Margaret Sankey
Cheri Register was 14 and in eighth grade in 1959 when Albert Lea, MN endured a strike at the Wilson meatpacking plant that eventually required the presence of the Minnesota National Guard--dividing the otherwise homogeneous little town and creating lasting fissures between the management, workers and local farmers. Register, whose father was a millwright, returns as an adult to the story with a researcher's perspective and documents from all sides, producing a subtle and affecting memoir of all...more
LonewolfMX Luna
I remember reading this book for my History of Labor Class with Professor Leikin. This is the story of working class family living in the town of Albert Lea, Minnesota in which the author Cheri Register tells how the story of how her working class family constantly struggle against the owners of a meatpacking house that provides jobs for the town, but at times it tries to screw them out of a decent wage in which ranges from the hazards of working on the killing floor to a confrontation with the...more
Well researched and written, this memoir addresses some larger questions: why the goal of the working class was to send their children away to college, and now they have little in common with each other; why the subject of diet is seemingly more important than worker safety in red meat preparation; how automation is a double-edged sword for workers who are subjected to dangerous occupations. The pace was a little slow for my taste, but I relived my own tour of the packing plant with her descript...more
Memoir/essay/history about the workers of the Wilsons packinghouse in Albert Lea, focusing on the strike of 1959, written by the now-grown daughter of one of the strikers. It reminded me of Marilyn Robinson's Gilead, if that book had been set in Minnesota and had been focused on organized labor.
I highly recommend this book. I would not have read it but for a recommendation by a group followed online.
It would have been nice to have this available to me 35 years ago when working in Austin & Albert Lea, my understanding of the communities would have been somewhat different.
An interesting memoir, especially if you grew up in a working class pro-union household. Some of the author's insights about politics and the left in general were especially to the point. I completely enjoyed this book and applaud its perspective.
This book was the first assigned for a class on the history of labor. I dropped the class after having to read this. It confirmed my preference of military history to social history.
Abigail (Abbe)
Thank you Mary. I have no idea how i forgot this book
I cried so hard through this book. a truly wonderful memoir of MN, a father's love, and a difficult agricultural industry.
Jane Anne
This book has stayed with me. Especially the lonely Scandinavian boys, some homosexual, who came to the 'city' to work.
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