idea of an organization designed to promote southern labor history goes
back to 1966, when a group of Southern Historical Association (SHA)
members who had been meeting annually decided to form their own
organization called the Association of Southern Labor Historians (ASLH).
By 1972 the ASLH had largely disbanded, but Merl E. Reed and Gary M.
Fink, of Georgia State University, initiated a biennial conference to
continue its past efforts. The Southern Labor History Conference—later
named the Southern Labor Studies Conference—first met in Atlanta in the
spring of 1976 and sponsored sessions with historians, activists, and
labor leaders. Since then, labor activists and academics have met to
exchange scholarship and experiences at the biennial Southern Labor
May 2007 at the joint conference convened at Duke University by the
Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) and the Southern
Labor Studies Conference, participants specializing in southern labor
created the Southern Labor Studies Association to put the conference on a
more secure footing. Professor Heather Thompson was elected as SLSA’s
first president. Since then the association has expanded to promote the
study, teaching, and preservation of the history of southern labor
through a variety of activities.