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Associate Professors of History Mark Robbins and Derek Oden Discussing Published Works During “Historians at Work”

Article by: Melinda Eddleman

Their books are hot off the press. Each publication addresses key issues making up American history, including the evolution of farm safety and the emergence of the country’s middle class. On Thursday, Oct. 5, two associate professors of history will present their work during a panel discussion titled “Historians at Work: An Evening with Del Mar College Faculty Mark Robbins and Derek Oden.”

Both authors will explain what they discovered, how they conducted their research and what it’s like to practice as professional historians.

Sponsored by the Social Sciences Department and the College’s Mexican-American Studies program, the moderated discussion begins at 7 p.m. in Room 514 of White Library on the East Campus, Naples off Kosar at Staples. For more information, email or visit

Dr. Oden’s book, Harvest of Hazards: Family Farming, Accidents, and Expertise in the Corn Belt, 1940–1975 (University of Iowa Press 2017), examines the problem of farm safety, especially in the mid-western “Corn Belt” where farmers accustomed to traditional modes of agriculture adjusted to the use of new mechanical equipment and chemicals. He also documents the efforts of government and private organizations to raise awareness of farm safety in the years after World War II.

Described as a “groundbreaking study [that] incorporates agriculture into the histories of occupational safety and public health,” Harvest of Hazards focuses on what had always been a dangerous occupation that began to evolve and modernize during the Twentieth Century with new challenges and the advent of safety practices that gave rise to such organizations as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Safety Council, 4-H and Future Farmers of America. (read more about Harvest of Hazards at

Middle Class Union: Organizing the ‘Consuming Public’ in Post-World War I America (University of Michigan Press 2017) by Dr. Robbins looks at how the idea of a “middle class” emerged in American cities in the early Twentieth Century and revolved around new patterns of consumption. He shows how people who were neither business owners nor laborers found ways to organize to protect their right to affordable food, clothing, shelter and other consumer goods.

Described as “combining social history with interdisciplinary approaches to the study of consumption and symbolic space, Middle Class Union illustrates how acts of consumption, representations of the middle class in literary, journalistic and artistic discourses and ground-level organizing combined to enable white-collar activists to establish themselves as both the middle class and the backbone of the nation.” (read more about Middle Class Union at

Both books are important new works of American history. Join Drs. Oden and Robbins to discover more about their findings and ask questions during this engaging discussion.

About Del Mar College

Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.