About Higgins Labor Program

Higgins History

Past Projects


The Higgins Labor Program at the University of Notre Dame is dedicated to initiating and promoting research, teaching, and conversation relevant to the questions, needs, and interests of people who work for a living. Rooted in the Catholic Social Tradition’s commitment to the dignity of work and those who perform it, the Higgins Labor Program endorses unions and other worker-based organizations as legitimate, indeed indispensable, vehicles for working people to express, defend, and engage their interests in the national and global communities.

Stay in touch and receive updates on the work of the Higgins Labor Program by clicking on the button below.


Daniel Graff, Ph.D.
Director, Higgins Labor Program
Professor of the Practice, Department of History

Dan Graff has been Director of the Higgins Labor Program since 2014. Dedicated to encouraging the Notre Dame community to realize the centrality of “the labor question” — Who does the work, who gets the fruits, and who makes the rules? — to all human endeavors, Graff has initiated projects like the Labor Cafe, Lunchtime Labor RAPS, HAN (the Higgins Alumni Network), and the Just Wage Working Group (with Professor Clemens Sedmak). He also writes and curates original online content, including the Labor Song of the Month, Work of Art/Art of Work, and The Labor Question Today blog.

Graff holds a joint faculty appointment as professor of the practice in the department of history, where he served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for fifteen years, winning a 2011 Edmund P. Joyce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and a 2013 Dockweiler Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising. He offers courses in US labor and nineteenth-century history, including “Labor & America since 1945,” “Abraham Lincoln’s America,” “US Labor History to 1945,” “Food, Work, & Power in American History,” and “Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Struggle against Slavery.”

He has written and published extensively on the histories of work, race, and citizenship in the United States, and his paper at the 2010 Collective Memory in St. Louis Symposium was awarded the Best Paper Prize (“Lovejoy’s Legacies: Race, Religion, and Freedom in St. Louis (and American) Memory”). His current research projects include labor licensing codes of conduct in contemporary American universities; race, labor, and citizenship in nineteenth-century St. Louis; and representations of the chronic crisis facing workers in the US since 1981.

Graff earned his B.A. in history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in US history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Email: dgraff@nd.edu
Office Phone: 574-631-5845
Office Address: 262 Geddes Hall

Judith Benchaar, M.A.
Adminstrative Assistant, Higgins Labor Program and Social Concerns Seminars

Judy Benchaar coordinates all activities of the Higgins Labor Program and also assists with the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) seminars. After working for several travel agencies, Benchaar began working at Notre Dame in 2010 and joined the CSC staff in July of 2014.

She earned her B.A. in French and International Studies from Indiana University, and her M.A. in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of Notre Dame.

Email: jbenchaa@nd.edu
Office Phone: 574-631-6934
Office Address: 154 Geddes Hall

The Higgins Labor Program is ably assisted by two indispensable student workers:

  • Anastasia Reisinger (’21)
  • Robert Caruso (’22)