“1913 Massacre”

Author: Woody Guthrie
Earliest date: 1945 (recording by author)
Keywords: lie strike death labor-movement mining disaster children
Found in: US

Description

In Calumet, Michigan, striking copper miners and their children are having a Christmas celebration; strike-breakers outside bar the doors then raise a false fire alarm. In the ensuing stampede, seventy-three children are crushed or suffocated

Notes

In the late 19th/early 20th century, the rapid expansion of the electrical industry created great demand for copper, for which the chief source was the mines in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Bitter strikes resulted as the miners, under the leadership of the Western Federation of Miners, demanded decent pay and safer working conditions.

Guthrie's description of the events of 1913 is dead-on accurate, according to the residents of Calumet; Italian Hall, where the disaster occurred, was still standing in the early 1980s, but has since been torn down. - PJS

Cross references

Recordings

References

  1. Greenway-AFP, pp. 157-158, "1913 Massacre"
  2. Silber-FSWB, p. 306, "The 1913 Massacre" (1 text)
  3. DT, MASS1913*
  4. BI, FSWB306A