Mary Harris "Mother" Jones
1921 was a tumultuous year for the United States as President Warren Harding tried to guide the nation back to “normalcy" and the Panic of 1921 created problems for industrial leaders and the labor force. Strikes also highlighted the events of the year with the West Virginia coal fields as a major battleground. The leaders of the District 17 of the United Mine Workers realized that to continue organizing the state’s coal miners they had to gain access to Logan and Mingo counties. "Mother" Mary Harris Jones and Bill Blizzard played major roles in pushing unionization.
Photograph of Mother Jones from Library of Congress Website
|“Mother” Jones viewed the
episode as a major battle in the ongoing struggle between the producers and the
parasites. She asserted that the outcome of the conflict would determine the
future of coal miners and their families and communities. More broadly, the
nation’s future hinged on who would triumph. To create the good
society, which she sought, required that workers prepare themselves for with
education to produce a just and free society.
She complimented John Brophy, President of UMWA District # 2, on his efforts to promote labor education. These initiatives would continue and grow as District 2 hosted speakers, published a newspaper and conducted a Labor Chautauqua. “Mother” Jones indicated that she had other invitations to be a Labor Day speaker, including requests from West Virginia miners. However, her first preference was to be in District 2 for the occasion. Her motivation included her admiration for Brophy, her respect for William Wilson, a former District 2 leader and U.S. Secretary of Labor and her remembrance of Arnot where she helped to turn defeat into victory in the memorable Arnot Coal Strike of 1899.
Thus, it was a memorable occasion for the people of Indiana County, especially for numerous coal miners, when “Mother” Jones came to the area in 1921 to deliver a Labor Day address in the same year that she would travel to Mexico City to participate in a Pan American Labor Convention.
Correspondence from Mother Jones to John Brophy relating to her visit to Indiana is available in the Special Collections and Archives Section of Stapleton Library in Manuscript Group 52. Images of letters and telegrams can be viewed by clicking on the following links:
Letter July 25, 1921
Telegram August 10, 1921
Telegram August 27, 1921
Letter August 23, 2005 (page 1) (page 2)
Undated Letter 1
Letter September 21, 1921
For more information from our website:
That Magnificent Fight for Unionism
Coal Dust: The Early Mining Industry of Indiana County
UMWA District 2 Papers
Other Information from the Internet
Autobiography of Mother Jones
Miner's Angel Mother Jones Collection
Mother Jones: The Woman
Books in Our Collection Include:
Mother Jones. Autobiography of Mother Jones. Salem, N.H. : Ayer, 1984. HD8073.J6 A3 1984 .
____. The Correspondence of Mother Jones / Edward M. Steel,
editor. Pittsburgh, PA : University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.
HD8073.J6 A4 1985
_____. Mother Jones speaks : collected writings and speeches /edited by Philip S. Foner. New York : Monad Press : Distributed by Pathfinder Press, 1983. HD8072 .J7832 1983.
____. The Speeches and writings of Mother Jones / Edward M.
Steel, editor. Pittsburgh, PA.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1988.
HD8072 .J7832 1988
Atkinson, Linda. Mother Jones, the most dangerous woman in America. New York: Crown Publishers, 1978. Children’s Collection 331.88 J721at
Hawxhurst, Joan C. Mother Jones : labor crusader. Austin, Tex: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1994. Children’s Collection 331.88 J721h
Josephson, Judith Pinkerton. Mother Jones : fierce fighter for workers' rights. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1997. Children’s Collection 331.88 J721j
Other Secondary Sources
Gorn, Elliott J. Mother Jones : the most dangerous woman in America. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001. HD8073.J6 G67 2001.
Wake, Dorothy L. Mother Jones : revolutionary leader of labor and social reform. Xlibris , 2001. HD8073.J6 W35 2001