Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Italian Hall 101 Years Ago

In honor of the Italian Hall victims, I'm posting an image of the December 26, 1913, edition of Tyomies that labeled their deaths as "Murders." This gut-wrenching headline and the article detail how Finnish immigrants associated with the labor movement saw the deaths of their fallen Fellow Workers. Additionally, I'm posting a translation of the article that was done by a pro-company Finnish-language speaker. This translation was used as evidence for the efforts to round up editors at Tyomies and charge them with crimes for reporting the labor perspective on the event. The newspaper and article about the horrific loss of life at Italian Hall are reminders of the price paid by those who fought for our labor rights today, and the importance of free speech and the 1st Amendment! Seems it is under fire as much today as it was on December 26, 1913.

The translation of the headline and article (from the C&H Collection, Michigan Technological University's Copper Country Historical Archives):

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Community in Conflict Wins State History Book Award

Plaque given to award winners from the Historical Society of Michigan.

Aaron (right) and Gary accepting the award given to us by Historical Society of Michigan's Board of Trustees President Robert Myers from St. Joseph, Michigan.  

Gary giving a few "Thank Yous" after accepting the award in Kalamazoo's incredible downtown historical museum. 

Gary (left) and Aaron displaying their awards. 

Gary and Aaron standing beside Michigan State University Press' Assistant Director and Editor-in-Chief Julie Loehr. Michigan State University Press did very well at the state history awards, as two other offerings from the press received state history book awards. 
We are excited and proud to announce that Community in Conflict has won a 2013 Historical Society of Michigan Book Award. This award, given yearly to Michigan's best historical publications, cements the fact that Copper Country history and the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike are worthy of statewide recognition. Aaron and I are excited that we were able to bring this history forth, while honoring those that were historical actors in the strike. 

Historical Society of Michigan director Larry Wagenaar commented that this year's field of nominees for the award was top notch, and that picking winners was difficult. Aaron and I are certainly honored that the book was chosen, and thank Michigan State University Press and Julie Loehr of MSU Press for nominating the book, and the Historical Society of Michigan for choosing the book as an award winner.

From the Historical Society of Michigan press release:

Society Presents 2013 State History Awards in Kalamazoo

posted Oct 1, 2013

KALAMAZOO–The Historical Society of Michigan presented the 2013 State History Awards Friday evening at its Annual Meeting and State History Conference held September 27-28 in Kalamazoo. The State History Awards are the highest recognition given by the state’s official historical society...

Publications: University and Commercial Press

Written by Aaron Goings and Gary Kaunonen and published by Michigan State University Press, “Community in Conflict: A Working-Class History of the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike and the Italian Hall Tragedy” received a State History Award as well. Goings and Kaunonen focused their efforts of the Michigan copper strike that received national attention and was a major struggle between labor and management. The strike was overshadowed, though, by violent incidents such as the Italian Hall Tragedy, in which dozens of workers and working-class children died. Goings and Kaunonen utilize previously unused sources such as labor spy reports, union newspapers, coded messages, and artifacts to shed light on this labor event.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Talk for the Painesdale Mine Shaft, Inc. Organization

Wrapping up talks for this year, I (Gary) did a keynote talk, well, really a reading of a paper for the commemoration of violence in and around the Painesdale and Seeberville areas a couple of weeks ago. Citing some of the new research on the Seeberville shootings of striking workers Alois Tijan and Steven Putrich, and some of the new research on the Dally-Jane shootings in Painesdale, I spoke about the specter of the strike's violence 100 years later.

The event, a commemoration of events in the Painesdale area, was held in the Methodist Church and also featured remarks by Rep. Scott Dianda, a member of organized labor and a beacon for the labor movement in Michigan's legislature.

Houghton's Daily Mining Gazette covered the event, which was well attended by about 100 people. The article from the Gazette is below along with a photo of Rep. Dianda at the podium, and me in the background taking notes on his talk. The Gazette article doesn't get all the facts right about the events at Seeberville, but does a good job summing the thoughts of the day regarding remembering the sacrifice of strikers while enduring the violence of the strike.

From Daily Mining Gazette reporter Garret Neese's article "A Time to Remember: Ceremony Held on 100th Anniversary of Miners' Strike:
HOUGHTON - A century after miners went on strike in the Copper Country, people met to remember the hardships and violence the miners endured during the strike.
A ceremony took place Saturday morning at the Albert Paine Memorial United Methodist Church in Painesdale.
The keynote speaker was Gary Kaunonen, author of "Community in Conflict: A Working-Class History of the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Mine Strike and the Italian Hall Tragedy."
Upon writing the book in 2011, he uncovered previously unseen mining company documents from the era that detailed a campaign of intimidation against the striking miners.
An incident in nearby Seeberville was "one of the most cold-blooded massacres" in the area's history, Kaunonen said. When one resident of a boarding house threw a bowling pin at a sheriff's deputy, he and others fired, killing two miners - Steve Putrich and Alois Tijan - who had not been involved. Putrich's infant son was grazed by a bullet. He retained the scar for the rest of his life.
Houghton County Sheriff James Cruse hindered efforts to find the perpetrators, Kaunonen said; eventually, six men were arrested. The whereabouts of one suspect, Thomas Raleigh, who escaped, were said to be unknown at the time. But Kaunonen found correspondence between the Calumet & Hecla Mining Co. and a law firm representing them that placed Raleigh in New York City. He was working for Calumet & Hecla to spy on the Western Federation of Miners.
In December, three people - Thomas Dally, Arthur Jane and Harry Jane - were killed at a boarding house in Painesdale.
John Huhta was eventually convicted of the crime.
But labor organizers said Huhta was a dupe, framed because of his ties to the labor movement.
"In reality, it was not Huhta ... on trial, it was the Western Federation of Miners," he said.
Ultimately, Kaunonen said, his research into the mining strike had revealed, beyond bureaucratic red tape, a "uniquely human story."
State Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, felt a connection on multiple levels.
His grandfather worked at the mine in Painesdale; he also has a background in labor, having been past president of Local 5 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
He said many of today's families still have ties to the era of the mining strike.
"It's a part of who we are up here," he said.
Tours of the Champion No. 4 shafthouse, captain's office and house building were also available after the ceremony.
Deanna Niemi of Painesdale was interested in the incidents in Seeberville, where her grandparents were from and where she lived for a year as a child.
"It's important to remember them, the sacrifices," she said.
"And to keep that history alive, so future generations will know what went on in those days," added Ruth Wisti of Hancock.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Calumet Heritage Days 2013

I (Gary) was asked to give the opening talk for Calumet Heritage Days last night August 12, 2013. I spoke in the very beautiful Keweenaw Heritage Center, once the home of St. Anne's Catholic Church. The venue was amazing, but the acoustics were not so great for presenting.

This presentation was supposed to be the last of our full and very involved summer presentation schedule, but a new one was added on August 20 in Marquette. I will be speaking to a group of journalists about the 1913-14 Strike, in general, and plan to share some of our new research on Italian Hall. Specifically looking at the media coverage of the Italian Hall giving special attention to WFM media outlets: Miner's Bulletin and Tyomies.

Monday, July 29, 2013

100 Years Ago...

Hard to believe that 100 years ago the Keweenaw Peninsula was in the midst of one of the most contentious upheavals in American labor history. Daily, the streets of the Copper Country were alive with the passion of striking workers.

July 23, 1913, was the day the strike began, but 9 long months would transpire before the strike came to an end. Not only was the strike a long affair in regards to time, but it was also a massive affair in terms of geography. Spread out over more than 60 miles of rugged terrain, the copper strike encompassed three counties, tens of cities, and thousands of workers from Ontonagon County in the south, through all of Houghton County, and into Michigan's northern-most county, Keweenaw County.

There was no disputing it, the strike was a massive and tumultuous affair. The image below is just one such capturing of this massive upheaval of worker sentiment in the Copper Country, and it also disputes the company-led notion that strikers were a wild bunch of hooligans and ruffians.

Striking workers affiliated with the Western Federation of Miners and their families parade down Red Jacket Road . The strikers will soon be passing in front of Calumet and Hecla Mining Company's headquarters in their Sunday bests, no less. Image from Michigan Technological University's Copper Country Historical Collections.
As can be seen in the image strike parades often consisted of mineworkers and their families dressed in Sunday bests and marching in an orderly fashion through the streets of mining controlled landscapes.

Wishing a thoughtful and meaningful appreciation to those who participated in the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike on this 100 year anniversary of one this epic historical event.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

TV Coverage of Community in Conflict

It has been a busy month of presentations, more on that later, but I gave a presentation at the State of Michigan's Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee and broadcast television's ABC 5 and 10 evening news covered the talk.

A link to this news story: http://abc10up.com/authors-recounts-horrific-italian-hall-incident/.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Book has Arrived!

Eight copies of our book Community in Conflict arrived on my (Aaron's) doorstep today.  As this photo shows, I was pretty happy about their arrival.  The book was many years in the making, and this seems like a good time to extend our gratitude to everyone who made the book possible.  We owe a special debt of gratitude to everyone at Michigan State University Press, and the anonymous readers who gave us valuable suggestions along the way.

A final (and big) thank you to John Beck, Larry Lankton, Elizabeth Jameson, and Erik Nordberg who wrote very kind blurbs for the back of the book.  It certainly feels good to be recognized by such a star-studded group of scholars.