Tag Archives: 1913 Strike

Call for Papers: 1913 Copper Miners’ Strike Symposium

Retrospection & Respect: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Miners’ Strike

A symposium to be held April 11-13, 2014 on the campus of Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA

Banner from the 1913-14 Copper Miners' Strike (Acc-400-12-13-1988-01-08-15)

The Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections of the Van Pelt Library of Michigan Technological University announces a symposium to be held in Houghton, Michigan, April 11-13, 2014, on the occasion of the centennial of the cessation of the 1913-1914 Western Federation of Miners labor strike against copper mining companies in the Copper Country of upper Michigan.  The symposium is co-sponsored by the Archives, the Department of Social Sciences, and the Department of Humanities at Michigan Technological University, the Keweenaw National Historical Park, and the Finnish American Historical Archive at Finlandia University.  The symposium is being held in conjunction with the 2014 meeting of Finn Forum, a professional association of researchers who investigate northern European migration to the United States.

We anticipate paper submissions from a range of disciplinary perspectives in the following and other topical areas:  analyses of labor organization in the historical and contemporary American and European mining industries, the impact of historical European immigration on labor organization, the impacts of early twentieth century labor organizational practices and strikes on American managerial practices in mining and other industries, the impact of women’s activism on early twentieth century labor organization in mining and other industries, comparisons between labor activities and organizational practices over a range of mining commodities, the impacts of labor organizational and strike strategies on historical and current mining communities, contemporary remembrance and collective memory pertaining to labor/strike histories, as well as other topics connecting issues of ethnicity, identity, class, gender, and other cultural divisions to civic discourse and the historic struggle for civil liberties within industry.

Abstract submission is now open and will close on December 16, 2013.  Submitters will be notified of the acceptance of papers on January 16, 2014.  Please direct all inquiries regarding paper topics and presentation details to Dr. Sam Sweitz (srsweitz@mtu.edu).  We will consider proposals for mini-symposia, consisting of three to five papers, organized around a central theme or project as part of this symposium.  Please contact Dr. Sweitz regarding any such proposals.

Abstracts should be submitted via email to copper@mtu.edu, with the subject line “Symposium Proposal.” Abstracts should be no more than 250 words.  Accepted paper presentations will be 20 minutes in length.

The Michigan Tech Archives is offering funding for up to $750 through its Travel Grant Program for scholars to travel to the Archives to research its collections in order to submit a proposal for the symposium. Grant recipients whose papers are selected will be eligible for a second stipend to help allay the cost of travelling to the symposium in April. Please contact the Archives at copper@mtu.edu to apply for grant funding.

The conference proceedings will be published through Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, an open access platform. The creator(s) of papers shall retain their copyright, but will agree to a non-exclusive license to distribute and preserve their work in Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech.

Archives Features Talk & Book Signing by Local Author Gary Kaunonen

The Michigan Tech Archives hosts local author Gary Kaunonen for a presentation and book signing in the JR Van Pelt & Opie Library’s East Reading Room on Tuesday, August 17 at 4 p.m.

In his latest book, Challenge Accepted: a Finnish immigrant response to industrial America in Michigan’s Copper Country, published by Michigan State University Press, Kaunonen tells the story of the Finnish immigrant challenge to the historic social order. He explores their clash with Copper Country industrialists by examining the written record and material culture of the Finnish immigrant working class through analysis of buildings, cultural institutions, and publication of print media.

Challenge Accepted takes an in-depth look at the way a portion of the Finnish immigrant working class gambled the success of early organizational efforts by participating in the bitter and bloody 1913-14 copper miners’ strike. This nine-month struggle between organized labor and the mining companies culminated in the tragic events at Italian Hall. Kaunonen examines the events of the 1913-14 Strike and Italian Hall using often-overlooked proletarian Finnish immigrant sources.

Based in Hancock, the Tyomies Publishing Company rallied strikers and their families during the 1913-14 copper miners’ strike. Author Gary Kaunonen’s new book explores the politics and culture of the working class Finnish immigrants who made a stand against the mining companies. This image from the Keweenaw Digital Archives (#400-12-13-1988-01-08-04) was taken in February 1914 near the end of the Copper Country’s most violent labor strike.
Based in Hancock, the Tyomies Publishing Company rallied strikers and their families during the 1913-14 copper miners’ strike. Author Gary Kaunonen’s new book explores the politics and culture of the working class Finnish immigrants who made a stand against the mining companies. This image from the Keweenaw Digital Archives (#400-12-13-1988-01-08-04) was taken in February 1914 near the end of the Copper Country’s most violent labor strike.

Kaunonen suggests that the most noteworthy accomplishment of these Finnish immigrants in the Copper Country was that as a largely unskilled group of immigrant laborers, newspaper employees, and radical “hoboes,” they had a very considerable impact on the history of a place dominated by powerful mining companies and the men who ran those companies. This was truly remarkable, a challenge accepted by a proactive segment of the Finnish immigrant working class to have a say in their own working conditions. Embedded in this study of ethnic political-labor history is also a story of division and decline that ultimately fractured a working class movement dedicated to solidarity. This demise is significant when recounting the capabilities and vulnerabilities of the American labor movement in the early twentieth century.

Gary Kaunonen is a social and labor historian currently working on a PhD at Michigan Tech. He received a Master’s in Industrial History and Archaeology from Michigan Tech in 2007, and for a while worked as an archivist at the Finnish American Historical Archive at Finlandia. Kaunonen studies the history of the UP’s Finnish immigrant population, and the interaction between Finns and American industry. Both of his grandfathers worked in the iron mines of Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, and Kaunonen himself charged blast furnaces and operated a bull-ladle before turning to academics. His first book, also published by Michigan State University Press, is called The Finns in Michigan.

Limited copies of Kaunonen’s latest book, Challenge Accepted, will be available to purchase at the August 17 event at the JR Van Pelt & Opie Library at Michigan Tech.

For more information, call the Archives at 487-2505.