Tag Archives: Labor

Presentation – Red Sports on Lake Superior: The Labor Sport Union in the Upper Peninsula, Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, 1928-1935

Gabe Logan LSU

 

Please join us for a presentation by travel grant recipient Gabe Logan at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, November 15 in the East Reading Room of the Van Pelt and Opie Library on the Michigan Technological University campus. This event is free of charge and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

In this presentation, Logan will discuss the Labor Sport Union and its influence in the iron ranges of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. From 1928 through 1935 the United States Communist Party developed the Labor Sport Union. This athletic organization united left wing politics and athletics in an alternative vision of sport and society. The LSU drew much of its membership from the urban cities whose immigrant populations sought recreation beyond the schools and company teams. However, the LSU also found an appreciative audience in the rural iron ore region of Lake Superior. This presentation explains the significance of the LSU in the region and how its members embraced the “red sports” ideology.

Gabe Logan, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of History and the Director for the Center of Upper Peninsula Studies at Northern Michigan University. Logan’s research visit and presentation are supported by a travel grant from the Friends of the Michigan Tech Library. Since 1988, the Michigan Tech Archives has partnered with the FMTL to help scholars advance their research by supporting travel to the manuscript collections at the archives.

For more information, feel free to call the Michigan Tech Archives at (906) 487-2505, email at copper@mtu.edu, or visit on the web at http://www.lib.mtu.edu/mtuarchives/.

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.

Archival Instruction:The Working Man

Today I led an archival instruction session for Michigan Tech Instructor and doctoral student Gary Kaunonen’s Revisions class. Kaunonen encourages his students to incorporate primary sources into their research, and we’ve introduced several of his classes in the past to working with archival material. This semester the class research project emphasizes “the working man.”

When we conduct instruction sessions for undergraduates, along with the ins and outs of what to do when you come to the Archives, we select samples of archival material that demonstrate the inter-relatedness of different records. Being able to touch and read actual historical material often sparks interest in students that weren’t particularly interested in history before (hard to believe, I know!). It also gives us a chance to talk about inherent bias of manuscript records and critical evaluation of sources.

I approached this particular session with an eye toward revealing the lives of ordinary people, and I thought I’d share some of the resources I presented to Kaunonen’s Revisions class. I focused on four broad themes: Worker Housing, Copper Miners, Communities, and Non-mining Activity. What follows is a very cursory overview of material selected.

Copper Range Companies Collection

CR 212, 10-9

Record of House Repairs, Painesdale

c. 1943-1950

This document includes photos and blueprints of company housing in Painesdale, Michigan. It shows the range and variety of housing provided by Copper Range to its workers, from a simple 4-room dwelling to the more well-appointed physician’s residence.

Browne, Mary Jo Rowell. A Comparative Study between Miner’s Homes in Cornwall, England and the Miner’s Homes of the Cornish in Michigan. University of Minnesota, unpublished thesis, 1986.

Mine Worker Housing in Calumet, Michigan: 1864-1950; Historic and Architectural Survey. Keweenaw National Historic Park, Calumet, Michigan. 2000.

From the Copper Country Vertical Files:

Agriculture – Losses and Troubles: (Although the topic is a serious one, I had to smile at the grim-sounding subject heading for this file.)  In it are such things as a newspaper article entitled “Grasshoppers gobbling up U.P. crops,” and coverage of unusual periods of drought in the Keweenaw. A photocopy of the table of contents for the March/April 1984 issue of Michigan History magazine indicates that it was devoted to Michigan farming, including the Upper Peninsula.

Cities & Towns – Company Towns

Copper Miners – Accidents

Lumbering

From the Copper County Photo Files:

Agriculture

Building – Houses – Exterior

Cities & Towns – Calumet

Copper Mines & Mining – Underground Scenes

Lumbering – Camps Scenes

Social Life & Customs

Social Life & Customs – Celebrations

Social Life & Customs – Picnics

Mining Company Employment Cards

Houghton County Mine Inspector Reports

I selected a few representative samples of employment cards from both the Quincy Mining Company and the Calumet & Hecla Minnig Company. In particular, I used the C&H employment card of John Lakner, who was unfortunately killed on the job, because the Mine Inspector’s Report for Houghton County includes the incident in which Lakner met his demise on November 13, 1905. I wanted to illustrate to the students that with some sleuthing, a researcher can sometimes find documentation of an event or person in more than a single source. It is often the piecing together of different primary accounts that creates a more complete picture of a person, place, or event from the past.

Quincy Mining Company, Spy Reports

Box 341

There is a set of correspondence in the Quincy Collection that reveals how the mining company planted company spies among their workers in order to find out about any seditious activity brewing. Spies were obtained through several detective agencies, among them the famed Pinkerton Agency. Such men worked as miners and laborers, living like the men they observed. They reported back to the agency, who sent anonymous reports to the mining companies. They reports provide a glimpse into the daily activity of the working man, on and off-duty. Quincy wasn’t alone in this practice; C&H also employed company spies.

Houghton County Jail Records

Circuit Court Chancery Journals

These two volumes journal all matters that came before a judge of the court for a particular period of time, and document jail activity. It is possible to see evidence of labor unrest during periods of mass arrests for disorderly conduct, or to find out what kinds of behavior were considered socially disruptive. Some things don’t change much; assault and battery are still a crime. “Insanity” and “bastardy,” however, are dealt with in entirely different ways today than spending a night in the slammer. Some things change for the better.

A series of reports on Congressional Hearings on Conditions in the Copper Mines of Michigan were convened in response to the 1913 copper miners’ strike. These reports contain eyewitness testimony of life in and out of the Keweenaw copper mines, and are a real treasure trove of information about the lives of mine workers and their families almost 100 years ago.

These are just some of the sources found in the Archives that yield information about “The Working Man.” If you’d like to find out more, our reading room is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or feel free to drop us a line at copper@mtu.edu.