1913 Strike Exhibit Moves To Ontonagon

“Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Strike,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will be on display from December 1 through January 5 at the Ontonagon County Historical Society Museum at 422 River Street in Ontonagon, Michigan. The museum will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

A special open house will take place on Saturday, December 1. Bruce Johanson will provide a presentation about “Ontonagon County and the 1913 Strike” at 1:00 p.m. and the exhibit will be opened to visitors.

The exhibit explores a turbulent period in Michigan’s historic copper mining district. On July 23, 1913, members of the Western Federation of Miners took to the streets over grievances about pay and working conditions. The strike was marked by violence, including the deaths of more than 70 people, mainly children during a Christmas Eve party at Calumet’s Italian Hall. Local mining companies refused to recognize the union, however, and the strike finally ended in April 1914. The conflict, sorrow, and tragedy of this confrontation between organized labor and mining companies affected local residents from all walks of life, created headlines across the nation, and continues to resonate in Michigan’s Copper Country today.

The “Tumult and Tragedy” traveling exhibit consists of 12 panels and includes photographs, excerpts from newspapers, documents, and songs from the strike era. A free giveaway brochure contains links to related web content about the 1913-14 Michigan copper strike online here.

The exhibit will remain on display at the Ontonagon Museum through Saturday, January 5 and then tour to five other locations in Houghton and Baraga Counties.  The exhibit was made possible through a $14,500 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by Michigan Technological University, Cranking Graphics, and Dr. Robert and Ruth Nara.

For further information, contact the Michigan Tech Archives at copper@mtu.edu or 906-487-2505, or by contacting the Ontonagon County Historical Society at ochs@jamadots.com or 906-884-6165.