Saturday, April 06, 2013

"Tumult and Tragedy" 1913 strike exhibit to be in Painesdale through May 1

"Tumult and Tragedy" poster courtesy Michigan Tech Archives.

PAINESDALE, MICH. -- An exhibit exploring labor in Michigan’s historic copper mining district will be on display in Painesdale in April. "Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Strike," a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will be on display from April 8 through May 1. The exhibit is hosted by the Sarah Sargent Paine Historical Research Center in the Jeffers High School Library in Painesdale.

Large mining companies built libraries for employee use such as the Sarah Sargent Paine Library in Painesdale. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives.)

A special open house will take place Wednesday, April 10. Michigan Tech Archivist Erik Nordberg will present an illustrated talk titled "Company Houses Along the Picket Line," exploring the role of company-owned houses in the 1913 strike. The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the exhibit will be open to visitors. Support for this event is provided by the Sarah Sargent Paine Historical Research Center.

Housing located on company property rented at the rate of one dollar per room, per month, was one way to attract and retain preferred types of employees. Mining companies found married men more stable, as their wages were needed to support a larger family unit. Some companies encouraged families to take in single men as boarders. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives.)

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 and tragedy, 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 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 at

The exhibit project 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 or 906-487-2505, or the Jeffers High School Library at 906-487-0599.

No comments: