Monday, October 21, 2013

Michigan Tech's Writing Across the Peninsula Conference to honor 1913-14 Copper Miners' Strike Centennial and feature working class issues

The Italian Hall in Calumet, Michigan, photographed the day after the Dec. 24, 1913, Italian Hall disaster (flag is at half-mast to honor the victims (mostly striking miners' children enjoying a Christmas party) who perished in a stairwell when someone yelled "Fire!" -- a false alarm. A documentary on this event, 1913 Massacre, will be shown at Michigan Tech on Thursday, Oct. 24, as part of the Writing Across the Peninsula Conference. The event is open to the public. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Technological University's Humanities Department, which is hosting the 2013 Writing Across the Peninsula Conference Oct. 24-26, is proud to announce conference events related to Copper Country history and the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike that are open to the public.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, a Concert of "Working Class Songs" and a Film Screening of the documentary 1913 Massacre (about the Italian Hall disaster) will be held in the Isle Royale Ballroom at Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Building (MUB). From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. the Thimbleberry Band will perform "Keweenaw Folk," and the 1913-14 Singers will present "1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike Songs." Screening of the documentary film 1913 Massacre will be from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Filmmakers Ken Ross and Louis Galdieri will be present at the screening. A $5 Entrance Fee will be requested at the door.

The Thimbleberry Band -- Oren Tikkanen and friends -- will offer a taste of Copper Country folk music. The band is an all-star group of performers who are preserving the working-class culture of Michigan via music. Tikkanen, a multi-instrumentalist, is and has been a member of a number of popular Upper Peninsula music groups and has assembled a group of accomplished musicians to highlight the strong immigrant inflection of Copper Country musical history.

The 1913-14 Singers will perform songs from the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike in period clothing. A can't miss, the 1913-14 Singers combine research and raw talent in performing songs from the strike era in an authentic manner. Alice Margerum, lead historian of the group, will also be presenting her research at the conference.

The 2013 Writing Across the Peninsula Conference celebrates and venerates the centennial of the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike and showcases scholarly inquiry into working-class issues.

On Friday, Oct. 25, the MUB will be the scene of presentations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as scholars and community members bring together some of the best topics, scholarship, and research on writing regarding the Upper Peninsula's working-class. Conference themes include the 1913-14 Michigan Copper Strike; working-class student writers, classrooms, and communities; new approaches to writing; women, writing, and the working-class; and writing and working across the disciplines.

The conference is open to the public, and registration is required for Friday's presentations. Register online at or in person in the ISLE ROYALE BALLROOM in the MUB. Registration includes the Thursday night events and a pasty lunch on Friday. Registration is $30. Students, part-time faculty, and retirees will receive a discount.

UPDATE: Click here to download the conference schedule.

In conjunction with the conference, a special event will be offered from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 -- Haunted Mine Tours at the  Quincy Mine Historical Site in Hancock.

The Quincy Tram prepares to start for an underground tour of the Quincy Mine in Hancock. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Tickets: ages 13 and above, $10; 12 and under, $5. Tour capacity is limited so advance tickets are recommended and may be purchased by calling Quincy Mine Tours
at 906-482-3101.

For questions on the conference contact Gary Kaunonen at

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