100 years ago today, the Finnish language newspaper Työmies or The Worker announced:
This morning in Michigan’s Copper region, a miner’s strike broke out which, according to information received from various locations up to this point, has stopped work in all of the mines with few exceptions.
The strike that began in late July of 1913 would last through the winter of 1913-1914. It would meet with strong opposition — sometimes violent opposition — and leave deep scars.
The children’s party at the Italian Hall on Christmas Eve, 1913, was organized by women who supported the striking miners, and Woody Guthrie’s account of the Italian Hall disaster in “1913 Massacre” comes directly from one of those women: Mother Bloor.
The stories told in our film, the survivor’s accounts of Christmas Eve, 1913, the tearing down of the Italian Hall in 1984 and the erection of the arch in 1989 , Woody’s discovery of the story in 1941, Arlo’s return to the place his father sang about — all those stories begin 100 years ago today.
To mark the strike’s centennial, Daniel Schneider has published a beautiful letterpress edition of Työmies from the first day of the strike. The limited edition broadside includes the first-ever English translation of that text along with the original Finnish text. Schneider notes that “socialist-unionist perspective” presented in Työmies “differed markedly from that of the English-language kept press,” which tended to do the bidding of the mining company, Calumet and Hecla.
If you are interested in learning more about this literary, historical and printing project, contact Schneider at tyomiesproject [at] gmail.com. He’s selling a limited edition of the broadsides for $40 each and plans to use the proceeds to support future Työmies translation work and the restoration of letterpress printing equipment.
And take a little time today to reflect on these headlines and the special perspective on the 1913 strike, the Italian Hall disaster and American history they offer.