Subject of the Month

A monthly display featuring resources on specific thematic subjects.

Joe Hill and the Industrial Workers of the World, November 2016

 

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Selector: Meghan Courtney, Kristen Chinery, and Elizabeth Clemens

Joe Hill and the Industrial Workers of the World

The Industrial Workers of the World was founded in 1905 and is a member-run union for all workers. The IWW organizes all workers producing the same goods or services into one union instead of pooling them by skill or trade. Numbered among its members (known popularly as Wobblies) are lumberjacks, miners, farmhands (especially migrant workers), sailors, and workers in textile mills. Since their founding, the IWW has made significant contributions to labor struggles around the world. The union is proud of its long-standing tradition of fierce defense of the first amendment and breaking down barriers of race, ethnicity, and gender. Since its founding in Chicago, the IWW has moved its headquarters around the country.

Joseph Hillstrom, known as Joe Hill, was a famous activist for the IWW who specialized in songs and poetry to inspire the movement. He was born in 1879 in Sweden, emigrated to the United States in 1902, and was ultimately put to death in November 1915. Though he was accused of crimes unrelated to his activism, Hill's death made him a martyr to many in the Wobbly movement.

Websites

Books in Print

Articles and Ebooks

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Videos

Archival Collections

Many original, primary source documents are held at Wayne State's Walter P. Reuther Library that tell the story of Joe Hill and the Industrial Workers of the World. These materials span many formats, from photographs to pamphlets to correspondence and more. These collections are open to the public in the Reuther Library Reading Room. 

Oral History Interviews

Artwork and Artifacts

Portrait of Joe Hill

Painting of Joe Hill by M. Baer, 1918

IWW Beaded Purse

A hand-beaded IWW purse, made by an imprisoned IWW member who was convicted as a result of the Centralia Incident. The the word “Solidarity” is woven into the beadwork and the piece features the IWW “sabo-tabby,” c. 1910s.

IWW Beaded Banner

A hand-beaded IWW banner, made by an imprisoned IWW member who was convicted as a result of the Centralia Incident. The banner features the “sabo-tabby” and a shimmering gold and black IWW logo. The words "Education, Organization, Emancipation" are incorporated into the beadwork, c. 1910s.

Joe Hill, Memorial Poster

A memorial poster for Joe Hill, created by celebrated I.W.W. artist Carlos Cortez in 1979.