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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Historical Essays on Events, Issues, People

IWW Yearbook

Explore a day-by-day database of more than 1800 strikes, protests, campaigns, and arrests as recorded in the Industrial Worker and other newspapers from 1906 to 1920.

Mexican Workers in the IWW and the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM),
by Devra Weber

Mexican workers organized IWW locals across the Southwest in conjunction with the PLM, the revolutionary movement led by Ricardo Flores Magon. This article tells the story of the movement and details the remarkable lives of two Wobbly PLM organizers, Fernando Palomares and Rosendo Dorame.

Local 8: Philadelphia's Interracial Longshore Union
by Peter Cole

Local 8, which organized the city’s longshoremen, was the largest and most powerful IWW branch in the Mid-Atlantic and, most memorably, the union’s most racially inclusive branch.

The Justice Department Campaign Against the IWW, 1917-1920
by Stephen Parfitt

On September 5, 1917, agents of the Bureau of Investigation, in conjunction with local law enforcement, raided every office of the IWW across the United States within the space of twenty four hours, with possibly the widest-ranging search warrant in US history. They took five tons of material from the national headquarters of the IWW in Chicago alone, and took tons more from 48 local offices and the homes of leading Wobblies.

Red Harbor: The IWW in Grays Harbor, Washington
by Aaron Goings

The IWW was unusually effective in Grays Harbor, the lumber capital of the world, buiilding lasting support especially in the large Finnish-American community. The IWW grew dramatically during the Aberdeen Free Speech Fight of 1911-1912 and won wage increases and then then 8-hour day in 1912 and 1917 lumber strikes.

Upton Sinclair, the 1923 San Pedro IWW Maritime Strike, and the Battle of Liberty Hill,
by Lauren Coodley

Sinclair's effort to help striking IWW maritime workers exposed the brutality of the Los Angeles police department and helped launch the ACLU in California.

Wobbly Wheels: The IWW's Boxcar Strategy
by Arianne Hermida

Stealing rides on freight trains was critical for the IWW, making it possible for the union to move activists to sites of struggle. After 1915, the IWW also developed a strategy for using boxcars as organizing spaces, recruiting new members, collecting dues, requiring red cards to ride.

Everett Massacre Aftermath: The Battle to Control the Story
by Matthew Anderson

In the months following the clash at the Everett docks another clash unfolded as many different groups and interests fought to establish what happened and who was to blame. This was a battle to control the "story" and ultimately shape the history of the Everett massacre as it would be understood by later generations. .

The Songbird and the Martyr: Katie Phar, Joe Hill, and the Songs of the IWW
by Sentera Orwig

The story of IWW "songbird" Katie Phar, a 10-year-old Spokane girl, and her correspondence with Wobbly martyr and songwriter, Joe Hill, brings to life the powerful synthesis of music and organizing that the IWW employed in the years before World War I when the radical organization was becoming influential in the Pacific Northwest.

Industrial Suicide:Understanding the 1924 Split of the Industrial Workers of the World
by Cameron Molyneux

Battered by vigilantee violence and government prosecutions, the IWW was on its way to recovery in the early 1920s before the disastrous split at the 1924 convention. This essay examines the years leading up to the split while assessing the issues and structural dynamics that contributed to the crisis.

Faces of the IWW: The Men Arrested after the Everett Massacre
by James Gregory

Photographs of rank and file members of the IWW are rare. In the aftermath of the November 5, 1916 Everett massacre, Seattle police arrested 294 IWW members who had survived the gun battle. Seventy four were held for trial, facing murder charges. They were photographed as they were booked in Seattle and the Everett Public Library has preserved and digitized these remarkable images.

I.W.W. members killed
by DJ Alperovitz

This timeline and maps detail the deaths of more than 170 I.W.W members who were killed while organizing, striking, taking direct action, or for carrying a Red Card. These members and bystanders were shot, stabbed, beaten, tortured, starved, strangled, lynched, drowned, disappeared, or executed.

The Industrial Workers of the World in the Seattle General Strike
By Colin M. Anderson

To many of the locals in Seattle the strike was the beginning of an attempted revolution by the Industrial Workers of the World and others with similar radical tendencies. The insistence of these conservatives that the IWW was behind the strike, together with the state of the organization and its place in the labor movement at the time, has created a mystery as to just how much of a role the “Wobblies” played in the Seattle General Strike.

Depression-Era Civil Rights on Trial: The 1933 Battle of Congdon Orchards in the Yakima Valley,"
by Mike DiBernardo

The Industrial Workers of the World had led the organization of farmworkers in Washington's Yakima Valley. On August 24, 1933, strikers faced 250 farmers, organized as a militia to put down the incipient union organizing among fieldworkers.

The IWW in the Fields 1905-1925
by Oscar Rosales Castañeda

The 1933 battle between the IWW and farm owners was part of a long history of farmworker organizing in Washington's Yakima Valley, as well as efforts by radicals to form unions in the region.

Mark M. Litchman: A Courageous Lawyer in a Time of Civil Unrest and Depression,
by Kiyomi Nunez

Litchman was one of Washington's most ardent legal defenders of labor radicals and civil rights advocates. Throughout his long career he defended IWWs and other radicals while fighting for Socialism and civil rights.

The IWW, the Newspapers, and the 1913 Seattle Potlatch Riot
by James Larrabee
By the late afternoon of July 19, 1913 the Seattle headquarters of the Industrial Workers of the World lay in ruin. Along with two Socialist Party offices and a Socialist newsstand, it had been looted and its contents dumped into the street and burned by a mob of locals and visiting sailors.

Manufacturing a Menace: Labor Espionage in Seattle, 1919-1920
By Shaun Cuffin Edward W. Graham worked at Skinner & Eddy Shipyards, where he was a card-carrying member of Boilermakers Local #104 and Shipbuilders Industrial Union Local #325 of the Industrial Workers of the World. He was also a spy who sent daily reports to the leadership of Associated Industries, an employer group that led the campaign to defeat organized labor in the wake of the General Strike. This report uncovers the spies, explores their methods, and assesses their impact.

The Industrial Worker 1909-1930
by Chris Perry and Victoria Thorpe The Industrial Worker is the principal newspaper of the IWW. Initially published in Spokane beginning in1909, it moved back and forth between that city and Seattle over the next several. From 1916 to 1931 it was based in Seattle, after 1931 in Chicago. Here is a detailed report.



View interactive maps of IWW strikes, campaigns, arrests. More than two dozen maps, charts, and tables show the historical geography of the IWW from 1905-1927

Photographs & Documents

Browse collections of photographs and documents from the Labor Archives of Washington and University of Washington Libraries