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Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

IWW Yearbook 1911

This is a database of campaigns, strikes, and labor related events as recorded in the Industrial Worker. It was researched by Nick Bragg. Start by reading his highlights report. Below that is the database.

Highlights 1911 by Nick Bragg

            1911 saw the IWW leading a number of new free speech fights, along with railroad and  lumber mill strikes. In addition, the Industrial  Worker devoted extensive coverage to a pair of murder trials. Free speech fights were waged in Fresno, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Aberdeen in Washington State. These campaigns each started when IWW members were arrested for holding street corner meetings. Determined to defend their right to organize and the principle of free speech, the Industrial Worker  put out the call for members to join each fight. IWW members responded, often traveling great distances to take their turn violating the local ordinance and joining fellow workers in jail. Many of the 1911 free speech fights ended as victories for the IWW and for free speech.

The other continuing story of the year centered on the 1910 bombing of the L.A. Times building in Los Angeles which took the lives of twenty-one people. John J. McNamara, an official in the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers Union (AFL), and his brother James were charged with the bombing. Despite the competition between the IWW and the AFL, the Industrial Worker followed the case closely.  The brothers had been at large since the October 1, 1910. The L.A. Times hired a private detective, William J. Burns, to find the fugitives. Burns was able to locate the McNamara brothers and successfully extradite them from Indiana, but on questionable legal grounds. The controversy surrounding the “kidnapping” of the McNamara brothers and the subsequent trial occupied the newspaper and the IWW through much of 1911. In the end, James McNamara admitted to bombing the Times building and was sentenced to life in prison. while John admitted to another bombing and received a 15 year sentence.

[read full report/close report]

The articles referenced in the database can be found in the online copies of Industrial Worker digitized by Marty Goodman of the Riazanov Library Project at

Date Title Place State Event Description
1/12/1911 Win the Strike - Strike! Strike Tacoma WA Drillers, muckers and most other people working on the tunnel of the Tacoma Municipal Power Plant were on strike against Savage & Nichols following a wage cut. Several strikers joined the IWW as a result, and more were likely to follow
1/12/1911 Special from Fresno Fresno CA Jack Whyte was convicted of being a reporter for workingmen's newspapers, namely The Industrial Worker, and Solidarity
1/19/1911 On to Fresno - Fresno or Bust Fresno CA 50 men were imprisoned for publicly speaking on workers' rights. Fresno, Calif. police attacked the mob reportedly at the instruction of the mayor.
1/19/1911 Visalia Officers Coming for Suspects Visalia CA Six men were wanted in connection to a robbery. Among their posessions were newspaper clippings relating to IWW violence. Men were suspected to be heading to Fresno to take part in conflict between police and IWW.
1/26/1911 Murderer Gets his Reward Fresno CA A man who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to 14 years of prison was pardoned by a judge after he attacked IWW members in jail.
1/26/1911 Imprisoned Without Trial Fresno CA James Doyle, an IWW man, was released from prison after 51 days of confinement without a trial. The judge determined there was no case against the man.
1/26/1911 Free Speech Fight in Fresno Fresno CA Sources confirm 115 IWW members were in jail for public demonstations.
1/26/1911 Fresno Rock Pile Fresno CA Fresno established a "rock pile system" for getting rid of vagrants. 
1/26/1911 IWW Owns a Press New Castle PA "Solidartiy" purchased its own printing press for printing and distributing propaganda.
2/2/1911 Yearning for that Rockpile Fresno CA Four IWW men who pleaded not guilty to violating a city ordinance by speaking on public streets were sent to jail for not making bail.
2/9/1911 An IWW Strike Won't Quit Union New York NY Shoe manufacturer A. Garside & Co. was willing to agree to terms with striking workers if the workers agree to drop affiliation with IWW. The workers refused.
2/9/1911 Fire Engines not for Torture New York NY Local No. 791 of New York Long-shoremen held a protest against police brutality against IWW in Fresno. They claimed constitutional rights were being impeded upon.
2/9/1911 Workers in Detroit Protest - Police Brutality Detroit MI Members of Detroit IWW protested police brutality against IWW protesters in Fresno Calif., and sent resolution to governor of California and chief of police of Fresno.
2/16/1911 Workers Gaining Ground in Fresno, Calif. Fresno CA 30 IWW members had been released from jail with no trial in Fresno, Calif. 91 members were still in jail out of "130 or 135" original arrests dating back to Nov. 28, 1910.
2/16/1911 A Correction and Some Facts Regarding Fresno Free Speech Fight Fresno CA 122 total IWW members had arrested in Fresno, Calif., 27 plead guilty, and 27 were released without a trial. 83 non-members were also in jail for the protests. Up to this point, the most non-members is jail at one time was 105.
2/23/1911 The Latest From Fresno Fresno CA IWW members held street rallies on Feb. 9 and 12
2/23/1911 The Lying Press Fresno CA Fresno newspaper falsely reported IWW leaders in Fresno jail received $3 wages while other IWW members suffer. It also reported that only 45 IWW members still remained in Fresno jail.
2/23/1911 Train Captured by IWW Crowd Portland OR Aproximately 500 IWW members broke into three Southern Pacific freight cars headed to California. Their final destination was Fresno .
3/2/1911 The Army on the Road Hornbrook CA A letter sent by an IWW member attached to the group that broke into freight cars toward Fresno reported: only 150 men were in the group, the freight cars weren't broken into but had left open, they stopped along the way to give speeches and received provisions from townfolk along the way, they got off the train in Ashland, Ore. and walkd over the pass toward California.
3/2/1911 Among Friends on the Road Dunsmuir CA The traveling group of IWW members reacheed Dunsmuir, Calif., but the reported number of travelers lessened to 80. The group continue south speaking publicly and rallying support from townspeople. They were often provided free food and lodging by local sympathzers.
3/2/1911 To the Tax Payers of Fresno, California An open letter to the people of Fresno stated the goals of the Free Speech Fight in Fresno and illuminated popular opinion of the time that the IWW was a group of rabble rousers.
3/2/1911 On to Fresno is the Cry St. Louis MO A group of hobos began traveling from St. Louis to Fresno upon an invitation by St. Louis IWW organizer Carl Rave to join in the Free Speech Fight.
3/2/1911 Jail Full of IWW's Fresno CA The Fresno jail was to be reported full by the sheriff. 117 men were in jail and the city was running out of resources to deal with the jailed population.
3/9/1911 Just Before the Victory Fresno CA Fresno sheriff said the jail was overcrowded and police would not admit any more people that are charged with breaking city ordinances. In reaction, two IWW speakers were beaten by citizens and a public lynchings were threatened by another citizen.
3/9/1911 What Scared the Master Fresno CA IWW member Joseph Sorenssen lead a group of 100 citizens, only three of which were IWW members, across town to join the Free Speech Fight in Fresno.
3/9/1911 IWW Man Beaten at Fresno Fresno CA An IWW member was beaten and dragged through three city blocks as a result of public speaking. The sheriff refused to book the beaten man due to jail overcrowding. The man was suffered a broken nose among other injuries and was sent to a local hospital.
3/9/1911 Civilization Redding CA The traveling group of IWW members reached Redding, Calif. The group was said to number 100.
3/9/1911 A New Local Black Diamond WA A new IWW chapter of 40 coal miners was started  in Black Diamond, Wash. after defecting from UMWA.
3/16/1911 The Closing Sounds of the Fresno Fights Fresno CA IWW members and all others were allowed to speak publicly. The Fresno Free Speech Fight effectively ended.
3/23/1911 An IWW Man Needs AId Brooklyn NY Striking shoemaker Vincent Buccafori awaited trial under suspicion of murdering his shop foreman.
3/30/1911 Capitalist Sluggers get Trimmed in Missoula Missoula MT An IWW secretary was punched by an army lieutenant during a public speaking engagement. The secretary, lieutenant and one other IWW man was arrested. The charges were later dropped by a local judge.
4/6/1911 On the Road to Fresno Chico CA An in-depth recounting of the motives behind the IWW members hopping a train down to Fresno during the Free Speech Fight.
4/20/1911 A Slave Has No Rights Brooklyn NY IWW member Vincent Buccafori was sentenced to 10 years in Sing Sing prison for murdering his shop foreman. The murder was claimed to be in self-defense.
4/20/1911 A New Local - Special from Mt. Vernon Mt. Vernon WA A new charter has been established and was expected to enlist 60 members.
4/20/1911 Lumberjacks New Local International Falls MN Local No. 428 formed in International Falls, Minn.for lumberjacks.
4/20/1911 St. Louis IWW at Work St. Louis MS IWW members in St. Louis hired Eugene V. Debs to speak to raise money for Vincent Buccafori
4/27/1911 The Battle of Mexicala Mexicala, Mexico MX Famed IWW leader W.M. Stanley was shot to death in a battle near the U.S. and Mexico border.
4/27/1911 Attempt to Break up Meeting San Diego CA A policeman and a drunken sailor attempted to break up an IWW anti-war rally. The sailor pretended to have been punched in the jaw by the IWW speaker. It was determined that the sailor had falsified his statement to the police, and the IWW speaker was not charged.
5/4/1911 Must Buccafori Serve Ten Years in Prison Brooklyn NY More information is provided regarding the circumstances of the Buccafori murder.
5/11/1911 From Duluth Duluth MN Socialists and IWW members marched in a large May Day parade.
5/18/1911 Seattle Has a Big May Day Seattle WA IWW held their first May Day parade with an estimated 1,200 people in attendance.
5/18/1911 Big May Day in San Francisco San Francisco CA IWW and other socialists were active in a large peaceful May Day Parade.
5/18/1911 Must an Innocent Man Die in Sing Sing? Brooklyn NY More background is provided on the Buccafori murder case.
6/1/1911 Begging for Justice Los Angeles CA IWW members are wanted in connection to Los Angeles Times building. 
6/1/1911 The Master Class is Trembling with Fear Los Angeles CA More information is provided on growing tensions regarding Los Angeles Times explosion. Newspapers report a fear of the possibility of a general strike.
6/1/1911 Afraid to Strike More information is provided on the threat of a general strike to pressure for the release of McNamara brothers and other prisoners.
6/8/1911 Gurly Flynn Arrested Philadelphia PA IWW organizer Elisabeth Gurly Flynn was arrested in Philadelphia during a public speaking engagement and charged with obstructing the highway and breach of the peace. She requested a trial and was subsequently held on $400 bail.
6/15/1911 Sliugged at Newhall, Cal. Newhall CA An IWW spearker was attacked in Newhall, California. Reinforcements were called to help promote free speech.
6/22/1911 Gurly Flynn Acquitted Philadelphia PA Elisabeth Gurly Flynn was acquited of charges of obstructing the highway and breach of the peace.
6/22/1911 Free Speech Denied Kansas City MO An IWW speaker was arrested on charge of disturbing the peace, but was released with a $50 fine.
6/29/1911 Slaves are Aroused Spokane WA Numerous union members including IWW marched in the streets of Spokane, Wash. speaking on the McNamara brothers.
7/6/1911 Expense of Shoe Strike Brooklyn NY The strike fund for the IWW shoeworkers in Brooklyn (Dec. 19,1910- April 8, 1911) totalled $7,386.66.
7/13/1911 A Traitor Unmasked Spokane WA An IWW member admitted to working as a scab in the building industry. 
7/20/1911 Free Speech Walla Walla WA IWW members were jaiiled in Walla Walla, Wash. for speaking in public. The article also suggests issues brewing in Duluth, Minn.
7/20/1911 The McNamara Trial Los Angeles CA The trial of John J. McNamara was set for Oct. 11,1911 in Los Angeles. The IWW threatened a general strike on the date of trial.
7/20/1911 Another Scab A scab was reported as a previous member of Local No. 45.
7/20/1911 Vigorous Means, Eh? Walla Walla WA An IWW speaker was arrested for disorderly conduct and sentenced to 10 days in jail in Walla Walla, Wash. for talking to a jailed IWW member through prison bars.
7/27/1911 "Old and Only in the Way" Fruitvale CA IWW member J.A. Anthony commited suicide and bequeathed 14 lots in northern Fuitvale, Calif. worth an estimated $3,000 to the IWW.
8/3/1911 Equal Before the Law Walla Walla WA Police arrested an IWW man for arguing with a prohibitionist on the street in Walla Walla, Wash. Also, "John Doe" was identified as John Smith
8/3/1911 The IWW Picnic in Los Angeles Los Angeles CA An IWW picnic was held in Los Angeles, where a china set was auctioned for $13.65 to raise money for the Buccafori Defense Fund.
8/10/1911 Masters Afraid of IWW, Close Down All Mills in Southern States New Orleans LA The Sawmill Operators' Assoc. met in New Orleans to work together to bust labor unions. A result of the meeting was to immediately close 11 mills in Louisianna, putting 3,00 men out of work. 300 additional mills in Louisianna, Arkansas, and Texas were at risk of closure as well. IWW workers had been actively sought out and fired at the mills leading up to the meeting.
8/10/1911 Workers Must Stick IWW members affected by the lumber mill closures were urged to stay strong despite hardships. The sawmills were closed because the IWW and sawyers had the attention of the Sawmill Operators' Assoc.
8/10/1911 Free Speech Be Won Yakima, Walla Walla, Odessa WA Two IWW members were jailed for public speaking in Walla Walla, Wash. and "free speech" has been banned in Odessa, Wash. IWW members planned to march on those two cities as well as Yakima, Wash. after the harvest.
8/10/1911 Arrested for Agitating Odessa WA An IWW member was arrested and sentenced to 30 days in county jail for agitating for better working conditions.
8/17/1911 Tacoma Will Grow With Free Speech Fight Tacoma WA Tacoma threatened to pass a city ordinance against public speaking engagements that would block public streets. IWW said they would fight the law with a  free speech fight the same as Spokane, Wash. and Fresno, Calif.
8/17/1911 From Fort Bragg, Cal. Fort Bragg CA All Local No. 426 IWW members were fired from Mendocino county logging companies. 12 sawmills were threathened and jobless IWW members were urged to help in the fight.
8/24/1911 Arrested in Boise, Idaho Boise ID A Spokane, Wash. IWW member, Max Dezettel, traveled to Boise to speak publicly in the hopes of creating a new IWW chapter. Dezettel was arrested, then choked and punched by police on the way to jail. He was released on $100 bail.
8/24/1911 Southern Pacific Men Want Some Freedom Southern Pacific (SP) railroad workers submitted a demand for an 8-hour day, higher pay, abolition of personal records, physical exams, etc. Many SP workers were joining the IWW.
8/24/1911 Victory for the IWW Odessa WA Farm workers in Odessa, Wash. demanded and received raise from $1.75 per day to $2.50 to $3.00 depending on position. 
8/24/1911 IWW Raises Wages at Harrington Harrington WA Agitation led to an increase in wages from $2.50 to $3.00 in Harrington, Wash.
8/24/1911 Persecution in Frisco San Francisco CA Union Labor police beat and arrested 10 IWW men at a public rally in San Francisco. 2,000 people gathered to protest and said they would protest again.
8/24/1911 Kangarooed in Boise Boise ID More information on the arrest of Max. Dezettel is provided.
8/31/1911 Persecution of IWW Men in Denver, Colo. Denver CO An IWW man was arrested in a police effort to break up public speaking by the IWW, but it didn't stop speakers.
8/31/1911 Promises Like Pie-Crust Boise ID Max Dezettel was released from a Boise, Ida. jail after four days and promised not to speak in public any more. He held a street speaking event shortly after his release despite his promise.
8/31/1911 Police Have No Case Against the IWW Men San Francisco CA Correction to last week's article: 11 men were arrested. Five men were released on $10 bail, two had their cases dismissed. Correction: 200 sympathizers gathered to protest the arrests.
8/31/1911 Extradited The Indiana detective who kidnapped McNamara, James Hossick, was extradited to Indiana.
8/31/1911 IWW Wins Victory in Frisco San Francisco CA A group of Italian workers held a street meeting to rally other Italian workers to join the local IWW. Police were in attendance, but were friendly and did no interfere.
9/7/1911 Gompers to Aid Southern Saw-Mill Owners A report from the meeting of the Southern mill owners outlined their plans to weed out IWW members, and label them scabs to favor AFL affiliation.
9/7/1911 IWW Men are Arrested Minneapolis MN Speaker Alfred Johnson and two other IWW members were arrested in Minneapolis on charges of disorderly conduct for public speaking.
9/7/1911 From Duluth, Minn. Ironwood MI An IWW man was arrested for public speaking, held for three weeks to await trial, then was released and had his case dismissed.
9/14/1911 IWW Grows Rapidly Railroad workers were starting to join the IWW in mass.
9/21/1911 Harriman Lines Will Not Grant Demands Harriman Lines, a railroad company, refused to acknowledge unions and their demands. They said it made no sense to pay workers more when the market presents them with favorable hiring conditions.
9/21/1911 Wenatchee for Freedom Wenatchee WA 20 IWW members were arrested for complaining about working conditions. The judge released them, but the police said they intended on driving all IWW out of town.
9/21/1911 Must Not Talk to "Our" Men Wenatchee WA Police raided barns where IWW were suspected to be living, confiscated propaganda, and arrested 27 IWW men. The judge released all men.
9/28/1911 Must Not Talk Says Judge Wenatchee WA Correction: 25 men were arrested in Wenatchee on charges of vagrancy. IWW literature was found on a number of the men. The judge released all of them and said he had nothing against IWW, but he didn't want them stirring up trouble among employed men.
9/28/1911 Bakers Join the IWW San Francisco CA Aproximately half of San Francisco's Italian bakers (100) joined the IWW.
10/5/1911 Strike When McNamara Goes to Trial Los Angeles CA IWW members were called to strike on Oct. 11 when McNamara goes to trial. McNamara is charged with murder as the sole individual responsible for The Times bombing
10/12/1911 Union Scabs Working on Harriman Lines An estimated 30,000 workers struck against Harriman Lines for failing to meet their demands.
10/12/1911 Afraid of IWW 37 lumber mills in eastern Texas and Western Mississippi had been shut down with more to come.11,000 men out of work.
10/19/1911 J.B. McNamara on Trial Los Angeles CA J.B. McNamara hearings began. They were expected to last between four and six weeks. A jury had been thoroughly vetted for association with labor movements.
10/19/1911 The Price of Scabbery Southern Pacific Railroad offered perks to long-time employees for "continuous service" in excess of 10 years. Joining a strike would break continuous service.
10/19/1911 IWW Men Help Strikers IWW members joined in the Harriman strike, distributing propaganda and attempting to help organize. The strike was expected to continue for a long time.
10/26/1911 Free Speech Fight is on in Kansas City Kansas City MO Speaker Frank H. Little and all who admitted IWW membership were arrested in Kansas City.
10/26/1911 Free Speech Fight On Kansas City MO Seven more IWW members were arrested on charges of obstructing the sidewalk and disturbing the peace during a street speaking.
11/2/1911 Where is Your Freedom? Kansas City MO Speaker Charles Ripley and two other IWW members were arrested in Kansas City for street orating. 
11/2/1911 Say!! The Lumberjacks Are Organizing!! Lumberjacks began to organize in response to lumber mill closures.
11/9/1911 No Fines Paid to K.C. Kansas City MO Six IWW men were charged with blocking the sidewalk and were told to pay $50 each to the city.
11/9/1911 K.C. Afraid of Agitation Kansas City MO IWW men were being kept separate from other men in the jail because police were concerned of further agitation.
11/9/1911 Praying for Victory in Harriman Strike Harriman showed no sign of giving in to workers' demands. An end to the srike is still not in sight.
11/9/1911 K.C. Fight in Closing Round Kansas City MO Five policemen showed up at street rally, moved crowd, but made no arrests despite taunts by the IWW speaker to arrest him.
11/16/1911 Discharged for Talking Eureka CA 16 workers were fired for talking about unionizing with IWW support.
11/16/1911 Before the Victory Kansas City MO Kansas City police said they would not arrest any more IWW members for public speaking as long as they obey the law.
11/16/1911 Sabotage is Working Bawley CA IWW members cut the air lines of all rail cars on the Brawley sidetrack and posted IWW stickers on the cars.
11/23/1911 Various Articles An entire edition of the Industrial Worker was dedicated to promoting the movement for all lumberjacks to consolidate and unionize under the IWW.
11/30/1911 Aberdeen Tries Water Cure Aberdeen WA Fire fighters turned fire hoses on a crowd of people outside of city hall protesting the arrest of five IWW speakers earlier that night.
11/30/1911 IWW Man Out too Late Salem OR Two IWW men were arrested for breaking city curfew in Salem, Ore.W.E. Clark received a 15 day sentence and Gordon Napier received five days. Both were refused trial by jury.
11/30/1911 Free Speech Fight is on in Aberdeen Aberdeen WA The mayor has deputized 500 men to chase out all IWW members from Aberdeen.
11/30/1911 500 Thugs in Aberdeen Aberdeen WA More on the activities of the 500 deputized men and the Aberdeen police state. A curfew law was imposed and 50 IWW men were caught and released outside of the city.
11/30/1911 McNamara Trial Los Angeles CA An account of the jury selection in the McNamara trial claimed that people selected for the jury had prejudice against McNamara before the trial and admitted during the selection process that they believed McNamara to be guilty.
11/30/1911 Smith is Paroled Carson City NV Former IWW leader J.W. Smith was released from prison in Carson City, Nev. He was originally convicted for his role in a restaurant keeper.
11/30/1911 Lumber Trust is Desparate Aberdeen WA Volunteer fire fighters turned their hoses on a crowd of rioting citizens following the arrest of some IWW men.
11/30/1911 IWW Man Pardoned Salem OR W.E. Clark was released from jail and asked to leave the city.
11/30/1911 To Aberdeen or Bust The Spokane IWW chapter declared 100 men will head to Aberdeen to help in the free speech fight.
12/7/1911 McNamara Makes Startling Confession Los Angeles CA The McNamara brothers admitted to blowing up the L.A. Times and Lewellyn Iron Works buildings.
12/7/1911 Aberdeen Full of Thugs Aberdeen WA The volunteer "thugs" succeeded in driving all IWW members out of Aberdeen, Wash. They IWW members are said to be waiting on the outskirts of town for the right time to return.
12/7/1911 From San Diego, Cal. San Diego CA Aproximately 3,000 IWW and AFL members marched in support of the McNamara brothers.
12/7/1911 The Fall of Kansas City Kansas City MO An IWW man was arrested in Kansas City for street speaking.
12/14/1911 The Fight in Aberdeen Aberdeen WA A detailed account of the changes in Aberdeen, Wash. city ordinances that led up to the free speech fight is provided.
12/14/1911 Driven From Aberdeen Aberdeen WA Five IWW men were quietly arrested in Aberdeen, Wash.The local chapter suggested that any agitators making the trip to Aberdeen protest in the street so citizens can witness the injustice.
12/14/1911 Latest from Aberdeen Aberdeen WA Seven IWW members were arrested at the IWW hall in Aberdeen, Wash. Five were reported arrested in another account.
12/14/1911 The "Industrial Worker." The Industrial Worker was reported as doubling in print runs since the beginning of the year.