Immortalizing Joe Hill

  On this date in 1915, IWW organizer Joe Hill (not Jewish) was arrested for murder in Salt Lake City, Utah. His trial was considered a frame-up and his conviction was widely protested (by Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller, among others). A writer of labor songs and parodies, Hill was immortalized in 1930 in the […]

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The Lawrence Textile Strike

The Lawrence, Massachusetts textile workers strike, led by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies), began on this date in 1912. The strike was called after employers cut workers’ wages in response to a new state law that had reduced the maximum work week of women and children from 56 hours to 54. The […]

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Jews Among the Wobblies

by Bennett Muraskin THE MOST RADICAL labor union in American history was the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), colloquially known as the Wobblies. Its active years were from 1905 to 1919, with some campaigns extending into the 1920s. Fierce government repression during and after World War I, along with vigilante violence and internal divisions, […]

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June 27: Helen Keller and the Jews

Helen Keller, the deaf and blind gentile woman who became an internationally admired figure after she gained language through her teacher, Anne Sullivan, was born in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, on this date in 1880. Keller was a socialist, a member of the IWW, an anti-war activist, a founder of the ACLU, and a birth-control and […]

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March 20: Boris Reinstein and the Passaic Weavers

Newspapers reported on this date in 1912 that Boris Reinstein, an Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) organizer in Detroit, had taken command of the Passaic, New Jersey strike involving some 10,000 mill workers. Reinstein had fled Russia’s tsarist police in 1901 and settled with his obstetrician wife Anna in Buffalo, where he worked as […]

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August 1: Morris Hillquit

Socialist leader, orator, and lawyer Morris Hillquit (Hillkowitz) was born in Riga, Latvia on this date in 1869. He moved with his family to New York at 17 and became a shirtmaker, although he never advanced beyond entry-level work. At 18 he joined the Socialist Labor Party of America and became involved in the internal […]

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May 11: Daniel De Leon

Daniel De Leon, leader of the Socialist Labor Party of America from 1890 until 1914, died on this date in that year at age 61. De Leon was born in Curaçao to Dutch Jewish parents, his father a military surgeon who died when his son was 12. De Leon spent his teen years in Europe […]

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July 8: Matilda Robbins and the IWW

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), known as the “Wobblies,” concluded their founding convention in Chicago on this date in 1905. Among the few visible Jewish women in the organization was Matilda Robbins (Tatiana Gitel Rabinowitz), a Ukrainian-born immigrant who connected with the IWW during the 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. […]

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