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Strike Symposium and FinnForum X Update

A strike parade on 5th street in Calumet, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of the MTU Archives)

A 1913 strike parade on 5th street in Calumet, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of the MTU Archives)

Two Events, One Experience

100 years ago, our nation was rocked by incidents that shook our community to its core. Labor challenged management, neighbor fought neighbor, and children died.  Finnish immigrants played a major role in the strike at the heart of this turmoil, and have continued to be a major influence in the community today. Thus, it is only natural that the two events investigating these themes be brought together to form a unified experience.

Retrospection and Respect: 1913-1914 Mining/Labor Strike Symposium of 2014

Retrospection & Respect: Michigan’s 1913-1914 Mining/Labor Strike Symposium is to be held in Houghton, Michigan, April 11-12, 2014, on the occasion of the centennial of the cessation of the 1913-1914 Western Federation of Miners labor strike against copper mining companies in the Copper Country of Upper Michigan. Presenters will explore the role of labor organizations in the historical and contemporary American and European mining industries, the effect of historical European immigration on labor organization, the impacts of early twentieth century labor organizational practices and strikes on American managerial practices in mining and other industries, and women’s activism in early twentieth century labor organization in mining and other industries, as well as other topics connecting issues of ethnicity, identity, class, gender, and other cultural divisions to civic discourse and the historic struggle for civil liberties within industry.  The symposium is co-sponsored by Michigan Technological University’s Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections, the Department of Social Sciences, and the Department of Humanities, the Keweenaw National Historical Park, and Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center and Historical Archives..

FinnForum X: Work, Workers, and the Finn Factor in 20th Century Labor Relations: Strikes, Political Economy, and Transnationalism

The symposium is being held in conjunction with the 2014 meeting of FinnForum, a professional association of researchers who investigate northern European migration to the United States. Presenters will address a range of disciplinary perspectives on topics such as fraternal organizations in labor movements, the development of corporate power in mining districts, ethnic identity, and image-making through labor-themed music.  FinnForum X is sponsored by the Institute of Migration in Turku, Finland and the University of Turku’s History Department, along with Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center and Historical Archives, with support from Michigan Technological University’s Department of Humanities.

Special Exhibits and Events

To commemorate the event, several special exhibits will be on display in the area. The “Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-1914 Copper Strike” exhibit, produced by the Michigan Tech Archives, will be on display in the first floor lobby of the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library on Michigan Tech’s campus. This exhibit chronicles one of the confrontations between organized labor and mining companies. There will be even more to see at Finlandia University’s Finnish American Historical Archives’ reading room.  Displayed for the first time, courtesy of the Keweenaw National Historical Park,  there will be an exhibit of the two lithographs that were hanging on either side of the Italian Hall lodge room stage the night of the Christmas Eve disaster in 1913. One features the Italian royal family, circa 1908, and the other depicts a montage of the five founders of the modern Italian state, circa 1905.  In addition to the exhibits currently on display, the Finnish American Historical Archives’ will be featuring artifacts from the Italian Hall, as well as “People Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J. W. Nara (1874-1934),” produced by the Michigan Tech Archives.

On Thursday, there will two showings of a special feature for the Nordic Film Series at Finlandia University, the film “To My Son in Spain: Finnish Canadians in the Spanish Civil War.” Filmmaker Dr. Saku Pinta will be present to field questions.  Friday morning, the Finnish American Heritage Center will be sponsoring a morning open house with refreshments.  Later in the day, FinnForum X will be offering a 3 hour tour of the area on the Red Jacket Trolley company, departing from Finlandia University.


Attendees have the option of registering for any combination of three separate portions of the joint event. Registration for the presentation series is $30.00 and includes a Friday reception featuring special guest speaker David Salmela, concurrent sessions on Saturday from the 1913-1914 Mining/ Labor Strike series and FinnForum X series, as well as a light networking breakfast and lunch.  Registration for the keynote dinner, to be held Saturday evening, is $25.00.  FinnForum X is also offering a 3 hour tour of the area on the Red Jacket Trolley from 1:00-4:00 on Thursday for $15.00.  Seats for the trolley tour are limited, so attendees are advised to reserve a spot as soon as they are able. The registration deadline is April 9, 2014.  Walk-in registrants are welcome, but  meal tickets will not be available. Register now using the online store.


Event Reminder – Fourth Thursday in History Series


tyomiesThis month, as part of its Fourth Thursday in History Series, the Keweenaw National Historical Park will feature a talk by  local artist, Daniel Schnieder. The event will take place at 7:00 pm this Thursday, February 27, at the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock. If you have questions about this event please contact the arts center at 906-482-2333. The following event information is from the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Calendar of Events:

To mark the strike’s centennial, Daniel Schnieder published a broadside of Tyomies, a Finnish-language newspaper, and it’s account of the first day of the copper miners’ strike. Join Daniel as he explains the research and printing process used to create this limited edition piece, which includes the first-ever English translation. Copies of Tyomies will be for sale following the presentation.

Red Metal Screening at Finlandia Postponed



Due to weather concerns the screening of Red Metal and the Q&A session with author Steve Lehto, which was initially planned for Thursday, February 20 (tomorrow), has been postponed.  The new date is not set at this time.  Finlandia University is working on a new date that works for Lehto, hopefully sometime in March.  We will announce the new screening date as soon as we know.

Update on Retrospection & Respect: The 1913-1914 Mining/Labor Strike Symposium of 2014

Striking miners gather outside the Calumet office of the Western Federaion of Miners in 1913.  Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives, Image (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives)

Striking miners gather outside the Calumet office of the Western Federaion of Miners in 1913. Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Archives, Image (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives)

Things are moving forward for the copper strike symposium to be held at Michigan Tech this April. The symposium, Retrospection & Respect, taking place April 11-12, 2014 in Houghton, Michigan coincides with the centennial of the cessation of the 1913-1914 Michigan copper miners’ strike. Full conference registration is now open and the list of presenters has been announced. According to the symposium website, full conference registration is $30.00. This includes a Friday reception and Saturday sessions for both the symposium and FinnForum X concurrent sessions. Full registration also includes breakfast and lunch. Keynote dinner reservations can be purchased at the same time. The full conference registration deadline is April 9, 2014. Walk-in registrants are welcome, but there will be a limited number of extra meal tickets for walk-ins. For more information please visit the symposium website.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Michigan Tech Archives, the Department of Social Sciences, and the Department of Humanities at Michigan Technological University, the Keweenaw National Historical Park, and the Finnish American Historical Archive at Finlandia University.

Red Metal Screening



The documentary Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913 will be shown at Finlandia University next week on February 20. Steve Lehto, author of several books and film collaborator, will be available for a question and answer session after the film. The screening will be held on campus in the Chapel of St. Matthew, Thursday, February 20, at 4:15 pm.  This event is free to students and the general public. The film originally aired on PBS last year and has since been screened throughout the Upper Peninsula.

For those unable to attend the event, the film can also be viewed for free online through the PBS website.  Also, feel free to check out the New York Times review of the piece.

The Italian Hall Tragedy, 100 Years Later


The centennial of the 1913 Italian Hall Tragedy will be commemorated today at the Italian Hall heritage site. At 3:30 today the Village of Calumet and other community partners welcome surviving family members and the public to a centennial ceremony at the site and a gathering afterward.

The CLK Rotary club will be illuminating the site with 73 luminaries, which has been a tradition for several years. Rev. Laura Eaton of Christ Episcopal Church will also offer thoughts and hymns. The highlight of the ceremony will be a reading of the victims’ names.  A holiday wreath adorned with 73 white roses will be on the site, with the roses being offered to surviving family members attending the event.

The tragedy was not only the key tragedy in the 1913 copper strike, but it was also a nationally significant event, with news of the tragedy gracing front pages across the country.  In an effort to lighten spirits and provide a Christmas for striking miners’ children, the Western Federation of Miners Women’s Auxiliary hosted a festive gathering on the second floor of the Italian Hall building. Midway through the party, the cheerful gathering turned deadly after a calamitous rush for the stairway exit precipitated by a false cry of “Fire!”  73 people, mostly children, died in the stairwell slaughter. The tragedy remains a source of community grief, contested social memory, and scholarly research. The tragedy has not only been discussed in various historical texts, but it has also been the subject of songs, plays, films, museum exhibits, symphonies, and stage performances.

For more information about today’s ceremony please don’t hesitate to contact the Village of Calumet at (906) 337-1713. You can also visit the website of Keweenaw National Historical Park at for more information about the Italian Hall Site in general.

Open House and 1913 Strike Singers at Houghton’s Carnegie Museum

This photo of the 1913 Strike Singers, superimposed onto a historic scene, was taken from the Carnegie Museum Facebook page.

This photo of the 1913 Strike Singers, superimposed onto a historic strike scene, was taken from the Carnegie Museum Facebook page.

Houghton’s Carnegie Museum will be holding a Holiday Open House tonight from 6:00-8:00 pm.  The 1913 Strike Singers, who have performed in various venues throughout the centennial commemoration of the 1913 copper strike, will be performing at the open house as well. The concert portion of the open house begins at 6:30. The public is strongly encouraged to join in the festivities, including song, exhibits, and the display of the traditional gingerbread village.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information please contact the museum at (906) 482-7140.