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1913 Massacre Screening at the DeVos Art Museum

by on October 6, 2013
Onlookers watch the Italian Hall being torn down in 1984. Photo is part of the cover for the 1913 Massacre film.

Onlookers watch the Italian Hall being torn down in 1984. Photo is part of the cover for the 1913 Massacre film.

1913 Massacre, a film inspired by a Woody Guthrie song, will be screened on Saturday, October 26, 2013, at 2pm at the DeVos Art Museum in Marquette. The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with filmmakers Ken Ross and Louis V. Galdieri. The event is in collaboration with the NMU chapter of the AAUP. The following is from the museum’s website about the event.

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1913 Massacre follows the lead of Woody Guthrie’s iconic song back to Calumet, Michigan, in search of the story of the Italian Hall disaster, which took place on Christmas Eve, 1913. In the midst of a bitter labor struggle between the powerful mining industry and mine workers, families of the mine workers gathered in the Italian Hall for a holiday celebration when someone yelled fire in the crowded hall. The resulting chaos and stampede left a tragic seventy-three people (including fifty-nine children) dead, many in the staircase leading to the exit. There was no fire.

The person responsible was never found and the disaster left the town grieving and divided without answers for years. In 1984, the building was demolished but the memories remain nearly one hundred years later in a town that still strongly identifies with a past rooted in the mining industry.

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One Comment
  1. jeff bettinson permalink

    The first time I heard about the Christmas Eve Massacre was in 1959. I was part of a 7th grade choir from Hancock that had song at a Christmas program in Calumet. I told my parents when I came home that I think the place we sang was called the Italian Hall, and they told me about the fire and deaths. At least that is the way I thought I remembered it, but then the Italian Hall isn’t there anymore, so I thought maybe I was just remembering something that didn’t happen. Seeing the picture of the Italian Hall being torn down in 1984 at least confirms that it was still standing when I thought (or think) I was there once in 1959.

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