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Red Metal to be Screened at Calumet Theatre



A new documentary, Red Metal: The Copper Country Strike of 1913, is coming to the Calumet Theatre on December 6.  The film is also being aired on local PBS networks around the country.  Ticket and time information for the Calumet Theatre screening will be released soon and I will post it on the calendar of events.

The following synopsis of the film was taken from the Calumet Theatre website.


This film explores an epic labor strike that devastated Michigan’s Copper Country — and haunts the American labor movement to this day. Among the notable elements of that strike was the death of 73 children at a union Christmas party. That tragedy (attributed to strikebreakers yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded auditorium) was immortalized by Woody Guthrie in his ballad, ‘1913 Massacre,’ performed by Steve Earle in the film. The event, known as the Italian Hall Disaster, remains the deadliest unsolved manslaughter in US history. The program traces the Copper Country strike from its hopeful start to that tragic conclusion. Between those endpoints, the film explores the intensifying battle between organized labor and corporate power, as well as related issues of immigration, technology, and unchecked corporate interests. Of equal significance is the strike’s cultural legacy, which influenced national discourse, music, and legislation during the Progressive Era and the New Deal. As the centennial of the Italian Hall Disaster approaches, a new generation of Americans has begun paying tribute to the victims, while also deliberating the strike’s causes, outcomes, and legacy. TVPG

Event Reminder – 4th Thursday in History Series

This photo of the Italian Hall memorial arch was taken in 2010.  The narrative sign in the background was recently updated to provide more historical information as well as remove some misinformation that was previously on the sign.  (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Hiltunen, 2010)

Photo of the Italian Hall memorial arch.  (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Hiltunen, 2010)

Tonight in the Commons Room at the Calumet High School Dr. Timothy Scarlett, director of Michigan Technological University’s Industrial Heritage and Archaeology Program, will discuss the archaeology survey his Industrial Archaeology students conducted at the Italian Hall Memorial Site for the National Park Service in the fall of 2012.  According to the Keweenaw National Historical Park the survey included “extensive background research on the three city lots of the memorial site, along with remote sensing survey and a bit of excavation to assess the integrity of archaeological deposits.” While there were no significant deposits revealed on the lot of the memorial site itself, there were archaeological features uncovered on the lots to the north and south. Scarlett, will explore their findings, how the information can be used, and also how his students helped the NPS staff to prepare for the centennial of the Italian Hall disaster.

The presentation, part of the KNHP Fourth Thursday in History Series, will take place at 7:00 pm tonight in the Commons Room at the Calumet High School, located at 57070 Mine Street, Calumet, Michigan. This event is free and open to the public.

Traveling Exhibit at Portage Lake District Library

One of the featured photos on the J.W. Nara exhibit, this image shows six miners underground. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Digital Archives, image# Nara 42-142)

One of the featured photos on the J.W. Nara exhibit, this image shows six miners underground. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Digital Archives, image# Nara 42-142)

The following is an update from Julie Blair of the Michigan Tech Archives about the current location of the J.W. Nara exhibit, “People, Place, and Time.”


“People, Place and Time: Michigan’s Copper Country Through the Lens of J.W. Nara,” a traveling exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, has moved to the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton, Michigan. The exhibit explores the life and times of Calumet photographer J.W. Nara and is open to the public through Dec. 16 during the library’s normal hours. The library is located on the Houghton waterfront, at 58 Huron Street, Houghton, MI 49931-2194.

John William Nara was born in Finland in 1874. He later immigrated to the United States and established a photographic studio in Calumet, Michigan, in the heart of America’s most productive copper mining region. In addition to posed studio portraits, J. W. Nara’s lens also captured the people, place, and time he experienced in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. Copper mining and industry are an important part of the story, but Nara also captured the Keweenaw’s rural landscape, including local farms, shorelines, lighthouses, and pastoral back roads.

The traveling exhibit, funded in part by descendants Robert and Ruth Nara of Bootjack Michigan, works from historical photographs held at the Michigan Tech Archives. Interpretive panels highlight the people, places, and times that J.W. Nara experienced during his lifetime and include material on urban life, farming, and the 1913 Michigan copper miners’ strike. A small exhibit catalog is available at no charge and includes three Nara photograph postcards from the collection.

For more information on the installation, contact the library at 906-482-4570 or via e-mail at Additional information about the exhibit is available from the Michigan Tech Archives at 906-487-2505 or via e-mail at

Evening Concert – Event Reminder


1913 Strike Singers

This is just a friendly reminder that the 1913 Strike Singers will be performing tonight at the Calumet Public School Library.  The concert will begin at 6:30 pm.  Song and attire will take you back in time to 1913 on this lovely fall day!  This event is free and all are welcome to attend.

Call for Papers: Retrospection and Respect: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Miners’ Strike Symposium

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)


The following is a Call for Papers by the organizers of the 1913-14 Copper Miners’ Strike Symposium:

Retrospection & Respect: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Miners’ Strike

A symposium to be held April 11-13, 2014 on the campus of Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA.

The Michigan Tech Archives and Copper Country Historical Collections of the Van Pelt Library of Michigan Technological University announces a symposium to be held in Houghton, Michigan, April 11-13, 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.  The symposium is co-sponsored by the 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.  The symposium is being held in conjunction with the 2014 meeting of Finn Forum, a professional association of researchers who investigate northern European migration to the United States.

We anticipate paper submissions from a range of disciplinary perspectives in the following and other topical areas:  analyses of labor organization in the historical and contemporary American and European mining industries, the impact 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, the impact of women’s activism on early twentieth century labor organization in mining and other industries, comparisons between labor activities and organizational practices over a range of mining commodities, the impacts of labor organizational and strike strategies on historical and current mining communities, contemporary remembrance and collective memory pertaining to labor/strike histories, 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.

Abstract submission is now open and will close on December 16, 2013.  Submitters will be notified of the acceptance of papers on January 16, 2014.  Please direct all inquiries regarding paper topics and presentation details to Dr. Sam Sweitz (  We will consider proposals for mini-symposia, consisting of three to five papers, organized around a central theme or project as part of this symposium.  Please contact Dr. Sweitz regarding any such proposals.

Abstracts should be submitted via email to, with the subject line “Symposium Proposal.” Abstracts should be no more than 250 words.  Accepted paper presentations will be 20 minutes in length.

The Michigan Tech Archives is offering funding for up to $750 through its Travel Grant Program for scholars to travel to the Archives to research its collections in order to submit a proposal for the symposium. Grant recipients whose papers are selected will be eligible for a second stipend to help allay the cost of travelling to the symposium in April. Please contact the Archives at to apply for grant funding.

The conference proceedings will be published through Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech, an open access platform. The creator(s) of papers shall retain their copyright, but will agree to a non-exclusive license to distribute and preserve their work in Digital Commons @ Michigan Tech.

1913 Massacre Screening at the DeVos Art Museum

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.


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.

KNHP Announces Seasonal Calumet Visitor Center Hours

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

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

The following is a press release from the Keweenaw National Historical Park:

Park Announces Calumet Visitor Center Fall and Winter Hours

(Calumet, MI) The National Park Service at Keweenaw National Historical Park has announced fall and winter hours for the Calumet Visitor Center, which is free and open to the public. During the month of October, the Center will be open Thursdays through Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. From November through April, the Center will be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Keweenaw National Historical Park invites residents and visitors to learn about the nationally significant story of copper mining on the Keweenaw Peninsula, the community of Calumet, the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company, and how the copper mining industry evolved over time.

National Park Service rangers and volunteers provide orientation to the Keweenaw Heritage Site partners as well as general park information at the Calumet Visitor Center. The Center also features a sales area for interpretive materials offered by the Isle Royale & Keweenaw Parks Association, which provides funds to enhance visitor experience and education throughout the park. A centerpiece of the facility is the 14-minute film, Risk and Resilience: Life in a Copper Mining Community and the two-floor exhibit of the same name.

The entire Copper Country community is encouraged to visit the free facility with friends and relatives to enjoy the 400-artifact exhibit that provides a historical perspective of life in the Calumet area. Descriptors from residents and visitors include “world-class,” “the best of the best in interpretive exhibits,” and “we keep going back for more!” The Calumet Visitor Center is conveniently located at 98 Fifth Street at the entrance to historic downtown Calumet, just two blocks off of Highway US-41 along Red Jacket Road.

For more information please contact Keweenaw National Historical Park at the Calumet Visitor Center: (906) 483-3176; or visit the park’s website at

Upcoming Fourth Thursday in History Event

An scene of the Victoria Mine shafthouse in Ontonagon.  Date unknown. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Keweenaw Digital Archive)

A scene of the Victoria Mine shafthouse in Ontonagon. Date unknown. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Keweenaw Digital Archive)

The Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Fourth Thursday in History series will feature a talk on Ontonagon and the 1913-1914 strike at the next installment. Bruce Johansen of the Ontonagon County Historical Society will discuss what happened in Ontonagon during the tumultuous days of the strike.

Johansen is a retired history teacher and author who specializes in the history of Ontonagon County. His talk will explore how Ontonagon’s residents reacted to the strike and also how the county’s communities were involved. He will also put the strike in context with another labor conflict of the era, the 1906 Rockland strike, which foreshadowed the district-wide labor struggle that took place a few years later.

This talk will be presented at 7:00 pm on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Visitor Center. Once you enter the park, follow the signs to the Visitor Center, which is located at 33303 Headquarters Road, west of Silver City, Michigan. It is free and open to the public. For further information, including specific directions to this event, contact Keweenaw National Historical Park at (906) 337-3168 or check the web at

For They Are Women’s Children Kick-Off Party



The directors, cast, and crew of the forthcoming dance-drama “For They Are Women’s Children” will host a reception to launch their Kickstarter project in support of the upcoming performances. The party will be Saturday, September 21 from 5-8 pm at the Copper Island Beach Club located at 101 Navy Street in Hancock.  “For They Are Women’s Children” is an original performance created by local performing artists in commemoration of the 1913 copper miners’ strike. The premiere of the performance is slated for October 25. Those who attend the kick-off party will have the chance to meet the producers, cast, and crew and hear everything about the exciting project.  Hors d’oeuvres will be provided and a cash bar will be available.

September Events

This banner was carried in one of the many parades of the Copper Country Strike of 1913-14. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Keweenaw Digital Archive)

This banner was carried in one of the many parades of the Copper Country Strike of 1913-14. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Tech Archives, Keweenaw Digital Archive)

Two new events have been added to the calendar for September. The Painesdale Mine and Shaft will host a 1913 Strike commemorative event on Saturday September 21st at 11:00 am. Michigan State Representative Scott Dianda and local author and historian Gary Kaunonen will present talks about the strike at the Albert Paine Memorial United Methodist Church in Painesdale. Refreshments and tours of the Champion #4 shaft, captain’s office, and hoist house to follow the speakers. Also, on Monday September 23rd the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock will host a poetry reading of Eelu Kiviranta’s poem, “The Copper Country Strike of 1913.” This event will begin at 7 pm.  Both events are free and open to the public.