Soapboxers and Saboteurs
anniversary of the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World. Using photographs, posters, buttons, songbooks, letters, and small-run newspapers from the Labadie Collection of Social Protest Literature, the exhibit tells the colorful, influential, and tragic story of a "radical labor union."
My formal education somehow failed to introduce me to the history of social discontent in this country, but the Labadie Collection has begun to fill in some gaps. I realized I'd heard of IWW member Joe Hill ("I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night . . ."), but otherwise I was clueless. Just an hour at this exhibit, curated by Julie Herrada, is a moving reminder that people have risked and given their lives to fight for the rights of the working class.
Most active from 1905 to the end of World War I, the IWW organized some of America's most overlooked laborers, including unskilled miners, mill workers, and loggers. They reached out to immigrants (with newsletters in many languages), blacks, women, and itinerant workers.