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A service of the Illinois State Library and the Office of the Illinois Secretary of StateILLINOIS DIGITAL ARCHIVES

Social Movements

Mining and Mother Jones in Mount Olive browse-->>

"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living", her words still inspire labor organizers, but who was Mother Jones? Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, known as the Miners' Angel, was once described by West Virginia District Attorney Reese Blizzard as "...the most dangerous woman in the world." She described herself in these words: "I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser." In reality, she was all of these things and more in her role as one of the foremost labor organizers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

She claimed to have been born in Cork, Ireland on May 1, 1830. Although a recent (2001) biography by Elliot Gorn states that she was actually born on August 7, 1837. It is unclear why she changed the date of her birth to make it earlier. In 1867, she lost her husband and children in a yellow fever epidemic and in 1871, she lost everything she owned in the great Chicago Fire. It was at this time that she became involved with the newly-formed Knights of Labor and began traveling around the country working for or with labor.

Her growing interest in labor union issues and radical politics led her to become active as a radical labor organizer. Some of the activities in which she was involved include: 1877, helped with the Pittsburgh railway strike; after 1890, became involved in the struggles of coal miners and became an organizer for the United Mine Workers; 1898, helped found the Social Democrat Party; 1899, organized the coalfields of Pennsylvania; 1905, was present at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.

This small collection includes photographs of mines and mine workers from Mount Olive as well as some Mother Jones memorabilia - including the letter she wrote to the miners of Mount Olive, requesting that "I hope it will be my consolation when I pass away to feel I sleep under the clay with those brave boys." Mother Jones died on November 30, 1930 and is buried in the Union Miners Cemetery at Mount Olive, Illinois. Her grave is near that of "those brave boys" she referred to - the victims of the Virden mine riot of 1898.

Register of Illinois Prisons browse-->>

Registers of Prisoners for Alton, Joliet and Menard State Prisons 1833-1908

This database provides an index for the Registers of Prisoners received at the Illinois State Penitentiary at Alton Prison (1833-1841; 1847-1858), the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet (ca. 1858-1901) and Southern Illinois penitentiary at Chester (Menard) (ca. 1865-1908). A complete history of Illinois prisons is accessible here (http://archon.ilsos.net/?p=creators/creator&id=36). Registers provide information about the prisoner, including personal history and family history.

Digitization of this collection was developed pursuant to a grant awarded by the Illinois State Library, a Department of the Office of Secretary of State using state grant funds.

For more information, see Department of Corrections - RG 243 | Illinois State Archives.

Skokie's Attempted Nazi March Archive browse-->>

Newspaper articles, letters, and audio recordings document the attempt of the National Socialist Party of America (Nazis) to march in Skokie in 1978.

Social Justice and Activism at Elmhurst College browse-->>

Since its founding in 1871, Elmhurst College has been a community where spiritual life, humane values, mutual respect, service to others, and responsible citizenship are practiced. Throughout its history, these values have led the College and its students to participate in the social activism of twentieth century America. Particularly since the 1920's, discussion and debate in the college newspaper, speakers brought to campus to discuss important current issues, and student activism both on and off campus have characterized the College's engagement in social issues. Events at Elmhurst College have reflected on a smaller scale the national scene, and thus provide an interesting context for studying the social movements of twentieth century America.

The collection includes photographs, excerpts from the college newspaper, and other supporting papers from the Elmhurst College archives. The largest part of the collection focuses on the social movements of the 1960's - civil rights, student activism, Vietnam War - but materials from other eras, including the 1920's and World War II are included.