Mother Jones….. US National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mother Jones…..National Mining Hall of Fame Inductee 248.

Mary “Mother Jones” photographed in 1901

On September 14, 2019 Mother Jones was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colorado.

According to its website….

“The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum is a monument to the memory of the men and women who pioneered the discovery, development, and processing of our nation’s natural resources. Our mission is to “tell the story of mining, its people, its importance to the American public, and to society’s sustainability.”  Known as the “Smithsonian of the Rockies” and the “Premier Showcase of American Mining” the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum houses 25,000 square feet of interactive and informative exhibits sharing the evolving narrative of mining and its relationship to our everyday lives.”

Mother Jones is Inductee 248.

The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum at Leadville, Colorado, USA

Her induction citation read as follows;

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones is one of the most famous labor activists in the cause of economic justice. Her battle cry, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” truly said it all.  Her powerful speeches and knack for theatrics encouraged many to form unions and strike for fair wages and safe working conditions. Known as the “Miner’s Angel” for her advocacy on their behalf, Mother Jones’s activism set the stage for the labor and safety laws we all benefit from today. A champion of the working class, she organized numerous miners’ strikes against low pay, 12-hour days, 7-day work weeks, extreme mortality rates, and child labor, and railed against the servitude of company stores and company housing.  When she began organizing for the United Mine Workers Union in the 1890s, it had 10,000 members; within a few years, 300,000 men had joined.  Hearing Jones speak, you discovered the secret of her influence – she had force, she had wit, and above all she had the fire of indignation. Mother Jones’s impassioned work is recognized in the National Women’s Hall of Fame, U.S. Department of Labor’s Hall of Honors, and the Irish American Hall of Fame. 

The historian and sociologist James Loewen (Author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything your High School History Textbook Got Wrong) criticised the National Mining Hall of Fame a few years ago for inducting mostly white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant men, who were disproportionately engineers, executives and wealthy mine owners. Where were the miners, Loewen asked, where the immigrants and workers of colour, the labour organisers, the women.  Why was there no commemoration to the thousands who died in the mines?

Mother Jones biographer Prof Elliot Gorn at last year’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork, Ireland

Elliott Gorn, author of Mother Jones – The Most Dangerous Woman in America, who spoke at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork in 2019 stated

 

The Mining Hall of Fame has become a bit more inclusive in recent years, a little more attuned to worker exploitation, safety and environmental issues.  Hopefully, the inclusion of Mother Jones signals that the Hall of Fame will continue to pay more attention to the issues she long agitated about.”

Mother Jones continues to draw huge interest in the USA

Some news in from our friends at the Mother Jones Heritage Project in Illinois with thanks to Prof. Rosemary Feurer.

Firstly there’s an update on two exciting musical events

Tickets go on sale tomorrow, 4th February for what promises to be a highly impressive performance of the 2019 Siamsa na nGael – a Celtic Celebration of the Arts, Song, Dance and Stories.

Tickets are on sale beginning February 4. Post performance and sponsorship packages are available by calling 312-798-2348. The event takes place at the Old St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago.

Next there’s the equally exciting performance of the musical Mother Jones in Heaven by the inimitable Si Kahn who performed at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival in Cork in 2014.   The musical will be performed on Wednesday, March  27th 2019 at 7.00pm at the Irish American Center in Chicago.

There’s also the Mother Jones May Day Birthday Party on May 1st celebrating Mother Jones unofficial “American birthday” at the same venue, followed by the opening of a brand new Mother Jones exhibition by artist Lindsay Hand.  The exhibition and works are funded by the Government of Ireland.

Irish Ambassador to US visits Mother Jones’ grave in Mount Olive, Illinois

Ambassador at Monument

Ambassador Daniel Mulhall at the Mother Jones monument in Mount Olive

Irish Ambassador visits Mother Jones Monument to learn of Cork born Mother Jones

The Irish Ambassador to the United States, Daniel Mulhall has paid a historic visit to the final resting place of Cork born Mother Jones (born Mary Harris in Cork, Ireland in 1837)

Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, met with Rosemary Feurer, Northern Illinois University Professor and Director of the Mother Jones Heritage Project on May 4, 2018, at the historic Mother Jones Monument/Union Miners Cemetery in Mt. Olive, Illinois. His mission was to learn more about the history of this renowned figure and the special place where she is buried.

Ambassador Mulhall with Prof. Rosemary Feurer

Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, 1837-1930, was born in Cork, Ireland and was once known as the “most dangerous woman in America” as she fought for labor rights.

The meeting was arranged by Ireland’s Consul General to the Midwest, Brian O’Brien, who was present at the Heritage Project’s dedication of a historical marker to Jones in December 2017, southbound I-55 Coalfield Rest area adjacent to historic Route 66.  Ambassador Mulhall was in St. Louis, Missouri last week, when a break in his schedule allowed for a trip to this the monument, which is about an hour’s drive from St. Louis.

Ambassador Mulhall was impressed with the personal story of Mary Harris Jones, of her role in United States history. He remarked that he had been unfamiliar with her before, but found her a truly memorable. “It’s hard for us to contemplate the suffering” Mary Harris Jones endured as she experienced the Great Hunger, then further hardships as immigrants in the United States. It’s important to note that she did not give up, he suggested, and seemed to have an “indefatigable spirit.”

Mulhall 2

Ambassador Mulhall viewing the display boards produced by the Cork Mother Jones Committee

Ed Becker, President of Union Miners Cemetery board gifted Mulhall with the Miners’ Angel CD he produced of Mother Jones songs.  Mulhall was truly enthused by the CD, recognizing some of the artists such as Andy Irvine, who performed at the 2012 inaugural Cork Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

Also present at the meeting was Judy Simpson, board member of the Mother Jones Heritage Project, and Kate Klimut, project volunteer. Mike Katchmar, treasurer of the cemetery board, was also present at the meeting.

Ambassador Mulhall and Consul General O’Brien committed to helping the aims of the Heritage Project through the Embassy’s offices. He announced a grant to help fund the Project’s next historical marker on I-55 near Waggoner, Illinois. He also pledged to be present at the dedication of the marker and to promote knowledge of Mother Jones history in the United States through the United States Embassy.

Ambassador Mulhall with local friends of Mother Jones at Mount Olive

Mayor Skertich arranged a visit to the small Mt. Olive Mother Jones Museum. There Mulhall took much interest in the boards currently on display that were from Cork’s Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

The visit has been watched with great interest by Mother Jones enthusiasts in Ireland.   James Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee expressed delight at the visit of the Irish Ambassador to the USA, Mr. Daniel Mulhall to the grave of Mother Jones at the miners’ cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois on 4th May 2018

“It just again demonstrates the growing acknowledgement by increasing numbers of people of the unique role of Cork woman Mother Jones as a trade union leader over many decades in the USA and her contribution to the rights of workers in America.

She was indeed an extraordinary woman in her day and it is really wonderful to see her life and achievements being acknowledged by the Irish Ambassador, Mr. Mulhall during his visit to her resting place at Mount Olive.”

Ambassador meets “Mother Jones” with Rosemary Feurer

Stated Mr. Nolan.

The Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school will take place in the Shandon Historic Quarter from Wednesday August 1st to Saturday August 4th 2018.

 

Historic marker to Mother Jones unveiled on Route 66 near her Illinois resting place

The new road marker at I-55 south of Springfield, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Mike Matejka

The new road marker at I-55 south of Springfield, Illinois. Photo courtesy of Mike Matejka

A commemorative road marker in honour of Cork-born Mother Jones was unveiled near Mount Olive, Illinois on Monday (11 December) in the presence of the Honorary Irish Consul in Chicago, Mr. Brian O’Brien. 

Brian O'Brien

Irish Consul General Brian O’Brien (Photo courtesy of Mother Jones Heritage Project MJHP)

 

The marker itself will be seen by over a million people a year who come to take a break just off the world-famous Route 66.   After the ceremony, Mr O’Brien visited the indoor exhibition area at the location. They the group travelled to Mount Olive where Mr. O’Brien placed a wreath at the grave of Mother Jones in the Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive.

 

The wreath contained the words of her motto “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” in both Irish and English. There then followed a toast to Mother Jones at the grave which was celebrated using Red-Breast Whiskey. Congratulations to everyone involved in this amazing project.  

 

Group at the grave of Mother Jones at Mount Olive. (L-R): Brigid Duffy of Irish American Heritage Center,   Mother Jones Performer Amy Rueff of Illinois American Federation of Labor, Rosemary Feurer of Mother Jones Heritage Project and Consul General Brian O’Brien

 

Wreath

The Wreath with inscription in English and Irish

Our thanks to Prof. Rosemary Feurer of the Mother Jones Musuem for forwarding photos and other material.