About Mother Jones

We include some selected publications, songs, music, theatre which relate to Mother Jones. There is much much more and if we have not included something you consider relevant please contact us.  

  • Gorn, Elliott J. (2002). Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America. New York: Hill and Wang. 

This publication tells the story of Mary Harris, Mother Jones, from her time in Cork from 1837 to her death in Maryland in 1930. It rescued the life and achievements of this amazing US labour leader, who had slipped through the cracks of history. The book is an honest, human, readable and very scholarly work, meticulously researched and detailed and presented in such a way as to give everyone access to all his available sources. (87 pages of source references) If you want to experience the full life of Mother Jones, an emigrant from Ireland, and learn of her role in the people’s history of America, this book is essential reading.

  • Fetherling, Dale. Mother Jones, the Miners’ Angel: A Portrait (1974) Southern Illinois University Press
  •  Jones, Mary Harris (1925). The Autobiography of Mother Jones. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co. 

The 1996 edition of the autobiography contains an important Foreword, by the feminist labour writer Meridel LeSueur entitled “Mother Jones: A Woman Warrior”. It contains an Afterword entitled “Notes On The Most Dangerous Woman In America” by Fred Thompson, the IWW historian, which provides an overview of her activities and an informative and helpful critique of the autobiography. 

  • Cordery, Simon. (2010). Mother Jones: Raising Cain and Consciousness. University of New Mexico Press.

Professor Simon Cordery spoke at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Thursday 1st August 2013 at the Firkin Theatre Shandon.

Raising Cain and Consciousness.
  • Foner, Philip S. (1983) (Editor) Mother Jones Speaks, Collected Writings and Speeches. Published by Monad Press, New York, for the Anchor Foundation.

Philip Foner (1910-1994), Professor of History at Lincoln University was the author or editor of over 100 publications dealing with the role of the American working class in politics. His forte was in editing, locating and bringing together collections of documents, letters, speeches and articles relating to labour and social justice activists. Blacklisted in the anti-communist purges in the 1940s, he was sacked from City College; instead he wrote about radical labour history long ignored by mainstream educational institutions, providing the pathways for later public historians to investigate. His work on Mother Jones is a treasure trove of original material along with notes of his own comments. 

  • Steel, Edward M, (1988). (Editor). The Speeches and Writings of Mother Jones. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburg.
  • Steel, Edward M, (1985). (Editor) The Correspondence of Mother Jones. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburg.
  • Steel, Edward M, JR (1995) (Editor) The Court-Martial of Mother Jones. The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington.

Edward M. Steel Jr. was professor of history at West Virginia University. Professor Steel discovered a long suppressed transcript of the proceedings of this unprecedented trial by military court-martial of Mother Jones and 47 miners which was held at Charleston, West Virginia from 7th March to 20th March 1913. This is a record of what took place during those two weeks, when martial law was imposed on the area, even to this day the details of the findings and the verdicts of this military tribunal remain uncertain. Edward M Steel, an authority on Mother Jones, died on 7th April 2011 at the age of 92.   

  • Orear, Leslie F. (2002) (Editor). Mother Jones and the Union Cemetery, Mount Olive, Illinois. The Illinois Labour History Society in collaboration with Charles H Kerr Publishing Company, Chicago.
  • Atkinson, Linda. (1978). Mother Jones…The Most Dangerous Woman In America. Crown Publishers, Inc., New York.
  • Wake, Dorothy L. (2001). Mother Jones…Revolutionary Leader of Labor and Social Reform. Xlibris Corporation.
  • Ruby, Lois. (2012). Strike! Mother Jones & the Colorado Coal Field War. Filter Press, LLC Palmer Lake, Colorado.
  • Currie, Stephen. (1997) We Have Marched Together…..The Working Children’s Crusade. Lerner Publications Company, Minneapolis.
  • Gay, Kathlyn. (2006) American Workers. Mother Jones. Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Greensboro, North Carolina.
  • Hawxhurst, Joan C. (1994) American Troublemakers series, Mother Jones: Labor Crusader. Raintree Steck-Vaughan Publishers, Austin, Texas.
  • Long, Priscilla. (1976) Mother Jones, Woman Organizer. The Red Sun Press, 33 Richdale Ave, Cambridge, Mass.
Author, Elliott Gorn at the Cork festival in 2019.

8.1 Articles:

Schniderman, Saul. (2000/2001) Mother Jones’ Final Sojourn: My search for the House where “the Miners’ Angel” Died. Labor’s Heritage, Quarterly of the George Meaney Archives Vol11/No 2 Autumn 2000/Winter 2001.

Keeney, Chuck. (2016) It’s in the Blood: Interviews with West Virginia Mine Wars Families, The Dwyer Family from In These Hills, the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum Journal Volume 1 Issue 2. A publication of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum.

www.wvminewars.com.  The excellent West Virginia Mine Wars Museum is located at 401 Mate Street, Matewan, WV 25678. This museum is a treasure trove of history and is well worth a visit online where you can explore a number of documentaries which provide an account of the town’s mining and union history or you can visit in person if in the area. The people are finally in control of their own history.

There are hundreds of articles relating to Mother Jones and the period in American labour history in which she worked. Reference to many of them can be found in Elliott Gorn’s comprehensive reference section. For what is available on wider American labour and working class history a visit to www.labourhistorylinks.org edited by Rosemary Feurer is worthwhile.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee wishes to acknowledge the access provided to the Mary Harris “Mother Jones” Collection of documents at the Catholic History Research Centre and University Archives. The Catholic University of America. Many of the letters to and from Mother Jones can be viewed by visiting its website. We are grateful for this access and wish to thank those who look after this material. 

The Committee also wishes to thank the US Library of Congress which provides free access to many of America’s newspapers. It is a valuable resource for research.  

For an educational account of the life of Mother Jones visit www.sparknotes.com which provides a concise account in ten sections along with notes for students and teachers. This website is owned by Barnes & Noble.

 8.2 Mother Jones is Remembered in Song, Story and Theatre.

Mother Jones is fondly remembered in so many songs associated with the mining communities in Appalachia America and in recent times in a growing number of songs in Ireland. Singers such as Nimrod Workman, a former miner, sang of Mother Jones’ Will, and spoke proudly of the toughness and radicalism of Mother Jones. In an interview in July 1973 with author Priscilla Long, Nimrod who knew Mother Jones insisted that George Jones was a union organiser who was killed in the mines.

Sarah Ogan Gunning and Hazel Dickens from mining areas sang of the terrible working conditions and health problems such as black lung disease being experience by the families, friends and neighbours in the coalmines.

“We will have to join a union,

They will help you find a way

How to get a better living

And for your work get better pay.”

From Dreadful Memories by Sarah Ogan Gunning (Come All You Coal Miners, 1973 Rounder records).

Carl Sandburg in the American Songbag 1927 suggests that the she in “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, When She Comes” relates to Mother Jones arriving in remote Appalachian coal mines to organise the union.

The Appalachian Redneck historian Dale Hawkins goes further and states that the mining families sang it in the key of G when it was safe for Mother Jones and union miners to appear and in the key of D when there was present danger from the armed mine guards.

After her death in 1930, Gene Autry, the Texas singing cowboy, recorded “The Death of Mother Jones” on 25th February 1931.

According to folklorist Archie Green, author of Only A Miner, two other recordings of the Death of Mother Jones were made by miners from West Virginia. Walter Seacrist, from Holly Grove who grew up in a tent colony during the Paint Creek/Cabin Creek mining wars, and James Farrance a miner and folksinger from Monongah, the site of the mining disaster in 1907, in which 362 miners died.

“Sprinkle Coal Dust On My Grave”, written in 1933 by Orville J. Jenks a UMWA miner from Welch, West Virginia. (Collected by UMWA Folklorist, George Korson).

Utah Phillips performed “The Charge of Mother Jones” from his album Making Speech Free. Utah Phillips and Ani Difranco performed “The Most Dangerous Woman” from their album Fellow Workers.

In his 2010 album, Abocurragh, Andy Irvine, Irish folksinger and songwriter performed “The Spirit of Mother Jones”. His performances of this track were the highlights at the 2012 and 2013 Spirit of Mother Jones festivals.

In the notes to this album  Andy writes “I visited her grave and monument in the Union Miners Cemetery of Mount Olive, Illinois about 12 years ago. Unfortunately it was a long drive and by the time I got there it was pitch black on a cold winters night. I viewed the monument and the cemetery at midnight by the headlights of the car, expecting – and hoping – to meet a Union ghost at any moment! The Spirit of Mother Jones and I were walk leaders on the 2005 Afri Walk in Co Mayo. The theme that year was Defending the Rights of Migrant Workers. The song was written for that event.”

Ed Pickford, the folksinger from Shiney Row in Co Durham has written and recorded “Mother Jones – No More Deaths for Dollars.”

‘Miners’ Angel’, a tribute to Mother Jones is a CD compilation of songs related to Mother Jones and mining was released with proceeds going to the Mother Jones museum. The wonderful compilation includes some 35 tracks and is available from minersangel.com and motherjonesmuseum.org

“Welcome Mother Jones” written by Jenkin D. Reese in 1902 and sung to Mother Jones when she visited Mahaska in Iowa in 1902. May also have been performed while Mother Jones was organising the New River Field Strikes in West Virginia in 1902. The only known recording appears in Blair Pathways, a Musical Exploration of America’s Largest Labour Uprising, and a CD of some 20 tracks relating to the mining strikes in West Virginia. On this CD, it is sung by the Stray Birds to the tune of Roisin the Beau (or Bow!). http://www.blairpathways.com

Many Irish and American patriotic songs are performed to this air including the stirring War of Independence song, The Boys of Kilmichael which commemorates a successful battle in West Cork in November 1920

“Mother Jones in Heaven” is a musical written by Si Kahn, singer, songwriter and trade union/environmental activist. Si performed in a concert, along with the late Anne Feeney, at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on the 31st July 2014. Mother Jones in Heaven to view online at http://www.caffelena.org/tips/.

“Can’t Scare Me…the Story of Mother Jones”, a one-woman play written and performed by Kaiulani Lee. It has been performed in Colorado, Cambodia and Bangladesh. Kaiulani performed the play at the Firkin Theatre in Shandon on Friday evening 31st July 2015.

Victory at Arnot is a musical work for a chamber group and narrator by composer, Eleanor Aversa. It tells the story of how Mother Jones achieved victory in the coal miners’ strike in 1899-1900 in Arnot, Pennsylvania, and celebrates the role of women and the power of non-violent resistance.

Mother Jones and the Children’s Crusade was a musical based on her work in Pennsylvania in 2014 and was performed at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in New York City.

Come All You Coal Miners, recorded at An Appalachian Music Workshop at Highlander Centre, October 1972. Songs by Nimrod Workman, Sarah Gunning, George Tucker, Hazel Dickens. Rounder Records 4005.

8.3 Cork Songs of Mother Jones.

“Children of Mother Jones” was written and recorded by the late Pete Duffy and sang for the first time by Pete at the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on 30th July.

“The Ballad of Mother Jones”, written and sung by Therese MacCarthaigh on 31st July 2012 for the Cork Singers’ Club at the first Mother Jones Festival.

“Mother Jones…A True Cork Rebel” written and sung by Richard T Cooke for the 2020 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

“Mine Workers’ Angel” written and sung by John Murphy at the 2019 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

“Mother Jones” written and sung by Karan Casey at the 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

8.4 Documentaries.

Mother Jones: America’s Most Dangerous Woman by Rosemary Feurer & Laura Vazquez

Mother Jones America’s Most Dangerous Woman, 2007. Rosemary Feurer and Laura Vazquez. (www.motherjonesmuseum.org)

Mother Jones and Her Children, 2014.  Frameworks Films and the Cork Mother Jones Committee.

“Mother Jones and her Children”

The Mine Wars, 2016. Director Randall MacLowry. www.pbs.org American Experience. It tells the story of struggle of the miners in West Virginia 1920/21. Among those interviewed is James Green whose book The Devil in Here in These Hills features.

Palikari….Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre,2014,a film from Greece by Lamprini Thoma and Nickos Ventouras.

The Ludlow Massacre and the assassination of Greek immigrant and labor leader Louis Tikas (Elias Spantidakis) is one of the decisive moments of the American labor movement, an event that connects, a century later, the United States of 1914 to the labor and immigrant demands of Greece of 2014. Lamprini Thoma and Nikolaos Ventouras examined the memories, the history and the legacy of Louis Tikas and the Ludlow massacre in Colorado, talked with prominent historians, artists and descendants of Ludlow miners, and documented the scars left by this tragedy on the body of working America. The Irish Premiere took place on 31st July 2014 at the Firkin Theatre. Lamprini and Nikolaos attended and spoke about the importance of Louis Tikas. 

2014 Runtime: 92 min 

http://www.palikari.org/

Left to Right: Lamprini Thoma, Director of Palikari, Ger O’Mahony and
Rosemary Feurer at the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

Hell Raisers Journal, http://www.weneverforget.org

This contains some very relevant articles in relation to the labour movement at the beginning of the 20th century in America.

8.5 Plays and Novels and even a Magazine.

Gilbert, Ronnie. (1993.) Ronnie Gilbert on Mother Jones…Face to Face with the Most Dangerous Woman in America. Conari Press, Berkeley.

Heidish, Marcy. (2010) A Novel. A Dangerous Women…Mother Jones, An Unsung American Heroine. Dolan & Associates.

Ash, Jerry. (2013) Hellraiser. Mother Jones: An Historical Novel. APS Publishing, Sun City Centre, Florida.

Long, Priscilla. (1976) Mother Jones, Woman Organiser And Her Relations With Miners’ Wives, Working Women And The Suffrage Movement. South End Press, Boston.

“Mother Jones”.

A radical bi-monthly magazine and news website has been published in the USA since February 1976. It is named after Mother Jones and originally had a quote, a reference to and an image of Mother Jones located close the opening pages. During the early 70/ 80s editions, it stated “Sit down and read, educate yourself for the coming conflicts” – Mary Harris Mother Jones (1830? – 1930) Orator, Union Organiser and Hell-Raiser.”

This gradually disappeared beginning with the Mother Jones image and quote in November 1986 edition and there is no reference to Mother Jones in the modern print editions. There is a mention online under More About Us FAQs.

It is a non-profit magazine published by the Foundation For National Progress. It publishes articles and comment on politics, environmental issues, crime and justice and seeks the truth, fairness and justice in accordance with the aims of Mother Jones. The magazine operates a news website http://www.motherjones.com, which reports on many of these issues.

8.6 For Younger Readers.

  • Kraft, Betsy Harvey. (1995) Mother Jones…One Woman’s Fight for Labor. Clarion Books, New York.
  • Winter, Jonah. & Carpenter, Nancy. (2020) Mother Jones and Her Army of Mill Children. Schwartz & Wade Books, New York.
  • Kulling, Monica, Writer. Sala, Felicita, Illustrator. (2016) On Our Way to Oyster Bay….Mother Jones And her March For Children’s Rights. CitizenKid.
  • Colman, Penny. Mother Jones and the March of the Mill Children. (1994) The Millbrook Press, Brookfield, Connecticut.
  • Koestler-Grack, Rachel A. (2004) The Story of Mother Jones. Chelsea Clubhouse, Philadelphia.

Mother Jones is included in K pedia Kids Encyclopedia Facts)

https://kids.kiddle.co/Mary_Harris_Jones

8.7 Further Reading:

  • Green, James. (2015). The Devil Is Here in These Hills (Virginia’s Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom). Atlantic Monthly Press, New York.
“The Devil is Here in These Hills” James Green

This account of the bloody Appalachian Coal Wars presents the definitive account of a period in American history which is not taught in schools or is even generally understood. Yet this is the real history of the many Irish who emigrated along with other nationalities to the new world. It is public history at its best as it tells the true story of the exploitation and suppression of working people and yet it brilliantly tells the story of an extraordinary solidarity and the power of the trade union movement.

James Green spoke in Cork at the 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.  

James Green: 2014 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival
James Green at Shandon in 2014

Moore, Marat (1996) Women in the Mines. Stories of Life and Work. Twayne Publishers, New York. Chapter 1 Barbed Wire and Easter Lace: The Ludlow Massacre by Helen Korich Krmpotich.

This book tells the stories of coalfield women from 1914 to 1994 who worked in the mines, based on interviews. Defying stereotypes and prejudice, the women members of the UMWA became pioneers for women everywhere working in non-traditional female employment. Author, Marat Moore is a former associate editor of the United Mine Workers Journal and worked as an underground miner in Mingo County, West Virginia.

Marat Moore spoke in Cork at the 2012 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

Emmons, David M. “Immigrant Workers and Industrial Hazards: The Irish Miners of Butte, 1880-1919.” Journal of American Ethnic History, vol. 5, no. 1, 1985, pp. 41–64. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27500415. Accessed 11 May 2021.

  • Bricklin, Julia. (2018) Polly Pry, The Woman Who Wrote the West. The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.
  • Crowley, John. Smyth, William J. Murphy, Mike. (2012). Atlas Of The Great Irish Famine. Cork University Press, Cork.
  • O’Mahony, Michelle. (2005) Famine in Cork City. Mercier Press, Cork.
  • Fink, Walter H. (1914). The Ludlow Massacre UMWA.

This book published just after the Ludlow Massacre sets the narrative for what took place on that faithful Easter Monday. It is available to read online from a number of sources. Walter Fink was a journalist who had previously worked with the Denver Republican newspaper. He was employed for a period by the Colorado office of the UMWA and paid 35 dollars a week per Ed Doyle. Doyle the secretary-treasurer of District 15, was questioned in some detail about the origins of this book by Frank Walsh at the CIR Hearings on December 12th 1914 (pages 6934-6961).

https://archive.org/details/ludlowmassacrere00finkrich/page/n99/mode/2up

Ammons, E. (1914). The Colorado Strike. The North American Review, 200(704), 35-44. Retrieved May 18, 2021, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25120300.

The Sam Gompers’ Papers. www.gompers.umd.edu.

For a full list of the AFL union leadership and officers since it’s foundation.

  • Ō Murchadha, Diarmuid (1993) Gaelic Land Tenure in County Cork: Uibh Laoghaire in the Seventeenth Century, from Cork History & Society, Geography Publications, editors Patrick O’Flanagan and Cornelius G. Buttimer.  
  • Brown, Kevin. (2013) Passage To The World, The Emigrant Experience 1807-1940. Seaforth Publishing.
  • Walsh, Tom. Essays in the History of Irish Education,The National System of Education 1831-2000, edited by Brendan Walsh. Palgrave MacMillan UK 2016. National University of Maynooth.
  • Cross, Ira B. (1931) Frank Roney, Irish Rebel & California Labor Leader, An Autobiography. University of California Press.
  • Slums, Factories and Child Labour – Florence Kelley 1859-1932” Mother Jones Cork Website
  • The Radical Irish Diaspora – Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the Rebel Girl” Mother Jones Cork Website
“Atlas of the Great Irish Famine”
Crowley, John. Smyth, William J. Murphy, Mike. (2012)

Concluded for the moment. June 25th 2021.

Acknowledgements:

We are indebted to all those who have searched for and written about Mother Jones over the years. This story details the sources of the information as we tell it.

All photographs and other work are acknowledged where we have located the original sources. The work of sourcing some photographs is ongoing. The story is written on a not for profit basis by the committee to encourage people to read about Mother Jones, as there is no book or publication available in Ireland to provide the information. We believe this constitutes fair usage.

Should anyone claim they have not been acknowledged, we will be happy to do so as soon as possible and if they request, we can delete the material immediately. Please also alert us to any errors and we will correct them as soon as possible.

“A Story of Mother Jones” is intended for the ordinary reader, for our schools and for young students who may wish to read about her life or seek further information from the sources provided. Its purpose is to add to what is known about her, both from an Irish perspective and the background of the Irish diaspora. We encourage everyone, everywhere to seek her out.

Sadly once these Irish emigrants fled their native shores, landless and hungry, they were largely forgotten. Our intention is to simply acknowledge all of our forgotten Irish emigrants, especially those who fought for social justice in their new home.