“Tumult and Tragedy: Michigan’s 1913-14 Copper Strike,” a traveling
exhibit created by the Michigan Tech Archives, will be on display from
December 1 through January 5 at the Ontonagon County Historical
Society Museum at 422 River Street in Ontonagon, Michigan. The museum
will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
A special open house will take place on Saturday, December 1. Bruce
Johanson will provide a presentation about “Ontonagon County and the
1913 Strike” at 1:00 p.m. and the exhibit will be opened to visitors.
The exhibit explores a turbulent period in Michigan’s historic copper
mining district. On July 23, 1913, members of the Western Federation
of Miners took to the streets over grievances about pay and working
conditions. The strike was marked by violence, including the deaths of
more than 70 people, mainly children during a Christmas Eve party at
Calumet’s Italian Hall. Local mining companies refused to recognize
the union, however, and the strike finally ended in April 1914. The
conflict, sorrow, and tragedy of this confrontation between organized
labor and mining companies affected local residents from all walks of
life, created headlines across the nation, and continues to resonate
in Michigan’s Copper Country today.
The “Tumult and Tragedy” traveling exhibit consists of 12 panels and
includes photographs, excerpts from newspapers, documents, and songs
from the strike era. A free giveaway brochure contains links to
related web content about the 1913-14 Michigan copper strike online at
The exhibit will remain on display at the Ontonagon Museum through
Saturday, January 5 and then tour to five other locations in Houghton
and Baraga Counties. The exhibit was made possible through a $14,500
grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the
National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided
by Michigan Technological University, Cranking Graphics, and Dr.
Robert and Ruth Nara.